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
-It is hunting season. There are skinned animals hanging from trees. Camo clad people wait in line a the supermarket. You are not afraid. This is just how it is.
-Summer has begun. You spy a squash growing in someones garden. By the next week, summer squash are everywhere. Everybody has them. There’s so many. What can you possibly do with three boxes of summer squash?
-This repeats near the end of summer with peppers.
-There is a disproportionate amount of churches. At least three for every square block.You see them in passing. Some are small, for a congregation of no more than thirty. Some seem built as compounds, sprawling over an entire city block. Behind them is one of the poorest parts of town.
-You go home. The dirt road leading to your house is washed out, even though this morning it was fine. You wonder if you will make it home if the bridge has flooded. This is a very real concern.
-You were driving. You are not now. There is a herd of cows on the highway. Some people do not realize that a cow is literally over a ton. It is half the size of your car. You stare ahead, and wonder which pasture they came from. One of them moos.
-It is late. In the distance, you hear barking; high pitched yelping. It echoes until you can no longer count individuals. You wonder if it is coyotes or wild dogs, or perhaps a hybrid group of both. The pack must be huge.
-There is a road not too far away. There is one in every town. During summer, if one walks along it, there are snakes. Many, many snakes. How can there possibly be this many of them?
-You are going down the river. You look down into the green water, and the silhouette of something giant swims beneath you. You watch it, knowing it has been around longer than your species can comprehend.
-You bring a woman a fruit. She opens it with wonder in her eyes. She is eighty years old, and has never seen a blood orange. The next week, you bring a mango. Ten years later, you still remember her face.
-There is a wrecked car in the middle of the woods, headlights cracked and half swallowed by the earth. There are no roads for miles around.