Fiction Friday: Highway 491

I drove down Highway 491 in early June of 2008. My watch said 3am and I hadn’t seen any other cars for at least an hour. I started to get that uncomfortable feeling. The one you get when things don’t feel right; like something bad will happen. I looked out the windows up at the sky. I expected to see a bunch of bright lights flying around. I never believed in aliens, but for some reason I kept looking up.

I finally stopped looking feeling foolish. I put my eyes back on the road and I saw it. It felt strange that I didn’t see it before; a circus tent with cars parked all around. Some of the cars looked old, but shinier than mine; like restored classics. I couldn’t understand why a circus performed in the middle of the night. 

Is my watch broken?

I had driven for a while and needed the rest, so I pulled over. I at least wanted to see the old cars from all decades; as much as 80-years-old.

I never saw a circus themed car show. After looking at a few of the classics, I went inside to see what the show.

The smell of popcorn attacked my nose as I entered. I could feel something crunching under my feet though I didn’t hear it from the loud music. Peanut shells covered the ground. An elephant in the center ring balanced things on its tusks. No one stood at the entrance, so I found myself a seat.

Everyone in the audience wore clothing from different decades. I didn’t notice at first how strange people looked. When I saw a man with one of those curly mustaches throwing popcorn, I started looking at everyone. One section had a group of soldiers dressed in World War II uniforms. A bunch of flower power hippies threw flowers instead of popcorn in another section. No one noticed me or any other people around them. The performances in the three rings hypnotized the audience.

I leaned over and spoke to the man next to me.

“What kind of show is this?” I said.

The man looked at me confused and uncomfortable. Without answering he returned to watching the well-trained elephant. After the elephant, a group of clowns ran out from behind the trainer and started goofing around. I decided I had stayed long enough and began to leave.

A man in a candy-striped jacket and straw hat stood at the entrance with an over exaggerated smile. He put one of his hands up.

“You cannot leave.” He said.

“I’m sorry I didn’t pay, but no one was around.”

“Admittance is free, but you cannot leave.”

The wide smile on his thin face and shrill voice made me uncomfortable. 

“Why can’t I leave?”

He snickered.

“It is almost time for the finale. You do not want to miss that.”

He gestured for me to sit back down.

I returned to my seat but looked back every now and then to find the creepy man still standing there watching me. Before the clown act ended, I noticed a young man and woman walking into the tent greeted by the creepy man. I found it strange that the girl wore a blue shirt that said Clinton 2016. I took my chance and snuck out behind the creepy man while he spoke to the couple.

As I left, I could hear the Ringmaster on the loud speaker.

An excerpt from “Highway 491” from the short story collection The Morbid Museum.

A New Ebook

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My newest eBook went live today.  Dollar Tales from the Morbid Museum: Flash Fiction.  It includes four flash fiction stories and an introduction that is in its own way a story.  It’s a little introduction to the Morbid Museum and the curator of the museum, Mister Siris Grim.  There will be one, or possibly two, more installments of Dollar Tales from the Morbid Museum leading up to the release of the full collection of short fiction titled The Morbid Museum.  This will be a collection of horror, true crime, science fiction, and other genre fiction curated around the theme of death.  So exciting!

The first story in this new release is titled “Clyde.”  It’s about the ghosts of the Pac-Man game from the perspective of Clyde, the orange ghost.  Fun Fact: the orange ghost in the Ms. Pac-Man game was named Sue.  The next story is titled “Highway 491.”  This is a real highway that goes through New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah (partially).  Prior to 2003 it was called the Devil’s Highway because it was U.S. Route 666.  What kind of spooky things happen on the Devil’s Highway?  You’ll have to read to find out.

The next story is “Blue Ridge Mountain Hop,” a ghost story set in the Appalachian Mountains which are sometimes called the Blue Ridge Mountains because of the misty hue they reflect during certain times of day.  This is followed by the last story “Jesse’s Lament.”  This is a tale about a young man during the Civil War feeling homesick and missing his twin brother.  This story takes place during the Battle of Gettysburg on Culp’s Hill.  “Blue Ridge Mountain Hop” also includes some apparitions from the Civil War which is why I put those two together.

This new eBook will be available for free this week on Wednesday, July 4, only.  The promotion is in celebration of Independence Day and will only be available for free on that day.  As always, reviews are greatly appreciated, and any feedback will be heard and considered.  Who doesn’t love free stuff?  If you don’t have a Kindle device, you can download the app for free to any device from the App Store or Google Play Store.  I hope you enjoy the stories and I hope you’ll keep an eye out for any future works I publish.  I promise more are coming.  You can check the Projects page to see what else I’ve published.