We Share The Empty Roads

Dark and Scary Road

(A scary story about travel.)

“You never know what’s sharing the road with you after dark,” Dad said as he gave me my first driving lesson. “Whenever you’re driving alone on an empty road, pay attention to what you pass — even if it’s just something you notice for half a second out of the corner of your eye or just out of the range of your headlights. Because even if you’re not looking at it, you can be damn sure it’s looking at you.”

He died in a car accident a number of years later. It happened just after midnight, on an empty road, in the middle of nowhere. The software in the truck notified his dispatcher that there’d been a crash. By the time the sheriff and paramedics arrived, he was long dead. Continue reading “We Share The Empty Roads”

Fallenfield Mountain

Our company had been tasked with a geological survey of Fallenfield Mountain in southwestern Kentucky. Situated at the intersection of the Cumberland and Allegheny Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau, it stands at the center of a depression in the terrain entirely uncharacteristic of the surrounding area.

Having recently acquired a permit from the state for a fracking exploration, the petroleum company that hired us was anxious to see what they could exploit in this new area. We were to set out as soon as possible.

We began our hike on a Monday morning. The weather was predicted to be favorable and the four of us were excited to cover some ground. We stopped at a small store near the edge of the forest to purchase last-minute supplies and anything else we thought we might need. It wasn’t a particularly difficult journey ahead of us, but we wanted to be prepared.

While we were browsing, an employee began a conversation with Jake Lemont, one of our geologists. Jake was forthcoming, as we were under no obligation to keep our work secret. I walked the aisles and drifted in and out of their conversation, which grew noticeably more animated as time went by. The employee was not keen on the mountain being used for petroleum exploration. It turned out he wasn’t speaking from an environmental standpoint.

Continue reading “Fallenfield Mountain”

The Shores of Pluto

pluto

Late last month, just before Christmas, a strange, prickly feeling crept up my spine and made a patch of my neck feel cold, as if someone had left a window open. I looked around at the familiar setting. Nothing seemed amiss. The windows were shut. The doors were closed. I realized my heart was pounding and I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious. After a moment, the feeling passed.

I had lunch alone at my desk. My sandwich was good – ham and cheese and butter with a little dijon mustard. The rest of the office had gone out, taking advantage of a break in the snowy weather. I ate mindlessly, relishing the peace and quiet, until I felt the cold again. This time, it was physical and penetrating. A frigid wave of thick air wafted into my cubicle and chilled me to the bone. Goosebumps rose in a wave over my back, neck, and arms. The feeling of uneasiness returned. Something flickered in the periphery of my vision.

I whirled around, my swivel chair nearly toppling over.

Continue reading “The Shores of Pluto”

Centipedes

I’m an intern working at the Center for Entomology in Colombia. Like all interns, I do the jobs everyone hates: fetching coffee and tea, delivering mail, janitorial work, etc. The hours are long, the pay is nonexistent, and the people are rude. All that said, though, I’m learning a hell of a lot. I get to work with some species seen nowhere else.

The other night, I was mopping the floors. Since the Center is in the middle of the of the rainforest, quite a bit of mud gets tracked in by the researchers and employees. So, every night, usually well after midnight, I’m the last guy in the place until it’s all cleaned up. One of the final rooms I clean is where Scolopendra gigantea are housed.

I hate that room. Despite my love of insects and bugs and spiders and all manner of other creepy-crawlies, giant centipedes scare the hell out of me. They shouldn’t be so big and aggressive; something about them seems out of place in a rainforest that otherwise appears to have an equilibrium among the species. Maybe I’m just a wimp.

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There is nothing wrong in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

You can tell just by how the police are leaving the area, broadcasting reassurances as they go. If there was something wrong, the police would be staying.

Ignore the rumors you’re hearing. First off, it makes no sense whatsoever that one of them would just be crawling on top of Kings Theater. Imagine how ridiculous it sounds. You can go there yourself and you won’t see anything. Nothing shimmers, nothing floats. Anyone who says they see it is trying to trick you.

Stand at the corner of Church and Flatbush and look toward the theater. Past the ambulances. There was an unrelated shooting not long ago. It’s already been investigated and deemed to be unrelated. Yes, there is blood on the street. No, it’s not more than a human body can hold. Don’t try to make it any worse than it already is.

If you’re too nervous to go out, it’s fine to stay indoors. It’s warm today, so I assume your windows are open. Those sounds you hear in the sky are helicopters – just the police going back to the other boroughs where they can concentrate on real emergencies. If one of the helicopters looks unfamiliar, it’s just because it’s a new technology the police have. You should be reassured by that.

Look, I was there.

Continue reading “There is nothing wrong in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.”

Ben’s Fear

Growing up, it was common knowledge that my cousin, Ben, was afraid of seaweed. Naturally, we terrorized him with it. Pieces in his bed, pieces in his shoes, and my favorite: pieces in his bathing suit. Every time, we were guaranteed a scream and a scramble as he tried to get the seaweed away from his delicate self.

Nothing, though, compared to what we’d do to him at the beach.

I’ll fully admit that we were bullies back then. We didn’t know what we did was wrong; we just thought it was funny. And since Ben laughed it off at the end, even if he’d cried while it was happening, we thought it was okay to continue. Kids will be kids, right? Continue reading “Ben’s Fear”

The Trawl

We dredged something up from deep underwater. It turned out to still be alive. Partly alive. Something like alive.

I wanted to explain how it looked, but every time I thought about how to describe it I got the worst mental block. Everything went foggy and my head started to hurt. Even when I remembered how it spilled out onto our deck with thousands of dead fish, I was overcome with a sensation of nausea that left me gasping for air.

That’s why, once it stopped thrashing – yes, that’s how it moved – by thrashing; I remember how it knocked over a bunch of equipment – I asked one of the guys to start taking pictures. Not a single one came out right. They were all blurred beyond repair and dotted with multi-colored splotches. So all I have is my memory. While I couldn’t picture how it looked, I knew it was nothing like I’d ever seen before. Nothing like any of us had seen. Continue reading “The Trawl”