And with that, Wanda approached the exit of the theater. After the horrifying events within, she knew that it would be best if she was to abandon her original plans, and never return to 1962 Forest Street again. It would be best for the world if this theater was demolished as per the city council’s plan. She swore she would no longer resist the demolition, and try to convince the other protestors to stop as well. There were some things that were just not meant to be seen by human eyes, and the mysterious Crimson Eye was one of them.
“And that’s the end of Liza’s unfinished draft, ‘The Crimson Eye’.” Evaira explained.
She had just finished reading a few sheets of paper to a couple patrons at a bar counter. She was speaking with two.
“That one actually seemed pretty finished to me,” one patron said.
“Though the main story has been concluded,” another patron said, “it is obvious that it is unfinished. That draft of ‘The Crimson Eye’ lacks the expertly polished feel all of Liza Evaira’s published works have. It is obvious that she would have fixed it up before publishing.”
“Easy enough for you to say, Nils,” the first patron said, “You’re a famous literary critic.”
“I know,” Evaira said, “Liza usually reviews it herself a few times, before sending it to me, so I can edit it a few times, before it’s published.”
“I wish I knew where she gets her inspiration, though,” Nils commented, “the way she writes, it’s almost as if she had lived through every story she’s written firsthand.”
“It’s amazing, isn’t it,” Evaira replied.
“I just love all these supernatural twists in her stories,” the other patron said, “and how sometimes, everything seems totally normal until, wham, it all hits you in the last few pages. Your sister is a master of the twist ending. I really hope she resurfaces soon.”
“Not as much as I do,” Evaira sighed, “anyway, I trust you’ll keep your agreement, and not share this story with anybody. I’m still hoping Liza will publish it someday.”
“Of course,” Nils said, “I critique literature, not plagiarize it.”
“Naturally,” the other patron said.
At this point, Bill walked in.
“Evaira,” he said, “we’re ready to go. I know it’s late, but we’ve got to head off right away.”
“I know,” Evaira said, “we’ve got to get to Elmsbury before morning.”
When Evaira said this, others at the bar, except for Nils, gasped, and became quite frightened.
“You don’t have to get there that badly,” one patron said.
“Actually, I do,” Evaira said.
“That’s the Devil’s Road. Nobody travels it at night,” he continued, afraid.
“The Devil’s Road?” Evaira said.
“A local legend,” Nils explained, “supposedly, five years ago, an orphaned teenage boy stole one of the orphanage vans, and fled down the so-called that road. However, since he had no driving experience and it was dark, the van drove off the edge of the road, and into a deep ditch. In the morning, when the remains of the stolen van were found, the boy was not inside it, and the police agreed the fall was impossible to survive.”
“No body at all?” Evaira asked.
“Right,” Nils said, “rumors of what happened to him spread throughout town. Eventually, a story started that after he died, his mangled body left the wreck and now haunts the Devil’s Road at night, seeking vengeance on the world he feels abandoned him. Since then others have disappeared down the same road.”
“Is that right?” Evaira asked.
“The story about the accident is true,” Nils explained, “but everything else is just silly superstition, and a story used to scare small children. There are no such things as ghosts.”
When Nils said this, Evaira couldn’t help but laugh on the inside.
“Oh, please,” one other patron said, “the story is very real! How else do you explain all the travelers on the Devil’s Road at night disappearing without a trace?”
“Coincidence,” Nils said.
While the bar patrons continued their argument over the story, Evaira and Bill left the bar and returned to the RV parked outside. They got back inside.
“So,” Bill said, “what do you make of this story of the Devil’s Road?”
“I don’t know,” Evaira said, “after everything I’ve encountered, I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss it. However, at the same time, a lot of these urban legends are either hoaxes or superstition. However, I think it would be worth investigating.”
“Are you sure?” Bill said, a little frightened.
“Yes,” Evaira said, “for all we know, it could make an interesting story for Liza to write about once we find her. Besides, this road is the only way we can get to Elmsbury by morning.”
“I know,” Bill said, “and Liza’s diary said that the strange lights in Elmsbury are only visible the morning after a full moon. But…”
“Are you scared, Bill?” Evaira teased.
“No,” Bill said, “I’m…”
At this point, Chira stuck her head out of her pot.
“Bill’s scared?” Chira said, “And he can turn into a real-world version of Cthulhu if he wanted?”
“I’m not the one who keeps their head in a pot all day,” Bill said, mortified.
“Hey,” Chira said, “I happen to find it comfortable, okay!”
“So, you’re not scared,” Evaira said.
“I’m afraid of nothing,” Bill said, “let’s go down the Devil’s Road.”
After he said this, he gulped.
“I don’t know about that,” Chira said, “he looks pretty scared to me.”
“Alpha, take us to Elmsbury,” Evaira said.
The RV drove down the road. The next hour was uneventful. Bill still seemed very nervous the whole time.
“It looks like there’s nothing here,” Evaira said, “I guess the story was just superstition.”
At this point, Bill noticed something out the front windshield.
“Something’s ahead!” he cried.
Evaira looked out the windshield, and noticed a teenage girl was crossing the street in front of them. This girl had brown hair, and was dressed in a white tank top and jeans. She continued to cross the street in front of them, oblivious to the oncoming RV.
“Alpha, stop!” Evaira cried.
Alpha immediately put his foot on the brakes. The girl remained oblivious to the RV until it was too late. She saw it coming mere moments before she was struck by the front of the vehicle, and fell to the ground.
“What happened,” Chira said, sticking her head out of the pot, “is it the ghost?”
“No,” Evaira said, “but it’s bad. We just hit a girl.”
Evaira approached the door to the RV.
“Wait,” Bill said, “you’re not going to go out there…here? Are you?”
“I have no choice,” Evaira said, “it’s the law that if you strike a pedestrian, you have to make sure they’re alright. I could use a hand.”
“Me?” Bill said, “I don’t think so.”
“He is scared,” Chira said, “I figured that he could shapeshift into a chicken just as easily as he could into Chthulhu.”
“Why you,” Bill said.
“Forget it,” Evaira said, “I’ll take Alpha. Alpha, come out here, will you?”
“As you request,” Alpha replied.
Alpha and Evaira opened the door to the RV and walked out onto the street. They saw the girl was lying in the road, but seemed okay. The RV had apparently slowed down just enough that the girl was only bruised by the front bumper. She had probably simply fainted.
Evaira grabbed her shoulder and shook it, trying to wake her up.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“A little weak,” the girl said, “what just happened?”
“You got hit with an RV,” Evaira said, “but only barely. Can you get up?”
The girl tried to get up, but was struggling a bit. When she finally got to her feet, her ankle twisted in an unusual way, and she fell back down.
“Her ankle appears to be broken,” Alpha observed.
“Then we’d better help her in,” Evaira said.
Alpha and Evaira proceeded to help her up, and they helped her walk into the RV, where they rested her on the couch.
“You should be safe here,” Evaira said.
“Thanks,” the girl said.
Bill just stepped out of the restroom, and noticed the girl on the couch.
“What are you doing?” Bill cried, “You’re not supposed to pick up strangers on a road like this.”
“She was shaken by the incident,” Evaira said, “and she’s got a broken ankle. Besides, the story says that the ghost is a boy, not a girl.”
“Why is she even out here?” Bill asked.
“I lost a bet,” the girl said, “the loser had to spend a night on the Devil’s Road, looking for the ghost. I’m the unfortunate one.”
“Do you have a name?” Evaira asked.
“Kelly,” the girl said.
“Okay, then, Kelly,” Evaira said, “I don’t think you’re in a condition to be exploring the road tonight with that broken ankle.”
“Then call an ambulance,” Bill said.
“We cannot do that,” Alpha said, “there is no cell phone signal here.”
“We’re going to have to take you to get some help ourselves, then,” Evaira said, “there should be a hospital in Elmsbury. We’re on the way there anyway, so we’ll drop you off there when we arrive. You can call your friends and parents then.”
“Okay,” Kelly said.
“Then let’s go,” Evaira said, “Alpha, to Elmsbury.”
With that, Alpha sat back down in the driver’s seat, and the RV started to move.
“Maybe you’re right,” Bill said, “maybe there is nothing to this Devil’s Road.”
“Yeah,” Evaira said, “you know a lot of these legends are hoaxes or pure myth.”
“Or are they?” Kelly asked, “You’re still not at the end of the road.”
“True,” Evaira said, “but at this point, it seems doubtful. On most hauntings like this I’ve encountered, we see some form of evidence by now.”
“You mean like this?” Kelly asked.
When Kelly said this, the RV started to accelerate rapidly.
“Miss Evaira,” Alpha said, “the RV’s acceleration has increased, and I am not controlling it!”
“Can you regain control?” Evaira asked.
“No,” Alpha replied, “and I am not aware of what could be causing the controls to malfunction in this manner.”
“Oh,” Kelly said, “this is not just a malfunction.”
Evaira looked at Kelly.
“You,” she said, “you’re the ghost!”
“How very perceptive,” Kelly said, her voice changing drastically, “you finally got the details right.”
At this point, she stood up, standing on her supposedly broken angle. She glared at Evaira with an evil, maniacal stare.
“Death is uncomfortable,” she said, “in fact, it’s outright painful. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you as you’ll feel it for yourself!”
“But,” Evaira said, “You don’t look like a ghost.”
“A simple illusion,” Kelly said.
She held her arms up, and then, she started to glow an ominous black, head to toe. As she glowed, her skin turned pale, and her fingers became skinny and bony. Her eyes turned ghostly white and began to glow with a dark energy. The clothing she was wearing disappeared and was replaced with a tattered nightgown, covered in blood splatters. There was also dried blood on her skin. When she changed, Bill immediately walked into the bathroom and Chira quickly hid her head back in her pot.
“This is my true form,” she said, “I had to use my illusion to get you to let me inside.”
“But wasn’t the van thief a boy?” Evaira asked.
“Yes, he was,” Kelly said, “but I am not the car thief. I was merely a passenger in thevan. I had a disagreement with my roommates, and decided to sleep in the van to be as far away from them as I could, the night the van was stolen.
“Then, the van crashed, and I died. But worst of all, nobody remembered me. My ghost returned to the orphanage and observed, but nobody even noticed I was gone. All the focus was on the boy who everybody knew stole the van, and his missing body. Nobody remembered me. Those who did were too concerned about the boy who stole the van to care. It’s he whom everybody remembers! They give his ghost credit for all the disappearances on this Devil’s Road, but he did nothing! Nothing!”
“We’re still accelerating,” Alpha said, surprisingly calmly.
“His ghost crossed over to the other side years ago,” Kelly cried, “he was at peace, being free from the orphanage at last. On the other hand, I remain here, struggling and eternal struggle to ensure that I am never forgotten! Not ever! Ever!”
“But why,” Evaira said, “why are you doing this? If you kill us, we’ll just be dead. We won’t remember you at all.”
“On the contrary,” Kelly said, “the last moments of your life are moments that you will remember for all eternity, all throughout the afterlife. Therefore, you will never forget me! Never! You will never forget a detail of our encounter. The world may not remember me, but I can make other people remember me! That is why I tell my story to people I encounter on this road at night, and then kill them! Kill them! This way, I will never be forgotten!”
“But it’s wrong to kill other people,” Evaira said, “they have lives of their own, and you’re taking their lives away just for this!”
“It is necessary!” Kelly cried, “Besides, nobody cared about my life when I died! Nobody! Why should I care about their lives?”
“Stop,” Evaira cried, “there’s another way!”
“You don’t know what it’s like,” Kelly screamed, “remaining in a world when every shred of your existence is gone! If I cannot make my mark on this world, I will make it on the next! I will be remembered in some way! I will!”
Evaira paused for a moment. She had an idea.
“But wouldn’t you rather be remembered in this world,” Evaira asked.
“It’s too late,” Kelly cried, “I lived and died and did nothing! I can never be remembered in this world! Never! Never!”
“Yes you can,” Evaira said.
“No!” Kelly said, her anger continuing to grow, “You’re playing games with me! Well, I don’t play games! No games! No! No!”
“I’m not playing games,” Evaira pleaded, “I’m serious!”
“This is a ploy,” Kelly cried, “A trick! A trick!”
“It’s no trick,” Evaira said, “and if you stop the RV, I can tell you how! If you don’t like what I have to say, you can just start the RV again and kill us!”
Kelly was confused. She felt it was a trick, but she wanted to be remembered so badly that she figured it was worth listening to. The RV ground to a halt.
“Tell me,” Kelly said, “but this had better be good. If it’s not, I will only kill you faster, and make it much more agonizing!”
“The story,” Evaira said, “the urban legend of the Devil’s Road. You can easily be remembered through that.”
“I cannot!” Kelly cried, “they have the details wrong! They credit the car thief for being the monster! They give him credit for my work!”
“But what if somebody tells them the true story,” Evaira said, “what if somebody tells them about you being the real ghost of the Devil’s Road.”
“They can’t!” Kelly cried, “They won’t! They don’t know the real story!”
“They don’t,” Evaira said, “but I do! If you let me go, I can tell everybody the story of our encounter! I can set the record straight.”
“But will they believe you?” Kelly cried.
“They might,” Evaira said, “they might not. But either way, they will likely spread the story. As the story spreads, surely some people will believe the way they believe the current Devil’s Road story. Soon, more and more people will believe. That is how these urban legends start.”
“It won’t work!” Kelly cried, “It won’t!”
“It might,” Evaira said, “Give it a chance; you truly have nothing to lose. If they don’t believe me, when I find my missing sister, I can talk to her. She’s a writer. She can write your story for the world, and then everybody will know the truth.”
“I suppose you have a point,” Kelly said, calming down considerably.
“I will tell your story,” Evaira said, “we all will. Right, Chira?”
“Of course,” Chira said, peeking her head out of her pot, but just barely, “I’ll tell the other grounders the next time we see them. I bet they’ve never heard a ghost story before.”
“In that case,” Kelly said, “I will let you go. But if you are lying to me, giving me hope where none should exist, I will return, and not be so merciful. I will not!”
“I am not lying,” Evaira said.
With that, Kelly faded into the air, and vanished from the RV without a trace. Once she was gone, it started moving again.
“I have regained control,” Alpha’s voice said.
“Excellent,” Evaira said, “then let’s hurry on to Elmsbury. If we have no more interruptions, we should still be able to make it there before dawn.”
Evaira then sat down exhausted.
“Now, that wasn’t so bad,” she said, “was it, Bill?”
She looked around, and noticed none of the furniture was changing back to Bill.
“Bill?” she said once more.
Still, nothing changed.
“Um, Bill?” Evaira said, “Chira, where’s Bill?”
“I saw him rush into the bathroom when Kelly appeared,” Chira said, “I really would expect more from somebody like him.”
“I don’t know,” Evaira said, “maybe he just needed to go.”
Evaira got up, and walked to the bathroom door, knocking on it.
“Bill, are you in there?” she asked.
She got no response. She noticed the door was unlocked, so she walked in. The window in the bathroom was wide open. A crow flew in through the open window and roosted on the bathroom floor. It then changed shape, and became Bill.
“So,” he said, “is she gone?”
“Yes,” Evaira said, “she’s gone. But you know, I don’t think you’re going to get very far with us if you fly away each time that we encounter some kind of monster. Liza always did like looking into monster stories.”
“I’m not afraid of monsters,” Bill said, “but ghosts. Ghosts just, well…”
“Bill,” Evaira said, “I never thought of ghosts as being scary. Though, like we saw, some of them can be pretty malicious, or even outright evil, I like most of them. In fact, I find the mere fact that ghosts exist to be very comforting.”
“Really?” Bill asked, “Why is that?”
“Because,” Evaira said, “the fact that ghosts exist proves definitively that there is an afterlife. It proves that death is not simply ceasing to exist, and going to an endless void.”
“You know,” Bill said, “I never thought about it that way.”
“Neither do most people,” Evaira said, “now, come on out. I bet Chira really wants to tease you about your fear.”
“You have no idea,” Chira’s voice said.
“I’m never going to hear the end of this,” Bill said, “am I?”
“Nope,” Chira replied.
When they arrived in Elmsbury, after viewing the mysterious lights that they came there to investigate, they went to the nearest bar, and told the story of their encounter with Kelly, and the truth behind the legend of the Devil’s Road. The people in the bar at first responded with disbelief. How could the details of such a popular legend be wrong? But ultimately, the idea that a real ghost is haunting the Devil’s Road, and the tale of a firsthand account were too amazing, and the story spread quickly.
Before long, the story of Kelly became just as famous to the people in the Elmsbury region as that of the boy who’d stolen the van and caused all this. They now avoided the road because of Kelly and not the boy.
Since the day Evaira encountered Kelly, and began to spread her story, stories of encounters with Kelly grew, but she had since calmed down and become a friendly spirit. She had come to like being remembered as the ghost of the Devil’s Road.
Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):
A day late for Halloween, but here’s the scariest Evaira story to date. Please note that the timing is pure coincidence.
This was actually my first real ghost story, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Your traditional ghost stories are a dime a dozen, but what if the story is wrong? And I don’t mean just a myth or legend, but what if there actually is a ghost, but the story doesn’t tell the whole story, or even the right story? I expanded from there, and eventually got the story of Kelly, the ghost of the Devil’s Road. When writing Kelly’s character, I considered a typical human’s desire to be remembered after their death, and took it to the extreme.
I actually wrote this story prior to writing “The Unseen Phenomenon” and “The Beta Test Phenomenon”. I moved it here in the continuity as I didn’t want to have a scary story quite so early in the series. Plus, I had some minor continuity between this one and the last, though this was added in a revision.