The Other Way

Why are they all going the other way? This troubling question had infected the mind of Charley Hess as he drove down a peculiar winding street toward a mountain. The foggy windshields of Charley’s car could only be cleared by the frail wipers. They let out an unbearable squeak each time they scraped the chunks of snow and ice from the glass. There was a harsh snowfall that created an ominous white filter over all of Charley’s surroundings. He was headed for his weekend home on the mountain. It was a small wooden house that he privately owned. He enjoyed paying visits on Saturdays and Sundays for the chance to relax and enjoy the view. It was not an unpopular activity; lots of people owned houses on this mountain. The view was fantastic from any angle. So, as soon as Charley had secured his own apartment, he chose to purchase one of these cheap mountain houses. The road he was on led up to a lift that would transport him to his level of the mountain. But now a question plagued his brain. How come there are so many cars leaving the mountain?

Most mountain-goers were solitary people who operated by their own schedules. They rarely came or went in flocks. Actually, they never did. But on this odd evening, as Charley drove toward the mountain, he saw at least four or five cars going the opposite direction on the long curvy road. Everyone but him seemed to be heading away from the mountain. An unsettling feeling crept over him as he heard the wooshhhhh of the tires passing him on the snow-covered pavement. With each passing car, his stomach tensed more with nervousness. He started to slowly press his foot upon the break, causing his car to come to a stop. He rolled down his window, allowing a gust of cold wind to enter and slap his face. But he continued peering out the opening to try and see any sign of why all these cars were leaving at the same time. They were moving rather unusually fast. He caught a glimpse of one driver’s face. A young man. He was frantic. It was a different type of frantic, however; there was a mixture of regret and unmistakable guilt hidden between the lines. He seemed eminently distressed, and that caused a shiver of fear and concern to travel down Charley’s spine. No, certainly the shiver was from the cold. And surely the man was only frantic because of the wild weather conditions, and the pure coincidence of all these cars leaving at the same time. 

Charley persisted to drive closer to the mountain. At this point, all the cars had passed him, so he was left to drive the remainder of the road seeing eerie tire tracks in the snow to his left. The drivers sure had been going fast, the tracks were wild and messy. Maybe someone truly had held a party there, and all of those drivers were guests trying to get home before the snow intensified even further. It would be odd to hold a party in one of these small houses intended for single residents, but it was not impossible. As the mountain grew in Charley’s vision, so did the fear in the depths of his mind. But he dismissed it. No need to be scared.

He arrived in the parking lot, and stepped outside of his car to yet another slap of snow-filled wind. Every noise he made echoed in this area beneath the giant mountain; from the creak of his car door opening, to the light crunch of his feet in the snow. He thrust open the heavy trunk, and pulled out multiple bags that he threw over his shoulder, ready to take them on the lift. He pushed his trunk door closed, locked the car, and began walking. The weight of his bags reminded him of another reason not to turn back. I packed all of these things to do this weekend; it took me like an hour! Imagine just going back home now and unpacking for no reason.

Now, Charley’s mind was devoid of nearly all concern. He had talked himself out of whatever doubt had come over him. He approached the lift, ready to be transported to his house. He neared the gondola, now having reached a sense of comfort. But upon opening the door, that feeling was stripped from him. A bloodied girl was sprawled out on the cushions. Her eyes were open and her limbs were contorted. She was a hideous corpse, freshly dead. Then a nauseating feeling hit Charley; one even more horrific than the sight right before his disturbed eyes. Charley had spent the duration of his drive worried that there was something horrible on the mountain that had scared away those drivers. But any driver would have had to take the gondola to get down.

Those drivers rode the gondola with her, not away from her. They killed her, and they were escaping. I watched them drive off. I sat there and let them escape. 

Then nothing but Charley’s own remorseful breath and the echo of howling winds across a vacant mountain could be heard.

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