The Open Road
Enrapturing Tales 06/10/2022
Most people will never see one.
Most will never even hear of one.
Those few who do
usually only get
one chance to go through.
Dare you step through?
We’ve all dreamed of going someplace far, far away.
Someplace magical. Here are seventeen tales of magical adventures to take you to those far away places.
Featuring stories by Aaron Haden, Brenda Carre, Carol Hightshoe, Carolyn Kay, Claire Davon, Dana Bell, David Boop, Diane Arrelle, Edward J. Knight, James Rumpel, Jodi Rizzotto, Ken Hoover, Lucinda Gunnin, Robinne Weiss, Tim Newton Anderson
and edited by Sam Knight
The half mile to the old access road felt like a hundred. It once led to the highway, but a bigger one had replaced it. Now it was cut off from its original use, and was growing more decrepit every day. She had fond memories of this place. Her first kiss had happened here. She didn’t run into Joe Tonning around anymore, now that he had graduated high school.
Nicole pulled onto the abandoned lane and set the hand brake. She waited, listening to the pulse of the engine. When it showed no signs of stalling, she shifted into gear, and continued on.
The forest lay in dappled strips around her. Weeds poking through myriad cracks in the asphalt. It had to be a dozen years since anyone had used the road. Nicole checked for anything moving before stepping on the gas. The car lurched forward. She whooped and raised a fist. It bumping along the hard ground, the shocks groaning with the punishment. Satisfaction burst through her with each foot they moved. She had done it.
White light filled the cabin, blinding her. Nicole shrieked at the unexpected illumination. This was an old growth forest, and light didn’t penetrate to the bottom of the trees.
Nicole braked, not wanting to risk hitting something in her sunblind state. She knew where she was from her childhood adventures with her brother, back when she and Teddy were good friends. Up ahead, a gap in the trees gave way to open fields.
Nicole gasped in surprise.
The tableau in front of her didn’t fit her mental image of her location. She was on a street, with houses on the hills, and pasture in between. It took her a moment to register that this was a different part of the town. She recognized the house—but that was impossible. She couldn’t be at the Tonning’s place. They were ten miles away, on the other side of town. Yet there was their red barn with its collapsing roof, a structure that somehow was still upright. There were their cows—she recognized the one with the distinct patch on its side that resembled a giant handprint.
Nicole shifted into reverse, turning to ensure the way was clear before backing up. The cow mooed, its sonorous bellow echoing. Light filled the interior. She put her hand on her forehead to shield her eyes, wishing she’d brought sunglasses.
Then she was back on the path, about a half mile from her original spot. Nicole slammed into park. Sweat beaded her upper lip, and she licked it away. Perhaps she’d been hallucinating, or had some sort of waking dream. Otherwise, she had no explanation for how she’d wound up at the Tonning’s place.
When her pulse had slowed, and her nerves stopped jangling, Nicole shifted into drive again, and continued down the road.