Headlights shred through the darkness leaving an unseen could of dust in there wake. Behind the wheel Scott wondered if he could even see his hand an inch away from his face out there.
The soothing jumble of nosies produced from the stereo was starting to fade to an unnerving static,which for Scott meant the only thing that made the drive somewhat bearable was lost in the seemingly endless field of static and distortion. He nearly struck the stereos power button and sighed.
In the following minutes he began to lose himself in deep thought. Around the time he started to delude himself into thinking he may be nearing the end of this unsettling adventure he noticed a figure moving a ways up the road. Scott instantly let up on the gas and eased his way along.
The figure appeared to be a man walking on the side of the road headfirst into the murky darkness. “How the hell are they seeing out there?” Scott muttered from the safety of his truck. As he got closer he uses the newly illuminated details to determine what he was looking at was a man with a tool resting on his right shoulder,some sort of box with a handle clutched in his left hand,and on the man’s head lied what could only be a helmet.
With even more distance closed Scott was certain he was looking at a coal miner. Although Scott had no knowledge of a coal mine in this area,he was also aware,he had no knowledge of this area whatsoever. He supposed it was somewhat possible there could be a Coal mine around here,he was in Kentucky after all. “Still doesn’t explain how he sees out there.” Scott thought.
“Maybe he’s so used to the road he doesn’t need to see.” Despite the likelihood of that actually being true this was the thought that sparked Scott’s internal warfare. “He needs a ride!”Vs”I just cleaned the seats.”Vs “He probably just got done breathing in coal dust and now he’s gotta walk home.”Vs “What if its not safe?” Then coming from the deepest part of his soul was a thought he couldn’t deny. “Theres a working man walking this road at night and I’m too selfish to give him a ride!”
He was then close enough to see the curls of hair poking from the mans hardhat Scott brought the truck to a complete stop,shifted to park,then moved his bag from the passenger seat to the back seats. Despite the brevity of these actions when he brought his attention back to the road the coal miner was gone. Scott was instantly submerged in gooseflesh. He put it in drive and floored it down the dirt road. All the while Scott was convinced his heart was racing faster than the truck.
He was nearly paralyzed with fear,but managed to keep his composure just enough to drive. Though,in a minutes time he had checked all his mirrors at least nine times a piece. He was cutting it close at times but he kept the truck on the road,and about 2 miles down it he began to calm down,began to slow down even.
He was still trying to catch his breath when he saw a sign in the distance. As he approached it he noticed a path going to a small structure and a statue,when he was close enough,he saw the sign said Miners Memorial and the statue was a coal miner with a pickaxe resting on his shoulder. This sent Scott into the same course of action as before and this time he followed it through until he made it off that dark road and back to blacktop.
He finally made it to his grandmothers house,which was covered with lights,and various Christmas decorations.
After a rather restless night of sleep,Scott awoke long before his granny,with one dangerous thought. “What the hell did I see last night?” Feeling as if he were possessed by this thought he jumped out of bed,got dressed,and was out the door in under 3 minutes.
He made his way back to the chilling road,where he had seen a man vanish the night before. This time it was beautiful. In the daylight all the trees and leaves were vibrant with color,and to top it off the stereo was working again. Scott almost enjoyed his drive...almost.
Although he couldn’t see it,he could feel the unrelenting darkness,washed out from the sun but still plaguing the land. He came to a stop long before the miners memorial,turned off the truck,and got out. In front of him was a small house. The house was lacking the festive spirit his granny’s house had, but something about it looked north pole-ish.
He made his way up the stairs leading to the front door and knocked lightly. Scott counted to 60 in his head,then bawled his fist for a second try,but the door opened releasing a soft creak. “Judging by your expression I think I know why you’re here. Come on in.” The words were mouthed by a women who scott thought had seen more life than both his mother and father combined. Before Scott could respond she had already made her way to the living room. He simply said thanks and followed her inside,closing the door behind him.
“Have a seat if you like.” The women said hoarsely. She had a very thick southern accent. “Can I get you anything to drank?” “Water please.” Scott said,as he took a seat on the black leather couch. She went into the kitchen,and he began to observe his surroundings.
The place was littered with old photographs and antiques. He noticed an old landline phone on the end table,and a fire place filled with fresh lumber,and a bucks severed head mounted just above it. Scott counted 12 points just before the old lady returned,handing him an off brand bottled water. “Thank you.” he said. “Did you kill that buck yourself?” “Nope that was my sons doin,he’s actually got a bigger one on his wall.” The old women said. “Wow,I take it he’s quite the hunter.” The woman laughed then said “you can say that again sir.” “You can call me Scott.” “And you can call me Norma,now go ahead and get it off your chest Scott.” Her sureness of his intentions were somewhat unsettling but his mouth eagerly opened all the same.
He told her what happened in great detail,then asked “Do you know if any miners live around here?” She was looking at him as if they were discussing today’s weather,instead of a potential paranormal encounter. she took a calm but deep breath then said “50 years ago 38 men were sacrificed for coal.” Scotts face lit up with shock and intrigue as she continued. “There were indeed many miners livin on this road and I’m afraid some of them never realleh left.” The room filled with silence while Scott tried to process what she had just said.
“You see the miners memorial?” she asked “yes,I passed it shortly after seeing the miner.” “Well thats where the hurricane creek mine sat until December 30 1970,when it exploded with my husband and 37 others 2,400 feet deep.” “I’m so sorry.” Scott said genuinely sad. “Its ok my grief has long been settled. I know he’d be so proud of his son,and that thought helped me come to terms with it.” She paused. “At first I was terribly upset. They ran a very bad business,they treated my husband asight in this world,and that mine wasn’t never up to code. You see the owner was a crook! He payed off the inspectors! Three of his men testified they saw primer cord,and would you know it Scott,they found some at two different blast sites!” This was the first time Scott felt any emotion in her voice. “Excuse my ignorance Norma,but what is primer cord?” “Its an illegal fuse,them boys didn’t foller narry rule they had.” “I see.”
Silence briefly returned. Norma took a sip of coffee,then cleared her throat. “As for what you saw last night,Its real. People round here have been tellin them ole storys for 50 year,I thought they was just making stories up for fun till my boy seed it himself,he was only 17 at the time,just started drivin. He had him a little girlfriend and they’d drive up this road all the time,daylight or dark,and on one ah them dark times he saw his daddy.” This sent a cold chill down Scotts spine,by the look in her eye he knew she was dead serious.
She stood up and walked to the end table. “His little girlfriend was a writer back then.” Norma said while opening the drawer just under the table. “She wrote poems,and little stories. She eventually quit,when she went to college last I heard,but she did write this.” She pulled out a piece of lined paper filled with the neat and beautiful handwriting only women are blessed with. Norma handed it to Scott. “She wrote what she saw and said she didn’t stretch the truth anywhere. To this day Billy,my son,tells me she didn’t.” “After what I saw,I wont have a hard time believing whatever’s in here.” He chuckled then began to read.
The Spectral Beams of Hurricane Rd
By Anne Howard
It was a cold night,in late December. I had just bought Billy a new cassette tape,it was Bruce Springsteen’s born in the USA album. We were driving up and down the road,in his old pickup,listening to it for the first time. Billy loved it.
He didn’t like driving by the mine,unless he had to because thats where his father died. He’d always turn around before getting there. On this night we were so into the music he forgot to turn.
We were brim filled with caffeine and sugar from the cokes I had bought us back in town. Billy grabbed one of the now empty bottles and held it like a microphone. “Born in the USA!!!” He sang along. He was practically dancing with his head as the music blared. It was gonna be a good night and an even better memory.
Then the song suddenly began to slow down making the vocals deep and distorted. As a result Billy realized where we were. He slammed the brakes,the song’s speed continued to decrease. “What are you doing!” I nearly shouted. “I always stop to think of him,you know that.” “But the song.” “Just a faulty tape you can return it tomorrow.” Billy said sure of himself. He ejected the tape and tossed it to me,then closed his eyes and held his hand to his heart. I felt as though I should close my eye too,so I did.
When I reopened them I saw a light far down the road slowly approaching us. I shook Billys arm frantically. He looked up and saw it. Before he could react the headlights cut out. In the new extreme of darkness we noticed the other lights.
There were several beams emitting from the mine,others were coming from behind us. Billy stomped the gas and the engine stalled then cut off. He tried to start the truck back up to no avail. Still there was only one single beam approaching from the front,ever so slowly. Billy looked mesmerized by that light,me on the other hand,I was terrified.
I remember saying we are gonna die over and over,with several different wordings of the phrase. Billy took my hand and looked me in the eyes. “They won’t hurt us darling,I know they won’t.” That comforted me but not nearly enough.
The lights closed in around us,revealing black black silhouettes of miners and fully illuminating us to them. Each beam felt like a hundred pounds of pressure. I felt like a claustrophobic trapped in a coffin. The single beam from the front was getting close now,close enough you could see the pickaxe reflecting light every time one of the beams went in that direction.
It came right up to the hood of the truck and aimed its light right at Billy. One of the other beams lit up the face beneath the helmet just enough for me to recognize the nose,mouth,and chin,they were almost identical to Billy’s. My mouth fell open in shock. Even with the beam of light blinding him,Billy still recognized his father. His jaw dropped,much like mine when he did.
Billy’s father slowly reached up and turned off the light on his helmet,and one by one the other miners done the same.
It was then so dark we couldn’t see each others faces. Billy turned the keys. The truck roared with life and the headlights lit up an empty road.
Scott now knows what he saw on that cold and dark road,in late December.