By Jason Bougger
December 15, 1966. It's a date that doesn't mean much to anyone but me. What happened one year
later in '67 stands out to people here in West Virginia. But for me, it will always be about what happened in
'66. It's the day I last saw my father.
You'd think that after nearly fifty years, I'd be over it. For a time, I thought I was. But, really, that was just
the booze talking. I never got over it. A few weeks ago, however, I finally understood.
It's funny how he seemed so normal--so Dad--that day when he told Mom that he was taking me out to
do some Christmas shopping in Point Pleasant. But as we approached the bridge, something inside him
seemed to snap.
He slammed on the breaks and stopped the car without even bothering to pull over. "It's eyes! Don't
you understand? Its eyes!"
He reached into his front shirt pocket and retrieved a crumbled up piece of paper. With nearly brutal
force, he shoved it into my palm, squeezing it hard enough to cause some pain.
"We need to warn them. It's the only way to make the dreams go away."
Those were his final words before he rushed out of the car and threw himself over Silver Bridge into
the Ohio River.
As a six-year-old at the time, it was impossible for me to make sense of the ramblings on the note, but
I do recall wondering why he had scribbled the number "46" all over the page.
Decades later, after my mom finally passed, I found a shoebox full of other things my dad had written
before his death. The number was prevalent, as well the date the bridge would fall. A few of them even had
drawings of the winged beast that must have started his path to madness.
My father was no artist, but the way he managed to capture the creature's eyes was a near perfect
replica how its eyes appeared to me when I saw it so many years later.
So here I stand on February 16, recalling my father and his demon, and my own as well. The creature
visited me nearly two months ago, dropping down from the sky on a county road not far from my home.
Paralyzed with fear, I couldn't run. I couldn't even look away from the thing's penetrating red eyes.
And not unlike my father, I have been plagued with dreams of disaster ever since. If I shut my eyes I
see them. I see their faces--falling, burning, drowning. The number repeats over and over in my head, even
in the waking hours. And if not the number, the dates. Both the date in the past and the date in the future.
I wonder if my warning will be heeded. Not a single one of the forty-six deaths my father foresaw were
prevented. Was his death in vain? Will mine be in vain as well?
I have no idea. Looking down onto the river, I know I have no choice. Another town, another bridge, but
still twenty-seven lives are at stake.
Even if I could walk away from the bridge, it would still fall. And then what would become of me?
Would the creature and his terrible eyes continue to haunt my dreams until the end of my days? An
unbearable thought. I need to end this. I need to warn them. I need to escape the dreams.
I know I'm mad, but the madness will soon come to an end.
"Some crazy old guy climbed up the bridge," I hear someone yell from one of cars stopped the road.
I take a deep breath of the freezing Huntington air. For the first time, I notice the sirens. They're
irrelevant. They won't arrive in time to stop me.
From atop the bridge tower, I see the creature. The glow of its eyes hit me like two red laser beams. Is
it there to encourage me? Or to make sure I go through with it? It sent me this warning, so I will send it on
to the people. For whatever the reason, a natural disaster perhaps, this bridge will fall one year from today.
I make the sign of the cross and beg for God's forgiveness.
And then I jump.
|About Jason Bougger
Jason Bougger is a writer living in Omaha, NE. He is the author of the YA novel, Holy
Fudgesicles, and has published over twenty short stories. He blogs and podcasts at
WriteGoodBooks.com, a site for new and aspiring writers and is the owner and editor of Theme
of Absence, an online magazine of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He can be found on the
web at www.jasonbougger.com.
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