Stitched Saturday 1/26/19

As you may notice, this is #StitchedSaturday … on a Sunday!  Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. For this week we did a surprise prompt and gave the writers who dared, only a few hours to come up with a story. This exercise helps us think on our feet and challenge creativity. Without further ado, here are the brave souls who entered. Please continue to encourage them by “Liking” and “Commenting” on our posts. Tell us who your faves are, there are prizes involved for them!

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The Dark Arch

By Thomas R Clark

They call it the Dark Arch, that part of route 13 on the Oxbow. Some say its haunted, with dark spirits feeding on the unwary foolish enough to answer their banshee calls. And some folks, the smart ones, they don’t talk about it at all.

Like most roads in upstate New York, Rt. 13 was an old deer trail, weaving through the path of least resistance in the rugged hills of the Oneida Valley. The lanes along this expanse of the country highway were bordered by aged apple orchards. Twisting and turning like the road itself, the tree tops mingled and married high above. The branches snaked through the cables and wires carrying electricity along, creating a preternatural tunnel of wood and shadow.

Cresting to the top of a hill with a steep incline from north to south in each direction, the phenomenon covered a half mile of highway. Each end of the curious tunnel saw sharp ninety degree turns. As a result, the road hosted its fair portion of misfortune through the decades. From alcohol influenced moments of poor decision making, to weather related accidents out of the control of those involved, the road knew death. It’s natural, then, the locals would whisper about the souls of the lives lost on the road, trapped in their final moments, forever.

Most scoffed at the notion the main thoroughfare in southern Madison County was haunted. A traveler late at night may beg to share a differing opine. They may tell you a preposterous tale. Its elements including a wayward woman in a gown of white. She would be found wandering near one or the other exit from the Dark Arch. She beckons those traveling her way, a herald of bad things to come. Of all the tragedies, real or legendary, to malady this length of highway, none was more notorious than the Bride of Thirteen Curves. They say she spent her honeymoon there.

For eternity.


The wolf moon hung high in the fall sky. It cast its glow across the valley, a blanket of silver spreading over the miles of rolling hills. Doug “Smitty Smith pushed his Trans Am down the curves of the rural highway. The speedometer read eighty-five and was tipping toward ninety as he passed a white and black SPEED LIMIT 55 sign. A yellow caution to SPEED LIMIT 35, complete with an arrow bent at a hard ninety degrees, indicated a sharp turn was imminent. It was one of the two ‘Thirteen Curves,’ the infamous pair of sharp turns on Rt. 13.

Smitty relished taking this corner at top speed, drifting into the left lane. He watched for headlights from the opposite direction, saw none, and sank back into his bucket seat. He gunned it, cranked the wheel hard right, and let inertia carry the sports car around the bend. Adrenaline rushed into his veins as centrifugal force sent extra blood to his head. Driving fast was a rush.

Ahead of him, the twisted trees of the Dark Arch rose on the horizon. He flicked on his high beams as the car entered the tunnel. The crooked trees bent the light, casting shadows on the road. The speed of the Trans Am animated the shadows as the car propelled up the steep hill. Smitty’s peripheral vision watched demonic Rorschach ink splotches transforming and morphing along the way. The ascent took a matter of seconds.

The car reached the apex of the hill. Smitty felt his ears pop as the sports car started the descent. He took his foot off the gas, the car’s speedometer raised, nearing ninety-five. His heart rate increased, feeding his body endorphins. A wisp of fog flew past the car, then another invaded the road, this one longer. Soon the road was covered by a sheen of mist. The high beams reflected off the fog, shining his lights back at him. Smitty clicked back the brights, and the glare fell to the road.

He saw the woman’s legs first. They were clearly visible in the lights under the fog. He flicked the high beams back on, looking for the rest of the person. Instead he was greeted with a blinding flash as the brights met a wall of murk. He flicked them back down, and saw her, clearly on the side of the road. It was a woman in a white wedding gown. Long blonde hair fell off her shoulders, a veil covered the features of her face.

“Holy shit! It’s true!” He said to himself, enamored with the vision before him. Before was the Bride of Thirteen Curves. She was tinier than Smitty was led to believe. He stared at the woman, admiring her beauty. He watched as she removed her veil, blinked her bright blue eyes, and blew him a kiss with a flick of her wrist. He watched her in his side mirror as he streaked past her. She waved as he passed.

What Smitty didn’t see was curve two of the Thirteen Curves. His Trans Am hit continued straight when the road turned left. A deep embankment, sliding down some twenty yards to a creek greeted him on the other side. This was separated from the road by a high tension cable guardrail. Built to withstand nine thousand pounds of pressure, the guard rail was designed to bend and move with the impact. A car or truck hitting it at a side angle would push it out of the ground up to eight feet.

Smitty heard the car screech as it ripped into the wire barrier, head on. The speedometer now read over a hundred miles per hour. The steel cable cut through the fiberglass and steel frame of the sports car. Time slowed. Smitty looked in the rear view mirror. He saw the Bride, still standing behind him, watching the events unfold. Her mouth was open wide, and he could swear the screaming he heard came from her. It came from the car.

Inertia propelled the car forward. A pair of two inch thick braided steel cables burst through the car’s engine, chassis and the steering column. Smitty was still turned around, watching the Bride beckon him. She held her hand out, waiting for some reciprocation. He found himself reaching out. The cables cut into Smitty, ripping through his sternum and diaphragm, trisecting him in his seatbelt. He never felt it. The car burst into flame as the cables punctured the half full gas tank, blowing the pieces of the Trans Am down the embankment, into the pine and birch trees below.


The Bride of Thirteen Curves watched as another suitor passed her by, not heeding her warning. Fire lit the night, a beacon to others. In response, she wailed, lamenting another loss. She lifted her veil, stepped back into the shadows, and waited for the next to come through her dark bridal arch.


The road seems endless, as it leads through these horrifying trees. I feel the oppressive weight of evil upon my soul. I cannot let the dread take control of me. Each step becomes more difficult, as if mired in mud. Finally I can walk no further, sinking to my knees on the road. Looking up in horror at the trees, dancing as though in a veritable hurricane but feeling no wind. I see them moving toward the road, and the scream threatening to break the silence stays within my lungs, my mind stunned by the visions my eyes are seeing.
There are…things…in the branches. Things…hanging from the branches.  But…there are no ropes…only branches.  As if…no. This cannot be! Dear God! The trees are…
I try to stand, even as I feel the branch wrap around my neck. I try to get my feet to run, but they are no longer touching the ground.  As my vision starts to fade, the trees are no longer moving, the road solidifies beneath my feet, and I slowly fade out of existence, only to realize that I am now completely gone…until the next fool takes the road less traveled, and the cycle is reborn…

Chuck Knight


The Road

By Joaquin Bonel
It happened.  After years and decades of false predictions, propaganda, conflicting scientific theories, doom and gloom preach on the news it finally happened.  The world ended.  It wasn’t war, plague, famine, or even climate change.  No.  It was all of the above.  It didn’t happen over night.  The best way I can put it was that one thing led to another as millions and millions of people drowned in natural disasters, withered from disease, starved or got incinerated by the bombs.  Looking back on it, it’s as if it was one of the four horsemen following the other once his predecessor did his due, each trying to out do the previous one.
It took years to get to this point.  And those that made it this far have nothing left to do but wither and die.  And that’s what they’re left to do is just wander in the wasteland that is left of the world.  All they can hope for is to scrape a living of what measly scraps remain.  So few remain.  Each day a few more expire.  Yet they keep wandering as their numbers continue to dwindle.  One . . . by . . . one each one of them collapse as their last ounce of strength and their last breath slips out of them as they lay spent in their final resting place.  The only relief they feel is the the thought that at last the suffering in this life is over.  Wander they do and wander they continue to do until only one remains.
The last man on earth wanders the broken and cracked roads of the once vibrant world.  Everywhere there are signs of the world that once was.  Slowly but surely nature continues to grow and devour what man has build until it takes back what was rightfully hers.  He looks around, broken and miserable.  His eyes are dry and his mouth is sticky in a ravenous thirst for a clean drink of cool water.  If clean water can still be found.  On and on he drags one foot behind the other as the sun descents behind the soot and smoke that blacken the sky.  It makes no difference to the man.  Days are just as bad as night now.  With all the fire and smoke that rose into the air form the destruction below, it put everything in this eerie blood colored light.  Like looking at the world through Hell colored glasses.
The Sun had finally laid itself to rest and he wandered down this path that was now being taken back by a vengeful forest.  He was not afraid.  Not for himself, for he knew there would be nothing down that road that could kill him.  In addition to all the people many if not all, of the animals perished as well.  Innocent bystanders to the scourge man brought to their home.  On he went in the dead dark silence.  Real silence.  Not so much as a breath of air to ruffle a tree, let alone the chirp of a cricket or the hoot of an owl to let him know he was still alive.  No, nothing but the silent creak of his worn and torn shoe grinding the dirt on top of the broken pavement.  On he went waiting and waiting for his last step before he would collapse.  He continued and with what little will he had left he lifted his foot, but before he put it down he heard it.
It was a clop that echoed behind him.  He knew this noise and froze still and dared not to move.  For a moment he convinced himself that it was only the sound of his own disillusion.  He went on to take another step, and again before he could put his foot down he heard it again.  Another clop, this one closer behind him.  Now he breathed heavier, and now the thirst in his throat grew more intense as his heart beat faster and blood struggled to make his way through his broken body.  He tried another step and another and another and each time he heard it again.  Another clop that clicked on the pavement behind him each one getting closer and closer.  He kept walking step after step, one right after the other and all the while there it was again:  clop . . . clop . . . clop  . . . clop.
His pace picked up to a brisk and the clopping noise continued in rhythm right behind him getting closer and closer with every foot he traveled.  The fear was growing in him like a storm rumbling closer from the horizon.  He could feel it’s power over take him and his memories of the old world were coming back as the dread awoke him.  He knew this noise.  It was the noise of of hoof beats on the road.  And they continued and they kept getting closer each time in perfect sync with every step he took.  It was all in his head.  That’s what he told himself.  It was a just a spell.  He would snap himself out of it.  So he sprinted several stepped and stopped gasping as the dry hot air and he listened.  Nothing . . .
Relief set in and he thanked the heavens that the hoof beats didn’t continue.  Until they did .  He heard them again this time.  Down the road behind him that stretched tangled in the mess of angry trees.  He heard them at the same pace he heard his own feet pound the cracked pavement just moments earlier:  clop-clop-clop-clop-clop-clop.  Now he was really afraid. More fear now stuck him like a bear claw swiping across his chest.  It was the sound of the clop’s that scared him but what scared him the most was they rhythm of those steps.  Those steps were not in the galloping cadence that a horse or any other four legged animal would make:  K-K-KLOP, K-K-KLOP, K-K-KLOP.  No whatever was making those steps had different cadence:  KLOP – KLOP – KLOP -KLOP -KLOP.  A cadence made by a creature with two legs.
He screamed a weak and feeble moan as he darted away as fast as his weak body could carry him.  It was no use.  In the darkness and with his dry parched eyes he did not see the roots,  He tripped and landed in a single thud on the ground like a rusty nail pulled to a magnet.  This is it he thought.  Any second it will be all over.  And he was right. As he lay there tired and hot he heard the clops of steps again this time only feet away.  The last thing he felt was a fiery air of foul rotten breath on the back of his neck.  The last thing he heard was the cackle as the world faded into blackness.
-The End.

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