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My car won’t start. Oh god, my car won’t start.

It’s okay. Breathe. One, two, three. Breathe. One, two, oh god it still won’t start.

They must all know where I am now. My white car sticks out like a ray of sunshine in the darkness of the surrounding twilit forest.

I’ve got to get the word out. That is, if I don’t make it out of this. Whoever gets this message, if you ever find yourself on a road called Bilderberg Road, do not stop driving.

I did. And now my car won’t start and someone’s fingers are beginning to wedge my door’s window down.
I called the cops. When they hung up on me, I called my parents. I told them I loved them. Then I hung up. I didn’t want them to hear me sobbing and screaming any more than they had to.

Now, you’re all I’ve got left.

Not sure how much time I’ve got until that window gets low enough for them to reach in for me, so I’ll try to make this fast.

My day started like most days – uneventful. I’d been under some stress from work, with several large project deadlines looming just on the horizon. I thought it might do me some good to step out of the office before the shit really hit the fan. Enjoy some nature while I still could. The woods were only a few miles away from the office, after all. And it was the perfect place to decompress.

When the work day was over, I hopped in my car and took off, heading straight for the trees.

I know the forest roads well enough. I’ve lived here for a few years and am no stranger to the calm, curving sweep of the roads that wind through the large oaks. Sometimes, on the weekends mostly, I’ll wake up before the sun rises and head out to the forest with my sketchpad and attempt to draw the forest’s dawn. You know, that brief moment when the sun hits the trees through the mist and its rays dapple across the fallen leaves. I’m not that great of an artist, but I’m good enough to make myself smile. And that’s what counts, I guess.

Anyway, so as I was taking my after-work cruise, I noticed a dirt road branching off from the paved street, with a street sign I’d never seen before. “Bilderberg Road” was all it said. Sounded interesting enough. I thought maybe some new folks had moved into the woods. There were a few cottages and B&B’s that dotted the forest. Maybe these were its newest residents.

I turned down Bilderberg Road and drove slowly for a while. The road was pitted with bumps and holes and felt like it was in disrepair despite it being so new.

A half hour eased by and the sun began to lower below the tips of the trees. It was time to go home. I love the woods, don’t get me wrong. But being there as the sun sets always feels different than being there when it rises. The darkness is different. The gloom more imposing. And the bears would be waking up soon. Last thing I needed was to accidentally hit one with my car.

I pulled onto what little shoulder there was and swung my car around too quickly. I heard something crack beneath me and then everything stopped working. My lights shut off, my steering wheel stuck, and the car refused to turn back on.

I wasn’t worried. Not yet, at least. There were still a few hours of evening daylight and, if worst came to worst, I could hoof it back to the main road and hitchhike into town. Or I could call AAA and relax while they came to my rescue. I opted to go with plan B.

I rang them up and explained where I was to a receptionist who sounded like he’d just woken up. A truck would reach me within an hour or two. But most likely two. Great. I suppose I was fine with it. Two hours gave me time to walk the road a little bit more. Maybe run into whoever just moved in.

I hopped out of the car, put on my sneakers, and started walking. As long as I stayed on the road, there was no chance of getting lost. And even then, my internal compass was usually on point. But as I was walking, I couldn’t shake the uncertainty of the coming dusk. I wouldn’t say I was afraid of the dark, but I’d read so many ghost stories and skinwalker legends on this website that it was impossible not to think about the coming darkness that way. I took a breath. One, two, three. Breathe. Then another.

Up the road ahead of me, a brown paper bag lay crumpled in the dirt road. A little odd, I thought. And discouraging.A new road and there’s already litter. I kicked the bag off to the side. At least it was biodegradable.

Then I saw it.

It was through the trees up ahead. A large, brightly painted brick house. It stood staunch in the trees like a boulder in a stream, and looked as though it had once been out of place, but the moss and constant falling of leaves had assimilated it into its surrounding greenery. A small curl of smoke rose through the chimney that stretched high above the second floor and the lights in the windows were all lit.

Though the sun would be setting in an hour or so, I decided to say hello. The AAA driver would call me, anyway, and it was only a five-minute jog back to my car. I stepped up to their front door, a large oaken thing, and gave it a friendly knock.

“We’ve no one left,” an old voice called out from inside.

“Hello?” I called back. “I’m a neighbor. Sort of. Just wanted to stop by and say hello!”

The door opened a crack and a bloodshot eye blinked out at me. “Let me see your hands,” said the old voice.

Weird. I showed her my hands. “I just wanted to say hi. Welcome you to the neighborhood. Er, community, I guess.”

“Shut the door, Alma!” another voice, this one a man’s, yelled from deeper in the house.

“They haven’t got a bag,” Alma, the woman at the door, shouted back.

I tried to peek past Alma. “Sorry, is this a bad time?”

“It’s almost night,” Alma said. “What do you want?”

“Just to say hi. My car-“

“You should go home.“ She looked past me, into the groves of trees. "It’s almost night.”

“I realize that. But my car broke down a little ways away. I was just out for a walk when I spotted your house. Thought I might welcome you.”

“So you’re not… selling… anything?”

I laughed. “No. Just trying to be friendly.” My text message ringtone chimed from my pocket.

Alma’s face brightened, as though a grand idea had just come to her. “Oh, well if that’s all!” She opened the door wide and beckoned me in. The old woman looked every bit as stereotypically grandmotherly as you could imagine. A pink shawl was draped across her flowery shoulders and her white hair was twirled up in a fluffy bun.

“Pardon the mess,” she said, ushering me through the well-lit hallway. “The grandchildren are out back.”

Down the hallway, an older, large man dressed in flannel came barreling around the corner and ground to a stop. “What the hell are you doing, Alma?” he roared. “Who’s this?”

Alma patted my arm. “A neighbor.”

“Sort of,” I said. “I live back in the city.”

The old man looked confused. “How’d you wind up here?”

“Was just out for a drive when my car broke down. I saw your house and thought I’d be neighborly.”

The old man and Alma exchanged a look. It almost seemed like hope and I wondered how long it had been since they’d seen anyone other than their grandchildren.

“Well,” the old man said, his demeanor completely changed. “Pleasure to meet you. I’m Marty.”

We shook hands and he led me into the den, where they had a roaring fire going. The room was a large one, filled with books and hunting trophies and overstuffed furniture. Clutters of newspapers and magazines from all different years piled up around its edges and a few newspaper articles hung from the walls, beside the severed heads of wild game. On one of the recliners rested a shotgun.

“Please, have a seat,” Marty said. “It’s almost night, after all. You must be tired.”

He scooted a few miscellaneous papers off the couch and patted the cushions. Then he snatched the shotgun from the recliner and smiled at me. “Just giving it a cleaning,” he said as he propped it up on a pair of pegs jutting from above the fireplace.

He brushed off his jeans and eased himself down onto the recliner as Alma reappeared with a plate of cookies, which she placed down in front of me.

“Freshly baked,” she smiled.

“Oh, thanks!” I said.

“So,” Marty said, “Just out for a drive, eh?”

I nodded, my mouth full of warm cookie. “I come through here every so often to clear my head. I’ve never seen your road before, so I thought I’d check it out.”

“Our road, you say?”

“Bilderberg Road.”

“Ah, Bilderberg Road. Yes. That would be us.”

“Yeah. So I was cruising down the road and my car hit something and just died.”

“Cars have a tendency to do that.”

“Yeah, I guess. So I called triple A and they said they’d be here pretty soon.”

“How soon, would you say?”

“Not sure. What time is it?”

“It’s almost night.”

“Well, yeah.” I pulled my cell out of my pocket to check the time and had a few text messages and missed calls. I flicked open the phone. “Sorry. People have been texting me,” I said to Marty, hoping I wasn’t being too rude.

“Oh, no problem at all. Right Alma, dear?”

“Not anymore, sweetie.” She smiled back and shuffled off.

I scrolled through the messages. All of them from AAA.

Can’t find Bilderberg Road on GPS.

Then:

Please call. Bilderberg Road not on maps.

Then:
URGENT: CALL IMMEDIATELY.

Then:
URGENT: REMAIN IN YOUR VEHICLE

Then:
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE. CALL IMMEDIATELY. POLICE ARE ON THE WAY.

“Huh,” I said.

Marty poured himself a glass of whiskey and took a sip. “What’s wrong?”

I shook my head. “Guess there’s bears or something outside tonight. Bunch of warnings about not leaving the car.”

“Well, it is almost night, after all.”

“Yeah. Which reminds me. Alma said your grandkids were out back?”

“All eight of ‘em. And their folks, too. Hence the mess in here.”

“Shouldn’t they think about coming in? Sounds like it’s not a good idea to be outside tonight.”

“Oh, it definitely isn’t.” He set his drink down. “Alma, would you tell the kids to come inside,” he called.

Alma giggled from the other room.

The feelings of unease started to chill my skin again. Something about these people, as friendly as they were, made me uncomfortable. It was almost hunger in their eyes as they looked at me. “Mind if I use the restroom?” I asked.

“Not at all. It’s just down the hall there.”

I stood slowly and took a few breaths. One, two, three. Breathe.

When I got to the bathroom, I closed and locked the door. Then I dialed AAA.

“Hello, you’ve reached triple A. My name is Ryan, what can I do to make your day fantastic?” said the same sleepy operator.

“Hi,” I said, “You guys were just texting me about not leaving my car. I’m on Bilderberg Road.”

“Texting you about the car. Hold please.”

Someone knocked on the door. “Everything alright in there?” came Alma’s voice.

“Yep. Great. The tow truck called about my car.”

“Ohhh,” she said, and shuffled off.

The line clicked back on and Ryan said, “Hello?”

“Hello? Yes?”

“Yeah, my supervisor wants to talk to you.” Then the line clicked and a new voice started whispering loudly into the phone.

“Do not go outside,” said the supervisor. “Do not speak to anyone. Do not, for any reason, leave your car.”

“Wait, what?”

“Do not be alarmed. The police are… on their way.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I can’t tell you. Not over the phone.”

Then the line clicked off and I sat there on the toilet staring at my phone for a minute. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I stood up and looked around.

“Everything alright, dearie?” came Alma’s voice again.

I looked out the window, into the darkening forest. “I uh…” A line of fifteen small, white crosses stood tall against the shadowed trees. “Alma?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Where are your grandchildren?”

“Well, sweetie,” she said slowly, like she was talking to one of her little ones, “It sounds an awful lot like you’ve found them. How about you come on out of there. It’s almost night, after all.”

I punched 911 into my phone and climbed into the bathtub.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?”

“I’m trapped.”

“You’re trapped where?”

“I’m-I think some of your officers are on their way out to me. But, I want to make sure.”

“Where are you? Tell me where you are.”

“I’m on Bilderberg Road. The street’s name is Bilderberg Road.”

“… Bilderberg Road?”

“Yes. I’m in a brick house owned by these two old people and one of them has a gun. They have a graveyard behind their house.”

The operator sighed. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

“What?”

“You say you’re on Bilderberg Road?”

“Yes! You take the road through the forest and there’s a small dirt road that leads off the main one.”

“I’m aware. And I apologize, but there’s nothing I can do.”

“What the fuck do you mean-“

The connection cut off and I found myself staring at my phone again.

What the hell do they mean there’s nothing they can do? They’re the police, for fuck’s sake!

“Sweetie, it’s time to come out now,” Alma said through the door.

A weapon! I thought. I need a weapon. I looked around the bathroom, but the closest thing to a weapon that I could find was a bundle of soaps. No mirror to break into shards. No towel rack to rip off the wall. And the window was too small to crawl through. Or was it?

I pushed against the glass, hoping it would open outward, when I saw something moving in the woods, just beyond the graves. A bear? No…something else. Something human.

“I’ve got my shotty aimed at the door, kid,” said Marty. “Come on out and we won’t hurt you.”

“I’m sure,” I yelled back.

“Never hurt a soul in my life.”

“Then how do you explain the graves in the back yard?” The window didn’t budge. I slumped to the ground.

“Wasn’t us that hurt ‘em. It was them.”

I shook my head. “Them?”

The gun cocked. “Come on out.”

I pushed myself up and took a breath. One, two, three. Breathe.

I pushed open the door. One, two, three. Breathe. I wanted to fly. Or fight, even. But my mind betrayed me, and my body went completely numb.

Marty stood in the hallway, his shotgun raised, Alma right beside him. They didn’t look at me the way I’d expected. There was no bloodlust. No rage. There was just…greed. I felt like a fucking poker chip.

“Sorry about this, kiddo,” Marty said. He tipped the gun towards the front door. “It’s almost night.”

“What’s going on?” I said as terrified tears raced down my cheeks.

“Oh, honey,” Alma said, patting my arm again. “You were the answer to our prayers.”

“I don’t…”

“We ran out. It took years and years, but we eventually ran out.”

“Of what?”

“Sons. Daughters. Granddaughters. Brothers and sisters. Every one of ‘em. We had nobody left to give.”

Marty poked my chest with the gun. “Go on. Towards the door, now.”

I took a few slow steps back.

“When you came knocking, I had this here shotgun pushed so far back in my mouth, I almost choked on it.”

“What?”

“Alma was goin’ to make arsenic cookies. But we settled on something less painful. That is, until our ‘neighbor’ showed up.”

“There was no arsenic in the cookies, don’t worry,” Alma said reassuringly.

We reached the door and Alma opened it. “From the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you.”

“For-for what?”

“Darlin’ you just bought us years.”

Marty swung his gun up and caught me in the gut. I crumpled to the ground, my breath blown out of me, and Alma shoved me out the door and onto their brick stoop. The door swung shut behind me and a loud click locked it from within.

I tried to breathe, but the pain was too much and I could only suck in small, sharp breaths. Then, from the woods around me, figures started to emerge. Dark, humanoid. No. Human. They were men and women, all dressed in business attire, with suits and skirts and ties.

Only, they all wore bags on their heads. Every one of them. Brown paper bags with no holes for their eyes. They moved towards me slowly, their heads twitching back and forth, like they were listening for something. And they hunched over as they stepped silently through the leaves, their fingers stretched wide, ready to latch onto…oh god.

I held what little breath I had and pushed myself up, the adrenaline in my system overriding the pain.

“Just let them do what they came here to do, kiddo,” Marty said through the window beside me, where he and Alma stood, smiling. “They paid a lotta money for this.”

Then I ran. I ran as hard as I could, fighting the stabbing cramp in my gut. One of the people lunged for me and I dodged right, their clawed fingers grasping for my shirt. My car wasn’t far. Five minutes if I jogged. Yet, as I ran, more people kept pushing their way out of the trees. All of them wearing the bags. Some stained, others with branches or leaves protruding from them. All of them pale, with their fancy clothes and their long, reaching fingers.

I leapt past another one and lunged for my car door as a dozen more emerged from the woods ahead of me. I slammed the door shut behind me and hit the lock button as many times as I could.

“What the fuck is going on?” I breathed to myself as I pushed back against the seat. They had swarmed my car, but they weren’t being violent with it. In fact, they seemed to be stroking it. Holding my car tenderly. When one of them scratched a diamond ring across the window, the others turned and beat her ruthlessly. And all the while, they never made a sound. Only the rustling of paper bags. The swish of cloth. The clack of expensive jewelry.

It’s been half an hour now. My car won’t start. It still won’t fucking start. I was hoping that they wouldn’t make it inside the car by the time the sun came up, but the fingers are almost all the way through the wedge they’ve made. I tried kicking at them and punching them and burning them with the cigarette lighter, but they just come back. And every time they come back, my window gets a little lower. Fractions of fractions lower, but still. There’s nothing left for me to do.

If you’re reading this, then send whatever help you can to Bilderberg Road. If you can. I don’t know why nobody else can help me.


Credits to: Colorthebooks

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