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The Road to Nowhere
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

The road to nowhere winds along through the red desert, through the featureless immensity, with nothing to show where it begins and where it might be headed.

Iím at the wheel of the burned-out car with the missing windshield, clutching the steering wheel which has melted and buckled from some forgotten fire. The bonnet of the car is loose, and flaps up and down with every jolt and every pothole, and the road to nowhere has many.

The wind off the desert blasts at me through the frame of the windshield, hot and dry and full of the cruelty of the desert. This desert is cruel beyond all others, hostile to anything even remotely resembling life, and the rocks that make up its substance resent even the passage of my destroyed car over the road laid across their bosom.

I think Iíve dreamt this all before.

The first time was, oh, I donít know, twenty years ago, and Iíve dreamt it maybe twice or thrice a year, I think, since then. I canít say for sure, because when I wake up itís only a fast-fading memory. Afterwards, I can never remember it: until I begin dreaming it again.

Itís one of those dreams where I know itís a dream, right from the beginning, but at the same time itís real, so that Iím in the dream, and the things that happen are happening to me, and Iím powerless to break free of them.

It always begins the same way, this dream. Thereís the old desert landscape of eroded bedrock, and sunset-red skies. Iím driving along the road to nowhere, through the red desert, under the red sky.

Far in the distance, I see the place where I must stop. The sight never fails to send a thrill of apprehension down my spine, and each time I see it I try to drive past. It ought to be easy to do that, since Iím in control of the car, for all that itís a burned out hulk, but somehow I never can. My hands swing the steering wheel, automatically, and the car turns off into the driveway, and I stop in front of the house.

Even though I know whatís to come, even though I know the source of my fear isnít in the house itself, the building has always terrified me. Tall and blank-faced and white as bone bleached by this desert sun, it crouches like a predatory bird, a couple of windows staring out across the desert from an upper storey. At some time in the past, it must have been burned, and a great scorch mark defaces the near wall. The scorch mark almost looks like a Christmas tree, or the distorted shadow of one.

As I get out of the car, music begins playing. This is always the first sound I hear, because until this point the road to nowhere knows only silence. The music is slow, mournful, and repetitive, playing a single series of notes over and over. In between, there is a second note, a sound I can almost hear, but not quite. This second note makes me, always, worried and apprehensive, because I know what is to come.

I walk round the side of the house, staying as close to its wall as possible, away from the brooding malevolence of the desert. The desert has songs I donít want to hear, songs that are set to the music, dirges that destroy the soul with the weight of their sorrow. I stick to the wall and hurry because I donít want to hear the music.

The door is at the back of the house, and itís always open. Sometimes itís a perfectly ordinary door, slightly ajar. Sometimes itís splintered and hanging, shattered, from its hinges. Sometimes itís rotted away and falls to pieces at a touch. And once or twice itís been made of heavy metal, like a bank vault, but opened easily at the pressure of a hand. Today, itís of some dark, heavy wood, and thereís a vertical crack down the centre. When I push, it falls into two pieces, sagging, but leaving enough space for me to squeeze through.

As always, I stop inside the door for a few moments, getting used to the shifting play of light and shadow on the walls and ceiling. Itís like being inside a beating heart, with the red pulsing light and the slow throbbing music. Thereís the corridor straight ahead, which leads to the hidden recesses of the house, which I have never visited. And, on the right, there are the stairs which I must climb, though every fibre of my being cries out in protest.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:4.3 / 10
Rated By:14 users
Comments: 1 user
Total Hits:12716

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