by Natasha Troop
Genres: Horror, Literary Fiction
Published by Red Frog
Welcome to Fourth-Wall Friday’s Birthday Edition
Giveaway, Fourth-Wall and A special Thanks
I am the luckiest person in the whole world! I have great friends, amazing family members and despite the drama lately and the fact that I am a complete filter-less bitch at times? I still have a wonderful life and people who get me! Plus, it’s my birthday and I can giggle and act like an idiot if I want too.
Thank you Natasha for this amazing birthday gift.
For those who do not know this amazing woman, she fell into my lap with the promise of cookies and we plotted to get something for my readers to introduce her world build and herself .. well she plotted and three hours later The FIRST Fourth-wall Friday! (A must read if you never have read!) Plus one of her students did artwork for us and we get a image of Gil and Tasha and her purse, and the store even for you to get a little of what is going on, or not… over stuffed meese and trebuchet .. OH and birch beer
Now, over two years later, look what I have! Fourth-Wall Friday and more importantly someone who I truly consider an amazing friend, someone who gets me! Someone who writes the most creepy kick ass horror and who is smart, and did I mention gorgeous and who doesn’t mind when I Skype from my phone in bed with my looking like a zombie. We have been through some interesting times, and she deals with my outbursts, lets me to buck up, and I get to talk to her about really cool things and did I mention she shares my love of Birch Beer??
Without further adieu, I bring you …………………a little peek into the world of Lakebridge, where the moose really is a moose, and the Birch beer is always cold, and the bridge really does want to eat you!
This was only the second time Natasha had visited Vermont in the fall, which made it the second time she was in awe of the beauty of the foliage. Foliage seemed a poor word. Far too simple for one of nature’s most glorious displays. She had seen fall foliage in other places, but it was never so resplendent as here. Autumn was purest in Vermont. Beyond the state’s borders, it became diluted…finally disappearing in some places entirely. In those places, Summer chilled slowly to Winter without any outward sign of change.
She was surprised to be here at all. The last time she had driven through, she barely had time to stop for a cold birch beer. That was a memorable trip, but for the destination and not the journey. This time, she had made a point of enjoying the drive from Arizona. Leaving that state was always cause for relief. She had no love for the desert and when she moved there, she didn’t realize that it had eerie, tar pit like powers to keep her from leaving. Worse yet, the dry, desert air was slowly fossilizing her. There didn’t seem to be enough lotion to protect her skin from desiccation. She had noticed the effects dissipating somewhere around Chicago, but knew that as long as she was trapped in Phoenix, her skin would be doomed.
She focused on where she was now and tried to block out Arizona. She was here to celebrate her friend, Kriss’s birthday. Kriss had been kind enough to relocate from her cabin in the woods in deepest, darkest Alaska to an eerily similar cabin in the woods just outside of Stansbury, Vermont. From what Natasha could tell, it was as if Kriss and her amazingly awesome man had magically transported their home from there to here. She wouldn’t put it past them. Kriss had powers. She was certain of this. Somehow Kriss had managed to convince her to drop everything and drive across the country to celebrate her birthday in Stansbury.
And Natasha really did not want to visit Stansbury because she would have to visit the bridge. She knew this was an incredibly bad idea. This was a supposedly haunted bridge in what could only be described as a Lovecraft-adjacent part of Vermont. She was scared of it in the way that she had been scared of bathtubs for years after reading The Shining…the way she had been petrified of walking past a pile of gravel after she watched Carrie. Come to think of it, King country was nearby as well, both physically and when it came to the nightmares that robbed her of sleep as a child.
Even as she pulled over to the side of the road across from the store where the one-armed clerk had pleasantly sold her a refreshment and gallantly warned her to give the bridge a wide berth, she knew it was a bad idea to walk down the quiet path that led to Stansbury Lake and its strange construction. She had researched the town and the bridge while she was in the hospital, having nothing much better to do and there wasn’t all that much to discover, except the lake wasn’t really a lake at all, but a kettle pond, the kind of depression left behind by a retreating glacier. The only reason it was called a lake was because the settlers of the area had no knowledge of what separated a pond from a lake and had called it a lake. It stuck and in these parts, once something stuck, there was little chance of dislodging it.
Natasha paused a moment at the top of the path. A very strong voice in her head told her that she should really drive on to the B and B and settle in there, then visit with Kriss and maybe see if she wanted to join her on an expedition to the town’s most famous thing. If she were not so entranced by the beauty of the trees that framed the path so perfectly, she probably would have paid attention to the voice. But it was all too perfect and wholly lacking in some horror film focus pull moment where the end of the path suddenly grew eerily dark before some deep, demonic called out its final warning at her. There was no such voice, just the peaceful sound of an Autumn wood. There was no darkness at the end, just a lovely, well-worn path that led to what would no doubt be nothing more than a covered bridge over a large pond-sized lake.
So she disregarded the voice o’doom and started walking into the woods. She wasn’t a great lover of nature walks, but thought that if she lived in the vicinity, that might change. Especially if she got to see a moose every now and again like the one off to the side. It was amazing! She had never seen a moose before and here was one with his antlers in perfect fall form, ready to go and fight for his right to mate. She knew well enough to give him room to pass. But he didn’t. He just stood there and stared at her and it was strange, but it almost seemed to be trying to communicate with her telepathically. Sadly, they did not operate on the same frequency and she wasn’t receiving his message. It was still an amazing moment, but it broke as these moments do and the moose, seemingly shaking its hoary head, took leave of her.
“Goodbye, Moose!” She called after him, “Thank you!” She had him in her mind now and would never let that image of him go. When she captured an image in her mind, she could keep it forever.
Up ahead, Natasha saw the water of the lake sparkling in the sunlight. A part of her wanted to go running to it like a little kid, impatient to see. Rather than run, she quickened her pace slightly and then caught sight of the bridge. She had seen many covered bridges in her travels and they were all unique in some way. This one, though. This one was different.
It was wrong in all the ways that the word implied and all those little warnings that told her not to come here came flooding back to her and as she put it all together, the nightmare voice called out to her.
“You’ve come at last, Natasha.” It sang the words at her with notes that seemed to define discordant, like every instrument of an orchestra was playing a different song and every one was out of tune.
She saw something dark shift in the bridge, what light there was illuminating nothing more than the outline of a shadow.
“Who are you?” She called out as she gave thought to flight. She could only give it thought. Her legs seemed to resist action.
“You know me, woman.” There was a hissing quality to the words and she was frightened beyond measure. This was the thing of her nightmares; the dark being that had taunted her from her earliest memory of fear. “You trapped me here. I’ve waited so long for you to come.”
The darkness was slowly extending from the mouth of the bridge, flowing out just a little at a time…just a blink at a time. She thought if she did not blink, it would stay frozen in place, but it advanced nonetheless. She thought of asking for mercy, but her nightmares were never so kind. She tried once more to flee, but even as her feet finally freed themselves to move, it was too late.
All the beauty of the world disappeared from Natasha’s view, replaced by her darkest, cruelest vision.
* * *
The moose watched from a distance as the thing on the lake devoured the human. He had tried his best to warn her, had even tried that thing where he thought really hard at her. It had worked on a squirrel once and he had been trying it ever since and had not been successful. He wasn’t successful this time, either.
Ah, well. Maybe next time.
Thank you again for my WONDERFUL present! Everyone please thank Tasha! She is the reason we have Fourth-Wall Friday! If it was not for her FIRST visit here, we never would have this amazing feature! Thank you Tasha, between you, Tabitha Ormiston-Smith‘s Squirrel Coat and my date night with Geoff (we went and saw Rifftrax live) I could not have asked for a better birthday! Not to mention all the amazing people have no room to thank on here but still will name a few. Jessica, Amy, Katy, Lucy, Maer, Chris.. heck the rest of the supportive folks on #ASMSG that put up with me and love me still, Marni Troop, Ann Charles, Rose Pressey, my Gutter Girls, Evolved Publishing, Pavarti Tyler and of course my business partner Kai Wilson. You guys all rock. AND OF COURSE there are more, but I want to get this to press and you all know I love you!! GODS how I love you all! THANK YOU for letting me be me and telling me when the big bad creepy monsters like to say “Kriss you can’t be Kriss all the time” you hand me an AK-47, some bacon and hitch your pants up, wade in.. and in the end let me have my cake and eat it too! Now, go see what else I have for you! PRESENTS! PLus grab Natasha’s first book, link below, for free and sign up for the giveaway for her second in the series…
In the aftermath of a tragic spring day, the people of Stansbury, Vermont, are unable to forget what happened, as they have all the tragedies of their past. After the media exploited their pain, they have become uneasy with the world beyond their town and with any outsiders.
n the aftermath of the media deluge, latecomers straggle into Stansbury looking to pick up the scraps of stories left behind. What they find, however, is that the powerful forces that have guided the destinies of the people of the town for hundreds of years are now at war with one another and in need of pawns.
In the aftermath of Spring, there is Summer.