GLOOMDOWN HEIGHTS, ONE MILE
Next Town, Twenty Miles
Willis Eden read the highway sign and decided to take that exit. The car was low on gas, so he had no choice but to turn off and hope a gas station was near and open. “Yeah, well good luck with that,” his traveling companion, Bram, remarked. Bram was a ghost and had attached himself to Willis about six years ago, after the divorce. “Gloomdown! Bound to be some beastly nights there, Buddy.” Willis ignored him. Sometimes Bram was so negative.
Willis was on his way to his ex-wife’s home to spend time with his kids and take them trick-or-treating Halloween night. It was a tradition he began when the twins were just two years old, he had never missed it and was not about to now. Fortunately, there was a gas station open just on the edge of town. Willis pulled in, got out of his car and started taking the gas cap off. “I can do that for you, sir.” Startled, Willis turned to see the biggest man he had ever seen who was all of seven feet tall and rather ugly at that. Willis stared up at the strange man’s face and wondered where the heck he came from, he had not seen or heard him approach. “My name is Frank. You just get on back in your car and relax. Oh! And welcome to Gloomdown. Hope you enjoy your stay.”
“Yes, yes, well I wasn’t planning on staying. I just need a fill-up,” a confused and nervous Willis muttered with his elbow held high and face turned up, as Frank took his arm and escorted him back to the driver’s door. Willis got in and kept staring up at Frank with a shocked gaze. Willis listened to the gas gurgling as the tank was filled. When he saw Frank coming back he got out his wallet to pay. “Oh! No need for that, sir!” Willis jumped and the wallet flew up then landed in his lap. Frank’s face, almost as wide as the car window appeared suddenly. “We do not charge our guests. Everything is free in Gloomdown Heights during the Halloween season. The hotel is just a block down on your right.” Willis spoke nervously, “Oh, thank you, but, I am not staying ….” He turned to thank Frank, but the man was gone. “Strange … strange man,” he muttered.
“What did I tell you? Huh? What did I say? If that was not a beastly looking man, or whatever he is…” Willis looked at Bram. “Oh, shut up. I am sure it is just his Halloween costume. Let’s just get the hell out of here!” He had to make a right turn out of the parking lot because there was a high divider in the middle of the road. Willis was a writer with several published novels and a few screenplays. His works on the paranormal and thriller mysteries were well accepted and popular. He was now writing his first Halloween short story. He had a fleeting thought that he was suddenly living in one of his novels, then chuckled at the absurdity of it. “What?! You think that was funny? Things like that scare the daylights out of me!”
Willis laughed louder. “You are a ghost, for crying out loud! Get over it, Bram.” Bram shivered and faded out.
Willis kept driving, but could find no way to make a U-turn. He got to the end of town where there was a turn-about, so he drove around and headed back the way he had come. He finally came back to where he found the gas station, which was now closed, dark and gloomy looking with a full moon rising above the mountains behind it. Then he came to another turn-about, that he did not see before. He drove through and it took him right back past the station and towards town. “Well, that was fun!” Bram said to a confused Willis, who stopped the car to think, then went around again, looking for the exit to the highway. There was no exit.
Willis drove back and forth from one end of town to the other for quite a while, becoming more frustrated by the minute. There was no way out of town, no side streets, no turn offs, no exits, just two turn-abouts. His car finally ran out of gas and came to a stop right in front of the hotel. “Beastly !” Willis pounded on his steering wheel and stared at the ancient hotel.
Stay tuned for Part Two of Beastly Nights, coming soon.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns