|Photo credit to: http://www.emilysbridge.com/|
“Are you sure this is it?” Jen asks.
I stare through the windshield at the old covered bridge. It looks smaller than I thought it would: narrow and short.
“That’s what the map says.” My voice comes out in a whisper, though we’re the only two people in the car. The only two people for miles probably.
“Should we get out?”
“I don’t know.”
It is not fully dark, though the sky is gray and the sun has long since disappeared behind the trees. There is something sinister about the way the fading light falls on the wooden beams that are just visible inside the open doorway.
“Well, we can’t just sit here.” Now Jen is whispering too. “Let’s go through it at least.”
I try not to swallow too loudly as I shift the car into drive again. We start to inch closer to the dark opening of the bridge.
I slam on the brakes at Jen’s hushed command. Even though we weren’t going very fast, both of us lurch forward. “What is it?” I ask.
“Do you really think the story is true?” Jen taps on the dashboard in a nervous gesture. “God, this place is creepy.”
“Maybe it is. How should I know?” We are closer to the bridge now, and I can see the interlocking beams that zigzag across the ceiling. That’s where she would have hanged herself, I think.
“We shouldn’t have come here. It’s too close to Halloween.” Jen laughs, though it sounds weirdly high-pitched in the small space of the car. “Let’s just turn around.”
“You’re not afraid of a little ghost, are you?” I struggle to keep my voice light.
I can practically feel Jen rolling her eyes. “You’re the one who wanted to come here tonight. Not me.”
I don’t answer. She’s right, of course. I’m the one who read about Emily’s Bridge in Joseph Cistro’s book of true horror stories, Passing Strange, True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors, and I’m the one who convinced Jen to take this hour-and-a-half road trip to see what it was like. But I wasn’t expecting to get here so late, right as the day was shifting into night, and I wasn’t prepared for how I’d feel – hollow in the very bottom of my stomach, anticipating something I wasn’t sure I wanted to experience in the first place.
“Okay, okay, I’m not freaking out.” Jen takes a visibly deep breath, her shoulders rising and falling. “Do it. I’m ready. Drive.”
But for some reason, I cannot make my feet move. The bridge looms in front of us, and now it looks massive, dark and crawling with shadows.
I try not to think about the fact that Emily was our age when she killed herself on this covered bridge in Stowe, Vermont. The story goes that she was jilted by her fiancé on the night they were supposed to be married. When she found him gone, she came here with a rope, tied it to the beams in the ceiling, and swung out into the air. I can almost picture it now, as I stare at the bridge, can almost see her feet dangling inches from the rough, wooden floor. Who found her, I wonder? Her mother, frantically screaming her name? Her friends, only 17 like she was, old enough to have their hearts broken, old enough to chose to die?
“What do they say happens here?” Jen doesn’t mention the fact that I haven’t started driving.
“The usual ghost stuff. Fingernails scratching against the car. Thumps on the roof. Stuff like that.”
“But she can’t like, get in the car?”
I force myself to laugh. “She’s not even real, right? It’s just a story.”
“Then why aren’t you driving?”
I slowly take my foot off the brake and the car rolls forward. We are almost at the open door.
“Don’t go so slow,” Jen snaps.
I step on the gas. My hands are sweaty on the steering wheel. We edge forward, until we’re inside the bridge. Everything is darker in here, like it is already fully night.
Suddenly, Jen goes still. “Did you hear that?”
“What?” We are crawling forward, but the other end of the bridge might as well be a mile away. I want to go faster, but I can’t seem to make my feet press any harder on the gas pedal. My heart feels like it is in my chest, my throat, pulsing.
“There’s a bumping noise.” Jen’s voice sounds strained and low. I listen carefully. And then I hear a dull thud that sounds like it’s coming from somewhere above us.
It’s her feet. It’s her feet swinging against the roof of the car.
No. Be rational. “It’s probably the wind,” I say, though neither Jen nor I believe it.
“Just go,” she shouts, and I automatically step on the gas. We fly out the other end of the bridge.
As soon as the wooden structure is out of sight, I stop the car. Jen is breathing hard. I am too, I realize. We sit there for a moment in silence. Finally, Jen begins to laugh. “Oh god, I think I just peed my pants.”
“My heart is racing,” I whisper.
“I don’t care if we’re best friends. The next time you want to go to a haunted bridge, you’re on your own.”
“Don’t worry, I’m never doing that again.”
“Let’s go home,” Jen says. She sits back in her seat.
I loosen my hands from the steering wheel. It feels like they are claws, and I have to work to pry them apart. Was that her in the bridge, thumping on the roof of the car? Was she trying to contact us in some way? Maybe we reminded her of herself, young and filled with longing, waiting for something exciting to happen.
I’ll never know the truth, if it was the ghost of Emily, or the wind, or just our fear creating the illusion of noise, but I meant what I said to Jen that day. I never went back to Emily’s Bridge.
Author: Rachel Carter
Publisher: HarperTeen, 320 Pages (July 10th, 2012)
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.
When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.
Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices--and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.
Bio: Rachel Carter is the author of So Close to You, the first book in a time travel trilogy from HarperTeen. She grew up in the woods of Vermont, and graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in nonfiction writing.
Find Rachel Online:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr
Order So Close to You Online:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
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Rachel, thanks for writing this scary story for us. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go through a bridge or even see a bridge the same way again after this. Also, a HUGE thank you for offering the copy of So Close To You for giveaway.
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