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STOP by M.A. Amru

The Pinkerton statue had a patina. It was a symbol of the history that took place in these lands. Many did not know the history of this road, but for the locals, it was connected to them by blood since they engaged in the Civil War. The scars of war had healed over time, yet humanity chose to forsake this road and the town further ahead. It had sat idle for some time, as old as the abandoned road that led to it. From the moment the local authorities closed the road, nature consumed what humanity had created. The atmosphere alone gave most of the children in the nearby town half the truth about what they were told. The trees towered on both sides with their long, sharp branches nearly concealing the bright sky above. This brought about darkness as if twilight had already descended upon the day. One could not tell easily that it was almost noon. Asphalt that was once in reasonable condition was now cracked, making it slightly dangerous to travel down the road. The authorities abrogated the use of the road for another reason, which I believe is the second half of the story. A surge of disappearances occurred along this narrow stretch with no plausible explanation, igniting fears and worries that resulted in the road closing down for good.

I felt chills run down my spine as the wind blew fiercely. Like a raucous ballgame celebration, the tree branches waved. You could easily feel that you were being watched. It was the epitome of a terrible idea—I had made a rash decision after being teased by my friends about driving down the old road and visiting the statue alone, a test of courage.

Holding my flashlight tightly, my only means of sight and defence, I approached the entrance to the square where the statue stood. A thick metal chain hung from one post to another. An aged red sign hung in the middle of the chain. On the crimson background, the word STOP was boldly stamped. It reminded me of blood. Crossing the rusty chains, I took a closer look at the statue and noticed that the greenish layers had some red spots on them, which made me uncomfortable. My mind kept returning to the idea of blood. I mustered my courage and forged ahead. The reason I wanted to prove my bravery to my friends was so that they would not see me as a coward, but at that moment, I wondered whether it was bravery or stupidity. I kept walking further, feeling as though I could continue easily. As I strolled down the old path, I felt a tingle of cowardice in me. However, as I kept my pace, I grew braver, and I continued. It didn't feel that uncomfortable at all. I was hoping at least the gang would give me a scare by jumping out of the bushes or something. They usually played a variety of pranks. I smiled to myself, feeling elevated from being afraid. Then an unexpected surge of green light came straight at me. It was moving rapidly, firing bolts of lightning at the trees as it came rushing down the road. It was a large ball that glowed white at the centre with a strange metallic ringing as it twisted and turned. At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. That proved not to be the case.

There was a shock of electricity that I sensed, an energy that penetrated my skin, touching every blood cell and vein. I felt it rush inside me, then it raced into my bones where it horsed around like a playful child. The sole of my foot was not touching the ground as I felt myself being lifted. My body was torn apart by that immense ecstasy. Before I was thrown, it shredded me, mocked me, and tormented me. In the air, my body was flung, and I was released.

“My God… did this boy just drop from the sky?” I could hear someone’s voice.

“An angel perhaps?” Another voice.

“He’s human alright… but what’s with the different clothing?” And another voice.

My eyes tried to blink, adjusting to the sudden light that shone at me. When the bright white was pushed away, I could see a bearded man staring down at me. His wide eyes blinked as he tapped upon my cheeks, trying to wake me up even though I was already awake. He raised me which allowed me to see a full view of his clothing: a long grey frock coat and a grey kepi. This made me think that he was in some historical event, and I was in the middle of it. I looked around, seeing the other two men. The bearded man was wearing a brown vest and confederate grey trousers. An old musket rested on his shoulder. The other man wore a uniform that was covered in patches, easily visible by the straight stitches in the other fabrics.

“Did you say he just dropped from the sky?”

“I saw it with my own eyes, Paul.”

“Where are you from, boy?” the bearded man asked. I know I didn't give a reply because my vision turned black. I must have fainted, waking up to find myself in the middle of the road. The torchlight that I held shone on the old statue, casting an eerie shadow on the thick greenery. I turned around to find my car still there, idle and where I had left it earlier. I rushed back to my car after grabbing my flashlight, worried about a sudden change in the air which had now turned humid. The heat was licking my ears. I could feel it even as I got into the car where the air conditioner, upon the ignition of the engine, was blasting. Then, from inside my car, I could hear the footsteps of several men. As I looked about frantically, wondering what was happening, they were coming from many directions. I made a quick reverse. At the end of the abandoned road where the ominous moon displayed its greatest triumph, I could see many pale eyes looking at me through the darkness.

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