A Wintry Tale

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Would you offer a ride to a stranger?

Submitted: August 01, 2014

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Submitted: August 01, 2014



It was one quiet winter evening, and I had just finished a long shift. I was so knackered that the sight of my bed (or any bed for that matter) was enough for me to collapse and enjoy a long slumber. The landscape was blanketed by snow. It was a beautiful sight. I drove the buses and had been driving for 12 hours. All I wanted to do was to get myself in the comfort of my warm abode. I’ve had enough driving for the day.

It was close to midnight, and I was just taking it steady. The snow was about six inches deep, and I still need to get through 10 miles of hills and winding roads. I didn’t think that rushing would be a good idea.

So, there I was with Frank Sinatra on my car radio, inviting me to “come fly” with him, concentrating on the road. It was pretty dark, with only a few street lamps to light my way. The moon was shy behind the clouds. There was no one about, just the company of the silhouette of the trees on each side of the road. Only a few miles left, I thought. I heard my hunger monkey complain, but I was just too tired, I wanted to just hit the sack.

Then, the strangest thing caught my eye. Before my descent on a steep hill, a man dressed like he had just been to a fancy dress party, wearing a black tuxedo complete with a top hat and a bow, stood next to a sign post (I could not remember what the sign said at this point) with his right hand raised as if asking me to give him a lift to wherever he was going. He was smiling, but I could not see his eyes under his hat.

I contemplated whether or not I should offer him a ride, but a tiny voice in my head said it was quite odd for someone to be out there at this time of night. There were no pubs or any establishments for miles. I felt something was off about the bloke as well, and thinking about it made me shiver a bit. I decided against it. I kept going and passed him without looking back.

I drove about a mile further, then stopped. All of the sudden, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere near my destination, and the road ahead was not that visible anymore. I could hear the alarms in my head, as if warning me not to continue my journey. On the other hand, if I turned around, it would be another 8 miles from the centre of the town, and my eyes were almost ready to shut.

I thought about the man in the fancy dress as well. I turned my head around, and there he was about a few metres away from my car, although I was quite certain that I drove a good mile away from where I left him. My heart raced. He couldn’t have run that fast to reach where I was that time!

I decided to turn around, and I drove past him again. I tried to keep it steady, trying to keep myself calm. I turned the volume of my car radio up, hoping to drown the rising anxiety. I forced myself to keep awake, praying that I would see an inn anytime soon. I finally reached civilisation. To my right, the neon sign saying “vacancy” on a B&B window was inviting me. I let out a sigh of relief. There was no way I would go home tonight. I rang the doorbell, hoping that the landlord would be kind enough to let me check in at this time. It was nearly 2 in the morning.

I waited for about 15 minutes, which felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life. I was cold and hungry, ready to pass out. I felt saved when the door opened. “Forgive my intrusion, but I really need a place to stay for tonight. I have just done a long day’s drive and I think it would be unsafe for me to go on. Is it possible to rent one of your rooms?” I lied a bit, summoning a bit of courage as I expected to have my head bitten off at this point.

The old man smiled and invited me in. I was so pleased. “I normally would turn people away at this time,” he said, “but I will make an exception. I heard on the radio that there is going to be snowstorm tonight. Please make yourself at home.” He offered me some bread, soup, and a cup of tea. “I apologise for this. The kitchen staff won’t be in until later.”

“Oh, this is more than enough! I am sorry for the trouble once again,” I apologised. We chatted for a little bit while I wolfed down my supper/breakfast.

“Say, would you happen to know if there was a fancy dress party around this area last night?” I asked matter-of-factly. The landlord was puzzled, but said he has not heard of any. Then, I told him about the man in the fancy dress.

His face was drained of colour when I said this.

“You must be new to the area,” he said. “Legend says that the man you saw was Lord Emile, who used to be one of the richest men in this locale. He passed away in a collision, just up the road. They say he haunts the very spot where he got killed.”

“I saw him tonight, I guess. He looked like he wanted a lift.”

“I am glad you didn’t. The old wives’ tale was, if one picks him up, they would end up in a serious accident around that steep hill.”

Sleep evaded me that night.

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