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I almost slam my head on the dashboard when the car suddenly stops in the middle of the dirt road.       

“What are you doing?”  

            He looks behind me. “Right there… those trees,” he says.

            “Are you serious?” I look out the passenger window, and in the dark distance is the Gallinas River.

            “That’s where you need to go,” he says.

            “Every time you drink, you do this.”

            “Well… I didn’t forget about that stupid comment you made last night.”

            “I was just messing around.” I put my hand on my forehead. “It was a joke.”  

            “You made me look stupid in front of everyone.”

            I roll my eyes. “She’s not real.”  

            “Go,” he says, pointing to the trees.

            “But it’s windy.”

            “That’s when she comes out—when it’s windy,” he adds.

            “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” I grab the door handle as he takes another drink from his flask.

            “Now,” he says.

            “This is ridiculous.”

            He grabs my arm and starts to squeeze it. “I’ll hurt you if you don’t get out of this car.”

            I pull my arm away from him as he starts to smack me on my head. “Okay... stop, I’ll go.”

He grabs my hoodie. “Boy, just because you turned twelve yesterday doesn’t mean shit.”

“Okay!” I shout, pushing him away from me.   

            I have no choice but to get out of the car. I’d rather do this then get beat at home. I step out of the vehicle.             

“That’s a good boy. And yell if you see something.” He lifts up his flask.

            “You and your stupid fairy tales,” I reply, closing the door. 

            “Don’t be scared,” he says.

Annoyed by his abuse, I pull my hood over my head, staring at the river, about forty-yards from me.  

“Boy!” he shouts from inside the car. “Are you going to stand there all night like an idiot?”

I take a deep breath and run, jumping over several bushes, passing between trees as I reach the bank of the river. I look around to the wind swaying the tree branches, but thankful for the car headlights shining in my direction, I can see somewhat down the river to a large rock sticking out from the ground. I run to it.

I make it to the rock and sit on it, pulling down the strings from my hoodie, making the hood tight around my head, expecting soon he will finish his whiskey and call me back to the car. As I wait, I look back at the reflection of the headlights now piercing through the tree branches.

I close my eyes, allowing the peacefulness of the Gallinas River to sweep me away from this horrible situation, but then, I am distracted by the car headlights going off. I stand up on the rock, completely confused as I wait for something to happen, but my patience slowly fades. I am about to yell for him, when the wind stops unexpectedly, the river flow calms, and in the distance I hear a soft voice. I move nervously, trying to concentrate, and it becomes clear to me—it is a woman crying.

I jump off the rock and frantically run toward the direction of the car. I step over a barbed wire fence, pushing myself between trees, breathing hard, trying to get as far as I can from the river, but I fall to my knees. I look up, and luckily I am near the car.

“Carlos,” I whisper. “Where are you?”

There is no reply as I look in every direction.  

“Carlos,” I call out desperately.

But there is complete silence. A sense of emptiness surrounds me, and I don’t care for the Gallinas River anymore. I get in the car and sit on the driver’s seat, wondering if this is really happening to me. It can’t be! I squeeze the steering wheel with both hands, realizing that Carlos is probably trying to scare me. I am about to get out of the car to find him, when something catches my eye. Just on the other side of the bridge is a woman below a flickering light pole. She stares in my direction. 

A chill runs down my back as I quickly reach over, lock the doors, and jump over to the back seat. My hands start to shake as I try to find what courage I have left. I take a deep breath and slowly peek over the seat. And there she is next to the car with her long black hair covering her face and mud spattered on her white gown. I gasp, fall to the seat and cover my face in my hoodie, pulling my knees against my chest in a fetal position, keeping my body completely still. I close my eyes, hoping that this is all a dream, but as I hide like a coward, the car starts to move back and forth with a sudden coldness in the air. I am about to scream when I hear her voice.

“Where are my children?” she whispers.

I hold my breath for a moment.

Mi hito, mi hita,” she cries. “Where are they?”  

I keep my eyes shut, praying to God that she didn’t see me or force herself into the car. I don’t move, which seems forever, but to my surprise, the car stops moving as I hear her feet dragging away. I stay still for a moment, but then I look through the window. I see nothing—no woman and no Carlos—only a jingle next to the steering wheel. I turn around and the car keys are in the ignition. I crawl over onto the seat anxious to drive away, about to start the car, when I am startled by a loud agonizing scream. I cover my ears as I hear it again—a horrible, painful scream. I cringe while I reach for the keys and start the car.

“Boy!”

It is Carlos, my stepfather.  

“Help me, boy.”

I hate when he calls me that. As tears run down my face, I put the car in drive to another loud, disturbing scream—but all I can think about is my dad and how he taught me to drive before he died.

“Wait for me,” Carlos begs.  

I drive away to the sound of death outside the car, knowing I’ll never return to the Gallinas River.

 

The End

Bio: Inspired by The Cask of Amontillado, Vidal started writing fiction about death, horror and suspense. In February 2017, he published his first novel Walking in the Shadows of Death and the Supernatural. He lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico which is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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