Highway to Hell
Motorists in Vodeo are a spoiled lot. Why wouldn't they be? They live in a land of marvellous highways that sweep across the Havilland plains, wind high into the mountains of Avalon and Vadiorare, and follow the glistening shoreline from one hemisphere to the other; and it can all be done in Vodean-made vehicles. Ah yes, to drive in Vodeo is to know pure motoring pleasure. But when night falls on this part of the world, be sure to lock your car doors, clutch your steering wheel a bit tighter, and under no circumstances let off on the accelerator, for tonight we will make our way down a country road in western Queensborough, where legend has it that this road in particular has a lot more to it than mere asphalt and painted lines. The road signs call it Flooding Brook Road, but the place... is Curious Vodeo.
Bunenton is a small town nestled on the southeastern side of its eponymous hills, and located about 30 kilometres west-northwest of Silverton on the A60, the principal road linking Silverton with Port Torahan and the more distant Metchincan. It's your standard, run-of-the-mill Vodean country town, with its school, pubs, stores of all kinds lining Helena Street, and railway station that links the town to Silverton's railway network - there really is nothing remarkable about Bunenton.
Nothing remarkable about the town, at least. Drive across the bridge over the Taho Stream and you will almost immediately come to the intersection with Flooding Brook Road. The road follows the stream of the same name for the most part, passing by small farms and through forests, past a small pond, and alongside the Bunenton Hills. But the further away from Bunenton you get on this road, the more likely you are to see something unsettling, especially after dark. Flooding Brook Road is famous for being rife with paranormal sightings, ranging from ghostly encounters to Satanists practising their dark rituals amongst the dense trees. The local police chief dismisses it all as nonsense and says that "the imagination goes nuts" along the road.
You won't get far along the road before coming to the first unusual spot along the road. About a kilometre or two from the turnoff, the road crosses the Port Torahan railway line, which in its heyday was one of Queensborough's busiest stretches of track. The line isn't as busy as it was decades ago, but every once in a while motorists catch sight of a mysterious steam train that travels the line between Bunenton and Aberline. The train only ever runs in the dead of night, but when the moon is full and the skies are clear, the ethereal shape of a locomotive appears, smoke billowing from its chimney, its headlights illuminating the trees alongside the track. Its whistle can be heard as far away as Bunenton, and the crossing lights always flash when it approaches the Flooding Brook crossing. The thing is that the train simply never makes it to the crossing - somewhere between Stuarts Pond and Flooding Brook Road, the train fades into the darkness, leaving would-be trainspotters to ponder what they had just seen. There is a theory that the train is the same one which derailed and crashed into Stuarts Pond in 1902, drowning the engineer, fireman, and six passengers, and has been assigned to thunder along the line for all eternity, trying in vain to make it to Bunenton and the end of the line.
A little further down the road, a small dirt track darts off the road into thick trees. Follow this track and you will come to a small grassy clearing dominated by an old chimney that sits in the middle. Many years ago there was a farmhouse here that burned to the ground one night - so great were the flames that it is said that they could be seen from town. All inside perished, and the house was never rebuilt, the small farm slowly returning to nature, which is how we find it today. Those who have visited the ruins report an eerie feeling that they should not be there, and the area around the chimney, from which it is believed the fire spread, is said to be ice-cold. One local passed along the road one night and saw lights through the trees; investigating, he was astonished to find the house still standing and full of life, but when he and some friends returned the next day, all that they found was a lone chimney among the tall grass.
Behind the house, we find Stuarts Pond, a peaceful little body of water whose surface is only interrupted by birds setting down or winds blowing over it. Local legend says that just before dawn, wraithlike mists can be seen rising from the pond, even though there is no reason for mists to appear given that the air is seldom cool enough to warrant it. Schoolchildren like to tell stories of a monster that lurks in the water, although the local adults are certain that's just a story that was invented to keep the kids from going in.
A detour down Darling Road brings us to a small lane hemmed in by tall hedges and trees. This is Lemons Farm Lane, a narrow dirt thoroughfare that is little more than a driveway for the farm. Around halfway down the lane is an old shed that is infamous in its own right - thick but extremely local fogs have been said to surround it, while some visitors report seeing apparitions around or inside it. Perhaps most chilling is a white orb of light that appears if one strays too far down the lane at night and which chases them back out onto Darling Road; rumour is that if one gets too close to the orb, it will turn red, and those who see it will soon die. Similarly, phantom headlights have been reported by many motorists not just along Flooding Brook Road but along several of the side roads as well; these headlights are said to chase motorists at high speed before vanishing in an instant.
North of the Fleischer Road turnoff, the road crosses over the brook at what the locals call the Bridge to Hell. A demon is said to live around here, and if one stops in the exact middle of the bridge and sounds their horn three times, he will appear and chase the intruders from the bridge. Others have reported hearing splashing from beneath the bridge, followed by unsettling laughter. The presence of the demon is ascribed to Satanists who used to perform their dark rituals in the woods near the bridge - however it has been suggested that the "Satanists" may simply be local teenagers causing mischief out where they can't be seen. Those who have investigated the area around the bridge have found pentagrams laid out on the ground with stones and carved into trees. The underside of the bridge is covered in graffiti related to the Satanists, and has become something of an attraction in its own right, much to the annoyance of motorists who tire of seeing cars parked along the side of the narrow road.
Finally, possibly related to the demon, a chicken with blood-red eyes is said to haunt this road. The story raises a smile from all who hear it for the first time, but the smiles fade when they find out that said chicken is reportedly four feet tall. I'm not sure what a four-foot-tall demon chicken drumstick would taste like, but I'm not ready to find out.
Flooding Brook Road and the things that lurk around it are based on Clinton Road and Shades of Death Road in New Jersey, which are similarly famous for the strange goings-on that are said to occur on the road. This entry was originally intended to focus on a single bridge (like Old Alton Bridge in Denton County, Texas), however I thought it would be more interesting to expand it out to a spooky road instead. Bunenton itself is based on Mittagong and the surrounding localities in southeastern New South Wales. There was just something about that main street I liked, man...
In the final entry of this year's series, we will be arriving in Saviso on Halloween night to take a look around a few of the city's super spooky spots. Dress up if you so wish, but beware of getting the trick instead of the treat...
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