Writing – A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

by d c mallory

Copyright November 2014 – July 2017

Destiny is a nasty bitch, stubborn and yet submissive, harsh yet tame. And, when she decides its time for you to find yours, she is as relentless as is a fat man must be at finding food. I’d never really thought about destiny before, but something was eating at me as I cruised along old back-water roads, heading headlong for an unknown destination. And I truly believe Destiny was driving the car and I was just along for the ride.

I was driving down an old beat-up back road between Buckeysville, Virginia, and Nowhere, USA. The road had definitely seen better days; probably a hundred years or so ago this road was possibly the Cadillac of transportation media. Today, not so much. It didn’t really matter where I was or the lay of the road anyway, because it’s not as though I really had anywhere to go; being a loner is like that – its like being free to follow the currents of the north wind or to swim in the moon’s sweet tide whenever the feeling took me.

The night was a cliche, black as pitch and silent as the grave, and the sky was so smothered by dark clouds that any chance of getting a little natural light from the stars or the moon above was out of the question. From the looks of things I’d have said it would dump some rain on me during the ride to boot, but it just didn’t feel muggy enough. Not that I’m any kind of expert on cataclysmic weather events of that sort, but I know the difference between muggy and hot and sweltering. Rain was definitely out of the question.

I’d been listening to the cassette deck as I cruised along, some old Creedence Clearwater playing instead of the radio because I was so far out in the sticks that all I could get on the squawk box was some good old time Religious stations, and since it wasn’t Sunday I just wasn’t up for that sort of blather. Don’t get me wrong – The Creator and me, we’re on a first name basis. It was just that I’d learned years ago that I don’t need a priest to act as a mediator to talk to my maker; I could talk to her just fine by myself, thank you.

As I drove along, I tapped my left foot along with the music, and occasionally blasted out an enthusiastic line or two along with John, my off-tune vocals almost seeming to blend in with one of his righteous refrains. Driving alone late at night with nowhere to go made life good. Well, as good as it gets when all you own is your ride, such that it was – and a pack with some spare clothes and other assorted odds and ends.

I didn’t have the tape deck cranked, either. It was turned down low, kind of quiet and intimate, with John’s upbeat lyrics just kind of filling the backseat area behind me and then barely spilling over into the front, kind of like a slow stream over a small dam. It was almost pleasant in a surreal kind of way, what with being able to hear the wind rushing in through the open front windows without the driving bass beat drowning out all the local sounds.

Though I had the music going, I was still concentrating pretty hard on my driving, paying a little more attention than I normally would have, kind of like I was tired and trying my damnedest not to fall asleep behind the wheel. But the truth was exactly the opposite of that; I felt wired and alive. I was so full of energy and my mind so alert and tingly that if I didn’t know better I’d have thought I had eaten a handful of speed. Or some really good LSD that was just waiting to kick in with a smorgasbord of sound and vision. But, because of low funds and not knowing where to pick up anything good in this Southern Hellhole, I was distressingly straight at the time, which I suppose was good for a change.

Just as I was thinking how good things were going, everything went south in a hurry and left me wondering what the hell had happened. Maybe it was a result of me paying too much attention to my driving, tied to an upbeat natural high. Or maybe it was thinking about how great I felt about everything in general. Whatever, I guess I must have really been jinxin’ the janx as it was because as I said, things surely turned to shit between one mile and the next. In the end, the result was spectacularly bizarre. It was like being lost in a Picasso painting, trying desperately to find an easy way out. As long ago as it had happened, my mind is still trying to grasp the gestalt of the pieces, to create a whole of that moment; the more I think on it, the more I’m convinced it never will.

What I did grasp was that up ahead in the distance the scenery to the right side of the road seemed to be blanketed in some sort of weird assed expanse of fog, and what was shrouded by the fog seemed to be fluctuating, pulsing like the arhythmic beating of a mechanical heart. By that I mean it appeared like the blurred image of the scene tied to that location up ahead seemed to shift forward and back rapidly and randomly as if it were fading in and out, flickering almost like an old station on the TV when the reception is shit. The image stuttered in and out as if it were trying to load an overlay of a vision overtop that of an already existing image, and being fought by a competing entity the entire time.

Whatever was going on, it didn’t endear itself to me, and I felt my euphoric state of pseudo-tripping take a kind of nosedive, like shit being flushed down the toilet. The whole idea of nature being manipulated before my eyes made me feel creepy, which was sad considering the high I’d just been riding. Maybe I was in the throws of an LSD flashback, the moment trying to sneak up on me similar to a stray thought trying to escape the prison of my mind. I didn’t know what to do so I slowed down a little, trying hard to get my eyes to move off that spot so I didn’t drive into a ditch or something just as bad but, try as I might, those old peepers of mine just kept returning that damned spot just up ahead, like a rubbernecker gazing at a horrible accident.

The road took a slow, sweet turn to the left and, seemingly without my help, the car tracked it, feeling as if it was gliding to the spot of its own accord. The closer I got to the site of the disturbance, the more the scenery acted as if it was going all wonky; yes, wonky is a technical term. It really began to weird me out more, if that was even possible, because my mind felt as if I was already a couple cans short of a six-pack. It seemed the only thing that had any sort of fixed substance to it was the car, and with the way my brain was bouncing thoughts around like the ball in a women’s volleyball game, I couldn’t even be completely sure about that.

Then, just when all the strangeness of the last few minutes was building up like a crescendo at the end of an opera, I thought I saw a person standing there next to the road, smack dab in the middle of the storm, wearing the scene like an old worn jacket.

From what I could tell the person was just standing there, mind you. Not like someone trying to thumb a ride or anything. I couldn’t tell whether it was a man or a woman from the distance they were from me, but I remember I thought it strange that anyone would be standing in this area, whether it was night or not. You have to understand what I felt with all the tingling going on at the back of my mind, but what I didn’t fully grasp at the time, couldn’t grasp in fact, was there was nothing for miles around here. Just. Fucking. Nothing. No houses. No stores. No gas stations. No. Fucking. Anything. And I sure as hell knew that fun filled fact because I’d been driving the road through absolutely fucking nothing for quite a while. The only thing I could figure was that maybe their car had broken down somewhere up ahead, and the person was walking along in hopes of finding a filling station, or maybe a house with a working phone in it. Maybe finding a house out here could happen, but one in this hillbilly heaven with a working phone was questionable; the people in it were probably questionable as well. Hmmm. I guess watching “Deliverance” all those times has tainted me for life.

As I came nearer to where the person was standing, I could make out more of them. Since I could now see what held the resemblance of a Poodle skirt and what could pass for a High School sweater, all hovering above bare legs and black-on-white saddle shoes, I figured the person was a young girl, although what the hell she was doing out here was a mystery. Thoughts on why she was out here flooded through my mind like fast water over a rocky creek bed; she could have had a fight with her boyfriend and, being a macho prick, he’d dumped her out of the car to teach her a lesson and then driven off like some cum-filled condom, leaving her to walk the night like one of the damned. Or maybe she lived up ahead and was just checking out the night, tired of sitting at home warding off advances from her drunk daddy while her mama watched in desperation, but glad at the same time that he wasn’t concentrating on her this time. Could be I was just hallucinating and she wasn’t there at all; hell, even at the best of times Sherlock Holmes I’m not. But then, both Sherlock and I liked our coke to tide us over during the slow times.

As I continued to move slowly up the road the girl, and by now I could absolutely tell it was a girl, snapped into focus, the change so abrupt it was like switching from binoculars to a telescope to look at the moon. She looked to be just the far side of old enough to know that hitch hiking could be dangerous, and just the near side of young enough to think it was safe to take a chance because, like all young people believe, at this age she was immortal. Or maybe she just figured bad things always happened to the other girl, or at least not one who was dressed like a high schooler from the late fifties. Still, I can’t read minds anymore than I can solve mysteries, so I just left the why for someone else to phantom and continued on up the road, slow and sure.

Amazingly, even through all the distractions, I continued to drive up the road instead of off it. The closer I got to her, the better I could make out the details. I was still creeped out by the almost hazy veil that seemed to hang about her, which seemed at odds with how clear she stood out in the darkness, but feeling creepy didn’t keep me from looking.

She was dressed as though she’d been to a costume party, or at least one of those school dances that celebrate the good old days when boys were boys and girls were hard to get. Then again it could have been anything else between, what with all that goes on now in this crazy mixed up world. I tried to see through the shroud surrounding her to get a better idea of what she looked like, but for all that her body was in nearly perfect focus, her face was still just too fuzzy to take in.

When I pulled right up close on her, within spitting distance you might say, I finally got a good look at her face. I couldn’t say she was beautiful, because there’s no way she would be the first person you’d notice when you entered a room. But, I could say she was captivating; once she had caught your gaze there’d be no way you could ever take your eyes off her. With that sweet heart shaped face, a high pony of dark colored autumn red hair, and a body that would stop a clock, I could almost feel the ditch at the side of the road getting closer resulting from my lack of paying attention to anything other than her face.

When I was almost right on her, I shut down the morbid peek show I was experiencing in my brain, which was leading to a stirring in my groin, and began to think long and hard about the options open to me concerning the girl, which included stopping to pick her up like a good Samaritan, or mashing the gas pedal to the floor and blowing past her like a bad dream. As much as the later option attracted me, in the end my conscience took over and convinced me that the best thing to do would be to pull over to talk to the girl find out what the deal with her was.

I tried to convince myself that it was just the right thing to do, and it didn’t help matters any that my reasoning kept screaming that if I left her there at the side of the road whatever happened to her would be my fault, and as much of a low-life as I might have been on the best of days, I don’t think I could have lived with myself if the worst happened. Her demise tainting the last few sane thoughts I might have so weren’t happening, so stopping the car it turned out to be.

Although I knew that it was just as dangerous to pick up a hitcher as it was to be said hitcher, my better side had won the battle, and there was no way coherent thinking could persuade me otherwise now. There was always a chance that stopping for her was as stupid as a fat man with a sweet tooth going into a candy shop with a hundred dollar bill, but I had made up my mind. Still, my over-active imagination raced with the possibilities of what could happen to me when I did stop and offer her a ride, and none of them were the kind that spoke of being rewarded with an afterlife in Heaven coming from my twisted act of kindness.

I figured she could be the front person of a rabid gang, her looking all sweet and demur and harmless to a fault, standing out there next to the road waiting for some passerby to pull over, and when they stopped next to her and that sweet little package, her eight-foot tall boyfriend who was dumber than dirt would jump out of the woods and tear the passenger door off the car. It would be just my luck to host a nest of Manson Clan wannabes in my back seat who needed only a soft touch of a driver to work out their frustrations on.

Or she could be crazy all on her own, packing a slick little straight razor down in her adorable little knee-sock, needing just a hint of a reason to skin a sucker slowly with a zest that would surprise a butcher. For that matter she could have a derringer stuffed down deep in her panties, all snuggled up tight against her little shaved kitty, the cold metal being warmed up by the damp heat coming off her thing, the lucky metal made not only hotter due its proximity to Heaven, but wet because of her excitement at the thought of pulling it out.

Dangerous times, these. But, as I had said earlier, I wasn’t going anywhere, and wasn’t doing anything but driving just to pass the time. A little bit of danger just seemed to flow with the seemingly endless night. And anyway, by now my damned conscience had me on auto-drive. I guess destiny really did have me by the balls.

Things rolled through my old tired brain, and once I’d come up with what could pass for a plan, I got down to it. I managed to slow the car down in plenty of time, and pulled to a smooth clean stop right next to her. As up close and personal as I was then, I could see that she wasn’t really the captivating looker I had thought her to be from a distance, but that hadn’t been why I’d stopped anyway. Shoot, she could have been a two-bagger and I would have stopped just the same. Still, all things considered, I’m not saying she wasn’t cute, because she was in a ‘I’ve seen a lot worse’ kind of way. And I’m surely not saying she was homely, because she wasn’t, although with less makeup and a lack of knowing what effect you’re trying for when you put it on, she could have been. She was just one of those girls who didn’t have any lovely features that made you think “this is one hot babe.” And yet there was something about the girl that kept your attention glued to her just the same and left your cock standing up ramrod straight, pressing uncomfortably against the fabric of your Levi’s as you wondered what it would take to get into her pants and blow off a little steam. Or stream, as the case may be.

With a great amount of effort, I put my now sordid thoughts on the back burner. I leaned over the steering wheel, cranking my head to the right so I would be able to see her face clearly as I talked to her through the open passenger window; it seemed to be more polite than sitting up ramrod straight and talking to her tits. I put on what would have to pass as my poker face to make me seem to be disinterested in whatever charm she was working on me and started the exchange.

“Need a ride?” I asked her, trying to sound pseudo polite while simultaneously breaking the stiff silence. Don’t take that the wrong way; while I really didn’t really care about being Mr. Manner’s like my mama always tried to instill in me when I was growing up, I felt I should at least extend some sort of olive branch to show I wasn’t a pervert or a deviant, or something worse along those lines.

I waited for a reply, but didn’t get one. I didn’t want to appear as if I were in a hurry or getting impatient, which I was, so I slipped the transmission lever up into park. I really wished she’d get on with saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so I could move on with or without her, but I guess she thought along the old lines of ‘silence is a virtue.’ Or maybe ‘children should be seen and not heard,’ because I was also starting to rethink the whole age thing after getting a good look at her.

With her bent over and peering in the window I could see her clearly, her face framed by the confines of the window casing. She finally nodded her assent for accepting a ride, still without saying a word, and reached out for the door handle. She moved slowly, as though she was trying to work out in her head what her hand needed to be doing to open the door but it seemed as though the hand was always a second behind her brain. In a surreal effort, her right hand finally made it to the door the handle and lifted it. In that same strange disjointed way she made to pull the door open but nothing happened; the door stayed closed. She was still bent over and staring into the car, as if she were trying to gauge a reaction from me. Hell, I just figured she was goofing on me, because I mean how in the hell could this have happened otherwise, especially since I could see the lock on the door was down; hard to open a door when it’s locked, right? It didn’t bother me much that she appeared to be having a laugh at my expense; she wasn’t the first, and I was sure she wouldn’t be the last, and though some of my earlier manic buzz had calmed down, my mind was still cruising at subsonic levels so I just let it slide on past me.

And that’s when I entered the Twilight Zone.

I wish I could say it didn’t bother me when she came in through the closed door. I mean her body went through all the right motions as if the door had really opened, with her turning her left side to the car, still crouching down so her head wouldn’t hit the upper frame as she slipped into the vehicle, her body sitting down on the seat and her little saddle shoes resting of the floor board. Then she mimed pulling the already closed door shut behind her, all with that same smooth “not-doing-anything-but-pretending” motion she had used when she was on the other side of the door. Maybe she wasn’t goofing on me after all. Maybe I should have taken Option Two and blasted past her like a shooting star past the moon.

I didn’t want to seem to be freaked out by what had just happened, although I was, and extremely so. By golly, I was so freaked I was just one short step away from jumping out of the car and heading south as fast as my legs would carry me. Hell, I was like ninety-nine percent sure that if I hadn’t hit the crapper back at a last gas stop a while ago, I’m pretty sure I would have had to get out and shake the shit out of my drawers, while standing a respectable distance from the car, you understand – you don’t shit where you sleep. Or drive. Just because I could doesn’t mean, I would.

Still, better to seem to be in control of the situation than wondering what you’d gotten yourself into, and might not be able to get yourself out of. So I slid the transmission lever back to drive, checked the side mirrors for a calming effect, and hit the gas, getting the car back on what there was of the road. I headed north into the encroaching black of the night, clenching my butt-cheeks to keep from ruining my underwear.

In an effort to calm my jangled nerves as I drove along, I tried to get her into some sort of conversation. It seemed to be all uphill on my part when suddenly she broke her silence, while simultaneously sliding across the seat closer to me, laying her left hand on my thigh. I think I might have appreciated the gesture if I could have felt the weight of her hand on my leg, but that wasn’t happening. It just felt like a spot of cold through the material of the jeans.

A meek little voice came from her throat, barely audible; I think she was asking me whether I could pull over for a second but I wasn’t sure. In fact, her voice was so soft I wasn’t really sure if I had heard it or not. Glancing her way, I could see her looking at me, her eyes almost pleading with me to do as she asked.

“Pull over?” I ran past her, as if seeking confirmation that she’d made a request of me, and maybe I was just too slow to figure it out all on my own.

She nodded her head, slowly but decisively. “Yes, please. The sooner the better, I think. We need to have a talk before we go much farther.” She continued to stare at me as I pondered her words. I must have looked dumb as a rock, so she clarified herself for my edification.

“If we go much further,” she continued, “I’m afraid I’ll be too thin to finish this. I have limits to what I can do, and I need to be close to my anchor point.” Well, don’t we all.

Now, y’all probably think I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I swear to you on my life that as I continued to drive up the road she was looking less and less real. By that I mean less physical; I swear she was starting to become more transparent than she had seemed when I first stopped for her, and she continued to get more so as we went further up the road. Seeing this and really thinking about how she had said ‘too thin,’ I started to suspect there was something to her words after all. I mean, I was almost positive she didn’t want to stop to have a fuck break, and now my even trying anything like that would be all for naught as I couldn’t have gotten it up with a handful of fluffers all attending me at the same time.

I had already suspected something was up with her when she got into the car through a closed and locked door, but this “thin” thingie was really taking reality beyond the pale. Even with all kinds of thoughts bouncing around the confines of my skull, most of them questioning my sanity, I managed to get the car stopped, although I would be lying if I’d said I’d quite made it to the side of the road, There was no traffic out here anyway, so I figured it didn’t make any difference to anyone exactly where I stopped the damned car.

“I guess you’ve figured out that there is something different about me,” she said sadly, her pale violet eyes appearing ready to leak and her body nearly transparent. Something different, indeed.

She started talking as soon as the car was stopped, and the transmission lever slammed into the parked position, almost as if she were reading my mind. Her voice seemed to be less firm than it had before, as if every part of her were fading, and not just her form. A quick thought had me thinking that maybe I should take her earlier words to heart, so I dropped the transmission lever into reverse and backed the car up a couple of hundred feet. As the moved  back up the road closer to the spot where I’d first picked her up, I felt a tingling in my spine like a whole damned army had just marched across my grave. I reckon that’s what happens when you’ve seen something as bizarre as what I was seeing. The further back the car went the more her outline gained solidity again, and the further back we went the more corporal she became. Yeah, something was definitely different with her. Hell, I guess there was something wrong with me as well, as I hadn’t jumped from the car screaming incoherent thoughts at the trees as I ran down the road like a madman.

When I’d backed up far enough to give the impression that she looked almost real again, I stopped the car and turned the engine off; I didn’t have gas to waste and I didn’t know how long we’d been sitting here. Also, she was hard enough to hear that I didn’t want anything competing against her in the sound department, and that included the quiet rumble of a big Detroit V-8 engine.

If she had something to say, I sure as hell figured I should take a couple of minutes to listen. Either that or drive up the road as though a demon was chasing me until she’d just poofed out of existence. That’s assuming that’s what would happen; although with the way this evening was going, I surely wouldn’t bet on that happening.

I thought I might have to wait awhile for her to get started, because of the way she was earlier, but to my surprise she started right in.

“A while back,” she began slowly, almost as if she were searching through her brain for the right words to say, her voice as soft as the summer breeze. “Well, quite a while back, to be fair, I was heading to the Robert E. Lee High School Hop. Although we had them about once a month, it was a big deal for us. Especially for me, since I was finally a senior and one of the few who had turned eighteen earlier in the year.” She waited here, looking at me to see whether I was listening to her, or maybe just seeing whether I could comprehend what she was saying. I nodded at her, and made “go on” motions with my hands. I guess they could have been “hurry up” motions just as easily. Whatever, she got the gist of what I meant and continued on.

“Back in the Fifties, and this was Nineteen-Fifty-Eight, walking alone at night wasn’t a big deal as far as being safe went, or at least it shouldn’t have been. I had always walked alone at night, so I didn’t have any doubts about doing it that night to get to the dance.”

“I wasn’t meeting anyone there, as I didn’t have a boyfriend, and not really any girlfriends either, but I was still in a hurry to get there. I loved the music, and the way it made me feel when I was moving to the beat, so I didn’t think twice when a man pulled over and asked me whether I wanted a ride. Hell yeah, I thought to myself! I’d be rockin’ to the tunes that much sooner. I told the man ‘Sure, I’d love a ride,’ and climbed into the car with him. I’d barely gotten the door closed when he took off.”

She paused here. I wasn’t sure if it were for effect, or just because she was trying to get her thoughts lined up, but whatever the purpose was, she didn’t pause for long.

“When he pulled away from the curb in a hurry, I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. I kind of wondered why he didn’t ask me where I was going, but I figured he’d guessed from the outfit I was wearing that I was headed to the Hop. There’s not too many places you’d go wearing a class sweater and a poodle skirt, right? I mean the choices are pretty much limited to the soda shop or the local dance.

“When he blew past the high school without slowing down, I knew I’d made a mistake. And I didn’t think I wouldn’t pay for it in the end. There was something off about the man. It could have been that he hadn’t said anything to me since I’d gotten in his car, or it could have been the shifty look in his eyes. Whatever, I knew it meant trouble for me.

“I kept asking him what was going on, and then I told him I was headed to the high school and needed to be taken back there, but he didn’t even acknowledge me.

“He kept on driving, the town roads slowly becoming rural roads, the rural roads slowly becoming back roads, and the back roads slowly becoming gravel roads that tossed the car back and forth, torturing the suspension as we bounced along. We drove for a long time, my agitation and dread increasing with each mile. I still figured I was in trouble, but maybe he’d let me live after he was done doing whatever he had in mind with me. That’d be good, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “That would be good.”

I had been watching her the whole time, totally engrossed in her narrative. As she talked, her hands would wrap around themselves, like a couple of snakes in a mating ritual. Then, her eyes had watered over, and I swear I could see a faint pink tear running down her pale cheek. I wanted to hear the rest of the story, but then again, if the beginning water works were any indication of where this was heading, I knew for sure I didn’t. I figured I knew where she was going with this, and I sure as hell didn’t want to relive her agony along with her. Oh, hell no – I don’t play that game. But, I guess I didn’t have a choice now, as she started back up with her story.

“So finally we pulled off what could be called a road, and bounced down a rutted and overgrown path. Up ahead, I could see a little shack, or maybe a shed, and it caused me to think to myself, ‘Lyssie, this is the end.’ I knew I was sounding like a pessimist, even to myself, but why the hell would he bring me all this way if he didn’t have something dark and evil in store for me.

“By then I’d made up my mind that I wasn’t just going to sit there and be taken. When he stopped the car in front of the shack, I threw open the door and ran for the woods. I swear I had no plan in mind except that of getting away from this guy, and I would try my damnedest to make like a tree and leave. He was still not saying anything, and I’m not sure if I wanted to hear him if he did decide to talk. I only knew that getting away from him was a necessity for me. Job One, you might say.

“Well, I took off like a jack rabbit, but I didn’t make it very far before he ran me down. He grabbed me by the pony tail, and yanked so hard on it that my feet actually came off the ground and up into the air before he slammed me down to the ground. I hit hard, my head bouncing up and down on the hardpan like a basketball, and the air was pushed from my lungs from the force I’d hit with. I just lay there, whimpering and scared. And alone. I thought ‘No one wants to die alone. Please God, don’t let me be the one.'”

She took a second to pause here. Tears were streaming freely down her cheeks now, and the Lord knows I’m not a pussy, but I swear some tears were close to running down mine as well, which caused my nose to start running. I gave a quick look around the car to see whether there was anything I could blow my nose on, but I didn’t see anything. With an air of nonchalance, I just blew my nose with my fingers and wiped them on my jeans. I didn’t figure it would make any difference to her because she was deep in a dark and dreadful past and didn’t seem to be paying me any mind anyway; it was almost as if she were telling the tale to herself at this point.

“After I’d lain there for a few minutes, trying to get myself together, I heard him laugh. It wasn’t a pleasant, playful laugh either. It was the laugh of a man who’d sold his soul to the devil and had nothing more in life to lose. It was that laugh that sealed my fate – I knew it then just as I know it now.

“Before I could get myself together and try to get away again, he grabbed me by the hair just like those cavemen I used to read about in the library, and started dragging me to the shack. I screamed and screamed. I screamed from the pain as my hair was being torn out as I was dragged over the ground. I screamed in the hope that there was someone around who might hear me and come to provide succor. I screamed at the thought of my life ending, and no one around to even know about it, much less to care.

“When we got to the door, he kicked it open, bent over and grabbed me around the throat with one hand, and yanked me to my feet. He spun me around so my back was facing the inside of the dump, and then reared his right arm back. I knew what was coming, but couldn’t break free from the grip he had around my neck to dodge the blow. That arm launched forward like a striking serpent, the fist smashing into my face so hard that I knew he had to have broken some bones in my face. Probably knocked a few teeth out as well, though I don’t remember spitting any out.

“He must have let go of me as he struck, because I flew into the room as if I were shot from a cannon, striking my head as I bounced off a table and crashed to the floor. I guess I hit my head on the table pretty hard cause everything went black about then.”

I sat there, stricken dumb by the sadness that emanated from her. I secretly hoped that she had died when she hit the table, but I suspected neither she, nor I for that matter, was that lucky. I was openly crying now, and didn’t care if she thought less of me because of it. I swear to God that I was there in her body, reliving the whole sordid scene, and I didn’t feel any to good about it at all.

“When I came to, I was tied down to some sort of bench or table. I wasn’t sure which at the time, and it turned out it didn’t make a difference anyway. Maybe it was one of those tables the gynecologists use because my knees were hiked up in the air and spread apart so far I could feel the cold air blowing over my private parts. My feet felt as if they were tied in those stirrups that pull out from the base, because although I tried to kick out with them nothing happened. I tried to wiggle and buck, but I think there was a strap over my stomach holding me down on the table too, as I couldn’t whip up much in the motion department.

“After figuring out I couldn’t move at all, it also struck me that I was cold. I was hoping that it was caused by blacking out, but reality informed me, rather rudely in fact, that it was that I was completely naked. That really didn’t surprise me considering the situation I was in, but it still made me feel violated.”

She stopped for a few seconds, and wept out a frail laugh. “I found out what being violated truly was a little while later, but here it still didn’t feel right what this asshole had done to me.

“I saw the guy was standing over me although my eyes felt as if they were swelling shut, and his hands were groping at my breasts like there were buried treasure beneath them; I supposed he figured that one of my nipples was the magic “X” that marked the spot where the treasure was located because he was pulling on them so hard that I was sure he would tear them from my body. The pain was incredible, but I was shortly to find out it hadn’t really even started yet.

“The asshole hadn’t even waited for me to wake up before he began to paw at my body. I knew this because he was running his filthy hands all over me when I’d come to and opened my eyes. Other parts of my body ached and felt as if they’d been rode hard and put away wet, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch of my imagination to think otherwise. If I’d been dead instead of unconscious, I knew it wouldn’t have made any difference to him in his current state of mind. His blank eyes told me more about him than I ever needed to know.

“So he let go of my breasts just long enough to land a few more blows to my face and body with those big fists of his. I felt bones cracking and breaking where I was struck, and while I was drifting in and out of the blackness that tried to pull me under but couldn’t quite succeed, I fought back the screams; I didn’t want him to know how bad he was hurting me or how scared I was. I thought he might get off even more if I totally lost it, so I tried not to. If he’d continued to beat me I might have died, but I didn’t think of that happy thought then. He was being just controlled enough not to end it for me, which I supposed would ruin some of his fun.

“After he got tired of hitting me, he walked away somewhere to the far side of the table. I heard him rummaging through some things, apparently on his workbench, and was too terrified to even imagine what he was looking for, or what he intended to do with whatever he found. Whatever he was up to, it didn’t bode well for me. I found myself wishing over and over that he couldn’t find whatever it was he was rooting around for.

“And, at that moment I knew that wishes were like dreams; they never come true.

“The noise stopped far too soon, and I heard him coming back to me. I didn’t know what was in store for me, but I remember praying to God that if she had any love for me she would strike me dead before that crazy bastard crossed the room with his new found toy.

“I’m not surprised that God didn’t love me enough to let me die then, even though I’d never done anything to deserve her hate. I mean, the way this whole evening was turning out, I was becoming very sure there was no God. My mama had always told me there was, and I’d always tried to listen to mama, but it seems to me I could remember her saying there were no monsters either. I guess she was batting zero on both counts, and I was paying for her mistakes.

“I was openly shaking now although I tried so hard not to, and was so scared of what he would do that I kept my eyes closed tight so I couldn’t see what was coming. I mean, what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? And believe me, I was so sure of that mantra that I didn’t think there was anything on earth that could have made me open them up. Still, I hadn’t been right about anything this whole night, and I wasn’t right on that one, either.

“While I had laid there and prayed for a quick death, though I knew my God had abandoned me, I felt something cold and hard pressed up against my butt hole, and when I felt the excruciating pain as to what felt to be a huge object being pushed up my ass, my eyes popped open like the sun pushing its way out from behind a cloud. And although I still fought with all my inner strength to be strong and still and, above all, quiet, a screamed ripped from my throat like the wail of a banshee.

“I knew at once I was right about being quiet and that piercing scream was the worst thing I could have done, because he just grinned like the devil and pushed that thing up my ass that much harder, making it go in so deep that I thought I’d be choking on it in no time. As he  continued to push it in with one hand, he went back to grabbing my breasts with his other. He made sure it hurt, both that thing being forced in and out of my ass, and my breasts being squeezed as if they were indestructible; and I made sure I screamed. I screamed and screamed, howling in pain and humiliation. When the pain had become so bad that I thought the only way to be saved would be by passing out, the strangest thought crossed my mind; I thought ‘thank God this pervert doesn’t have three hands.’ What a strange thought, don’t you think?”

I just stared at her, speechless. At this point my eyes were leaking something fierce and I couldn’t have talk if I tried; I was just that choked up. I guess she didn’t really expect me to answer, which was good for me, because after a slight pause she went right on with her narrative.

“Once he had my ass filled with that cold steel bar he backed away and started taking his clothes off. He did it slowly, leering at me the whole time like a demented shark. He might have thought I was really getting worried, but the truth was he’d already taken everything from my mind and my body that he could. I had nothing left in me, and I am proud to say that I felt absolutely nothing when he moved up between my legs and forced himself into me, grunting like a rutting pig as he did so. He thrust and thrust, trying hard to do whatever it was that got him off. Although his cock had felt small at first, the way he drove it into my dry opening was tearing me up more and more, and still I did nothing but lay there and hope the end came soon.

“I must have passed out as he was having his way with me, because when I came to I was alone, laying in the woods, my body one big pit of pain. Sometimes I thought I could hear the sounds of a car going by, but I could never be sure. One thing I was sure of though, and that was I would die right where I was laying. I would die used like a used up old whore, all alone, with no one knowing what had happened to me, or where I had gotten off to.

“From the way, I hurt, I knew that he’d done more than fuck me like a dog and then cast me aside. I felt as if I’d been beaten again, and my skin burned as if my body had been burned with hot irons. I almost remember seeing through the cloud of blessed unconsciousness as a poker, glowing red hot, was not only pressed against my skin, but up inside me as well. I didn’t have an opening that didn’t feel the searing pain of that instrument. Not my mouth, not my vagina, and not my ass. For all I knew, he even shoved that thing up my nose!

“As what was left of the night was wearing away toward dawn, I felt my life slowly ebbing away, like the waves retreating on the beach as the tides runs out. I remember closing my eyes, and feeling the blessed relief from the pain as my life slipped away, like the grains of sand in an hourglass.”

She stopped again, and I didn’t know whether there was a God, but I thanked her anyway. I’m not sure how she could have let this happen to anyone, and I knew there could be no good reason for it. Although she had paused with her story, my body still screamed out with the pain she had endured. It was like I was in that old shed, tied to a table, and hoping for a merciful end that would never come.

What’s more, I didn’t know why she had told me of her death, unless there was something she needed me to do for her. I guess that I was right about Destiny leading me by the nose, and I knew right then that I would do anything Lyssie asked of me. How could I do anything less for her, after all she’d been through.

“What now?” I asked her after an uncomfortable silence. “What happens now?”

She just sat there and stared at me, occasionally wiping away an errant tear. In my heart, I knew she was feeling me out, trying to determine whether the resolve she had built up in me with her tale would be enough to push me to help her in her set things right.

After a long stretch of silence, she must have decided I would help her because she went back to talking, low and sweet, with more than a touch of sadness laced in with it.

“I guess that when you die a horrible death, alone and forsaken, your soul is tied to the earth. It must be true, because here I am, weeping night after night, reliving a past that I could never have imagined, and surely not one I’d ever asked for nor deserved. I’m not sure of what I need to do to move on, or even if I will ever be able to move on at all. I would just stand there, at that place in the road night after night hoping someone would come along and help me. I don’t know whether people didn’t see me there, or just didn’t want to stop, but I began to give up all hope, just as I did on that night so long ago.

“But then you came along. You saw me and stopped. You let me in your car, and you’ve listened to the sickening tale on how my life ended. And now I think that maybe, with your help, my soul can be salvaged after all.”

With her story told she gave me the “follow me” gesture with her hand, and passed out through the car door, pausing there long enough so I could get out and follow her. I was reluctant to do anything but start up the car and hightail it out of there, but I didn’t. Her story had me caught like a fish on a hook, and now I had to see it through to the end, regardless of how that story might turn out for me.

Unlike Lyssie, I had to open the door to get out, and I left it opened just in case I needed to get back into it quick. I half-assed worried about the battery running down and I probably should have left the car running before I got out just in case, but I might be awhile and, as I said before, a car don’t do you any good if it’s out of gas. So, with the door open and the dome light burning, I walked to the back of the car and waited for her to meet me there.

Surprisingly, when she drifted around to where I was standing, I noticed she was just a tiny little thing. I couldn’t tell before what with the car in the way and then with her sitting down on the seat next to me, but with her standing beside me she didn’t come up past my chest. I’m six feet even, which I figured made her just a little shy of five feet; after hearing her story though, it seemed she should be bigger. In my heart, she was way bigger.

She wasn’t talking any more, just gesturing, and I didn’t know whether telling her tale had used up all her words or if she were just saving her cosmic energy to have enough strength to end this tragedy. She beckoned to me, turned around and started to walk away from me; like a good dog, I followed.

We walked down the shoulder of the road for a while, the back of the car growing smaller in the distance. All around us we were closed in by a light fog, and a copse of shaggy hardwood trees lined the edge of the road, giving a distinct feeling of being hemmed in by evil. I wasn’t sure where we were headed, or how far we’d need to go, but it didn’t really matter; I’d follow her to the ends of the Earth if that’s what it took to finish this tragedy.

After what seemed forever, but must have only been a short distance, Lyssie stepped across the small ditch that paralleled the road and walked a little way into the woods. She stopped, and I stopped beside her, glancing down where her eyes were staring. There, laying at the base of my feet, I found I was standing next to what looked to me to be old bones, covered in an layer of mummified skin.

After giving me some amount of time to figure out what I was looking at, she looked up at me. I knew without thinking what I had to do to free Lyssie from her nightmare. And, I also knew what she had to do to free herself.

With the tale she had woven like a fine carpet, I was filled with hate towards the man who would do something like this. And, even though I knew it was baseless, I couldn’t give a fig on how God would react to what was going through my mind. One thing I knew beyond any doubt is that I was well up to the task of helping Lyssie, and I knew she felt the same about herself.

Bending over, I carefully lifted up what was left of her remains and carried them back to the car. Lyssie followed behind me, keeping her silence the whole time. I guess she’d let me know what the deal was when the time came. I also felt that she knew I’d accepted her request for salvation, for the both of us. With a difference I’d never known before, I opened the trunk, laid her body in it’s mawing mouth, and then gently lowered the trunk lid until it latched shut.

I got back in the car, started it up, and waited for Lyssie to flow through the door into the passenger seat. Once she was in, she made a “turn around” gesture with her hands. As acknowledgment, I performed a three-point turn so I was headed in the same direction I’d come from. As we drove down the battered old road, I kept surreptitiously glancing over at Lyssie, expecting her form to start to fade. I was surprised when she stayed as solid and real as she had when we were standing next to her body. It was then that I began to suspect that her corporeal form was tied to her body, and not the spot where it had lain for all those years.

I was even more surprised, and somehow elated, when she slid across the seat until she was next to me, as close as she could get without melting into my body. To me, someone who had wandered aimlessly for most of his life, I felt a moment of kinship, almost like she was the anchor I needed to settle down.

Lyssie still wasn’t talking, almost as if she’d said all she had to say. Maybe she was thinking of what needed to be done, or maybe, judging from the furtive glances she kept sending in my direction, she was unsure of how far I would be willing to go to end this. Still, when I needed to make a turn, she would point the way before I got there, and that’s the direction I would go.

It wasn’t long before we were bouncing down an old rutted path, and in the distance I could see what looked to be an old, decrepit shed. There was an old, beat up Cadillac sitting beside it, almost hidden in the fog that covered the area. I pulled up beside it, making as little noise as possible even thought the ground was bouncing my car around like a ship lost in a storm, and stopped. I killed the engine, and waited for Lyssie to give me instructions. Still she didn’t say anything, so I just followed her physical leads.

It didn’t take long for her to get moving; I’d gotten her here and now the rest of her salvation was up to her – I couldn’t take care of what she had to do, even though I would have gladly done anything for her to save her any more trauma.

She got out of the car, stood beside it for a moment, as if she were gathering up her courage, and then headed for the shed. I got out and followed her. Since I had to get to the shed’s door as I couldn’t just pass through the wall, she was already in the building as I worked on the door.

When I finally got inside, the door being a major pain in the ass, I could see Lyssie was already in. She was staring at the back of an old man, her eyes filled with hate. He was standing naked beside a table, abusing a woman who was laid out on it with an old poker, the tip glowing a dull red. She was as naked as the man, but I doubt she was that way voluntarily, and she was held down by multiple straps. Her body was already covered in blood and her skin covered in marks from the searing poker, and if she were breathing at all I couldn’t see it. It looked as though he didn’t care if they were alive or not when he did his thing; to him, flesh was flesh.

Lyssie took in the scene before her, her form shaking with agitation and disgust. I could see her small fists clenching and unclenching from the scene that was playing out in front of her. I could only imagine what was going through her mind as she likened the unknown girl’s plight to her own so many years ago. I didn’t want to know what horrors had surfaced in the recesses of her feelings when she came into the room, but I knew I wouldn’t let her witness anymore of this bastard’s perversions on my watch.

The hate that had built in me from the atrocities Lyssie had narrated surfaced, a rage that seemed to come out of nowhere burst from inside me. At that point I saw two things distinctly; red and his death at my hands.

I covered the distance from the door to the table in three large steps. I knew the douchebag had figured out I was with him in the shed by now, but there wasn’t shit he could do about it. My temper had hit one hundred percent and then blown the top off the gauge as it continued to climb. I was unable to contain all the hate and disgust that I felt from seeing what was happening right in front of me, and I leapt into action.

I had covered the distance between us without even realizing I was moving, and I had my fingers tangled in his greasy gray hair with my left hand, making sure the grip was secure by yanking his head back. I felt almost like Mohammed Ali as I wound up and let go with a haymaker with my right hand that surely had all the power of God in it.

When my fist connected with the side of his face, I could swear the bones collapsed so completely that the eye on the right side of his face flew out of the broken socket and hung down on his cheek by the optical nerve like snot running from his nose. This was immediately followed by what seemed to be a gallon of blood spraying out of the empty eye-socket. While the hit had felt good and filled me with an intense satisfaction, I was nowhere near done with the cocksucker yet. I had a lot of vengeance stored up in me for the wrong he’d done to Lyssie, and someone needed to pay him back for the girl on the table. Hell, someone had to pay him back for all the girls, before and after Lyssie. And, let me tell you, since there was no one else around to dish out payback, I felt just like an Avenging Angel.

I wound up the right arm again, and popped the old bastard in the side of the face again, breaking whatever bones had survived the initial punch. He almost passed out from the pain of it for a second, the iron dropping from his hand. I heard it hit the floor of the shed with a dull thunking sound. In my head, it sounded as though it was a Gift from God.

I flung the asshole to the ground while he was still groggy, slapping him over and over to keep him from passing out, then bent over and snatched up the iron. I swung it around my head a few times, warming up for the grand finale. This fucking pervert would feel the taste of Justice, delivered by God’s Left Hand. Yes, indeed! Revenge is a dish best served cold, and baby, right then I was the Ice Man.

With an end to the theatrics of waving the rod around my head, I got down to business. With a fury that would have surprised a Gladiator in the old Coliseum, I began to beat the man mercilessly, with absolutely no remorse. I beat him on his head, on his chest, on his arms and and on his legs. When I heard bones break during the beating it only spurred me on to greater heights. I gave him a few good solid whacks in the gonads just for good measure, my foot pressing down on his chest to keep him from curling up into a ball brought on by the pain in his nuts. Then I began to kick Chester the Molester in the side until he managed to flip himself onto his front to keep from getting any more of his ribs broken.

I took this new unbroken canvas as a sign that I still had some artistic painting in my future. I went back to work with the bar, beating every inch of his body that I could reach. Then, in what was to be the Big Finish, I used my foot to spread his ass cheeks apart, and started to push the still hot poker up into his ass.

“STOP!” Lyssie shouted, her command seeming to come from directly inside my brain. “Stop before you kill him and it’s too late for me!”

The sound of her voice seemed to bring me back some what to myself, giving me some measure of calm. Even though I was still seeing red, I let go of the rod, which was protruding from his asshole like a flag-less banner carrier from an old army. He was bloody and beaten, and lay there making strange noises in his throat, as if he were ready to give up and die. It was then that Lyssie made her move, and something told me she was to be the Grim Reaper of his soul after all, not me.

She waited only a moment, and then pounced on the broken man, a scream ripping from her throat. The man, now down and beaten to within an inch of his life, tried to reach over his shoulder to grab her and fling her away, but there was no form to hold onto. Lyssie, however, was having no trouble holding on to her own personal devil. She’d wrapped her arms and legs around him, and then pulled his head back so that it was at an unnatural angle, giving her access to the front of his head. She placed her mouth over his, and then began to make awful sucking motions, as if she were trying to pull all the air from his body and into hers.

Like a wraith, she was sucking the life out of him while he kicked and screamed. He couldn’t get up and run because by now I’d used my foot to flip him onto his back, and I’m sitting on his chest holding his hands down and letting his legs kick around at random. I’d gotten him pretty much secured, at least as much as I can without tying him up, and though he can flop around like a fish while he has some life left in him, he wasn’t going anywhere.

Lyssie had been quick to readjust herself when I had flipped him over, and she still had her mouth locked over his, in what I saw as a true kiss of death. She kept her mouth in place, and he began to slow down, his body drying up like an old mummy. As his body withered more and more, Lyssie was actually beginning to look as if she were mostly satisfied with the outcome. After what seemed a week but could only have been a few minutes, Lyssie finished him off.

She looked over and saw I was still there, her eyes darting quickly away as if she wished I hadn’t seen what she had done. When she had glanced back, I shrugged my shoulders to let her know it didn’t matter to me. I might have felt a little out of kilter about the whole thing, but he deserved whatever he got for what he did to her. I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

The whole while she had been sucking the life out of the bastard, her own form seemed to be fading, getting ‘thinner’ as Lyssie might have said. Now, with it all said and done, her form  was fading out of sight faster. She was still staring at me, and she mouthed a “thank you” in my direction along with a sad smile, and faded from the room. I felt a little sad, both for Lyssie, as well as the girl on the table, and maybe even a little bit for me. Still, life moves on. There are things that need to be done, and no one but me to do them.

I rummaged around the shed for a few minutes, and finally came up with a pencil and a small scrap of paper. Carefully I wrote on the paper, then threw the pencil down when I’d finished. I walked over and dropped the note on the table, next to the body of the girl who was still strapped to it. There were two words printed on the paper; Lyssie, 1958. Someone had to let her parents know what had happened to her, if they were still alive. Closure was everything.

It was when I’d left the shed, my heart heavy and my shoulders slumped, that I could have sworn I heard a kicking sound coming from the trunk, and I couldn’t imagine what would be in there making that ruckus. With everything that had happened to me that night, Fear was gripping my balls tight and holding on to me like there was no tomorrow. I stilled, and as I stared at the car I knew I needed to open the trunk to find out what was going on in there.

I headed to the back of the car, pulling my keys out as I went. When I got there, I put the trunk key in the lock and turned it. I have no idea what I was expecting, but as the truck lid lifted up I saw Lyssie laying there, staring up at me with bright violet eyes.

I almost had a heart attack when I realized she was no longer a ghost. Where her body had been dried skin over bone, it was now filled out. Her skin was as pale as a full winter moon.

And she was smiling! Where the mummified corpse had gone I could pretty much guess; sucking the life out of her killer had revived her own emaciated body and given her a semblance of life, if not the real thing. I couldn’t help but think about what a truly captivating girl she was; never beautiful, but still the one you’d want to go home from the party with.

I lifted her gently out of the truck, amazed at how alive she felt. Her skin was warm and soft, and her chest rose and fell as she breathed. I could hear her heart pounding with life. I set her down next to me, and reluctantly let go of her.

Smiling, she took my hands in hers, the now solid feel of them making me wonder about what I’d done to reach this point. But, the truth was that I didn’t give two shits what I’d done or what I would continue to have to do to keep her in my life. I had saved her from her stay in Hell, and everyone knows that when you save someone’s life, their life becomes your responsibility forever after.

“Well, what now?” I asked her, still holding her hands in mine, staring down into those beautiful eyes.

She shrugged, looked around her for a second as if she were taking in the scenery. She then looked back at me, her head tilted back so her eyes could continue to meet my own.

“Maybe,” she said slowly, meekly. “Maybe if you thought you could stand to be with someone with a past as sordid as mine, maybe if I don’t creep you out too much, maybe – just maybe – we could just drive off into the night and keep going, never looking back. Just you and me. Find us a little place to live and make the most of what life has to offer?”

I didn’t hestate a second before I answered her. “I think that sounds like a plan, Lyssie.” I replied.

And drive off we did. I opened the door for her, letting her into the passenger seat, and then closed the door after she was comfortable. I walked around to the driver side, climbed in, and started the car up, closing my door as the engine roared to life. I hit the Play button on the tape deck, and as John Fogerty’s voice wailed out of the backseat, I turned us around and headed back to the highway, pulling her over next to me and holding her warm hand in mine.

Time moves on, and so do Lyssie and I. We got us a little house in an old established community in rural Virginia where there was lots of space between the houses, and took up residence there. We’re happy, at least as happy as we can be, being reminded every so often of what Lyssie had been through when her dreams are haunted by the ghost of a demon with no soul. Still, she seems to be coming to terms with it, and her past doesn’t affect me; I love her, and I’m pretty sure she feels the same toward me.

It doesn’t even bother me anymore when we have to take a trip out of town when Lyssie starts to get thin and needs to recharge her soul; we only pick those who deserve a horrid death, the one’s who won’t be missed anyway. For better or worse, love is what you make it, and we’re making as much of it as we can.

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