The endless night surrounds my soul in a fiery inferno as I pass another exit sign on I-79. Madness consumes my thoughts driving on this hard flat-top road. Every passing light I see is like a piercing dagger stabbing deep into my eyes. It’s enough to keep me awake, but not enough to keep my mind from drifting off into the great labyrinth of lost thoughts.
My Grandfather passed away last week from an unexpected heart attack. I inherited his countryside house that’s nothing more than a hunting cabin deep in the backwoods of West Virginia. Everyone else got a nice lump sum of money from him, but not me. Just a stupid run-down spider infested cabin. My Grandfather was an avid deer hunter, but it’s been years since anyone has stayed in the cabin. I’ve never been there myself.
I drive all the way from Salem North Carolina to check out this countryside house to see if I might be able to sell it. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people who would buy it for the right price. The land alone would be worth a hundred thousand easy. If the house is in decent shape I might be able to get more depending on the buyer. The Tygart Valley River flows through the land just beyond the wide-open fields surrounded by maple, oak, locust and pine trees. It’s the perfect place for hunting.
My eyes keep trying to roll upward into my skull, so they can visit the dream fairies. I need a distraction and quick. Like a bright flash from an old polaroid camera, the answer comes to me just when I need it the most - turn the radio on, you idiot! I flip the dial and hear cynics and saints arguing over religion. Geez, give me some music already! One more flip of the dial and I hear some jamming beats that tantalize my senses.
I turn up the volume and decide to sing a little bit. Hell, why not? I’m alone and tone deaf, so I don’t have anything to lose.
“Oh yeah! Gettin’ loose with my bad self. Oh, mamma jamma, bringing me home tonight! Uh-huh slap me SeeMore, slap me!!”
“SHIT, this is my exit coming up!”
I better pay attention. I don’t feel like turning around now. Exit 33, here I come!
I swerve down the off ramp and drive a few more miles on 33. Nothing but trees as far as my eyes can see. I turn onto Old Millers Run, it's a backroad that leads up to my Grandfather’s cabin. It’s old, and I mean old. This must be the place that time forgot about. They didn’t even bother to pave the road, so all I can see is a road full of dry dirt. It’s about a 15-mile drive, so I still have a way to go. I reach down and turn up the volume to percolate my ear drums.
“Oh yeah! Sock it to me baby! Bah, Bah, bah, baby you know your fine and you gonna be mine. Ha ha, I love that part!”
Static starts creeping into my feel-good music, which pisses me off. “Damn it! Not now, give me a break. That’s a great song. Ugh, the radio Gods have no mercy!”
I reach down to flip the dial hoping to get lucky. I need to hear something, anything but this annoying white noise. I look down to see what channel I’m on and…
I hit something?!
I slam on the breaks causing my Ford Focus to spin out of control - leaving a tornado of dust in its wake. I look around trembling with fear, but I don’t see anything but red tinted dust from the reflection of my break lights. I can already tell that one of my front headlights is busted.
“What the hell did I hit?”
I take some deep breaths to calm myself. I’m awake now, that’s for sure. I can’t see anything, so I wait for the thick dust to settle and step out. I have to squint my eyes to see in the dark and that’s when I see something. My heart skips a beat as I see the lifeless carcass of a doe lying a few feet away from me.
Great! I hit a deer. That’s really going to help my car insurance premiums.
I grab its legs and drag the bloody body over to the side of the road. I wouldn’t want to hit it again on my way out of here. I hear the shrill sound of my car door beeping into the night, and just before I get back in, I see a majestic buck staring at me. It must be a 12-pointer from what I can tell. It stands defiant before me which is odd because most deer are very timid and easy to startle.
“Sorry about your girlfriend, pal. You need to learn to look both ways before crossing the road.”
I clap my hands together and shout, “Get outta here!”
The buck twitches its head and prances away into the forest. I slam my car door and drive away from the scene. Most people would call that a hit and run, but where I come from hitting a deer is a very common thing. Feeling rattled I slow down and keep my eyes glued on the road. I can’t afford to hit another deer; those things will jump across the road with no warning and before you know it - BAM - game over.
After a few more miles I finally arrive at my Grandfather’s countryside house, or as I refer to it - the cabin. The place looks run down and torn to shit. The siding has all but fallen off, and I notice deep scratch marks all along the exterior walls. It looks like werewolves tried to break in at one point. Man… I don’t think I’ll be making much money from this place. I don’t have the money to flip it, unlike my snobby relatives back home. I bet they're all laughing at me right now, those stupid arrogant idiots!
I click my flashlight on and fumble through a bunch of keys until I find the right one. I have to shimmy the door, but I manage to unlock it with some effort. I step inside and see nothing but thick shadows that seem to have a life of their own. I sway my flashlight from side to side and the darkness runs away to save itself. I notice a bunch of deer heads hanging on every wall - they seem to be staring at me. A strong musty smell infiltrates my nose making me cringe in disgust. Thick dust covers everything in the house and I can only be thankful that most of the furniture is covered in plastic.
I can’t believe I’m going to stay here tonight. Damn you Grandfather!
There’s no electricity here, so I ignite a few lanterns to give me some light. It’s not enough to defeat the endless darkness, but at least I don’t have to depend on the flashlight anymore. The shadows still remain throughout the house mocking me with an all-powerful omnipresence.
“Ahh! What the heck is that?"
"A wolf howl?”
The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I feel goosebumps form on my scrawny little arms. I can feel my pulse quicken and my knees start shaking. My eyes dart back and forth searching for some comfort. The answer comes to me when I see a pile of logs sitting next to the fireplace.
I’ll light a fire!
I frantically throw a few logs into the fireplace and toss in some crumpled-up paper for good measure. I hammer down on my lighter and the flames erupt like a hellfire demon burping into the night.
The flames burn bright and I start to feel at ease. I notice an old double barrel shotgun hanging above the fireplace, it’s really dusty but I’m glad it’s there. If there are any werewolves out there - like that’s a real thing - I’ll have a big booming surprise for them!
The warmth of the fire encroaches my consciousness in a blanket of drowsiness. I really need to get some sleep, or I just might pass out from exhaustion. I stand up and wobble my way over to the bedroom. The shadows look like they want to eat me alive, but at this point I really don’t give a rat’s ass. I pull the dust covered plastic off the bed and lay down not caring if any unsightly insects might be lurking beneath the covers.
My eyes quickly fade off into a world of mystifying magic, and endless possibilities.
My dreams take me into the future and I see myself throwing huge handfuls of money into the air. I’m smiling ear to ear because I just sold this country house for more money than I expected. I grab hundreds of dollars and kiss them and hug them in pure ecstasy. I throw the money up again above my head and the bills float down all around me like a beautiful rain storm.
Oh, how I love money!
Suddenly, my dream gives way to darkness and the money floating all around me catches on fire. I open my eyes wide and scream with all my might. The falling bills burn to ashes and I see my Grandfather standing before me. He points his crooked finger at me and sternly mumbles something. I can’t make anything out, his words don’t make any sense...
Don’t sell this place! It’s EVIL!!
I open my eyes to the sound of my Grandfather’s haunting voice. Wow, what a dream!
I rub my eyes and let them adjust to the stillness of night. The shadows seem more profound and defined than before. What the hell did my Grandfather mean anyway? I know no one has been here for years, but I’m here to make a quick fortune. I want what’s mine! Dreams have a way of making reality seem more pleasant than it actually is.
I wrinkle my forehead at the unexpected noise. It smashes through the silence like a deafening whisper. I focus my senses and listen more carefully.
The noise is coming from outside of the house. Something is scratching the walls!
My whole body starts to shake, and I can’t do anything about it. A cold shiver rips through my spine, twisting and turning it every which way but normal. I can’t take it anymore!
My face hardens as I find the courage I need to man up. I run out of the bedroom and grab the double barrel shotgun. I blow the dust off and open the chamber.
Just like fire burns in hell the gun is loaded with two shells, and I’m packing heat. One shot is all I need to blow whatever is outside to kingdom come!
The terrifying scratching noise creeps around the house like a stalker following its victim. I aim the shotgun and follow the noise until it stops right at the front door. Sweat starts dripping down my forehead and stings my eyes. I desperately want to wipe my eyes, but I hold the shotgun steady and true like a soldier ready to fire upon the enemy.
The next thing I hear is a rip roaring, ear-splitting grunting noise coming from behind the front door. I want to release my rage and fire at the door, but I need to know what’s out there.
What if it's some strange person who needs my help?
What if it’s a girl scout trying to sell some cookies?
These scenarios are highly unlikely, but still… What if?
I need to be sure without a doubt before I fire a shot. I keep the shotgun on the door with one shaky hand and with the other, I slowly reach down and turn the door knob. The door swings open and I come face to face with the doe I had hit with my car. Its neck is twisted, and its legs are mangled, it looks like a mutated alien creature with fur!
Without thinking I fire the shot. Click!
What!! It’s a dud!
The zombified doe creature’s body gets tossed to the side and standing before me now - is the majestic 12-point buck I saw earlier. He’s not alone either, I see at least ten more bucks behind him.
What the hell is going on here!?
Did they come for revenge!?
“Ohhh… look guys, I didn’t mean to hit your girlfriend with my car. I mean you guys need to stay out of the road.”
The buck grunts a war cry and the next thing I feel is his antlers impaling my stomach.
He picks me up with his head held high and twirls me around like a dancing ballerina. I feel dizzy and cold. I think my body is going into shock. The other bucks run over and stab me with their antlers. The pain would be excruciating if I wasn’t already going numb.
The bucks are all grunting now, and it sounds like a bunch of football players ready to hike the ball… Only I’m the ball!!
I look over towards the field and see my Grandfather glowing in a strange blue light.
His voice echoes through my mind as he speaks, “This place is evil! Our family stopped coming here years ago after learning that the deer want revenge!”
I feel a sharp pain as another deer punctures through my legs. I scream out, “Why did you leave me this place!”
“You are an arrogant fool! I thought that you would leave this place alone, but NO! You had the bright idea to sell it… I’m so disappointed in you…”
His spirit vanishes in thin air like a fart in the wind.
What a dickwad!
Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?
Did they want me to die!?
Why did I have to kill that deer!?
I should have never hit and run!!
My eyes start to fill with blood, and I feel the bucks pulling on my legs and upper torso. Deer are powerful animals; my body is stretched to its limits. I can’t feel the pain anymore, and I start coughing up blood. With one more final pull the bucks rip my body in half and my insides fill the ground. My life fades from existence and the shadows overtake me…
Daniel R. Hayes