by Howard Rue
Cari and Norris start their first date.
|"This is serious? Like the story is true?" She said, suddenly allowing the smile to leave her face and melt downwards. Cari had been smiling for so long on this date, Norris had figured that taht was the natural state of her existence. She was always smiling, even in the hallways at the high school.
The road had started the simple patter of asphlat, with specific intervals that cause everyone in the car to find a simple rhythm. Norris had not planned on the date going in this direction, not planned on the old kinds of teen romancing that his grandfather had once boasted about. He had planned to make this a date to remember, old school. Dinner. Movie. Ride home. Up in the morning to get to training for the football team.
Cari was facinated with the tales of the town. He was impressed that she was so ill informed about the county. They had grown up together, for as much as he could have remember, they've hung out forever.
Just never dated.
Norris turned his brights on stared, considering going with the first plan. The plan to just take her home. But she was the one who insisted on seeing the famed Toad Road. The road that led to Marlow house. The road where the family was killed so long ago.
She insisted, but he thought better.
"I can't say it's true, we get such bad reception out here in this part of the county, I guess I can't google it. But that's the truth, as far as I heard it. Marlow murdered them all, after a week of just keeping them tied up. Cutting them, but keeping them alive for as long as he could. Then just went crazy, and hacked them all together. Rumor is, on clear nights, you can see dancing lights."
She got really quiet, the blue lights shined up in her face, making shadows over her eyes.
"We don't have to go, I'm not doing this to impress you. You just asked..."
"I did, I did. No, no, no, we're cool. Let's go. No, really, it'll be different and new."
The toad was difficult to spot. Years of Pennsylvania ivy had worked it's magic to hide it, shoving it back from the road with its matching greenery.
Norris had noticed it before, doing a job with his dad and hearing the story for the first time about the Marlowe murders.
"Here it is."
He slowed the car down and pulled it to a stop. He looked her in the face.
"You sure? I am not trying to creep you out, I promise."
"No," She turned to look across the forest to their right, "it'll be good to see something new down here."
"Okay. Then, let's go."
He turned on the gravel road.