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The Long and Winding Road

by bellsgall 

Posted: 28 October 2015
Word Count: 589

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The Beatles were on the radio. ‘The Long and Winding Road.’ How apt, I thought as I steered my little car down the meandering country lane. It was just after midnight as I navigated my way back to the hotel. It had been a long day and I was exhausted.
I fiddled with the radio, searching for something a little more uplifting than an old Beatles’ ballad. My eyelids were heavy and I regretted the decision to drive rather than having a couple of glasses of wine and hitching a lift back to the village. Trust my brother to have his wedding reception in a castle, miles from anywhere and with no accommodation for the guests. And I was going away on business tomorrow; flying to Germany with the hangover from hell really didn’t appeal.
I stumbled across a phone-in on a local radio station. They were talking about ghosts Should be good for a laugh, I thought, as I listened to the expert passing on his vast knowledge and experience to his gullible audience. He talked about the sightings of strange lights, dancing in and out of the trees and unaccountable events in the area, people going missing, never to be seen again, electrical items failing, cars breaking down, their owners found wandering, and mumbling. I laughed to myself at the absurdity of it all and wondered if the banality of village life forced people to make up fantastic stories to keep themselves amused.
And then the car died. Engine cut out, lights packed up just like that. No warning, no cough or splutter, no preamble to automotive demise, just an eerie silence. I turned the key in the ignition once, twice, hit the steering wheel as I’d seen them do at the pictures. Nothing. My little car refused to start.
The temperature began to fall; my breath was white against the darkness creeping in from outside. With no artificial lights on this small and terribly remote lane I realised with a stab of anxiety that I was very alone.
With rising panic, I delved into my bag for my ‘phone only to remember that the battery had run flat hours earlier. Not that there would have been any signal anyway, I rationalised as through the window I could just make out a lofty canopy of vegetation lining, and almost encasing, the road.
And then between the trees ahead, I saw it. A light flashing rhythmically, flitting from side to side. I thought back to the phone-in show and the expert recounting tales of the numerous sightings of strange lights, some said will                                             ‘o the wisps, some said the spirit of a game keeper, or a shepherd or someone long since dead, looking out for the animals in his care. With his lantern glowing, swinging to and fro. Somewhere around here. Even, maybe, on this very lane!
My mouth was dry, my heart crashed in my chest as I watched the light creep towards me. My car had stopped working, there were strange lights dancing through the trees. People had reported strange phenomena here. It was all beginning to add up.
I held my breath as the light continued to move steadily towards me, barely daring to move even an inch.  And then it passed right by me and I realised I’d just been scared to death by an old man on a bike.
And the car? Well, my brother had told me to sort out the battery. I should have listened. 

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Comments by other Members

Bazz at 16:02 on 31 October 2015  Report this post
Hi Bellsgall, nice setting and idea here, setting us up to expect something, only to twist it, so it's more a story about fear rather than anything else. A great little example of how fear and paranoia cam work people up into believing anything, despite themselves. Nice wry, rueful, line at the end, as well.

TassieDevil at 18:58 on 31 October 2015  Report this post
Hi Bellsgall,
A tasty piece with a satisfying ending> The more proper tone of this piece gave me the impression that it was set some time ago and I think it was due to the language used. This helped set the scene although I wonder if it was intentional on your part.

hit the steering wheel as I’d seen them do at the pictures.

 A great image. Wishful thinking but the narrator realises the absurdity of it.
Great piece of tight writing.

BryanW at 20:43 on 31 October 2015  Report this post
Hello Bellsgall,
I like the voice here. The situation builds well, I liked the opening part with the car on the lonely road and the music etc. The flashing, waving light through the trees sort of gave away to me the idea that there would be a common sense sort of ending. An enjoyable story.

RIO at 15:55 on 01 November 2015  Report this post
Hi Bellsgall
A good story that was easy reading with the atmosphere building.
I was unsure how it was going to end and the fact that it was all down to an overactive imagination by the character was well written. Excellent last line.


bellsgall at 09:43 on 03 November 2015  Report this post
Thank you for your comments :)

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