Thank You Stephen King

I once went for a ride around the Virginia countryside and landed in a town called Scottsville for a bite to eat. And for some reason or another, the master of horror was a-playin’ with my mind while I was there. Let me ‘splain.

Scottsville is in the middle of nowhere. Two semi-major roads (meaning two lanes each, complete with double yellow stripes, and each just itchin’ to take you away from there) cross right at downtown, which itself is a block wide by maybe four long. And the James River does this weird “bow” thing and comes up to within yards of the aforementioned intersection.

The “town” was really crowded, and I don’t mean with vehicles. Just lots and lots of foot traffic. I have no idea where they all came from. The people looked like something out of a demented Mayberry RFD commercial. Every business was closed, but the zombies that lived there just knocked on each and every door and was let in, for whatever reason they needed on this fine Sunday. And I do mean each door. Folks were walking in one door, exiting, going to the next, and repeating. Like they were bit players in a video game.

OK, this was creepy enough, but when I walked in the only open restaurant — everyone froze. Just stopped talking and stared like in every horror movie ever made. I opted to eat outside. 🙂 So there I sat, watching the zombies mill about, and getting peeped at from within the darkened businesses. Not overtly staring and pointing, mind you, but rather that “out of the corner of the eye so you won’t see me looking”, but still facing you sort of way. I would honestly see folks in the doorways across the street just peering out from the gloom at me. It got to the point where I was honestly wondering if I was inside one of Stephen’s books.

I ate and paid as fast as I could. (The waitress was nice, but I think that was just a ruse to get me comfortable before I was killed and eaten). I walked up one block to where my bike was parked, and saw two things that just struck me as even odder:

  • There was a bench with two very well dressed older women on it, and a homeless guy. And they were sharing a cigarette and conversation like they were family. Two completely different stereotypes, mingled together in a completely incorrect way. It wasn’t that I misread any of the three. You had two well-to-do-white-women sitting down with a scraggly white bum like they were all at “the club”. Again, it felt like a video game.
  • While trying to understand that, a man was popping his head in the closed businesses, and a very large black man came up and called at him. I didn’t understand what. It might have been Sim Language for all I know. Then this little old lady, who was 80 if she was a day, came out of a store with a tennis racket held up high in her hand and said something to the man as well. Again, I don’t know what. He stared back and walked into the last door on the block without speaking … and the black dude and the old lady went their separate ways. Weird, right?

So I jumped on ‘ole Max and skedaddled! But just as an experiment, I came back 20 minutes later, and all the same people seemed to be still milling around, in just the same way. Like they were on a track and were programmed to do that. Same stares as I drove by again. Same general … Oompa Loompa feel. Young lads on bicycles looking like they were the Hardy Boys from the 50’s. Completely out of place. People knocking on stores with closed signs, allowed entry but not buying anything. Several folks even walked into the restaurant I ate at, only to turn around and try to walk into the next place not 30 seconds later.

Anyway … the further I got from Scottsville, the better I felt. Whatever sinister trap they had set for me didn’t spring and I made it home alive and in one piece. At least I think I did. I was having some very weird dreams last night. Far weirder than anything like I’ve had before. Maybe something did happen to me there. Hmmm, anyone want to go closed-store shopping with me and find out? 🙂


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