Two turns ago, he had been on the main road. Having followed directions, he found himself looking at a road that seemed to go nowhere. He took a deep breath and thought about how he had arrived there.
Jason had run across her several times. Each time she seemed distant as if she were in her world. To a certain extent, we all live in our own world, but she carried it further than most. Everyone called her the Crazy Lady because she was always talking to herself, and that was the least of it from what he had been told. The consensus was something had happened years ago to push her into her own head.
Jason took what she told him with several large grains of salt, making appropriate comments and nodding as needed. He usually ignored her ramblings.
She told him she knew how his Laura had died. That got his attention.
She had died mysteriously several years ago, and the authorities never discovered what killed her. The sheriff found her body on this road, frozen with a look of fear on her face.
Rumors had filled the small town ever since then, including the most popular one that Jason had killed her. The police cleared him when witnesses and the GPS confirmed his alibi that he was across town.
One rumor was that Laura had been seeing someone, but he tended to doubt it. The most popular rumor was that something unnatural had scared her to death. That was impossible to prove either way, but it hung around the longest—either way, he needed to know who and why she died. When the town’s Crazy Lady told him she knew what happened, he listened.
Crazy Lady told him to meet her outside of town on the old County Road 695 at dusk that night, and all would be revealed. The road wasn’t on his GPS, and it took several maps before he found it. The road was abandoned and no longer maintained. However, using her directions, he found it.
Jason edged his car down into the depths of trees and shadows slowly, stopping every few feet to look around some, but all he saw were trees, leaves, and shadows. He shivered. The road looked like it was out of a scene from a horror movie. No wonder they stopped using this road. It was enough to scare even a horror fan.
Several hundred feet deep in the woods, he thought he saw movement. Stopping the car, Jason turned off the engine.
Jason looked around the old road, lined with gnarly trees, orange light drifting through the branches. He was drawn to the spot where the police found Laura’s body. The forest was eerie, but nothing had changed since he arrived, other than the presence of something or someone nearby.
He heard the rustling of leaves and the movement of air behind him. He spun around to find the Crazy Lady standing not far from him. He felt blood drain from his face as he realized Laura was standing beside her, alive.
His Laura spoke. “I’m no longer the Laura you knew, but her ghost. You killed her when you told the ghost to haunt her.”
“I did no such thing. I never talked to any ghost.”
Crazy Lady cackled, “Who did you think you were talking to at the bar that night?”
“Some old bum that was bombed out of his mind and is probably dead by now.”
Laura shook her head. “That bum was a ghost, trolling for someone to haunt. You told him how you wanted me to die so you could inherit my family’s money and business.”
“I was joking and making conversation. Just killing time and dreaming about how I’d handle the business if it were mine. I didn’t mean a word of it.”
“Then why say it to a stranger?”
“It was a bad joke.” The winds blew harder and the air got colder as the trees appeared to bend closer to the ground. Jason shivered as if he were in a freezer.
“You’re telling me that he believed me and killed you because I asked him to do it?”
Laura’s ghost approached him.
“Yes, he did. And now it’s time for you to pay for your transgressions.”
The last thing he remembered was a wave of frigid air hitting him and Laura floating above him and hearing the Crazy Lady’s frenzied laughter.
Hikers found Jason’s body frozen with a look of fear on his face. Just like Laura’s body had been.