My feet pounded on the dirt road. Silent rows of trees under the face of an impassive moon flew by as I struggled onward, my breathing ragged, my lungs aching. Forest and road stretched on endlessly, but I could only run, driven on by icy fear on the back of my neck. A light glimmered faintly through the dark trunks, and I redoubled my efforts, forcing myself toward it. A single light bulb illuminated the worn siding of an old farmhouse. Its windows were dark and silent, and I beat on the door wildly, hoping, praying.
“Let me in! Please!”
The shadowy road loomed behind me, every moment threatening to unveil the shadowy figure of my attacker.
“Please! He’s going to kill me!”
But the house remained still and indifferent. I leaned against the rough wood, all hope disappearing, tears of relief turning to despair.
“Please,” I begged the silent door.
It flew open, and I crashed to the floor at the feet of my rescuer, a middle-aged woman wearing a bathrobe and the bleary look of one just roused from sleep. I scrambled inside.
“Car broke down,” I gasped, the fatigue of my wild dash finally catching up with me. “Man on the road… I ran…”
“Oh, you poor thing,” she murmured, locking the door behind me. “Let’s get you warmed up.”
My shaking legs barely held my weight, and she had to help me into the kitchen, depositing me at a heavy wooden table. A sweet warmth and the clinking of a spoon on china filled the room as she bustled about, making me a cup of tea.
“Here,” she said, setting it in front of me. “Drink up, and everything will be all right.”
It was sickeningly sweet, but I gulped it down without hesitation. My throat was parched, and I was trembling from exertion. Exhaustion flooded over me, my limbs growing heavy, my head sagging, my body ignoring my desperate pleas to move as she set the cup in the sink and tied my wrists to the chair.
“Everything will be all right.”
I was lying in bed last night thinking, “You know what would be more terrifying than running from something? Finding a house, thinking you’re safe, and then discovering what was waiting for you inside was even worse.”
Ironically, I dislike horror movies or TV shows because they freak me out too much, but with writing or reading, I love it. I just finished The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. If you enjoy horror or psychological thrillers, I would recommend checking it out. It’s a quick read, and while not particularly frightening or gruesome, following the main character’s strange thoughts and behavior through the story is captivating.
Jackson is infuriatingly vague sometimes, but I wonder if that was an intentional depiction of the fallibility of her characters and our fallibility as readers. Our version of truth is built with what we can see, but we can’t see everything. We interpret the events around us based on the information presented, and what may seem utterly and undeniably real, may be nothing more than the manifestation of our belief that it is. What may be unwaveringly true for one person may be ludicrous to another.
After finishing Hill House, I started reading The Elements of Style, another book I would recommend. It’s a great refresher on basic grammar and the fundamental goals to keep in mind while writing. I also started The Scarlet Pimpernel and hated it… so still looking for another fiction book to dive into.
Happy weekend all! Hope you are staying safe and healthy.
~ R. E. Rule