Justin Tadlock

The Tater Creek Driveway

I was going to wait until later to post, since I usually post right before I go to bed. It kind of gives me closure for the day. I can say all the things I need to say, and get it all off of my mind. But, I wanted to go ahead and post up Chapter 2 of my untitled novel I’ve been writing for National Novel Writing Month. Sooner or later I’m going to have to stop plugging their site. I know, I’ll just put it over in the affliates section. I need to go ahead and do that tonight.

Okay. I just quit this blog for a while and came back. I just had to add an excerpt feature for the main page. I was getting tired of looking at that itty-bitty scrollbar to the right, because of my novel project.

Anyways, I have to talk about today a little bit, especially Gresham. I think the man may actually be a bit mad. Yes, I have said that before. First off, he’s trying to cram 3 novels into 4 1/2 weeks. Each book getting its own week-and-a-half. That’s pure, unadulterated insanity! I still have to finish reading Dracula, which I’ll say something else on in a moment. But, we just read the first 120 pages of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot for today’s assigment. Not bad, really. It was a quick 120 pages. The real kicker is: the book is 600+ pages. That leaves one week with 500 pages! I know that’s not a lot to read in a week, unless you are an English major with 2 other literature classes and you work 20-30 hours a week. Other than that, it’s not too much. And, get this, he said a few weeks ago that we should begin our book for the Final Exam also. There’s only 24 hours in a day. Count em’. The other reason I think he may be mad is: he gave me a 9/10 on a Reading Response today. What the??? I’ve never gotten anything below or above an 8/10 in his class. And the odd thing is that I didn’t even finish the book, Dracula, before I wrote this thing, and my Reading Response was on the CONCLUSION! I did, however, skim over the last chapter before writing it.

I do like Dr. Gresham though. So, don’t think this is a Gresham-hater page now. I just needed to release some of that pent up anger inside, that inside that has been absorbing the world’s crap all day. Unfortunately, Gresham’s been taking the bulk of it lately. Whew! Now that that’s out of the way…

On to the good stuff. I have completed the second chapter of my novel. There’s just one note that I’d like to make that’s really important to anyone who has been following this project. I’ve decided to switch to a different point of view. I’m no longer going with the first person POV simply, because, I don’t feel it works with the novel I’m writing. So, I’m going with a type of third person POV instead. I’ll have to go back and rewrite the Chapter 1 this weekend. Speaking of this weekend, I’m going to spend a great deal writing on this novel, so expect to have a great deal of reading to do. Enough of useless tapping on the keyboard. Just read on.

CHAPTER 2
THE TATER CREEK DRIVEWAY

Jude turned right off of Hillhock Lane onto Sweetwater. He didn’t usually drive this direction since the biggest attraction there was Clover High School. Actually, the high school held all grade levels, kindergarten through the 12th grade. There wasn’t enough people in the town to account for separate schools for elementary, middle, and high school. There were, maybe, 800 students that filled the seats in the compact classrooms.

The reason he didn’t go there wasn’t his lack of spawn spilling off into the classrooms. It was for a deeper, darker reason. He went there, once a year, and had been for almost 30 years now, to see a varsity football game.

Another right on Tater Creek.

Jude was grinding the petal to the floor, between quick jerks and sudden brakes, grinding to get to Zadie. Jerking to get to that smooth skin. Braking around the curves to see those perfect legs. What is it with men and legs? A man would fall off a building, 7-stories up, peeking around the corner to get a glimpse of a set of great legs. And Zadie Morreti-Jones was no different, except that a man might splat from 14 stories.

The brake lights flashed and then held, still moving forward as the black Nissan Maxima slid across the old pavement, sending pieces of gravel in any direction. Why was there a stop sign here? it made no logical since to Jude, as he always rubbed precious rubber from his tires at the barren intersection.

There were a few things that held some townspeople’s attention down the desolate road that led past the high school. It sat on the corner, adjacent to the sputtering Maxima. That car that hadn’t had an oil change in over a year nor a full tank of gas in several years, needed badly a little attention from the maniac behind the wheel. It needed passionate warmth from a man who was unwilling to cough up more than a crinkled ten-dollar bill to add to its life expectancy. She moaned as the cheapskate pulled her out farther across the pavement, and sighed before giving way to a few more inches of faded black before coming to a complete halt.

“Damnit!” Jude shoved the gear back into park and turned the key.

Nothing.

Not even the faintest sound was uttered from the lifeless machine. She then let go a pillar of smoke from under her belly, releasing thirteen years worth of an unhealthy, unsteady diet. The gods were cursing him. He flailed his arms up to heaven and then slammed a fist down onto the horn.

The orange-tinted trees echoed the fury of the last solitary cry the Maxima had left in her. The wind blew the first brown leaves of the season onto that thing adjacent to the car.

That Driveway.

Trees arched over it, running parallel in unison until the light no longer peeked through its dark path. Jude stared into that darkness, and shuttered. In his rush to get to those long legs and that smooth skin, he knew before scrambling around the inside of the car and swimming in his pockets, he had left his cell phone at home.

There was no way he was walking into whatever lie beyond that tunnel of darkness. Not today. He didn’t think the rotting cabin had a phone in it anyway. The TATER CREEK CABIN. It was usually rented out to summer vacationers who thought it’d be relaxing to stay in the serenity of the country for a week or two during the summer. Aside from summer tourists it was typically rented to high schoolers for a night of unadulterated debauchery. He knew the history behind the shabby walls and underneath the creaking floors better than anyone else, that is, aside from 53 other people who were now long gone or scattered amongst the town. He knew the true History. He swallowed a clump of thick saliva, thinking about venturing in alone.

What was he going to do? Not a soul would drive down this road on a Saturday. he knew that because he decided to take a short-cut to get to Zadie on time, that most people avoided because of its unevenness and fondness for potholes. Looking at his watch, it was 10:07, he was already late. He had to get a glimpse of those legs. He had to feel the wind and the sudden gasp of air the 14th story diver felt.

He gave way to thoughts of walking down that path that seemed it could suck a man’s soul from his body. He knew the real truth. He couldn’t walk down that path alone. There was no way. Too much history. There were no ghosts, no closet-monsters, no vampiresses, no legends of baby-snatchers, no killer wasps, no man who’d blow your head off for walking in his front yard. There was something worse, something worse than evil itself. The wickedness of mankind. History. It was a history that not a soul knew, except for 54 people. Nearly thirty years of history like that can almost kill a man. And when I say kill a man, I’m not talking about in the physical sense. I’m talking about in the psychological sense. It’ll make a man think he’s been down to the depths of Hell and then spat back up to lie amongst God’s children. Thirty years of history had come and gone, but none of it was pure evil. Not true evil. True evil is wickedness so unenduring that it could make a 46-year-old man lie in a fetal position for hours, closing his eyes to a moment in time when his mother was holding him.

He and that place had a history.

Brakes squealing. PAVEMENT BURNING. Gravel flying in any and every direction.

Blackness.

Jude woke up with a headache worse than any all-nighter had ever brought him. What was going on? He could hardly think. The green and the orange was spinning. The trees were spinning so fast, mixing into a puke color. Oh God, he had to puke. All over his floorboard. His lap. His new button-up shirt. His shoes.

His pupil rolled over to the corner of his eye, noticing the blue Ford crushing his Maxima into a set of trees. How did he survive? Both of the driver-side doors were crunched in. One by the front-end of the truck, the other by a giant trunk. Both vehicles had slid into the driveway. That cursed driveway. That driveway that let to darkness. Pure evil. Jude rushed to get out. He climbed over into the backseat, and opened the back door.

Without thinking, he started to run. There was no way he was going to be stuck down that driveway alone. Wait, he thought, halting his all-out sprint.

“Are you okay?” Shouting to the passenger who’s head was lain back, just like she was sleeping. Her Ford had rolled up the side of the Maxima just enough to pop her head back from the steering wheel.

Nothing.

Jude walked, almost tiptoeing, back to the driveway.

“Hello!” He grabbed the door-handle with a shivering hand. A bloody hand.

Pushing upward from his position below the door, he gave a good yank to the door, and a teenage girl rolled out. He jumped back. She didn’t even use her seatbelt, he thought. Stupid Bitch. Jude then saw the other. Another girl, seatbelt on, with a head pouring blood onto the seat, stuck in the broken shards of the passenger-side window.

What was he going to do? Two girls were dead. Two teenage girls. The driver’s license couldn’t have been issued to the driver not long ago. It was his fault. He was sitting in the intersection, thinking. Thinking about that driveway, with all its darkness. Thinking about the evil that has haunted him nearly a lifetime. It was his fault.

He leaned over the lifeless body on the ground just to be sure. Trying a technique he’d seen used on TV many times, he place his two fingers on a spot on her neck. No pulse. Check another spot? No pulse. He felt everywhere on that tiny neck, that neck that he could himself wrap both his hand around and overlap fingers. There was nothing.

He stood up and looked at the other girl. Could she be alive still? She was bleeding so much. Her shirt had become a dark red. It had become the kind of red he remembered from getting his wisdom teeth removed a few years back. It was as dark as the gauze he had to remove from his own mouth that day. There was no way she would live through this if she was alive.

And what would happen to him? This was his fault. He couldn’t think. The orange and green began spinning again. Puke? No. Nothing left in him.

10:24.

He was late for his meeting with Zadie. Why was God destroying his one day? His one day a year?

He had to get rid of the bodies. He had to burn the car. He had to…what was he going to do with his car? Burn it too. He had to burn his clothes. He had to get rid of the evidence. If not, he would miss his one day a year. There was no way. But, what if she wasn’t there when he arrived? How was he going to get there? What was he going to wear? What if somebody else drove down the road? No, nobody drove down this road. Why were the girls driving down the road? Why? How was he going to dispose of everything? Think.

History.

He had to travel down that path alone. Could he bare it? He had to. He had to go back into the mouth of Hell, and he had to do it alone. He didn’t have the help of his wife, Angela. He didn’t have the help of his best friend, Greg. He didn’t have the help of Zadie Moretti-Jones. And he didn’t have the help of those 53 others that he shared a history with him and that place. He was alone. Yes, he would travel beneath those arches and let the damned thing take his soul.