It's been thirty years ago but it seems almost like yesterday. I knew there was going to be trouble that Saturday night. You could feel it in the cool muggy air. It felt like a ghost was trying to strangle me just like the phantom that had choked the life out of the engine around midnight.
The car had come to rest next to a big oak tree and my boyfriend worked on it for an hour before giving up hope. When he spoke of going for help, I protested. It was one o'clock in the morning, dark, and terrifying. We were stranded on an old dirt road, which was located about eighteen miles in the middle of nowhere. It was supposed to have been a short cut but turned into a never-ending journey.
The moon was full and had an eerie glow that forced its way through the clouds and crept through the spooky trees in slow pale streams. There was a light fog that hovered above the ground and made the long winding road turn from brownish-red to grey and then fade into eternal darkness.
"There's a house not much further down the road. It won't take half an hour to walk there. I'll use the phone and come right back," Roger insisted.
"Scared of what?"
"This old abandon dirt road, the darkness, and most of all those creepy looking woods."
"It will be alright," he assured me, "Just get in the backseat, lock the doors, and cover up with the blanket. When I get back, I'll knock on the window three times so you'll know it's me."
I didn't like it but I couldn't stop him. Roger was six-foot-three and weighted two-forty-five. His shadowy figure was large in the moonlight but looked disfigured as he entered the fog and was soon swallowed by the vastness of the night.
I locked the doors, wrapped up in the blanket, and laid down in the backseat. There was the sound of thunder in the distance but I didn't take it seriously because it hadn't rained in six weeks, so why should it now?
The moon went behind the clouds for good making it impossibly black. I was tired and dozed off but was awaken when the car shook. Was Roger already back? If so, he hadn't knocked. I sat with the blanket at my chin and listened closely. There was a small cracking sound like a tree falling somewhere deep in the forest. I thought I heard something slither across the roof. A moment later, there was a loud explosion above the car as the thunder rolled across the sky.
The first rain drop hit the back window at two-fifteen that morning. The droplet was fat and oozed down the glass like molasses. I knew why Roger hadn't come back. He'd stayed at the house up the road because the storm was coming from that direction.
The slithering thing made its way across the roof again, which made me cringe. It stopped but soon headed back the other way. This time it sounded like claws scratching the top of the car. Who was out there? Better yet, what was out there?
I remained bundled up flat on the seat as the rain started to fall. The thunder rumbled and the lightning flashed. That's when I saw it! The thing, it, was standing beside the car. The monster cast a huge shadow across the seat when the next silver bolt blazed diagonally towards the ground. My whole body began to quiver and my heart pounded its way into my throat.
The monster slithered its fingers across the roof and then scratched its claws back again. It wanted me to scream but I couldn't. My voice had committed suicide. I knew this was the end. I was going to die while Roger was nice and cozy in the warmth of a friendly house just a few miles down the road.
The gusting wind howled. A second later, it seemed as if a flashbulb went off inside the car. I looked up in time to see a jagged bolt of lightning streak across the sky. That was when I saw its deep grooved face peering in the window at me.
"It couldn't be," I whispered. But, it was. The gray ridged face staring at me was nothing but the big oak tree the car had stopped beside. Its branches had obviously been scraping and scratching the roof all night. I exhaled in relief and fell back to sleep.
I was awaken by three knocks that morning and looked up. It was a policeman, not Roger. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining bright.
"Ma'am, are you alright?"
"Yes," I answered.
"If you'll come with me, I'll carry you home."
"Gladly," I said. The anger hit me as I opened the door. Roger had left me here all night. Did he think that was funny?
As we neared the patrol car it dawned on me I'd forgotten something. "My purse," I whispered. The officer grabbed my upper arm with his strong firm hand but not before I turned, saw it, and...
A body was hanging upside down above the car with a rope tied around the ankles and attached to a branch from the oak tree beside the car. Two pale white hands dangled loosely touching the top of the car just as they had throughout the night and scraping the roof every time the wind blew. The thick drops of blood had dissolved into a red hazy film on the back window and somewhere around the shirt collar was a bloody stain where Roger's head had been.