Linda turned the fur lined collar of her black leather coat up against the back of her neck in an effort to keep the cold north wind from blowing down her back. The frigid, late-October breeze blew hard against her back as she headed south down the dark rural street. She crossed her arms tightly to her chest as the cold quickly began to creep into her very bones. Why hadn’t she worn jeans? They would have been much warmer than the short black dress she had ultimately picked out.
The dry autumn leaves were in constant motion creating eerie shapes and sounds as the wind tossed them all about her. Some of them hitting her and clinging to her soft blonde hair as it blew chaotically around her rather pretty and only slightly made up face. Some red lipstick and eyeliner were all she had chosen to put on, not wanting to appear too flashy.
She looked back to see that her broken Monte Carlo had faded into the blackness of the night. A thick growth of leafless trees lined each side of the two lane road. Their barren limbs seemed like boney arms against the starry sky; bending against the stronger gusts of the icy breeze. It was as if they were reaching down to grab her as she made her way down the lonely road. Her four inch spike heels that lengthened her shapely legs were now a burden as she clopped loudly into the darkness. Why hadn’t she worn the comfortable pair that sat right beside these in her closet?
Her plans had been to spend the evening curled up on the sofa reading more of the romance novel she had recently started; just her, the book and a chilled bottle of wine. That is until yesterday when Linda ran into an old acquaintance, a girl she hadn’t seen since high school. Cathy Becker, as Linda remembered, had always been a little strange.
Cathy came from a poor family and stayed mostly to herself. She had no real friends to speak of and even the nerds hadnâ€™t liked her. She had been heavily into the Goth look in those days and was never asked to join in any of the schoolâ€™s extracurricular activities. She had been relentlessly teased by the popular kids and though Linda had always felt sorry for her, she had never really done anything to help her.
Cathy had asked Linda if she would like to get some lunch and Linda agreed. She was glad to see Cathy had grown out of her Goth period. Linda thought she actually looked pretty. While they were eating, and reminiscing, a good looking man walked up to the table. Cathy jumped up and hugged the guy and asked him to pull up a chair. Linda found herself becoming strangely infatuated with the young man the more she learned about him as they talked. John was an unmarried doctor, a little younger than her, but she didn’t mind that.
The conversation turned to a party Cathy was planning for that night. John said he would be there, but Linda never said for sure that she would come. When she got home she found she couldn’t get the cute young doctor out of her mind.
With barely enough time to get ready she decided to get dressed and go. Cathy’s directions must have been wrong, and Linda soon became lost, and it was starting to get dark. If only she had stayed home like she planned.
She had not passed a house for miles when the motor of her Monte Carlo began to sputter. Why hadn’t she filled the tank before she left the city? Linda had never been a very religious person, but she did believe in God, and had said a little prayer just before the motor died. Knowing how far it was back to the nearest house she made the decision to go forward in hopes there would be some sign of civilization ahead of her.
A low growl from the woods on the left side of the road caused her to quicken her pace as she tried to convince herself it had been the wind blowing across a hollow hole in one of the many trees in the dark, spooky woods.
The loud crack of a fallen branch under the foot of something quite heavy made it obvious to her that she was being followed. Her black spiked heels hindered her progress to the point that she removed them as she now started to run into the unbroken darkness of the moonless night.
Linda no longer felt the chill she had been most concerned about only moments ago. That concern had been replaced by fear. The fear became so great that she didn’t feel the flesh ripping from her bare feet as they pounded against the rough pavement. The heavy creature in the woods had also picked up its pace and was now getting louder and closer.
As she looked behind her to see if she could catch a glimpse of the thing that pursued her she ran straight into the arms of a large man wearing only bib overalls and a red tee-shirt.
“Help me, please!” she screamed. “There is something large in the woods and it’s after me!”
“Calm down little lady, the biggest animal in these here woods is a possum or maybe a deer. Neither of them’ll hurtcha.”
When the Realization of pain from her ragged and bleeding feet suddenly reached her she fainted in the arms of her would be protector.
When she awoke Linda found herself in a dimly lit barn. The only light was the low, flickering flame of an old oil lamp hanging on a nail near the open door. She slowly began to realize that she was floating above a grisly scene. She could hear the guttural growls and snorts of some kind of animals. They seemed to be a cross between a large dog and a small bear.
Somehow she was able to move nearer to get a better look. The animals were pulling and tearing at the flesh of a body. Three people stood around the body and seemed to be enjoying the grotesque actions of the horrid beasts. As she moved closer she could tell that it was Cathy and John and some other man. A large man; it was the man from the road, now sporting what appeared to be horns jutting out of his forehead.
He was poking at the body with a four pronged pitch fork as the other two laughed. Their cackles were like that of an old witch after a successful spell. Bloody entrails, organs, and huge chunks of flesh and muscle were being ripped from the body and devoured by the ferocious, slurping beasts. Linda drifted ever closer until she could see the badly mangled, though still recognizable face. It was her face. It was her body being ravaged by the ghastly creatures.
Suddenly a bright light poured into the barn. The three demons, now involved in a macabre dance ritual around her body, didn’t seem to notice it, but Linda couldn’t resist it and slowly and peacefully lifted up into it.
Rachel, being late for work, had now started to run as she could see the bus almost at the stop. She just made it before the bus took off and after putting the correct change into the collector she scanned the crowded bus for a seat. A cheerful looking dark haired woman was waving to her from the middle of the bus.
“Rachel, Rachel Fletcher. Itâ€™s me Cathy, Cathy Becker from high school.”
HIND SIGHT -Â BY James Kelly