Some time ago, while reading a short story, the author gave me an amazing idea. They were doing a writing photo challenge. The point was that the writer make a short story out of a random photo they are given. I thought this was a lovely and very fun idea. It was definitely one I wanted to try!
I called on the most amazing photographer I know, my very good friend Terry Pickens to choose a random photo from his collection to challenge myself. It was so kind of him to let me use one of his! In this challenge I wrote a story based on the beautiful photograph he provided of a bridge.
The story was originally published on my old blog and written by me a couple years ago but I wanted to share it here on The Chronicles of History. Please let me know in the comments what you think of it. Thank you!
The Haunting Of Mackleberry Bridge
By Samantha James
George had grown up in the small coastal town of Mackleberry and lived a fairly normal childhood with nothing out of the ordinary. George’s father was naturally a fisherman and his mother worked at the elementary school. He had never lived anywhere else and was used to small-town life.
It was a place where everyone knew their neighbors and attended the town meetings each week. They were surrounded by both ocean and forest. Mackleberry was a breathtaking and beautiful place. The area was engulfed by lovely Hemlock and Douglas fir trees. Greenery was everywhere.
Flowers and various plants littered the environment. Hiking and riding bicycles on the paths that lay outstretched in curves outside the town was common practice for the locals; however, there was one path that no one dared venture. It began just at the town square’s edge next to the main park.
The path led to an abandoned beach cut off by a cliff. It was not the path itself that prevented people from going to that area. Oh no. The danger was a bridge that laid smack in the middle of the path deep in the forest.
Legends over a hundred years old claimed anyone who dared cross what was named Mackleberry Bridge faced unimaginable horror upon their return. Stories of misfortune for the town always were attributed to the bridge.
George had been sitting next to the school’s parking lot waiting for the bell with his classmate when he had first heard tales of the mysterious bridge.
“Have you heard of Mackleberry Bridge?” Reynold had casually asked.
“A little” was George’s stout reply. Though he never had.
“You know it’s cursed right? That is why nobody walks the path near it.”
George rolled his eyes at his friend and in a bored tone replied “Yeah right.”
“No it’s true” insisted Reynold.
“I don’t believe anything is cursed.”
“Anybody who crosses it will be cursed with really bad luck. Haven’t you heard of the Wilson family that lived by the pastor’s house?”
George searched through his memory until a conversation he witnessed his parents having reminded him of the time he overheard them discussing the Wilsons. They had been exclaiming what poor luck had befallen the couple.
Mr. Wilson unexpectedly drowned when he washed away with his boat during a hurricane that had struck the region fast and ferocious one day. The newly widowed Mrs. Wilson followed her husband to the grave not long after when the old market mysteriously burned down in a freak accident.
George remembered that the couple had two daughters aged three and five. After the funeral, they were going to live with Mr. Wilson’s mother. She had planned on raising the girls in the next town over; however, they never made it down the coast to her home. All three perished in a car wreck.
The vehicle somehow had smashed into a large tree at outrageous speeds. The authorities believed the brakes failed and caused the car to spin out when the driver panicked. A horrid tragedy the town people had said.
George turned to his friend and shrugged.
“What about them?”
“They say Mrs. Wilson crossed the bridge the day of the hurricane.”
“How could anyone know that?”
“I don’t know maybe it’s true!”
“Get real Reynold” George scoffed.
“Oh yeah, then cross it. I dare you!”
George sighed and turned to his friend putting out his hands for a shake.
“Fine, I am not scared.”
“Okay, tomorrow after breakfast!”
Reynold grabbed George’s hand sealing the fate of the unfortunate boy.
The next morning proved to be a cold and dreary one. George stood wrapped up in a coat to protect his clothes from the drizzly wet rain.
Both boys met up as soon as breakfast had been cleared and they were allowed to get away. George felt more nervous than he wanted to let on.
“I’m only going close enough to see you cross it” explained Reynold as the pair stood in the town square. He looked around nervously and shuddered into himself. Regretting the bet from yesterday but unwilling to admit it.
“You don’t really believe the stupid story do you?” joked George.
“I think it could be. Looked what happened to Mr. And Mrs. Wilson!”
“Let’s go. I have to babysit later”
George gave Reynold a smirk and they headed off. The two boys reached the path’s entrance several minutes later and started down it. The rain eventually stopped the deeper and longer they walked into the forest.
The trees protected them. George could see patches of light between openings. He really didn’t find anything extraordinary about this forbidden path. It was quieter than the ones he usually rode on. There were no sounds of peddles or voices chatting. The quiet made the place slightly eerie.
“How much further?” He impatiently questioned Reynold.
“I don’t know exactly.”
“You don’t know how long the path is?”
“I don’t think it’s that long.”
“Shoot man! If I am late my parents will kill me!” complained George.
“The beach isn’t far from us. The bridge is half way.”
George eyed their surroundings still feeling a bit uneasy and disgruntled. He had the urge to flee but absolutely would not. How would that look?
After several feet and minutes, a bend appeared before the two boys. It was at that moment they saw it. Right in front of them was Mackleberry Bridge. George had expected it to be much larger than the small dinky thing in front of his eyes. Shavings and tree branches covered the entire bridge.
The path resembled a golden brown road. If it hadn’t been for the railings they might not have ever noticed it sitting there. The bridge was made out of old wood and was set upon a small empty creak that had no water.
George noticed the path had changed slightly after they had turned. The boys now faced a sea of redwood trees. At some point, the forest changed from Hemlocks and Douglas firs to the more kingly Redwoods.
Light from the days’ sky crept in between the breaks. George thought there was something majestic and inviting about the scene that laid before him.
“You are not going to chicken out are you?” Reynold wanted to know.
George shook his head and took a long deep breath.
“Well here goes nothing” he whispered.
The young boy courageously took the steps needed in order to reach the bridge. Once he was fully on it, surprise colored his mind. It wasn’t shaky, creaky, or loose. The thing was very solid and steady. He started to walk.
George made it across and looked back at his friend but saw nothing.
Reynold was paralyzed with horror and fear. George had walked across the bridge but now was no longer there. Reynold had no idea what to do! He had just watched his friend slowly fade away into utter disappearance.
It happened in increments.
George was on the bridge, and all had been fine, but the further he walked, the less you could see of him. Terror and shock clouded poor Reynolds thoughts. Why had he asked his friend to cross the Mackleberry Bridge?
The clock ticked by and yet Reynold had not moved a muscle. Eventually, the absolute disaster that had occurred right before his eyes snapped the boy into action. Reynold ran for his life out of those woods.
George was never seen again. He became the face on the milk carton and the story to be told for years after. As for the fate of his family? Please believe me when I say you really don’t want to know. Trust me on that.
Reynold was not freed from consequences either it would seem. The boy’s family moved a year later and that is the last we will ever know of him.
There are no records of Reynold anywhere. His identity no longer can be found, not even a birth certificate. It is like he never existed. Nobody escaped the haunted Mackleberry Bridge that day. Not a soul ever would.
© Samantha James and The Chronicles of History: Reading Into Our Past, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Samantha James and The Chronicles of History with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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