My body was vibrating, each vein worked overtime to contain my boiling blood from bursting out. I laid on my back as I let the sensation take control of my body. My face was numb, and I couldn’t open my eyes. Just a little longer, just a little longer was all I could repeat as my mind contorted into different shades of colors. A wave of nausea hit as I watched the kaleidoscope take effect in my brain, then darkness followed.
I awoke to the sound of a motor running as my body gently vibrated against the seat that held my limp body. A warm breeze blew against my skin as I rubbed my eyes, one eye lid opened, then immediately shut; it was so bright out. I opened both eyes, now in a panic as I realized I didn’t know where I was. My eyes shot side to side, I was in the back of an old beat up truck.
It took me a second or two to adjust to the light as I rapidly blinked the crust away from my eyes. Cotton poked out of the seat between the rips and tears of the leather. Sweat made my hair stick to my neck as I rolled myself to a seated position. Two men sat in the front seat speaking in Spanish.
What were they saying, and where am I?
I pulled myself up straight to peek my eyes out of the window, nothing but dust and flat grounds surrounded us. I looked to the passenger’s seat to see a man with a black button up shirt and cowboy hat on. He was laughing and rambling on in Spanish to the driver. The driver had a blue jean button up shirt on with a red bandana tied around his neck.
I rubbed my eyes and tried to take a few deep breaths. I could feel my heart begin to race and my palms sweat as the reality of the situation sunk in; I must have been kidnapped. The truck puttered across the desert terrain as we drove closer to a small little shack, the kind that has one or two gas pumps and a convenient store attached.
The truck swerved into the parking lot and the men got out.
Now was my chance to get away, I looked to my left and then to my right, there was nothing in what seemed to be miles away. Where would I run? I would probably just be captured in a matter of minutes if I ran, and then what would they do to me for trying to escape? I sat and thought about what to do as the man in the cowboy hat filled the truck with gas.
The man with the cowboy hat hung the pump up, then proceeded towards a pay phone. I watched intently as he leaned against the phone booth with the black phone held between his shoulder and ear. The man with the bandana stood beside him, eyes locked on the truck. I had to slip out. Who knew if we would stop again? I unlatched the door and hit my feet to the dust. I ran as far as my legs would carry me into the desert heat. A trail of dust rose behind me, and I turned around to see if they were gaining speed on me.
What I saw shocked me.
They weren’t chasing me. They both stood in the same position as before, just watching me run off into the distance. Although it was hot and desolate, I kept running as far as I could.
I imagine that I passed out as some point, either from dehydration or exhaustion, and that’s when I woke up in the back of the truck once again.
We were back on the road. I tried to mutter a few words, maybe they knew English?
“Where are we going?”
The back of my throat was dry, and it hurt to talk, I must have been out for a long time. The men sat with their eyes straight ahead.
The truck drove faster until we were going at least 90 miles per hour on the lost desert road. Dust kicked up behind the truck for what seemed to be at least a mile. My fingers tapped the broken leather seat as my body tensed in anticipation. The only sound that accompanied the three of us was the sound of the tires beating up against the rocky road and the metal doors rattling against the wind.
Finally, the guy in the hat spoke up, in English, with an accent that rattled off his tongue.
“Do you remember how you got here?”
I scooched to the end of the seat. I had no clue how I got here. I assumed they must have drugged me and were testing me to see if I would be able to report anything to the police.
“No… Where are you taking me?”
Both men sat in silence. I was beginning to grow impatient, followed by an anger that needed to be released.
“This is the worst day! You are monsters! You hear me? Terrible, awful people!”
The man in the hat spoke once again, as calm as ever. “Is it a bad day for you or a good day for you?”
Spit flung off my lips as I screamed at him. “Did you not hear what I just said? Anyone in their right mind would say that it is a BAD day when you find yourself in the back of a truck with two strange men!”
The guy in the bandana started to chime in now. “You can either see the good in it or the bad in it.” He pointed his stubby finger to the clock on the dash of the truck. “It is 1:09 pm, and you think it is a bad day. Remember that, because that mindset is what got you here.”
I wasn’t amused by the mind games the men were trying to play with me. The fact that they didn’t chase me when I ran off made me realize the true depth of the situation I was in. I couldn’t escape. We were too far off the beaten path for me to survive the escape. The dehydration and desert sun would take me first.
I sat back in my seat and thought about the life I was missing out on as the truck putted along taking me farther away from my normal. My life should be called a series of misfortunate events. Out of all the bad luck in the world, why did it fall on my shoulders? What did I do wrong in life to deserve all this?
This was going to be my senior year of running track – varsity in fact. I was practically promised a scholarship from a prestigious school. Track was everything to me. Then, I tore my meniscus resulting in knee surgery. Of course, this would put me out for the training I needed to attain my record.
Then there was my boyfriend, Justin. We had been dating for a year in a half! That’s a long time for a high school relationship, and I truly thought he was going to be “the one.” He wasn’t the smartest, though. For your information, it is stupid to leave your snap maps on when you say you are at home studying. It didn’t take me long to track his truck down at the park to find him in the backseat with that girl from biology class… the girl who was prettier than me.
To top everything off, my parents grounded me for sneaking out that night. Couldn’t they understand why I snuck out? Couldn’t they understand that I already had enough of a punishment when I saw Justin with that girl?
Now, here I am. This was the worst summer I could ever ask for. I hated my life. Why does God make bad things happen to good people? Perhaps because there is no God at all! God wouldn’t let bad things happen to good people.
The minutes turned into hours as the old beat up truck rattled farther along the single road. The heat beating down on me through the window subsided as dusk crept over the hills. We had finally come up to a cut in the road with a small school bus sitting in front of it. The truck screeched to a halt, and both men turned around to face me.
“Do you think your boyfriend cheating on you was a good thing or bad thing?”
I felt my insides twist by the question, partially because the memory alone made me want to throw up, but also because that’s an odd thing for them to ask me. How did they know that he cheated on me? They must have been spying on me for a while before they decided to finally take me.
“That’s a stupid question. Of course, it’s a bad thing.”
The man in the cowboy had tilted his hat back and forth on his head and stared off into the desert as he spoke. “You are naïve. I can’t blame you for your shallow thinking, though. Everyone thinks the same way as you. If they were just patient and trusted the process, they would be able to see.”
“What the hell does that mean?! You know nothing! Cheating is wrong. Period. There is no excuse for it, ever!”
“The moral of cheating is wrong, but what happened to you was ultimately good.”
“You guys are sick. That’s all there is to it. What do you want with me anyhow?”
Both men continued to look off into the desert as they spoke to me, taking turns at answering my questions.
“To teach you. Give you one more shot.”
“One more shot at what?! You’ve taken my life away. You have KIDNAPPED me!”
“No. You have taken your own life away. You have kidnapped your own life, and at such a young age. We want to give you one more shot.”
I sat back in the seat, startled at their response. What were they talking about?
“Try to remember what you were doing before you came to us. You were very upset that night. Trust me, it will help to remember.”
I sat back and remembered hating my life. I started to remember the pain of everything that was thrown at me all at once. What had I done? I began to cry as I remembered unscrewing the pill bottle and popping each pill in my mouth and chucking it down my throat. The feeling of my face going numb, the distortion of colors and shapes, followed by blackness.
I choked out a response in between my sobs. “I…I killed myself.”
“Yes. That is how you ended up with us.”
“So, there is no heaven or hell…or God after all?”
“No, there is. We caught you before you went down south, as we call it.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Eternity is a long time to live down south. We try to catch as many as we can. Some don’t learn the lesson and chose to go down south. Others learn, very quickly, and return to Earth for their one last shot.”
“What are you trying to teach me?”
“That what happened to you was good, not bad. You see it’s simple. It’s all in how you look at the situation.”
“There’s nothing good about finding my boyfriend cheating on me. There was nothing good about me tearing my knee and needing surgery that would put me out of my scholarship. Those are two bad things that you won’t be able to convince me otherwise on.”
I saw the guy in the bandana grip the steering wheel of the truck. The man in the hat was no longer casually looking off into the distance. He was now on the edge of his seat with a stiff gate to his posture. I leaned forward to see what had made them change their stance, and then my blood froze.
Off in the desert was a black figure draped in a dark red robe. Long, pointy black horns protruded from the figures head, and it just stood in the distance, watching us. It had to be at least 10 feet tall.
“Is that a mirage?”
Both men kept their eyes locked on the thing for longer than what felt comfortable. Finally, one of them spoke up. “No. They don’t think you’ll change your mindset. They are getting ready to come for you. We don’t have too much longer.”
“Who is coming for me?! I’m not going anywhere with anyone!”
Both men turned to face me, more intent on talking over one another now. The black figure still stood in the distance, watching, always watching.
“Look, you weren’t meant to go to that prestigious school. That is why you tore your knee.”
“What are you talking about? Why would I not be meant to go to a top-rated school on a full ride?”
“You are meant to go to a small-town school that’s 30 minutes away from where your parents live. You’ll meet your best friend at that college. Her father will end up sharing the proper connections with you to end up at your dream job. Your dream job is where you’ll meet your future husband. He is such a great guy. You’ll see why it didn’t work out with Justin once you meet this guy. He is your soul mate.”
“Ok… so you’re saying Justin isn’t the one for me?”
“Yes. Blessings in disguise, as they say.”
“Why does it have to hurt so badly? Why can’t it be done in an easier way?”
“If you didn’t see Justin cheating on you for yourself, you would have never broken up with him and he would have kept dragging you along. You would have ended up following him to college which would have disrupted your life plan. This is the way it needed to be done.”
A tear slid down my cheek, and I wiped it away with my palm.
“It’s so painful, though.”
“Yes. Right now, it is, but pain is a good thing. We wouldn’t be able to appreciate joy without it. Pain is another blessing in disguise.”
Both men had their eyes fixed on the figure out in the desert. It looked like it was inching closer and closer to us.
“Ok. We need to be on our way. We don’t have much time left. There is an outfit for you to change into on the bus.”
Laying on one of the couches was a black romper with black flats. I could see the man in the cowboy hat glaring at the figure in the desert from the bus window, watching its every move. After a few seconds of stalling, the man yelled something in Spanish at the black figure. The figure started to growl. Frightened now, I quickly changed into the outfit.
My eyes danced around the bus, taking in all the details that surrounded me. There was a mirror hanging at the end.
I examined my new look in the mirror, and for a second, I felt beautiful. I quickly erased those thoughts as the reality of the immediate danger I was in hit me in the stomach like a pile of bricks. The sounds of moans and groans filled my ears followed by a fowl smell. I peeked out the other side of the bus to find myself in a living nightmare. There were twelve different mangled creatures dragging themselves toward me. They looked like spiders with human hands at the end of each leg. On top of the body was a skull that moved as it were conscious; mouth open and groaning in pain.
The man in the cowboy hat proceeded up the steps of the bus, his boots clinking as he inched closer and closer to me.
“Time to go!”
We proceeded onward, we must have driven through the entire night because the last thing I remember seeing was the bus fade smaller and smaller into the dark night through the rear-view mirror. I awoke again in a frenzy, forgetting where I was when I noticed the black romper I had on and quickly remembered my unfortunate fate.
“Morning, girl. It’s a good day today. Huh?”
I shrugged in my seat. “It could be better. I’m dead, receiving a lesson from two men I don’t know.”
The man in the bandana shook his head, and we continued to drive. We finally looked to be reaching civilization. I recognized this area, this was the cemetery my grandmother was buried in. The old truck rattled along the old gravel road of the cemetery. I inched closer to the front seat as I watched intently. I had so many questions racing through my mind. My grandmother died of cancer. Cancer can’t be good, no matter which way you slice it.
“If you say everything is good, then what about cancer? Why do people get cancer?”
“Our souls all come to Earth with lessons in mind. We want to grow and learn here. Some want to learn about unconditional love. Cancer gives such a beautiful lesson to the soul. They go through so much pain and suffering, yet they are surrounded by so much love. They get to experience so much love through family and friends. It really is a precious lesson.”
“Ok, but if they die it leaves all those people to grieve for them! You can’t say that’s good.”
“I can’t give you all the answers to life. Half the fun of learning is figuring it out on your own. Would a small child be satisfied if you always read to them and never gave them the opportunity for growth? To learn to read on their own… Probably. They probably would love the instant gratification of it. They may live their whole life thinking it was great! Now, only you and I would know how much of a disservice this would be to the child. Finding the good in a situation on your own is rewarding. Remember, blessings in disguise.”
I sat back in my seat to ponder that thought.
The men remained quiet as we drove deeper into the cemetery. My fingertips rubbed against the glass window as I watched each tombstone pass us by. I was watching for my grandmothers. I thought to myself, maybe if we passed her grave, it would give me some sort of comfort, as ridiculous as it sounds.
The Spanish that broke the silence distracted me from my hunt. The two men were speaking to one another in a harsh tone and pointing straight ahead. I looked out the dashboard and noticed a group of people standing together, all dressed in black. My body practically whipped into the front seat as the man slammed his breaks on.
Both men looked back at me as I sat with a worried look on my face. Off in the distance from the group of people were eight robed figures standing in the woods, watching us. Those sharp pointy horns were intimidating, and I swear I could hear them sneering at me.
The man in the cowboy hat reached for my arm once again and pulled me out of the car, his cowboy boots once again clinking as he escorted me to the herd of people. My thoughts were running wild while calculating the distance between the group of people and those monsters watching me.
I didn’t want to be anywhere near those creatures. Why were we walking closer to them? I hated this. I hated every moment that we inched closer to them. Their evil radiated through the cemetery. Without hesitation, I pulled my arm from the man and dashed off into the field, dodging tombstones as I ran. As I ran for what… I’m not sure. I just wanted to be as far away as possible from those evil beings. My heels kicked off as I my bare feet thudded through the mud, grass and gravel.
For a few seconds, I pretended that my life was perfect. I pictured myself running my last race, the race before I tore my knee, the race before I discovered Justin cheating, the race before I killed myself. I pictured my parents in the stands, my coach jumping up and down as I crossed the finish line taking first.
Then the pain set in. It was sharp and dug through my heart, yanking me to the ground in the process. Things weren’t good anymore. They were bad, very bad. Life was out to get me.
I wasn’t racing towards Justin. I was lying, dead, in a cemetery. That was the truth of the matter.
I looked behind me and noticed three black shadows that took the figure of wolves standing in front of me; red glaring eyes piercing my soul.
A shriek escaped my lips as I sat up and ran backwards, away from the aggressive figures standing before me. They leaped up onto their hind legs and started walking a fast-paced walk towards me. They never once touched me, but I could feel their energy controlling my body from a few feet away. I felt as if I couldn’t run in any other direction, then all at once, I was back in the embrace of the Spanish guys.
Each Spanish guy wrapped their hands around my arms and proceeded to walk me up to the crowd in black. I looked behind me as we inched forward. The black figures were standing still in place watching us. Even though we were walking away, I could still feel their presence surrounding me.
“What are those things?”
“Have you learned nothing, girl?”
As we got closer to the group, I heard the cries echoing throughout the group. I looked up to the men for an explanation, but they kept a straight look on their face as they stepped closer and closer to the group. The closer we got to the group, the more I could feel what everyone around me was feeling.
Heartache, depression, and anger radiated though my soul as we surrounded ourselves with the group in black.
“Stop! Take me away. Why are we here?! I hate this!”
The men stopped, then let me free. I looked back to them for an explanation of why they had taken me here. The group didn’t even seem to notice that I was standing there. The man in the cowboy hat lifted his hat from his head and set it over his heart. The man with the bandana lifted his arm up and pointed.
I felt a knot in my stomach as pure fear ran through every bone of my body.
These men had brought me to attend my own funeral.
Wow. This was real. I knew it was real because I remembered every bit of my decision, but now I was regretting it. What if the men were right? What if I would be happier without Justin and without that scholarship? Those problems seemed so small now.
Tears streamed down my face as a flood of different emotions ran through my body. I could hear the groaning noises of the robed figures standing around me now. I looked up and saw over 100 different skeletal beasts surrounding me. I started to scream, then a scythe was lifted above the horned figures head and brought down on me.
I woke up to a beeping noise. I pulled my eyelids open and blinked a few times to clear the sleep from my eyes. I was in a hospital room surrounded by different tubes weaving in and out of me. A male nurse was fixing my bedding when he saw that my eyes opened. A familiar Spanish accent fell off his lips.
“Sorry you’re having such a bad day.”
He was right to say this. I was in so much pain, nausea burned my stomach, and all I wanted to do was scream. Everyone else was living their life while I laid here in pain, but I was a live. That indeed makes for a very good day.
I opened my mouth in response. I wanted to tell him my exact thoughts on the day I was having, this was important for him to hear. With a raspy voice and shaking throat, I spit the words out.
“No. Today is probably one of the greatest days.”
He winked at me, then left the room. I rolled over to drift back off to sleep when I noticed the time on the digital clock – 1:09pm.
This was my story from 10 years ago. Everything the men predicted happened; I went to a local college, met my best friend, Rachel, and ended up at my dream job as a track coach. You guessed it, all thanks to my friends dad who was a superintendent for the school district. I then met my husband, Kyle, who was one of the gym teachers in the district. I try to keep a positive outlook on everything that happens to me now.
My friends and family think I’m an optimist, which I am, but what they don’t realize is that I can still see those sinister horns out of the corner of my eye. They follow me around, when I begin to think the worst, they grow stronger. When anyone around me acts negative, I can practically see the robed figures standing beside me, scythe up in the air.
I can see them. I can feel them. I know they are there, they are around everyone including you. If you pay attention, you’ll be able to feel them. It’s that rotten feeling you have in your stomach when you are in a bad mood. The feeling invades you and spreads, poisoning your mindset. Sometimes, it will even carry on into the next day. You’ll begin to forget what happiness feels like. You’ll become so accustomed to the awful feeling that it will become your new normal.
I was one of the lucky ones. Two men in the desert saved my life by teaching me a very valuable lesson.
That’s why I chose to write this on here. If I can spread the wisdom of these two men to at least one other person. To save at least one other person, then that indeed would be a GREAT day.