The Haunted Bridge

~A Ghost Story~

When growing up in a small town, you are bound to hear certain things. Stay away from the old well, your father nearly drowned there. Don't go near Mrs. Johnson's yard, so will chase you. Mr. Wilcox is cheating on his wife with the local dinner owner. These are just the normal small town whispers that everyone expects.

Perhaps there is some truth to them, but they are just normal gossip, normal whispers after Sunday's church service.

However, there is one rumour, one whisper, that everyone seems to know and seems to believe it is true. Stay away from the old bridge on the dirt road at night. Now, I understand that this may sound kind of vague to you and kind of silly, but in my town, we believe that there is something to this. For you see, a couple of summers ago, two teenage boys were down there fishing and they were never seen again. There was this big investigation into their disappearance and no one found them.

I know, I know, you are probably thinking those boys were just playing a prank and are probably somewhere laughing about it. That may be true in some towns, but not here.

For you see, this isn't the first time that something has happened like this.

The history of my town is riddled with these strange disappearances and they all seem to go back to that bridge on that lonely dirt road after the sun has set. There have been rumours of funny sightings down there as well. You know: the kind that no one actually wants to believe. Stories of Civil War soldiers wondering around, two children walking down the road, and, of course, the headless person waiting at the end of the bridge.

Now, of course, the issue is that that no one has ever been able to confirm these sightings. Those who have said they have seen these things were deemed to be drunk or out of their mind. However, nothing has been able to take away the facts. The facts are still there and everything still seems to point to the old bridge after dark.

In the day, the bridge looks like a normal bridge on a lonely country backroad. The dust kicks up every time someone drives over it and the lose boards creak if you hit them in a certain place. The stone foundation may look run down and sad, but it has, yet, to let anyone down. The small creek that runs under it is the prefect wadding pool in the summer. It just looks like a normal bridge on a normal country road.

Yet, just make sure you are away from it when the sun goes down.

I know some of you are wondering if the landowners have ever seen anything.

Well, the problem is that it's hidden away from the houses and is kind of in a dip. The hills seem to gather in around where the bridge is. In the summer and fall, it creates a postcard moment with the trees showing off their wonderful beauty. In the winter, it's a death trap. Many times, the ice and snow as sent people sliding down the hill toward the bridge.

What about night travel?
Again, would you want to be traveling over a bridge that has been linked to strange things?

This hasn't prevented outsiders from attempting to see just what is going on there. They think that just because they stay in their vehicles that they are safe or think that it's just all a bunch of nonsense. Still, it never fails. Every time someone shows up to look at the bridge at night, something terrible ends up happening to them-meaning they are never seen nor heard from again.

The locals all just shake their heads, mutter "I told them so," and move on. It's the same old cycle, one that has yet to be broken.

Oh, yes, there have been many attempts to remove the bridge, but they all end up in failure. You see no matter how many times the process to tear down the bridge starts, it always seem to be undone. Why? Who? How? Again, those questions have yet to be answered and given the bridge's track record, they never may be.

All of this brings up back to a bridge on a lonely dirt road.

!

The daytime is safe. I peer down over the bridge, staring at the water. It seems to be begging me to come and play in it, but I know better. Even though the sun is still up, I know that darkness will soon set in and this is not where I want to be once that happens. Even I know better than be caught here at night. For I am not one of those people who lives in denial.

The wind picks up, sending little chills down my back. Someone is there, watching me. I whip around looking, but I am only greeted by the emptiness and stillness. For even the birds do not sing here.

I slowly move away from the bridge, so that now I am completely off of it. The wind still blows, kicking up bits of dust. My heart pounds in my chest as my hands grow sweaty. I should follow the road up the hill, past the church, and go home.

The last day heat drifts down from the thick overgrowth of the trees as the wind picks up. The sweet smell of rain fills my nose. I don't need an excuse to get moving. When my older brother makes fun of me for running home, I will just simply use the rain as an excuse.

For unlike me, my brother is not a believer. He's captain of the football team, class president, and everyone's favourite boy; he doesn't have time deal with something as stupid as a haunted bridge. However, I have pointed to him many times that he doesn't come down here after dark. Each and every time, he just tells me to mind my own business and not to get involved in things that I don't understand.

I would be lying if I said that I understood what is going on here, so I can't even come up with a comeback when he says things like that. After all, what is the use of trying to pretend you understand something when you really don't? The truth will come out at some point.

I look back at the bridge. It's just a lonely, sad bridge that people drive over in the day, but never at night. For as long as the rumours and whispers have gone on, there surely has to be some truth to them.

Right? Aren't all of the stories supposed to be based on some kind of fact or that just something the old people tell us to make us go away? I really don't know. Even though I'm young, I can tell that the outside world is a very complex place.

I start up the road, just as the first raindrops hit the ground. I pick up my pace to a slow run. I have had too many bad experiences with running up this hill at a full run. You see it's a lot steeper and longer than what it appears. You don't want to use up all of your speed at the bottom and not be able to get clear up to the top.

The wind picks up. In the distance, thunder rumbles. The rain is now covering the road in fine little spatters. Indeed, it does seem like I have made the right choice to leave when I did.

The rain patters against the leaves, sending a few of them down on me. In the distance, the thunder claps; only this time it is closer than ever before.

I look up the hill. The end is in sight. I push myself harder.

The sky around me begins to darken. Even though I am not close to the bridge nor is it the setting sun, my body screams at me to get out of there. I don't know if the bridge comes to life in the middle of a thunderstorm and I most certainly do not want to find out.

!

The thunderstorm lasts through the night and into the next day. They call it a derecho and it's one of the worst to come through the area. In its wake, it is left a mess of destruction. People are without electric. Trees are down everywhere. A hundred and fifty year old church in the next town gone. They say it's a miracle that no one is killed.

The only thing that seems to remain untouched is the bridge. No one seems to understand. Those who don't know any better call it a miracle, an act of God. Those of us who know better know that it is only because of whatever haunts it did something to protect it.

There's really no sense in lingering on the bridge though, not when there is so much damage to repair and another round of thunderstorms coming later on in the day. It's not supposed to be as bad, but given what we just went through, everyone is more than a little one edge.

I spend the morning helping my brother clean up the brush that managed to find its way into our yard. My mother checks the freezers and the rest of the house to make sure that nothing is wrong there. As we work, I find myself wishing that the air would move just a little bit. It's hot, probably pushing a hundred. Our power is out, which makes our house just as hot as the outside.

We work in silence, only our grunts fill the air. Every now and then, a breeze will kick up, but it doesn't help. It's the kind of breeze that only seems to bring in warm air. At this point, I think I would be happy with a thunderstorm; at the very least, it would make it cooler.

Every hour or so, we hear the clunk, clunk of someone driving over the bridge. It's a constant reminder that its still out there, waiting for us, taunting us. I know it can't have its own mind and be watching us, but it really feels like it.

The sun beats down on my as drag another limb over to the brush pile. The wind has picked up just a little bit. While I can't feel any moisture, it sure feels like there is something there. I can't put a finger on it, but something is watching me.

I look around, only be greeted by nothing out of normal.

My brother comes over to me. "That's the last of it. We should go cool off in the creek."

I look at him. There is only one creek nearby, only one with a decent wadding area. "The river would be better."

He shakes his head. "It will be too high and there's trees down all over the places." He laughs and shakes his head. "You really are afraid of the bridge. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

"I'm not afraid of it," I snap. "Don't you find it just a little bit odd that everything else had damage and, yet, it remained untouched."

He shrugs. "It's old and has good bones. They always say that old stuff is better able to withstand this kind of stuff."

"Peters barn is old and it a lot of damage," I point out. "The church was destroyed."
"Look, I don't know how these things work, but it just happens. I'm hot, the air is out, and this is the only thing I can think of. If you are too scared to come with me, then by all means, stay here."

It is pretty hot out, I do have to admit that, and the water down there is pretty cool. It is really tempting, far more tempting than I care to let on.

"I don't know," I say. "The radio said more storms later on."
My brother looks up at the bright sky. "I think we'll be okay."

I don't doubt it, but there is still something that is stopping me from going with him. I know the bridge is just a bridge during the day, but it sure doesn't feel like it now. It could just because of the storms last night. That has to be it; it perfectly safe to go there during the day.

Sweat pours into my eyes, making them sting. "Just promise me that we'll go back if anything strange happens."

He nods. "If you are really that afraid, we'll come back, but, trust me, nothing bad is going to happen."

Even though I really don't believe his words, I still find myself nodding along with them. There is just something so calming about the way he says them that makes me feel a little bit better.

He starts down the road, leaving me with no other choice but to follow him. Everything in my body screams at me, begs me to stay in the yard, but I can't. I can't let my brother go down there by himself, because he will not have enough sense to turn around when things go bad.

The road is still wet as we make our way down the hill. The wind picks up a little bit, hinting at rain. I want to tell my brother that we should turn back, but I don't. No matter how many times the words form in my mouth, I can't make myself speak them.

We reach the bottom of the hill and there it stands, untouched and unharmed. Limbs are down all around it, but none of them are actually on the bridge. I know if I point that out, my brother will just say it's because people cleared them away so they could drive across it. I know better. It's because of whatever lives that there are no limbs. Even the limbs know better than to linger too long in this place.

The lose limbs crunch under our feet as we approach the bridge. The air feels still, even though I can see the tree limbs moving. Something isn't right….Something is right….No, No, it's wrong….It's all so very wrong.

My limbs tense up and my heart rate picks up. I lick my lips, but it doesn't help. My brother starts to go down the back to the creek. Why can't I just be as carefree as him? Why do I choose to let these little moments bother me?

I'm such a downer…I ruin everything…

My brother looks back at me. "Are you coming or not?"

I wipe off my forehead as more sweat rushing down my face. I really would like to cool off. Maybe it would help to clear my mind a little bit. "Yeah, I'm coming."

Against my better judgement, I move toward the creek and the bridge. If am going to die, then I don't want to do so all sweaty. Why did I just think that? Why did I just think that I'm going to die? I'm not…Thoughts like this are going to be the end of me.

I pull off my shoes and socks and lower my feet into the water. It feels so good, like this is what I really needed. I can feel the tension leave my body. My brother looks over at with a smirk. I pretend not to see it. I don't want to have to tell him that he's right, not now and not ever.

I step into the centre of the small pool and look up at the bridge. Even from here, I can see that it is just a bridge. The underside of it is bright enough for me to see that there is nothing lurking under there. It's just a bridge, nothing more, nothing less.

I just need to accept the fact that nothing bad can happen here as long as the sun is shining. I can't make the same claim if it were night though.

My brother slowly wades over toward the bridge. I know what he's trying to do and it's probably going to work. He wants me to follow him so that I have to go under the bridge. Why do I know it's going to work? He knows that I don't want to be stuck close to this bridge by myself. Yes, I was just down here yesterday, but that was different. Right now, everything feels oh so wrong.

I look down at the water. Other than the normal mud and other creek debris, I really don't see anything that doesn't actually belong. It's just a bridge and it's daylight. There really is nothing to be afraid of. I just need to get it together.

Just a little bit ahead of me, the bridge waits, taunting. I cannot allow these things to get to me this way. I have to stay strong and be strong. I have to show my brother that I am better than this.

"Are you coming?" my brother looks back at me.

I nod, splashing up the littlest of water of water as I walk. The bridge gets closer and palms are wet and I'm positive it's not from the water. I gulp, but it doesn't help. I need to calm down; I need to get a grip on myself.

The darkness gathers in around me as I walk under the bridge. It's just a bridge and it's daytime…It's just a bridge and it can't hurt you…It's just a bridge….It's just a bridge….

My brother walks ahead of me, completely unaware of my little breakdown. I wish that I cold be as innocent and carefree as he. I wish that I would not let my mind get the best of me. It's still daylight; I should not be thinking these thoughts.

I just need to focus on the end goal and not let it get to me. It's just a bridge…There's nothing to be afraid of. You are just letting the rumours get the best of you….You must not believe everything that you hear. There is truth buried in rumours; everyone knows that.

I still cannot let it get to me; I just prove that I am stronger than this.

The water splash at my feet as I walk. I can hear something laughing, taunting me. It doesn't make sense. It's daylight.s There's not supposed to be anything down here in the daylight.

I listen again, thinking that it may be my brother, but it's not. The voices are too high, too childlike to be him. This doesn't make any sense….It doesn't make any sense….It all just has to be in my head. That's the only thing I can think of. It's all just in my head and I need to forget about it.

I focus on the end. The bridge will not get the best of me. I am stronger and better than something that is nonliving. I take several deep breaths before moving on. I can do this; I can beat this thing.

I move closer to the end. With each step I take, it seems to be getting further and further away. It doesn't make sense; it doesn't make any sense. How can something like this be happening to me? What did I do to deserve to be messed with like this? I believed and never took any risks.

I look ahead. my brother is waiting for me on the other end. He must think I'm a fool…No, it really doesn't matter what he thinks. Just because he's older does not mean that he know best. He's in control of his mind.

When I step out into the daylight, I feel so much better, so much freer. I gasp as I walk out so that the sun is hitting me full on.

My brother rolls his eyes. "You really are an idiot. I thought you were going to wet yourself there for a minute."

I glare at him. "You know how I feel about this place."

With a laugh, he kicks a bit of water at me. "Come on, now, don't be like that. Look, everything is fine and everything is going to be fine. You just need to stop listening to so many stupid stories."

I look back at the bridge. Even though there is probably truth to that, I chose to believe the stories. After all, those stories just didn't come from nowhere.

My brother rolls his eyes. "I think you just need to learn how to relax. It's not like the devil is lurking."

I look back at my brother. "You've heard the stories. Where do you think those people went?"

He shrugs. "Who knows? We kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so there's no telling where they went."

Once again, there is actually a lot of truth to what he is saying. People come here to hide and disappear all the time.

He smiles at you. "You just need to lighten up, you know? I know you mean well and all, but you can't live in fear. You have to go out and experience life, otherwise, you will grow up and not have lived."

!

I stare out my window into the darkened woods. Everything is quiet, far too quiet for my liking. It's amazing how you can hear so much more without the hum of the lights. I know what I am doing and I know that I probably should not be doing it, but I can't help it. I need to know if there is any truth to the matter.

I know I have said that I am a believer, but I can't turn my brother into one unless I have hard proof. This does not mean that I am going to charge down to the bridge after dark, when it's not safe, when the things come out. I know better. Darkness is not safe.

The silence presses in around me, like it is slowly trying to lure me out into the world, to see what is going on out there. I am not going to let it win. I am stronger than whatever is lurking out there.

I lean further out my window as I stare into the shadows. They seem to be moving, but I know that's not possible. Now, if I was down by the bridge it might be, but not here. The area around my house is supposed to be safe.

However, I do suppose it is possible that there is something lurking out there. While I may not be at the bridge, I most certainly am not all that far away from it. Something could have drifted up here and is trying to trick me.

I move away from my window, but I am still looking out it. Something is preventing me from looking away.

The trees rustle, making me jump. My heart pounds in my chest. It's just the trees….It's just the wind blowing…There is nothing lurking out there….The shadows aren't moving…It's just all in your head….

But the shadows are moving, that's the issue.

Every time I look out, they are closer. Their edges reach out to me like fingers just dying to get me in their cold grips. No…No….No…This cannot be happening. I did everything that I was supposed to. I believe and I stayed away from the bridge at night!

I slam my window shut and bury myself in my closet. I fold myself up into a ball, rocking back and forth, trying not to cry or make any kind of sound for that matter…This isn't happening….This isn't real…This isn't real…Get a grip….Get a grip….

If my brother came into my room now and saw me, he would have a field day. He would never stop making fun of me. Still, this is better than being dead….

I close my eyes. I know that the shadows are still moving in me; I know they are waiting for just the right time to move in and do whatever it is that they want to. I don't understand. These kinds of things aren't supposed to be happening this far away from the bridge. It's supposed to be safe here…It's supposed to be safe…

I listen, but I don't hear anything. It could just be a trick to let my guard down too. I cannot afford to make any mistakes. I have to be strong; I have to stay hidden. It's the only way I can beat this thing.

I cannot let it win…I cannot become another story…I will not become another small town whisper.

I listen again, this time I can hear them: the same voices I heard down on the bridge. I close my eyes, willing them to go away. I can't make out what they are saying nor do I really want to know. They just need to go back to whatever hole they came out of.

Their voices are getting louder. I put my hands over my ears and close my eyes. I try to make myself smaller, but I am about as small as I can go. I cannot let this happen…I cannot let them win…I am stronger than this…I am better than this….

I have to ignore it…I have to…It will go away if I pretend like it's not happening…I just have to stay strong…I cannot let it get to me…I will show it…I have to…I have no other choice….

The voices are getting louder. I still can't make out what they are saying. I know it's not my brother if that is what you are thinking. Once again, there are too many of them and they are too high. It can't be from the bridge…It just can't be….

I have to hold it together. The sun will be up in a few hours and everything will be okay. It will be okay; everything is going to be okay. I just have to keep thinking these positive thoughts and everything will work out. It's the people who think negative things that end up in trouble; those with good thoughts get buy just fine in life.

The voices are getting louder, but I still can't make out what they are saying. I want to hear them; I want to understand what they are saying.

I find myself shaking my head…No….No….That's not what I want at all. I don't want to hear them. I just want them to go away.

I attempt to make myself smaller again, but they are still coming. I know they want me; I know that they what to the end of me. I can't let that happen; I can't become another story. I will not be another story….I will not be another gossip session.

I'm not close to the bridge…It can't hurt me…It can't hurt me…I won't let that happen…I will not let that happen….

Oh, but the voices are getting louder! I can almost make out what they are saying! I have to get rid of them! I have to find a way to make them go away!

The monster is calling out to me….The monster wants me to listen to what it has to say. I can't let that happen. I must stay strong.

But they are singing...

Singing is a good thing right?

No, must resist!

The song sound beautiful! Beautiful things will not hurt me!
Get it out of your head….Get it out of your head…You cannot let them in….

They just want me to come out and play.

No, they want to kill me!
I want to live!

I don't want to become another story!

I will not let this happen to me!

I close my eyes with everything that I'm worth and wait for this moment to pass me by. I have to be stronger than this; I have to be better than this. They say that those who give into their fears are the ones who end up broken and lost.

The voices are getting louder, soon there will be no blocking them out. I have to be brave; I have to remember who I am. I close my eyes as I wait for the darkness to come rushing at me. I can do this; I can beat this thing.

Save us now,

Before the open closes.

Save us now,

From the bliss,

Before the sun awakens.

Save us now,

Before the open closes.

Save us now,

From the bliss,

Before the sun awakens.

No, no, no….I cannot listen to the song…I cannot let it consume me. I'm not at the bridge…Nothing bad can happen to me here. I'm a believer! I did everything right.

Save us now,

We're at the door.

Can't you see you just need to come to the bridge?

Save us now,

We're at the door.

Can't you see you just need to come to the bridge?

I slowly open my eyes as the song comes to an end and everything returns to silence. Is it over? No, even I'm not that thick. I can't believe it's over yet. There is no way that they would have gone through all of that just let it be over that quickly. There has to be something else in mind; there has to be another reason for this show.

I carefully take my hands away from my ears and just wait. There has to be more happening. I don't know what nor do I really care. Actually, I take that last bit back, I do care. Something bad is going to happen to me. I can feel it in my bones.

They want me to come to the bridge. I am not going to fall for it. The bridge is last place that I will be going tonight. I am going to show them for once and for all. They will not have me.

I will not let them take me.

However, it seems that my body has other plans. I find myself standing up and opening the closet door. I try to fight it, but my body wants to move. It is pulling me toward whatever it out there. I dig my heels in, but it is all in vain. The force is pulling me toward my death.

Why did I just think that? If I believe that I am about to die, then it must be true. No…No…No….I cannot allow such dark thoughts to enter my mind, not in a moment like this.

My body drifts toward the window and before I know it, I am outside, standing the centre of the yard in my worn pajamas. I look back toward the house and try to move in that direction, but something stops me. No matter how hard I try, I cannot go back toward the house.

When I try to open my mouth to scream, nothing happens. Nothing happens….Nothing happens….I am alone…Whatever is out there is in full control of me…

This isn't right!

This isn't fair!

I did everything that I was supposed! I believed! I stayed away from the bridge!

There is no doubt in my mind that is where we are going….To the bridge, at night, when it's not safe…

I struggle, but it's all in vain. This invisible force has already made up its mind as to where it is taking me. The bridge is waiting for me and it will take me, like it has so many others.

The branches hit me in the face as I drift every so slowly though the woods. Why take me this way? It would be so much quicker to just go down the road and get this over with. I want to close my eyes, but I can't.

The trees seem to come to life all around me. They bend toward me, like they are trying to grab me, like they are trying to save me. That can't be right. If they are in fact alive, then they are probably just trying to bring me that much quicker to my death. I have to be strong; I have to be brave. I cannot let my mind get the best of me.

I gulp as I pick up speed. If these things make me keep this speed, then I will most certainly die. I don't want to die….I want to be stronger than this invisible force….I am better….I am better….

I try to pull away, but something grabs me. It's like something is forcing my body to keep moving in this direction and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I cannot let this happen…I cannot let it win…I have to be strong…I have to find a way to fight…

There is always something….This is always another way to defeat a foe….You just have to find a way to make it happen….You just have to have the will to make it happen….

I just don't understand why this is happening now…I did everything right….I believed….I stayed away from the bridge….

The limbs hit me hard in the face, like they are reminding me that this is all real. It's clear that they aren't going to help me. Grrr…Why me? Why did I have to be the one to get stuck in this nightmare?

That's all this is…It has to be…It's all a dream…

OH, OH, OH!

THERE IT IS!

IT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND IT'S DARK.

THE DARK ISN'T SAFE!

THE BRIDGE!

THE BRIDGE!

SAVE ME!

The bridge looks a lot different in the night. It's a shadow. It looks like death. I gulp as my body is taken closer and closer….No….No…No….

NO!

NO!

NO!

NO!

NO!

NO!

YES!

NO!

NO!

NO!

YES!

Something looks down at me, but I can't make out it's face. All I can see are its white teeth, smiling at me, as it bends over me. I try to move away, but I can't. I'm frozen in this place…I'm stuck…There is nothing I can do to save myself.

"You look like a kind soul," the thing whispers, it's voice soft and sweet. "You look like the kind of person who would help us."

I try to shake my head, but nothing happens. When I attempt to speak, once again, nothing happens. I am alone and helpless. This thing is going to take me. No matter what I do, I will never be able to escape from it.

I belong to it now. I belong to this place now.

The thing gently touches my shoulder. "There's no sense in fighting it. You know that. It's just easier to give in and come with us. We will show the way."

I look at it. Still, I cannot make out what it is.

"You didn't do anything wrong, so don't worry. You just happen to be the kind of person that we are looking for. It doesn't make you good or bad, it just makes you lucky." The thing offers a hand. "Come, take my hand. Let's put an end to this madness."

Before I know it, my hand is outright. I try to pull it back, but nothing happens. I am not in control of myself. It's not fair…If I can't have a fighting chance, then what it is the point of all of this? Why give me the illusion that I even have a say in the matter?

Take the hand….

Take the hand….

It will save your family….

It will save your family….

Wait? What?

There has not been any mention of my family. Are they in danger?

I look back up at the thing, which smiling down at me. I try to speak, but it's no good. Why take away my voice? Oh, right, it's so I don't start screaming.

The thing takes my hand into its own. Much to my surprise, it's not cold, but warm. That doesn't make any sense. None of this makes any sense. "There, there. See, that's not so hard. We'll take you and make sure you are taken care of."

I nod as I allow myself to be led across the bridge, toward a little light. I know that light wasn't there before. I frown. What is it?

The thing looks back at me. "You see, you have nothing to fear. You are safe. The bridge has never hurt anyone. It's just a bridge. You mustn't worry anymore."

I nod. There is something to that. It's just a bridge and a bridge cannot hurt me. Those people with all of their stories didn't know what they were talking about.

It's just a bridge….It's just a bridge…

We cross over into the light.

!

The dinner is buzzing. Last night another person fell victim to the bridge. Though the authorities are looking for a body or any sign of the kid, they know it will all be in vain. For those who disappear on the bridge, at night, are never found or heard from again.

The locals all shake there head. How many more would it take before people realized that there is something really wrong with that bridge?

After all, during the day, it is just a bridge. Daylight is safe.

It's when it's dark that strange things happen down there.