1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

The Devil's Highway

Barry Worrell - August, 2008

Foreword: This is a story that came to in the earlier nineties on one of those countless trips from Maryland to W Va. We used to travel at night to escape the traffic and the heat until we got too old to stay up that late. I always liked the TV show "The Twilight Zone" and I thought it would have made a good episode. So, as Rod Serling would introduce it:

"Consider this equation. A hot summer night, a lonely road, a beat up old semi, and a young man trying to get home. Unknowingly to this driver this trip is about to make a detour.... thru The Twilight Zone."  - Barry Worrell

On a lonely road from Ft. Worth Texas, to Hobbes N. M., runs a semi with no trailer. The driver is Johnny McCutchin, traveling at night because it’s August and his air conditioner is broken. He’s returning from Ft. Worth without a load. Times are tough and there simply isn’t any work. His radio is blaring to try to keep his mind off how hot it is. His thoughts are on the last of many conversations  with his wife Jean. You see Jean is a good girl who goes to church, and though Johnny goes every now and then, He has never been serious about it.

“Country music”. “That’s all you can get down here”. But Johnny doesn’t mind. He loves country music. “Not much new on this old road”. “As long as I’ve been traveling it, you would think they would build something on it.” “Please Release Me, Let Me Go”. “Man, that’s an oldie”. “I Don’t Love You Any More”. Love. He does love Jean, more than anything. If only she would get off that church stuff. “At least they’ve repainted the white lines”. “That’s funny”. “They seemed to be rising up from the road”. “Must be the heat”.

“What time is it?” “Two fifteen”. “Four more hours”. “Man!” “Would you look at those white lines?” “They look like they’re standing up in the middle of the road!” Johnny kept staring at the white lines, almost mesmerized by their apparent actions. “I must be really getting tired”. This was keeping his mind off the heat, so he thought he would let his mind go with the illusion. “That’s weird”. “They seem to be just far enough away that I can never catch up.”

The lines got wider and wider and their shape changed to an almost human form. “Whoa, this is really wild!” Still more change. Faces were forming with mouths looking as if they were screaming. “Man... this is not funny anymore!” Johnny rubbed his eyes and shook his head. They were still there!! “What are they?” “My God, what are they?” Even above the blaring radio, he began to hear sounds of screaming. Fear began to set in. “Oh no!” “They’re leaning toward the truck!” Johnny edged closer to the side of the road. They were still reaching farther toward the truck, and the screams were getting louder! In a panic, Johnny steers back toward the center of the highway. The truck is passing right thru them! “I got to get off!” “I got to get off the highway!” He sees a truck stop. Hardly slowing down, Johnny hits the breaks and slides into the lot. With his head on the wheel, he sat there for a few moments. With dust all around, engine stalled, and the radio up full blast, he quickly turned everything off. Silence. His heart pounding and sweat poring from his brow, he looks around in all directions. Nothing. Just the quiet, hot, summer night. “My God!” “Was I dreaming?” “It had to be!” He sits there for a while thinking about what just happen. Then he takes a handkerchief, wipes his face and slowly gets out of the truck. Still looking around, with unsteady legs he makes his way to the restaurant. He looks at the sign on the building, a neon circle with two letters. "D H".

Obviously still shaken, Johnny takes a stool at the counter and glances about the restaurant. “Looks like a slow night”, he says nervously to the girl behind the counter. She just looks at him, but gives no response. The only other person there is an old man staring at him. Johnny nods his head, but the old man just stares. “Coffee please, black”, he says to the waitress. She pores his coffee, still not saying a word, turns her back on Johnny, leaving his alone with his coffee.

The old man moves closer to Johnny, sitting on the stool next to him. Johnny sipped his coffee, his mind on the past half hour. “You’ve seen ‘em”, the old man said. Johnny choked on his coffee, backed off his stool, and glared at the old man. “What did you say?” “You’ve seen ‘em,” the old man said again, his expression never changing. “What the devil are you talking about”, Johnny yelled. “I can see it in your eyes, you’ve seen ‘em” the old man continued. Johnny picked up his coffee and walked over to a table in the corner, yelling, “Get away from me old man, get away!” He was almost at wits end. Here he was resolving in his mind that the whole thing was a dream, and this old guy was talking as if what he saw was…..REAL!

Johnny sat for the next twenty minutes, agonizing over what was happening to him. “I’ll just sit here until morning and they won’t be there anymore "screaming, whatever they were." “Gotta call Jean and tell her I won’t be home ‘till after sun-up”. He walked across the floor to the pay phone, picked up the receiver an deposited a quarter. No dial tone! “What wrong with this place?” he thought. “The waitress won’t talk, the phone won’t work, and there’s no one here except that crazy old man”. “And what is this place, anyway”. “I don’t ever remember seeing it before, and I’ve been down this road a thousand times”. Johnny went back to the table, slumped into the chair and stared into space.

The old man came over and sat down. “I didn’t mean to startle you, but I’ve got something to tell you.” Johnny interrupted. “How did you know what I saw?” “That’s what I’m trying to tell you”, said the old man. Johnny jump up and grabbed the old man by the jacket, lifted him out of his chair and yelled, “What did I see, and how do you know?” “Settle down sonny and you’ll find out”. As they both sat down the old man proceeded to describe exactly what Johnny saw. “You see, the forms on the road are lost souls, destine to inhabit the highways until that day”. "That Day!" “What day?” said Johnny? The old man answered, “The day when there's no more”. “What do you mean NO MORE and why are they there?” Johnny asked. The old man glared at Johnny and with a pause he said. “Those are the ones who belong to the Devil”.

Not about to listen any more Johnny got up and ran out of the restaurant, got in his truck, started the engine and tore out of the lot. “I’ve gotta get home”. "It’ll be daylight soon, and if I can just get home, everything will be alright”. “See, you see?” “There not there anymore." “It was just a dream”. “But I don’t care”. “As soon as I get home, I’m going to sell this old truck and take a job at my brother-in-law’s auto parts store”. “Everything will be alright”.

Johnny was doing over 80. Much too fast for his old truck. “Let it burn up!” “In about an hour it will be daylight and I can walk the rest of the way”. He thought about what had happen. “Man!” “Wait ‘till I tell Jean”. “She’ll get a hoot out of this!” Then… there they were again. “NO!” “NO!” “NOOOOOOOOOO!” “Please go away!” “Go away!” This time the screams were much louder and the forms bigger. So big Johnny couldn’t see thru them to see the road. “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” “I’LL KILL YOU!” “I’LL KILL YOU!” Johnny swerved the truck back and forth trying to run over the forms. But they were still there, screaming louder and louder.

“What happen?” Johnny sat up. He was sitting in the middle of the road. The last thing he remembers was the screeching of tires and then he lost
consciousness. “I must have wrecked”. His eyes were a little out of focus, but he seemed to be alright. He saw his truck lying on its side further up the road. “Well, I really did it this time!” “Better get my stuff and try to hitch a ride”. Johnny tried to get up, but something was wrong. He couldn’t move from his position! One by one the forms appeared in front and in back of him all lined up with the white lines. Johnny tried to call for help, but all he could do was………SCREAM!
 

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