Okay but surrealism aside all of these Southern Gothic posts are literally how the South is and I’m cackling.
We’ve got creepy ass 24/7 diners that say open but you can’t find the staff for half an hour.
There’s a haunted house and a murder/ghost story in every town.
There’s always a fishing hole no one goes to because of a tragedy living in the waters.
The woods are dark and hunting season is the only time you enter them. So many ghost stories. Haunted everything.
The mountains are alive with the sound of screaming.
Devil’s tramping grounds, hollers, woods, stones, you name it, we got it.
The old people may be racist and bigoted, but they have skin-crawling tales of caution and they’re all true.
Everyone knows someone who’s drowned.
We’ve all got a weird cousin who left the family and never came back. No one knows the circumstances of their disappearance but they were always an “odd duck.”
Community is a foreign concept to many until autumn. People come in droves from the mountain valleys and hollers bearing crafts and baked goods for sale. Apple butter can be smelled from half a mile away and the sound of fiddles fill the air. You will not see these people again until next autumn.
There are cemeteries everywhere, but the ones unloved are left for a reason.
Do not step on the graves, but behind them. If you step on them, apologize to avoid haunting.
the ice tea is Different here. you try to remember the various regionalisms — is there sugar? lemon? caffeine? — but you’re right on the border between two zones. (you are always right on the border between two zones.) the beverage that finally comes is acrid and smoky, and you drink it while actively trying not to examine it any more closely
the burgers, on the other hand, are exactly the same. this diner calls it something different, something special, something unique, but it is the same burger you had last night, which was also called something different, something special, something unique. not the same as that burger, but exactly the same burger. you have eaten this burger every night of your life. you look around at the other diners and wonder if each of you has your own burger, or if you are all, every single one of you, biting down perpetually into one eternal, ever-recycled meal
the speed limit is dropping, as tho you are coming to a town. you would like to find a town. you are tired, your car needs gas, and you could use a break. the speed limit drops from 70 to 55, 45, 30, 25. you have not passed a welcome sign. the speed limit is 10. the road stretches ahead, shimmering under the sun, the landscape around it barren and desolate. the speed limit is 5
you are on a meandering back road between two nowheres. inexplicably, there is a heavy truck in front of you. there is nowhere to pass for miles and miles, until at last you reach a long flat stretch and zip around, zoom ahead. you turn the next corner, and find another truck in your way. it is the same truck
the highway you are traveling along somehow carries routes going in all four cardinal directions at once. you try to remember whether you were aiming for the state route or the interstate, but all the signs seem to be for county roads. did you need to go west or north across Nebraska anyway? you try to gauge your direction from the angle of the sun, but it is shrouded in impenetrable clouds
there are police cars studded every ten miles along this road, crudely hidden behind foliage, around bends. as you pass one — slowly — you look inside and notice there is no one. it is a shell, a malevolent carapace, a scarecrow designed to slow down rather than speed up flight. the husks increase in density until there are vast, glittering piles on either side of the roadway, blocking out any view of the landscape beyond. the drivers with local plates are doing 90 in a 65
you see a sign giving the distance to the next town. it’s an hour away. you drive on, and twenty minutes later, you see another sign giving the distance to that town. it is still an hour away. it has been an hour away for as long as you can remember
it is day seven of your trip. it is not actually day seven of your trip, but every morning you tell yourself it is, because seven seems like a nice number. you’ve still got a few days to go on day seven, but by day seven, surely the bulk of the driving is behind you. surely, you tell yourself. the bulk of the driving. behind you. that’s what it means to be on day seven, which is the day you are on. if you are cheerful enough in your morning humming, you sometimes forget that you told yourself this yesterday as well, and that you are already planning to tell it to yourself again tomorrow
everybody knows you should never get to close to the corn but no one knows why. but you know the real danger is in the soy beans. never underestimate them. never turn your back.
you saw someone new in town today, which is odd because there’s never been anyone new. nobody moves in and no body moves out.
your dog has been staring at the same spot in the woods for an hour. even from this far you can see the eyes glowing. he hasn’t moved a muscle. you’re not sure if it would be better if he did.
the frequency of tornado drills is increasing. the coyotes have been acting strange. it seems you’re being prepared for something far worse than a tornado. you don’t question it and put your head down.
there is a chicken in your math class. the teacher does nothing to remove it. it receives a higher grade than you.
the rain hasn’t stopped for a week. everything is fine, the officials say. this is normal, they say. someone is swimming in the soccer field. everything is fine. you park your canoe by the bike racks. this is normal.
there are rumors of a big city a days north of you but no matter which direction you go you always end up back in town. every few years someone attempts the trip and is never seen again. it is unclear if they escaped or were caught
you’ve never met your neighbors. the closest one lives 10 miles away. none of them even know where you lived. then one night very late, there is a knock at the door