(based on events from real life that happened during my travels for work, reader’s discretion is advised content has mild language and frightening situations)
A bit early for Halloween, but I saw this OA Challenge, and I wanted to just write something from some of the experiences I’ve had. It’s a good way for me to write about the past and still hide in plain sight, I chose Mirai as my co-worker and fresh newbie to the ‘traveling’ lifestyle at the time. Some of the events are real in the story, other parts, embellished for theatrical reasons, it’s up to the reader to investigate what was the real experiences and what wasn’t. *Wink*
For privacy and work-related reasons, the places and names have been changed.
I still remember the scenery passing by like it was yesterday as the train pulled into Saytun Train Station, there wasn’t a huge flourish of loud crowds, people holding signs, or yells from loved ones at this station. It was quiet, but then again, I had ridden on the last train of the evening with my newbie colleague that I would be rooming within this town.
“I thought we’d never get here…” Mirai Kageyama let out a sigh of relief, “my ass was beginning to chafe from all the traveler transfers we had to endure in 18hrs…”
I turned to look at the newbie with a smirk, “shall I give you Bengay for the burning sensation, newbie?”
“Stop kidding around, Kyo! I’m just complaining– I’m just glad we finally made it to Beltha without losing our minds. There were too many hurdles to even get here, it was like the universe was trying to tell us to not come.”
I shook my head as I got up to get our luggage from overhead and handed Mirai his duffel, while I pulled on my backpack and grabbed my duffel as well. The train quivered as it came to a stop, the sounds of the doors to the platform opening with a hiss as we both disembarked and entered the empty station. Striding towards the information window, I was able to speak with the receptionist who was closing up for the night. A smile on her face as she clapped her hands and went shuffling through a few items in her desk and handed me a key to a rental car our company had gotten through the travel lodgings.
“Okay, so… Ms… I’m sorry if I botch your name, Kah-hi-you… Goo-ann–?”
“Just, Kyo, is fine,” I smiled as I took the key and my ID back from her.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized, “if you exit through this door on the right, you’ll make it to the parking lot and find the car. Make sure to check or take pictures of any scratches prior to receiving the car so it can be logged that you received the car in that condition and not have it penalized against you, ok?”
I nodded and waved goodnight to her and turned my attention back to Mirai who seemed in a daze at looking at the sky. I walked to him and stared up too, back home, for both of us, seeing stars in such a vast amount without the occlusion of city lights was nearly impossible. However, here, it was like a blanket of brilliance and wonder, “beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Mirai smiled, “I’m guessing you’re used to seeing stuff like this every now and then, right?” He questioned as I began to walk out of the station, the sounds of our feet being the only noise to highlight the almost too quiet night.
“You can say that,” I spoke as the cement pavement turned to gravel under our feet and the soft crunching of stone against dirt reached my ears, we continued to pad towards the parking lot and found our designated car. “This is us.”
Popping the trunk we threw in our luggage and got in, I slid into the driver’s seat and turned on the engine with ease. Having been a traveler a bit longer than Mirai, we had agreed that I would drive and navigate for the first few days then split the duties as the days passed by. Pulling out of the dim parking lot we headed onto a dirt path and cut through the darkness with the power of the high beams of the small Prius we were in.
“I would have thought they’d give us a crossover if we were going to be working out in the country, not a tiny car like this…”
I chuckled at his comment, “Mirai, our company still likes to save money even if they are good with our pay packages and living areas. Besides, the town is quite small, I doubt we would need the car unless we had to travel outside town for our own fun and activities.”
I narrowed my gaze as the trees seemed to be reaching dangerously low to the car as we plowed through the dirt and found another rocky road that had a sign pointing to the main road. I heard Mirai fiddling with the Bluetooth connection with his phone to the car as I continued to keep my eyes on the road, the silence that filled the spaces between us wasn’t uncomfortable but there was a niggling sensation at the back of my neck to be wary of the outside.
It was then, the headlights caught the opening for the main road and a sigh of relief escaped Mirai as he too, saw the opening,
“Finally! I was thinking we were going to trapped in the forest fore—!!”
Something dark darted in front of the car as I let out a gasp and hit the breaks, but I wasn’t quick enough as I heard the sickening crack of something hit the front of the car. Slowly, I backed up the car to see what lay before us, my heart pounding as it showed a deer had run in front of our car. I watched as it slowly got up on wobbly feet and then look at us, a shiver ran down my spine as if it could see us through the glass. It stared at us and tilted its head before slowly padding off into the bushes and disappearing.
“What… What was that about…?” Mirai broke the silence as I stared into the darkness and felt a sudden chill that eyes were on us, it was then, we both heard a strange sound come from the forest. An eerie howl that was unlike any animal I had ever heard during my travels, but at that moment, I threw the car into drive and was about to press on the gas when Mirai yelled.
“Wait! Kyo, the deer!” Mirai spoke in bewilderment as I realized the deer was back and it was in front of the exit to the highway, staring at us.
The howl in the forest was getting louder as if it was coming towards us, and the alarm bells in my head ringing as something in the back of my mind came to the surface. “Hold onto anything Mirai!”
I screamed at him as I floored it, the tiny Prius kicking up pebbles as the car flew forward and I swerved around the deer, the tiny car rammed into some bushes and a jumped up onto the cement road. Both of us jumping up and down in our seat, our seat belts biting into our chest as I drove madly down the road and away from the dark path.
My hands gripped the steering wheel as I told myself to breath as we passed nothing but trees, no cars were on the other side of the road. Just darkness, the highway, and the eerie howls coming from the forest surrounding us. We both exhaled breath and then jumped as the radio Mirai had been fiddling with came to life and nearly made us both shit out pants.
I lowered the volume as I kept my eyes glued to the road, and Mirai seemed to watch the windows as we drove in silence towards Beltha. The lights of the town coming into view after what felt like hours, I slowed the car slightly as we entered the main bridge that led into the town. All was quiet as we drove past the closed stores and the only stoplight that blinked yellow at an intersection, “Mirai…?”
I watched him jump at my voice as he turned to look at me, “what’s up?” I heard him ask with a nervous smile plastered on his face, I could tell that he was still spooked about the deer and the howling. The ride didn’t help both our nerves, considering everything was pitch black off the side of the roads and it felt like the whole forest was watching us in the shadows.
“The directions for the house,” I managed as I drove further into the town and realized, as we drove closer to some houses further away from the main part of the township.
“Oh! Right,” he chuckled as he pulled up the GPS and entered the address quickly, “we gotta turn left on Rosemary, and then follow it down until we hit Sematary Rd…” Mirai trailed off as he seemed to frown, “…”
I looked at him, a bit confused by his tone as I followed his directions and then came to Semetary Rd, a small hit of unease entering me as I rolled the car up to a house that could have looked quite pretty if it wasn’t dark outside. However, that was the least of my concerns, as I parked and looked a few houses down.
“Is that… A cemetery?” I asked as I saw Mirai rub his temples in exasperation.
“It is… I double-checked,” he looked out towards the cemetery gates that was merely only a three-minute walk away from the house. “We live near a cemetery, and the backyard opens up to that…”
I followed his gaze and realized the backyard of the house wasn’t partitioned off, it was open to the forest that we had escaped from… We sat in the car as we both seemed lost in our thoughts, and the eerie howl from the forest sang.
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