HAUNTED

 A shiver ran up my spine as I stared into the black hole in front of me. My fingers had turned white with the way I was gripping the steering wheel. I never believed in ghosts, but I knew for certain that there was evil out there: the devil, demons, witch craft; I knew unseen evil existed.And it is a scary thing. For years I had decided that one day I would take the drive into the mountains on the dusty road that led you through a series of haunted tunnels simply to just say I did it. To knock an item off of the ‘ol bucket list. Here I was, on Gold Camp road staring into the face of a tunnel carved through a mountain, uncertain that if I drove through it I would come out of the other side in one piece. I put the car in drive.

*
Three years earlier…

“Haunted?” I repeated, my voice full of disbelief. It was just another day at the zoo, a blisteringly hot day. I stared out one of the two massive windows that made up Safari Cafe. Don’t be fooled. It was nothing of a quaint sandwich shop you imagine when you here the word cafe. It was a more of a “pop-up” carnival stand where people order from the window and receive their food from the next window and sit outside on picnic tables. Food choices were: cotton candy, hot dogs, chips, popcorn and pretzels all for exorbetent prices. (And people never looked at the prices either so when you rang up their order shock and awe were in order…and not the good kind of shock an awe) The floors were constantly sticky with soda syrup and ketchup stained beyond help. If it was hot outside, you could always count on it being at least 10 degrees warmer inside. Anyway, back to my story….

“Yes,” Kelsey said nodding her head and her circular blue eyes growing even larger. 

I adjusted my visor, annoyed that I had to wear one; what possible purpose do visor’s have when you aren’t outside other than making you look like an explosion from the 1990’s? I pulled closer to the window hoping to catch a breeze from outside. “Well, what’s the story?” I asked her curiously. 

Kelsey spoke with her hands and her voice became more dramatic. “About 30 years ago, a school group was going on a field trip into the mountains and they took Gold Camp Road, hoping to make the trip shorter by cutting through the tunnels. Many people had driven through the tunnels before, they were without question, safe. BUT, the when the school group drove through, one of the tunnels caved in crushing the bus and killing everyone inside.” 

I shivered ghost stories were always worse when children are involved. But still, I reminded myself it was just a ghost story, make believe stuff, nothing to fret about. 

“So, people say that now, all the tunnels along that road are haunted by the children’s ghosts,” Kelsey’s soft voice had by now completely turned into the typical ghost story voice. “Legend says you drive into into one of the tunnels at night, turn off all of the car lights and stay parked for as long as you can handle. When you drive out, little hand prints from the ghost children will be all over your car.” 

I started shaking my head trying to shut down my over active imagination. 

“I didn’t believe it either, but it happened to me!” Her eyes were huge now. Suddenly the sun disappeared; my heart beet a little faster as if the ghost children knew that we were talking about them. I glanced at the sky, it was just a cloud passing by over head. 

“You saw finger prints on your car?”

Kelsey nodded. “But not right away. We drove up there, me and my girlfriends totally thinking it was just a bunch of crap! We parked, let the dust settle on the car and drove away without a single finger print!” 

We were momentarily cut off by a lady asking for a lid and a straw. “I’m sorry, Ma’am but we don’t have any lids or straws due to the fact that they are animal hazards,” Kelsey said the line we all knew by heart. The lady left our window with a helpless moan like the world would be ending in the next 5 minutes. Kelsey and I rolled our eyes and I reminded her of where she left off on the ghost story. 

“Yeah, so like we got to my friend’s house and were laughing and stuff and then one of my friend’s just screams bloody murder!” Kelsey mimicked her friend, sending a couple looks our way. 

“When we got out of the car there were the little hand prints…and I am not lying. It was totally scary.” 

“At least the worse they do is put hand prints all over your car,” I said jokingly. 

“No, if you get hand prints, you are cursed. My friend, is like so worried; and it’s true bad stuff has already started happening since we went last week.” 

“What kind of stuff?”I asked. 

“Like, ok her Dad lost his job on Monday and he was like totally secure in it; and my friend, Anna, keeps having dreams and seeing the children in her room!”

“That is creepy!” I exclaimed with a shiver.
“You have to go!” Kelsey urged me, “it’s a totally out of this world experience.”
“Yeah, NO.” I said. I am the girl who cannot watch horror movies, even CSI gives me nightmares.
“You don’t want to be the lame grandparent who doesn’t have any cool stories do you?”She asked with a laugh.
I laughed back and said,”Maybe I’ll put it on my bucket list..” If I did go…it couldn’t be that bad. The Ghost Adventures show was so worked up it was almost funny to watch. That is what this would be like. The ghost story wasn’t true. I knew it wasn’t true. 

*

 

*
“Maybe we shouldn’t do this!”My twin sister Andrea cried out and grabbed my hand. Usually she was the one who was a bit more daring than me. (Even she had urged me to continue driving on the haunted road when I hesitated upon a stop sign crossed out with graffiti and in place of the word stop was written, “GO.”) Here we were terrified twenty-four year old’s just trying not to be totally lame grandparents.

Suddenly we heard car wheels squeal behind us. People were waiting. This was like a tourist attraction…there were other people around us what could possibly happen? And the guy behind us in his white pickup truck made it impossible to turn around so the only choice we had was to go through the tunnel.

“Let’s just do it!” I said summoning up any remaining courage I had. The silver honda I was driving lurched as it drove over deep dips carved into the red dirt road. Andrea and I both screamed as we entered the tunnel as if ghostly children would grab us at any moment. My car lights bounced on the stony walls but they still hadn’t picked up the end of the tunnel. We were encased in an eerie darkness. Finally I saw the end which meant we were in the middle. Which meant now was the time to park the car and turn out the lights.

With trembling hands I set the car in park and watched the dust swirl around us before turning off the headlights. The blackness that surrounded us is a darkness you can feel. There was no difference between closing my eyes and having them open.Evil was lurking. With a terrified scream I flicked the lights back on and raced the car and Andrea and myself into safety.

Andrea and I both squealed in delight that we had finally accomplished driving through the Gold Camp Tunnels. We had conquered a fear and that’s the best feeling in the world. And no ghostly finger or hand prints…..yet.

I hope you enjoy my vacation inspired story! I went to the Gold Camp Tunnels again last week when I was in Colorado and man! They are freaky but it’s just something you got to do!

Any haunted places in your homeland?

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