A long winding stretch of black asphalt weaves in and out of view through dense shrubbery. Amber leaves glided gently across route 25, faintly reflecting the last rays of the setting sun. Breaking into the sounds of nature, a rusty brown Buick plows through the fallen foliage, resembling a cold north wind blowing whirlwinds of debris.
Sam Evens' eyes were locked onto the blacktop. Center markers flashed patterns of white across his face and mind as the headlights replaced the darkening sky. He glanced into the rearview mirror, and saw eighteen-year-old Becky curled into a fetal position in the back seat. Her head was resting on a book. She was recovering from a long, traumatic day.
Sam pulled the old car over to a shoulder, shut down the engine and stretched in an effort to relieve stiffened joints in his arms and fingers. With one arm worked free, he reached down to the floorboard. His hand cautiously felt under the seat, and without sound, pulled out a container wrapped in a brown paper.
The door squeaked, as he stepped out and stretched to his full height. The bottle raised, and he felt the intense internal flame as it opened both eyes in renewed sight. Then as he lowered it, Sam noticed an eerie wicked tree a short distance up the road. It was a bare tree with irregular bark and twisted limbs that seemed to point into the wilderness. He walked closer; a gust of wind from behind hastening his approach, and dying off as suddenly as it arrived. The night creatures sang in low key, slowly their tunes faded into a humming song, soft, delicate, feminine tones, followed by giggling of female foolery. He followed their attractive call and neared a wall of brush. Through the barrier, the sounds became louder, luring his curiosity into a lust for a fast glance.
Sam stepped through what looked like a protective vegetation barrier. Twigs and thorns poked at his hands as if they were hastening him to the other side. After a moment, he stepped into a clearing that looked like a well-hidden area of tranquility. The laughter resumed, Sam looked toward the clearing's center and saw a lone tent, just outside its entrance, a small campfire flickered casting light into the burlap structure. Two shadowy figures appeared to dance and play inside.
Sam stepped closer, his interest increasing with each passing moment. Without notice of the path ahead, he stepped on a brittle limb. A cracking sound echoed. The images stopped; their attics ceased. Slowly the tent's flap opened, and a fair young woman looked toward the unexpected intruder.
"Why sister, it appears we have a guest, and a fine looking one he is!" Before she completed her statement a second fair maiden came into view. She appeared slightly younger than the first but just as attractive in Sam's mind. The women giggled and ran to greet Sam. Each took an arm and led him back to the fire still chuckling like immature girls.
"Sit here by the fire," requested the younger of the two.
"What brings you out on this dark damp night," asked the older maiden. "Are you lost?"
"No," Sam started to reply, but his effort was cut short by the younger of the two.
"Who cares how he arrived, it's a welcome relief, and a break of the boredom that's plagued us this night."
"But...why are you two beautiful women out here, and all alone?" Sam queried in surprise.
"Waiting, and its been such a long...long wait," the oldest replied.
"Surely not for me, I would assume?" Sam continued in his quest for knowledge.
"No, silly. We wait for our husbands' return, but I wonder if they will tonight," stated the youngest as she picked up his hand and caressed it with care.
"They must be crazy, for what sane man would leave such beauties here in this wilderness all alone?"
"I could say the same," the eldest returned. "You're here, alone, and still I wonder why?"
"I'm not alone," Sam muttered out in slight distress, as the young maiden's hand slipped from Sam's palm down onto his left leg. "My daughter is with me. She's sleeping in our car. I stopped to stretch and was drawn by your song. It sounded so familiar, and I thought you must be someone I once knew."
Both giggled, Sam started to sweat. For the youngest one's hand was tickling up the inside of his thigh.
"Some day, I would like a child," the brazen woman remarked.
"Lady, if your hand gets any closer, your wish just might come true!"
They all laughed, and the youngest stopped her advances. She stood up, gave Sam a slight wink, then covered her mouth as if hiding a yawn. "I'm tired. It's time to rest," she said in a teasing tone, then allowed her blouse to drop low on her breast. She walked into the tent with bewitching eyes.
Sam watched as her figure turned into a shadow on the canvas. Garment after garment fell to the floor, and the nude image imprinted on Sam's mind.
"I'm tired, too," the oldest announced. "Come inside and stay with us a while."
Sam swallowed hard. "I really need to go," he whispered in reply.
"Please, come stay with us a while," the oldest pleaded, as she walked to the tent, dropping clothing for a trail as she entered the tent.
Sam watched as she entered, and her image turned into a shadow. Her nudeness teased his thoughts. Then the light faded inside.
"God, this is a dream come true!" Sam stated in dismay.
"Come on in, we're waiting for you," the youngest again called out with laughter.
Sam walked to the flap. "I guess a brief visit would be okay." He stepped inside and dropped to his knees, then crawled in between the two masses of flesh. Their voices were now silent, their laughter had gone, and he could feel no movement.
"Now, ladies, be gentle with me," Sam stated as a tease, but moments passed without reply. "What is this? You asked me in, and now give me the cold shoulder?"
Sam reached to his side and felt a delicate mass. His hand slid upward, and it located a breast. He rubbed for a second then felt a cold dampness covering his palm.
"What the hell?" He sprang up in shock. "Are you leaking or is this some form of a joke?" Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter, it flickered into flame then into a vision of horror. The eldest maiden was cut in multiple places over her body. The youngest's head rolled into his lap. He jumped to his feet bumping his head, but managed to run out of the tent, tripping on a tie and fell to the ground. Both his hands dug into the lose soil, using the earth to wipe away the crimson stains.
A wind gust picked up particles of loose dirt, temporally blinding Sam's panic. When his vision slowly cleared, the wind died. "What the hell just happened?" he asked himself then stood up looking toward the tent flap then took a step closer. Just as he was reaching down for a second look, a giggle was heard behind the tent. Sam stumbled back, his heart pounding in fright. The laughter turned into humming, the same tune he heard the women humming earlier.
Sam turned and ran back through the wall of prickly brush, his sleeves shredded as thorns tore into his skin. He stumbled out of the growth, and ran back to the Buick, pausing against the hood to gasp for air and regroup before entering the car. After a brief recovery, Sam walked to the driver's door, it opened and the dome light revealed an empty back seat.
"Where the hell did she go?" Sam complained as he looked up and down the road.
Humming drew his eyes to the odd shaped tree. Standing near it was Becky.
"What are you doing over there?" Sam said angrily.
But the girl stayed turned away, her humming uninterrupted.
He walked to the child, and stood behind her. "Well, what are you doing over here?"
"Did you know this road is haunted?" Becky asked without turning around.
"Nonsense! There's no such thing as ghosts," Sam snapped. "Now let's get out of here!"
"They say the spirits are always waiting," she continued without movement.
"Okay, you want to play games, I'll play, then let's get going. Why are the spirits always waiting?"
"Revenge. They are waiting for the killer to return, to kill him," she advised in a changing tone of voice.
"Enough of this shit! Becky, get into that car, now!"
The girl turned slowly and looked hard at Sam. "Daddy, you never could tell us apart!"
"I'm not Becky, I'm Bettie!"
Sam's eyes shined bright with pure terror. He backed away looking hard at the girl.
"That's impossible! You can't be Bettie!"
"Oh, but I am. You just seen Mom and Aunt Linda in the woods." She raised her arm and pointed toward the Buick. "If you want to see Becky, turn around."
Sam looked back at the Buick. Sitting in the driver's seat, a girl, Bettie's identical twin, Becky, reached out the window and waved. She pulled her arm back inside and the car's headlights flashed on. The car started and its engine raced, covering the sounds of an approaching eighteen-wheeler.
Sam's pace backwards hastened. The two women appeared near Bettie. All three started humming the tune, "We did it all for the glory of love." Brush near Sam rustled, then a man stepped into sight. His head was covered with blood and a bullet hole could be seen just below his hairline.
"Glad you could join us tonight," stated the man as he walked over and took Linda's hand. "We've been waiting for this moment a long...long time."
"No! This is impossible," Sam screamed in disbelief.
"Is it impossible?" asked the oldest woman as she took a step toward the terrified man. Sam turned and ran back towards the Buick, just before he arrived, the eighteen-wheeler rounded the bend. It's brakes locked, Sam's body flew up in the air, and landed next to the odd shaped tree.
Amber leaves glided gently across Sam's body as the early rays of sun broke over a nearby hill.
"The guy looked nearly terrified when he ran out in front of me Sheriff. I hit my brakes, but just couldn't stop in time," the trucker explained as he watched the Sheriff bend over and remove debris from Sam's face.
"Well, I'll be damned! We've been looking for this guy a long time."
"Why?" asked the puzzled trucker.
"This man killed his entire family on a camping trip in this same area years ago. I guess it's true, criminals do return to the scene of the crime!"