It was a beautiful day for a drive.

Angelié couldn’t be more frustrated.

Everywhere she looked in the surrounding countryside, she saw nothing but picturesque scenes of nature, nothing that seemed a reasonable backdrop for tales of ghastly horror frequented by ghosts which needed getting. Just as she was thinking she should have gone to the museum with Sam and Shooter, she spotted a familiar tan hatchback on the side of the road. A few hundred yards beyond it, there was a lone figure walking on the shoulder.

Tall and lean, with black hair brushing the collar of his leather jacket, he flipped her an easy smile as he casually held up his thumb in the direction she was headed. She slowed the van and pushed the button to drop the passenger window. He sauntered more than strolled up and leaned on the sill, flashing her a thousand watt grin. Angelié smiled back, ensnared by his easy charm.

‘Well hey there, pretty lady. Going my way?” The words slid off his tongue with harmonious intent, and Angelié considered she’d best be on her guard with this one. He made a slow perusal of her body, clad in a pink tiger print bodysuit, followed by a broad smile suggesting his approval. He reminded her a bit of the fox from the gingerbread story.

“That remains to be seen. Where are you headed?” He already had the door half open, fully expecting that she was prepared to invite him along. He paused, pulled back a bit, knowing it was best to take it easy and not make her nervous. With one arm on the door frame and the other against the van, he filled the space while letting it seem as though he wasn’t invading it.

“Oh, I’m having some car trouble and was hoping to stumble across a garage or something but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot out here.”

“There’s a town a ways back, with a gas station by a restaurant. They might know of a mechanic. You must have missed the turn I guess.”

He looked dismayed.
“You don’t say. Behind us? That’s a shame. Do you know if there’s anything ahead of us?”

Angelié shook her head.
“Oh, I’m not from around here. I live in the city. I’m actually a camfluencer? My boyfriend and I have a pretty popular webshow called Ghost Getters. Basically it’s all about us getting ghosts. We have a lot of followers. Someone sent him a video of a haunted hotel so we decided to investigate, but I’m not sure it’s as haunted as we’d hoped. He’s back in town trying to find some good stories we can use for the show, since we came all the way out here, and I’m hoping to scout out some spooky locations we can film at, but it’s all just so nature-y out here. No weird old churches or anything.” Her face fell as she scanned the surrounding area.

The hitchhiker, with one foot on the step inside the passenger door, leaned in as if to share a secret.
“I might know a place, if you’re curious. It’s not far from here either.”

Angelié looked hesitant.
“I’m not sure I should go without my boyfriend. We could go back into town so you could get some gas and then we could follow you?” The man smiled and Angelié was reminded of a shark. He sure had a lot of teeth. She also noticed that he was pretty much all the way in the van, though the door was still open.

“I promise you it isn’t far. I’d hate for you to drag him all the way out here only to find it’s not as spooky as you hoped. This way you can decide and then you’ll know how to get there. You can drop me off at the gas station on the way back and then show him.”

Angelié considered this, and he held his breath, 90% sure, but concerned about pushing too hard. She turned to him, a bright smile on her face.

“Well, I think I’d feel better if I knew your name and if you’re a murderer or not.”

He was thrown off a bit, and then smiled his most charming smile. Angelié suspected she knew how Red Riding Hood must have felt.
“Well, my name is Bill. Bill Severen and I can promise you, I am no murderer, pretty lady. Even if I was, why would I ever deprive the world of a soon to be famous beauty such as yourself.”

Angelié laughed.
“I like the way you think, Bill. You’re sure it’s not far?”

He reassured her it was not as he pulled the door closed, making himself comfortable.
“It’s about 15 more minutes along this road, and then we turn left and head for a resort near a lake. It’s a beautiful spot, but it was the site of some dark trouble a few years back and now the whole place has been abandoned.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“Madness and mayhem inevitably leading to murder. Reports differ, saying that there was a local who killed a bunch of kids for kicks, or even that a guy went crazy and did in all his friends. Some people just aren’t right, I suppose. You can’t ever really know what’s going on inside someone’s head. That said, I’ve even heard tell about a creature who lives in the hills and eats people, some sort of cannibal ghostmonster. Doesn’t really matter what’s true though, it all makes for good stories. However you wanted to spin it for your show, I bet it’ll be prime content.”

“Oh it sounds like a super spooky place. You’re not afraid to go up there?”

“Nah. Whatever happened, it was years ago. And stories get exaggerated. I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere near as terrible as the rumors built it up to be. You know how people are. Are you afraid?”

“Well, I am glad to have a strong man as my escort. It’s a dangerous world and a girl can’t be too careful. What would you do if you encountered a monster?”

Bill leaned back in the chair, bolstered by her flattery.

“I’d probably kick it’s ass and carry you to safety. But I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’s my pleasure to escort such a gorgeous woman on an adventure. Your boyfriend won’t be mad, will he?”

“Oh no. This is his van. If he didn’t trust me, he wouldn’t have loaned me his van. Besides, you’re a cool guy, you’re not one to take advantage of a vulnerable woman, are you?”

“Oh hell no.” The hell was drawn out as if to suggest how serious he was. “I wouldn’t be much of a gentleman if I did such a thing. Though if you were my woman, I’m not sure I’d let you out of my sight. But you’re right about one thing, I am a cool guy.”

Angelié paused as though contemplating something. She turned to him.

“Yeah, you seem like it. One thing that’s kinda weird though, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“What is it?”

“I saw your car, it doesn’t really match,” she looked him up at down before settling on his face again, “your aesthetic.”

Bill laughed heartily, slapping his denim clad knee with his right hand. She noticed he had a silver ring on his pinky finger.
“Yeah, you’re right about that. It’s not my car. I, uh, am doing a favour for a friend. His sister is going off to college and he’s out of the country so asked if I would take her his car to use.”

‘Oh that’s super sweet of you. And you don’t know what’s wrong with it?”

Bill shook his head.
“It could be anything, bad wiring or faulty shocks, could be the flux capacitor gave out.”

Angelié nodded. “That’s frustrating. I don’t know a thing about cars. Well, how to drive them I guess. That’s about it.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. That’s a lot. Hey, the turn is coming up, you’d best start to slow down.”

Angelié peered at the side of the road, looking for a sign to indicate the turn to the lake.

“I don’t see anything telling us where the lake is.”

“Oh don’t worry, it’s there, just up ahead?”

She slowed and turned onto a dirt road, then stopped, nervously looking ahead into the dense forest crowding the lane.
“Are you sure it’s up here? I thought you weren’t from around here.”

“Oh yeah, but um, I’ve seen pictures online and a friend told me about it and described it exactly like this. It’s totally cool, I promise. Unless you’re scared. I mean, you seem like a super cool tough chick, but if you’d rather go back…”

Angelié huffed and sat up straighter. In response, she gently pressed the accelerator to move them forward, being careful with the van on the unpaved road.

“That’s it, show the world what you’re made of, honey.”

She turned and met Bill’s grin, her toothsome smile as brilliant as his.

“I plan to.”


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash