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An enchanted night

By Grant WhitehurstPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Photo by Official on Unsplash

My older sister used to have a poster on her wall of a beautiful, lithe young woman running in her shorts and sneakers with the quote “Run for your life!” I could only glimpse it from the hallway. Her room was off limits to me.

That poster made a lasting impression. The girl in the poster is looking straight at the camera smiling, showcasing all her perfect white teeth, framed by naturally plump, ruby lips. Accenting the photograph was her long black hair of tight curly ringlets flying behind her. She was my first crush.

She adorned that wall for three years. Other posters were on the wall, as well. But the runner is the only one I remember so vividly. From age twelve to eighteen, I admired that image. I never imagined anything tarnishing that precious picture.

When my sister moved out, she took the posters from her wall and disposed of them. I dug the girl jogger out of the trash can and pinned it to my wall. A year later, we moved from that house into a rural house forty miles away on a lonely two lane highway. I brought the poster to our new home.

By Kiwihug on Unsplash

I rode an English racing bike to school and work during the nicer spring and summer months. I often rode the bike home late at night through dark areas thick with woods with no houses or street lights. It never frightened me. Even though I’d heard the story of the three-legged lady that could run fifty-five miles an hour that had been spotted on that stretch of highway many times, I insisted on riding my bicycle instead of taking the car like a normal teenager.

I was told that the State Patrolmen and Sheriff’s Deputies who drove on that section of highway were heard on police scanners from time to time making frantic calls to their front desks reporting the specter. They always clocked her speed at around fifty five miles an hour. Naturally it had to be true. A patrolman or a deputy would never make a false report like that. So, the law invented this scary specter and the good citizens with police scanners would carry the news to their friends and neighbors.

By Bruno Martins on Unsplash

Patrolman: The three-legged woman is out here on mile marker forty- one! My god, she’s fast! She’s running sixty miles an hour!

Desk Seargent: Don’t try to apprehend her! We have no idea what else she may be capable of!

Patrolman: But she has two chickens! One in each hand, and Dozier Greene keeps losing chickens. Shouldn’t I try to catch her?

Desk Seargent: Negative! Hell, if she wants chickens, let her have them! Greene’s got thousands of the damn things. We can’t be running all over the county chasing someone that can run that fast!

And so the tales went. I always chuckled when I heard the stories. I knew how country people with radios and scanners loved to play around. I never gave the whisperings a second thought even on the darkest nights as I pedaled through the lonely stretch.

On a warm spring night as I passed the little country church and the graveyard next to it, I saw a three quarter waning moon just above the tree line. The light it provided illuminated a large owl that was perched on the top of a statue that depicted a winged angel. It was a large, imposing bird. I felt uneasy as I pedaled past the large predator.

His big yellow eyes glowed brightly, reflecting the moonlight in a way that gave them an electric look. It hooted loudly, startling me. As I drew even to him with him at a ninety degree angle to my left, I saw him leave his perch and fly right at me as if he would hit me. He rose and flew just over my head. I never heard the sound of his wings or any wind he may have stirred with them. I almost ran off the road trying to dodge him out of a cold fear I’d never felt so intensely before that night.

By Ahmed Badawy on Unsplash

I re-gained control of the bicycle. As I pedaled on, I heard the unmistakable sound of feet slapping the pavement behind me. The sound was odd and I thought to myself, there’s more than one person running. They must be training. I had a red light on the back of the bicycle. They’d be able to see me if they could catch up so a collision with them probably wouldn’t happen.

Suddenly, the sound of running feet was next to me, in spite of my furious pedaling. I glanced over expecting to see two or more athletes next to me, but there was only one. She was looking over at me with a large toothy grin that reminded me of my childhood crush, the poster girl. But this one was scary. She had three legs and her grin had a diabolical look about it.

She was carrying a chicken corpse in each hand, their necks wrung. I pedaled furiously. I wanted to scream, but my voice was paralyzed with fear. My lungs were bursting from my exertions. I could see immediately that I’d never outrun her. She stayed a few feet in front of me, never allowing me the luxury of seeing anything but her, freakishly running ahead of me.

When I slowed down, she slowed down also. I thought that maybe I should say something to her, but what do you say to a thing like that. She ran ahead of me in such a way that I thought she was leaving. I slowed to a leisurely pace, regaining my breath. I saw her ahead, stopped and standing in the middle of the road about fifty yards away.

I stopped pedaling and stood, straddling the bicycle in the middle of the road. Suddenly she threw something at me! I was hit squarely in the chest with something and knocked off the bicycle. I lay in the street on my back. I looked to my right and saw a dead chicken in the street next to me. As I arose, I was struck again. Another dead chicken lay next to me. I heard a loud, shrill, cackling laugh. She was upon me.

By David Dibert on Unsplash

She stayed no further away than six or eight feet, close enough that I could smell her hot sweaty body and see that awful smile. I picked up my bicycle. I’d be able to see the orange glow of our sodium yard light around the next curve. I longed to get to it. I wanted that small comfort. I rode on, with her running just ahead of me, her sweaty face looking back at me with that terrible grin.

At last I reached the apex of the final curve and saw the glow from the yard light illuminating that part of the highway in front of the house. She continued to stay in front of me. As we drew nearer to the light of the sodium lamp, she began to take on the color of the ambient light and eventally faded out. Finally I could see her no longer as I got to the lamp and to the sweet refuge of home.

By Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

I went straight to my room. I was greeted by the sight of the pretty girl jogging in the poster with the big pretty smile. I tore it down and walked to the fireplace and lit a corner of the print and saw to it that it was all burned and destroyed.

I heard two loud thumps, as if something was hitting the outside wall of the house. I heard the loud cackle once again, but from far away. I slowly and cautiously opened the front door and stepped onto the porch. Two dead chickens lay in the yard to the left of the porch next to the outside wall. Once again, I heard from farther off, that awful cackle.


About the Creator

Grant Whitehurst

61 years on planet Earth

Graduate of Mercer University

Served my country. Showed a willingness to die for it. U.S Army

I study the paranormal, UFO’s and aliens, cryptids

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