The four friends piled into a car none had ever driven before. The dashboard was cracking from sun damage, the ashtray filled with cigarette butts and the leather bench seats had certainly seen better days. Carlos was not a fan of road trips, but his friends wanted an adventure so he tagged along.
Pauly, the party guy, sat in the driver seat and seemed to be battling a steering wheel that was had never heard of power steering. Jenny, the girl who just loved setting things on fire, sat next to him and tapped the window to the beat of a song no one in the car was alive to hear when it was first popular on the radio. And next to Carlos sat Becca, the one in the group with the Instagram app always open. Many nights found the four friends sitting just like this, in their own little worlds, but perfectly happy to be near each other.
This was far from an ordinary evening. The road felt too dark. The air too windy. The music too old. The car too alone in a world filled to the brim. Carlos sat in his seat and tried to think of other things. He looked all around the car; the detail was exquisite. He did not know who the car belonged to originally, but they apparently had difficult time eating french fries by the look of the floor mats.
“Guys the bridge is coming up, ready?” Pauly asked before giving a loud ‘woooo’ sound to exemplify the point.
The riders echoed the ‘wooo’ and the car drew nearer to the bridge.
The car bumped up and down as the tires rolled onto an old wooden bridge. Pauly slowed and the passengers waited for what was to come.
“There!” shouted Jenny, pointing a bush that had overgrown a beam connecting the wooden platform to the suspension girders. “That’s where she’s supposed to show up.”
“She” was the Dowert Bridge Ghost, a creature of legend and horror. A creature the passengers needed to see.
Dancing next to the bush, in the dark night and against the floating dust illuminated by the old car’s head lights, the ghost made herself known. Translucent, but fully present, the ghost wore a gown rumored to be her wedding dress. Her arms waved to a tune no one could hear, her hair sat long and straight against her body and appeared wet, from the river below that took the body she once occupied. The ghost remained in one spot for all eternity, just staring at the river and swaying. Staring and swaying.
“Stop the car, Pauly! I want to touch it,” Jenny said. She had already started opening her door.
“Wait, wait, we can’t touch a ghost,” Carlos said.
“Do it! I’ll take pics,” Becca said. Her door was opening too.
Pauly stopped the car and a moment later all four passengers were outside of the beat up old car. Jenny took slight, measured steps closer and closer to the ghoul. She did not want to risk startling the creature, but could not keep herself away. Becca held her phone up and readied a photo. Pauly, well, Pauly was not good for anything more than a ‘bro!’ and a high five in most situations, but he was deathly silent as Jenny stepped to within an arm’s reach of the ghost.
“Do it!” Becca said in a hushed voice.
Jenny reached her arm out and the landscape erupted in light from the flash on Becca’s camera. The ghost turned to face Jenny, her long straight hair flew outward in all directions and she hissed loudly at the trespasser.
Jenny fell to her feet and scrambled away, but almost as quickly as it all started, the ghost had disappeared.
“What was that?” Carlos shouted.
“Where’d she go?” Pauly questioned.
Jenny got to her feet as the other three rallied to her. The four friends stood back to back and looked around the bridge. There was no sign of the sinister specter. The air felt warmer, the night a little brighter. Perhaps, thought Carlos, they had scared the ghost away.
“Guys, we should get back to the car and just get out of here,” Carlos said.
Heads nodded and feet shuffled; Carlos’ idea was a winner.
The four friends took their seats, buckled up and took in deep, deep breaths as their pulse rates returned to normal.
“Pauly, start the car,” Becca said.
“I’m trying! I think the car got spooked too,” Pauly said as he tried to turn the ignition once again. Success was met and the engine roared to life. Pauly guided the car to the other end of the bridge, on their way to their next objective for the evening. Faster the car went and louder the bumping of the wood planks grew; he had no intention of staying there any longer than necessary.
In the middle of the end of the bridge there was a bright white light.
“Pauly look out!” Jenny shouted.
The car did not change course. The Dowert Bridge Ghost was waiting for the friends. She floated six feet in the air. Her hair still frayed in all directions, her dress floating as if it was swimming; her face, once serene and hopeful had melted away. Her jaw unhinged and blackened pits filled where eyes once rested. Her screech pierced the car and the friends covered their ears to hide from the sound.
Carlos had had enough. He removed his Virtual Reality headset and tossed it onto the couch next to Becca, she still screaming at the Ghost Bridge 2 game they had picked up for the weekend.
“I am tired of horror VR games, guys! Why can’t we do like a poker game or a one of those block builder things? This Dowert Bridge Ghost story line is going to kill me!” Carlos pleaded as he stepped over the coffee table to get to the chips and salsa.
“I think she ate the car! This game is amazing,” Pauly said as he removed his headset.
“Ate the car? Did you get a game over?” Carlos asked.
“Nope, Jenny’s waiting for us in the next round,” Pauly said with a devilish grin.
“Dang it Ghost Bridge 2, you got me hooked,” Carlos finished his chip and returned to the game.
Thanks for reading!
I for one would welcome Mario Party VR games.