The Scenic Route

Stop.

I want you to take a good, long look right now and then never again. I want you to get it out of your system.

Your pretending you weren’t? I saw you. I see everything, don’t think I won’t. Look, it ain’t a crime, just look now while you got me with you.

Don’t apologize. Just look around so you get a good idea of why we won’t be stopping here.

I know the route is long and sometimes you’ll be tempted to stop and rest your load. I don’t care if you wind up with a kinked spine and one shoulder higher than the other, you never stop here.

Why? Nevermind why, look around. Should be slappin’ you in the face. This place has bad juju.

Count the doors along the way. Sometimes you’ll wind up with an even number, sometimes odd. When you walk this route alone, sometimes you’ll get…funny thoughts. Might think it’s a good idea to do something that ain’t a good idea. S’why we rotate, see? A man on his own too long in a place like this, well, he might start asking unhealthy questions. And trust me, there’s nothing but unhealthy questions here.

See these bones? You don’t want to know what made these bones.

Also, sometimes you’ll see this really big bug. It’s not talking to you, it’s just making noise.

Whaddya mean I’m scaring you? Damn straight, I’m scaring sense into you. No, Don didn’t put me up to this, dammit, I’m responsible for your rookie ass.

Look, I’ll prove it to you. You see how the sun’s setting? Take a look at those trash-cans. Notice anything?

…No, not how clean they are. The shadows are going the wrong way.

I know, right? Barry was the first to notice that. And it gets weirder, too, you haven’t even seen the red shack.

What’s that? Well, let’s just say it’s not there every single time.

…no, I ain’t fuckin’ with you, do you think—look at those shadows! How the hell would I do that?

Hell, I don’t hate you. None of the guys do. If we hated you, we wouldn’t even—look, I’m just trying to bring you into this slowly so you don’t get hit all at once.

…what do you mean about the beast? Who told you about the beast?

Rick? Piece of shit. I take it back, Rick has it out for you. Don’t trust that redheaded bastid for a second.

C’mon, let’s get moving.

What? You want to hear about it? Some other—when we aren’t—okay, fine. Right quick.

You see that little yard right there? Yeah, looks like it should have a dog. But it don’t. Be surprised if anything lived in this neighborhood besides the mold. No rats here, did you notice?

Anyway, off point. This guy called Adam, he was before your time, Adam walks by once and sees a chain-peg and an opened collar on the ground. One of those big ones, with the spikes. He don’t pay it much mind, only, the next delivery he hears this growling, see? But there’s no animal around.

Happens every time he goes out that way. So he gets it in his head to go in the yard, and—

What? Nothing happened, he retired. Stop givin’ me that look.

Anyway, my point is, you shouldn’t go pokin’ around places like this. Now come on, we’ve been here long—

No, I’m not letting you turn back. Never go back the other way. Why? You’ll get lost.

I don’t care if it seems like a straight shot, you’ll get lost. Don’t try to save time, the other guys will always vouch for you on this route. You deliver the package and then come around the long side.

Why do you wanna hear about the beast? This isn’t a campfire!

Look, we’ll walk and talk, okay?

Good.

So, the beast is just a name. There’s a lot of things that can happen, maybe they’re related, maybe they’re not. Maybe Barry cutting his arm on nothing and Rick finding a hubcap with a chunk bit out of it are two different whatchacallits. Happenstance. Maybe not. But there’s a lot wrong in this place and call me crazy, but I like you, kid. I like your face. You got an honest face. You look like if I tell you something, it’ll stick.

So when I tell you not to linger here, you’ll listen, right? Right?

What’re you looking at?

What do you mean ‘where’s the door,‘ it should be right there.

Whatddya mean it’s all bricked up? Goddamn, that ain’t funny, kid. I told you we were here too long, if you—

Shit.

Did you hear that?

…okay. Look, that can’t be the real door. Feel around, I’ll—

No don’t turn around, goddammit there’s nothing, just keep trying for the door, keep trying, keep trying, keep trying—

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2 Comments

Filed under microfiction

2 responses to “The Scenic Route

  1. “The beast is just a name.” Nice. Don’t think I’ve ever read a story about a haunted postal route…

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