~~Back in the old days, when being a trucker was an honor of sorts, there was a person my father worked with. Nobody really knew his name, so everyone just called him “Chief”. Seeing, as he had been a trucker for twenty somthing years before any of them came along, they figured he deserved the title.
Out of all the places they went, all of the truckers, with the exception of Chief, avoided the Red River. There was a small section of the red river, a special location. That location was the border between Arkansas and Texas, on the highway 65 bridge in Clinton, Arkansas. It’s said to have creepy stuff going on at night. Over the years, the locals coined the river and renamed it the Blood River.
* * *
Mark Keller was new to the job. He past his test with excellence, and picked up how to drive a semi quick. His first day on started at five in the morning and ended God knows when.
Keller had to deliver something top secret to a location in Clinton, Arkansas.
It was around 2:30 AM; Mark had his sweet tea in his drink holster, with Anthrax on the radio, turned down low so he could hear the commotion over the CB radio.
He grabbed the radio. “10-36”.
“2:45 AM, Mark”, replied another trucker called Tiny.
The line was silent for a while, until Tiny got on the CB, chuckled, and said, “Oh, little Mark. It’s almost the witching hour. Do you know what that means,” he asked. There was no response. “Well, my friend, 3 AM is the witching hour, where all the evil, demented spirts come out to play. And it just so happens, that you’re going right over the Red River. I assume you don’t know about the river, do you, boy,” he asked. There was silence once more. “Oh, aren’t you in for a treat. The Red River, folks down here call it the ‘Blood River’, and for good reason. A few people died down here. A truck carrying logs was hit by an oncoming car, when logs fell off the truck they got in the way of an oncoming 18-wheeler, causing it to swerve and plunge into the river, the driver died, drowned. It took the rescue crews hours to get the body out from under the water. They still put effort into trying to save what was already lost, but the rest of the boys and I already knew the outcome.”
The line went dead for a moment. In that moment, Mark thought of the driver trying to cling to life, trying to claw out for one last breath.
The line came back on with static blaring, soon after, Tiny spoke again, “The driver that died was Chief’s son. Too young to do this kind of job, but his father thought it would teach him
hard work, it only lead him to the big man upstairs. “The reason why we avoid the Red River is because strange things do happen late at night, especially during the witching hour. Now, I doubt
his son was evil, but spirits are most active during that time. Some think it’s a bunch of monkey crap, and some do not. You, you’ll just have to find out yourself.”
The line went dead.
Mark pushed the story out of his mind, but he couldn’t help wonder, who were the other people that died on the bridge?
Driving down the road, there were no street lamps, nothing to illuminate the roads, except for his headlights.
A good three miles away from the river, he was almost there. The tension that built from Tiny’s story was starting to get to him. Mark didn’t believe in ghosts or sprits, and he wasn’t going to let a little ghost story change that.
Someone got on the CB. Mark didn’t know who, but that didn’t stop him from listening. “Attention, all drivers should pull over to the right of the road as soon as possible. We’ve been told there is something in our trailers that do not need to be shipped. Those who are carrying secure shipments are to continue to their designated routes without stops unless critical.”
Mark never stopped, he pressed on.
Finally reaching the bridge, he could see nothing out of the normal; no ghost, monsters, certainly no 18-wheelers in the river.
He breathed relief.
Placing his hand over the seatbelt latch, he paused, lost in his mind of the possibility of the potential terror that awaits him outside. The truck was his protection, his shield from the outside world, but he also thought, maybe that couldn’t even protect him. Unlatching his seatbelt, he unlocked and opened his door to fresh air. The wind was calm; not swaying in any direction, just still.
When he stepped down the latter from his truck onto the ground, he saw something, something you wouldn’t expect to find on the side of the road: a bib, a bib for a baby. The outline of it was a dark purple, even in the darkness of night, he could tell it was so. The remainder of the bib, the center, was an off color white, probably aged over the years of use. In the center of the bib were the words in light purple, “Feed Me, I’m hungry!”
Picking up the bib, he puts it in his left jean pocket. Mark didn’t know why, he just wanted to keep it.
In his mind, he knew there should not have been a thing out here. It was odd, strangely interesting. As to why something like this was out here was beyond mark’s comprehension.
Mark walks back towards his truck, feeling the hood of the car. It was still warm. He turned around, looking up past the bridge for the building to drop off the shipment in the trailer. Squinting his eyes, he could hardly make out a few feet away. All he saw was open road, not a building for miles.
Angry with himself, for possibly driving in the wrong direction, he stomped back to the truck and got inside, slamming the door so hard, any harder the glass window would have shuddered.
Gripping the keys as hard as he could, Mark put them half way into the ignition before he noticed something.
A little girl, freezing outside. She was in a white gowned. There were cuts towards the bottom of the dress. In a rush, Mark got out of the truck and rushed towards the little girl. As he drew closer, he could tell she was sick. There were circles around her eyes, telling him she had gone days without sleep.
“Hey little one, are you okay,” he asked the girl. She gave no response, she only stood there, shivering, not even looking at him. He motioned for the girl to follow him. She did so, without word.
Needing no help, she got into the truck and buckled herself in, still shivering, holding her arms crossed close to her chest, hoping that would warm her. Mark got back in and stared at the girl for a few minutes. “Do you have any place to stay,” he asked her, but she said nothing, “Take a ride with me, I’ll find you someplace safe.” He started the car and turned on the heater to high before taking off over the bridge, trying to find the place he’d become so obsessed about the past few hours, because he knew when the shipment was done, he could go home.
10 minutes passed by before they reached an old building, the same as the picture of the place that had been shown to him earlier that morning.
“The Oak Lodge”, it was built long before Mark had been born, used as a bar in the early days of the Wild West. Now it was nothing more than wood held up by the will of God and a few support beams.
As he got out of his truck, he told the girl, “Stay here where it’s warm, honey.”, and then shut the door and pace walked his way up to the door, knocking on it five times, waiting for a response.
It did not take long. Opening the door was a man of age and wisdom. Standing at five feet evenly, was an old man, still had some hair, but not much. He held onto the doorknob as if he wouldn’t he’d die of exhaustion, because he looked out of breath going to get the door.
“I’m sorry, sir. I think I found the wrong place.”
“Oh no, you’re fine, my boy,” the old man said. His voice was raspy, but calm, “Do you have it?”
“Yes sir, I do. It’s in my trailer.”
A jolt of shock overcame him. “Coffin,” Mark asked, “What coffin?”
“A coffin for my granddaughter. She died along the road, not far away from here.”
He turned around expecting to see the little girl, still sitting in his truck, but she was gone. As if she was never there. Mark didn’t know what to do. An empty feeling arose from his chest and dwelled there, building in power, in sorrow.
“She died trying to get away from rabid dogs, but they were too much for her. They drained the blood out of her body, like vampires. She was playing in the river when the dogs came upon her, standing on the shore. My little girl started to swim towards them, because as little kids are, they’ll try and interact with anything that appears friendly. Once on land, one of the two dogs lunged at her, biting her arm. She screamed in pain, falling back into the water, blood moved with the current her body created, spreading it across the river. There was no time for her to react before both of them were on her. They grabbed her, dragging her out of the water, she kicked and screamed, doing the best she could, but in the end, it was a useless effort. Out of the water they had their way with her.”
Those old eyes grew tears. Choking up, he asked, “Please, take me to her coffin, so I don’t have to be reminded of what happened. I don’t want to see her mangled body anymore.”
© Copyright 2016 John Kruger. All rights reserved.