It was getting late in the day and I had been driving for hours. The highway signs at the deserted intersection directed me to my choice of three different states but, to be honest, I wasn’t even sure which one I was in at that point. My legs and back were screaming at me that it had been too long since I had last stopped to stretch, and my head was informing me that if I did not put caffeine and maybe some Tylenol into myself, it was going to produce a world class headache and then where would we be? Sighing wearily, I turned the truck into the parking lot of the store at the corner to see about caffeination and getting my bearings again.
Iced coffee and a few minutes of walking around later, and I was starting to feel better. Getting back in the truck, I decided it was probably getting to be about time to make my way home, since I hadn’t really found what I was looking for and it was getting late, anyway. I turned my GPS on and started to tell it to steer us home. Before I tapped the “Home” box, though, a name on the map caught my eye.
Huh. Well, that’s a thing.
I noted the distance from my location, and considered going to check it out. It was only about 20 minutes west of where I was, but detouring would put me at least an hour out of my way, and I hadn’t brought anything that would pass for dinner with me. The last 100 calorie packet with all of four almonds, a cashew, and two sliced up dried cranberries was not going to cut it. As I weighed my options, the opening notes to “Sympathy For The Devil” came drifting out of the radio speakers.
That answered that question. I switched my GPS’ destination and pointed the truck toward Satan’s Kingdom. I know a hint when I hear one, and that one was loud and clear.
The highway was empty and the area was pretty much just trees, pavement, and the occasional run-down old house, and that was about it. I mean, credit where due, if you’re going to go looking for a town called Satan’s Kingdom in god-knows-where Massachusetts, the area was doing its level best to provide the appropriate atmosphere. Definite A+ work, there.
The GPS instructed me to turn down a very narrow and winding side road and out into the woods. It was paved, I’ll give it that. I gave my GPS some serious side-eye when, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, it announced “Arriving at destination”.
Also, it’s a switchback road. That comes to a dead end.
The road looks like it continues further, and if I wasn’t wearing a skirt and boots without good traction, and it wasn’t maybe half an hour until full dark (the sun was already below the trees and it was overcast), I might have considered hiking in, but alas…
Since a hike was out, I decided to call it a day and go back to my original plan to head home. So much for this trip, I guess? I mean, interesting side road, but definitely not worth the hype. I questioned the radio telling me to come out here. It didn’t usually steer me wrong, but here I was, looking at an actual dead end. I got back in the truck, turned around, and started back on up the road.
When I got to the main road that I’d turned off of to get to this particular section of hinterlands (there’d been a few houses and a wide field area), I noticed an old cemetery set back from the side of the road and decided to check it out. It was still light enough, and I do have a fondness for old cemeteries.
As I turned from the cemetery to get back in the truck, I was struck by the strange desolation of the area. I mean, sure, some of it’s the fact that it’s winter, it was overcast, and dusk, and it’s probably much more inviting in the summer, but it had a Feeling about it…it reminded me of the feeling of standing on a widow’s walk in November, looking out over the sea…
It was eerily quiet. A place like that, I’d have expected to hear snowmobiles, or dogs barking, or something, but there was nothing but the sound of my truck’s engine idling and my own breathing. Vaguely disquieted, I got back in the truck and turned out onto the main road and heading back toward home again.
Not a few hundred feet down the road, something caught my eye. I slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road and stopped to look at the big, old house. I didn’t remember seeing it on the way in, and that alone bothered me a bit. I notice houses like that, and I swear I hadn’t seen this one. Of course I pulled into the driveway that ran up one side.
Not creepy at all…
As I drove up, a rabbit bolted out from where the driveway curved up and around behind the house. It stopped and looked at me for a moment, before running toward the back courtyard that I could see the edge of. I had an urge to follow it, to see where it was going, but decided that following a rabbit toward the old, abandoned house at dusk was probably not the best plan. I settled for simply parking, and walking back to the edge of the road to take a picture of it.
I felt like it was watching me the whole time. I fully expected to see someone looking back at me, but windows remained dark.
I took a couple of quick pictures in the fading light, and then turned to go back up to my waiting vehicle. As I did so, I nearly jumped out of my skin. There was a boy, maybe 10 or 12, with a pale, rangy dog sitting next to him, standing on the other side of the road behind me, looking at me. It was a long, straight road, and there hadn’t been anyone walking along it, nor in the field across the street. I don’t know where he came from, but there he was. I nodded at him in greeting, but he just stood there, watching. I went back up to where I had parked.
I’ve seen a number of horror movies in my life, and let’s be real, this was a classic horror movie setting if I’ve ever seen one. Big, abandoned, old house in a remote New England town named Satan’s Kingdom just before dark? Check. Wildlife luring you further in? Check. Creepy child with dog staring at you? Of course.
I’m not saying it was haunted, or that the boy was anything other than a normal, real boy, but ya know….the signs were all there that something was a little odd that day and I figure it’s better safe than sorry. I got back in my truck and headed home before I ended up becoming a ghost and haunting the place, myself.
I did apologize to the radio for doubting it, though. It was right, and it was worth the detour.
*It’s an unincorporated township that no one seems really sure how it got its name. There’s a few theories ranging from early colonists getting driven out by the local Native tribes who lives there, to a preacher delivering a particularly fiery speech on Sunday, only to come out of the church to find the woods on fire, and making some remark about Satan’s Kingdom coming to challenge him or something. No one really knows, though, and for whatever reason the town never became a town. Eventually it ended up getting folded into Northfield, but still retains it’s name and not much else.
(Originally posted on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter.)