Saturday, October 17, 2015

The haunted road and "Eleven Miles of Night"

One of my recent novels, Eleven Miles of Night, is a story about a haunted road in rural Ohio. (This is only part of the story, of course, but it's a big part.)

While the haunted road in Eleven Miles of Night, the so-called "Shaman's Highway", is completely fictional, there are plenty of roads in the real world that have spooky reputations. 

A few years ago, Jamie Frater wrote an article entitled "10 Roads That Will Scare You Stupid". This article is worth checking out if you're interested in learning about roadways with dark reputations.

As chance would have it, one of these roads, Dead Man's Curve in Clermont County, Ohio, is less than five miles from my front door. (This road is number 8 on Frater's list.) I've been over it many times.

The haunted road is particularly scary, I think, for two reasons:
1.) Sometimes you can't avoid it: If you want to avoid a reputedly haunted house, the solution is simple: Don't go in there. Don't like graveyards? No problem. Modern life seldom requires you to enter one. 
But what do you do if a haunted roadway is the only way of traveling between say--your house and your workplace? 
In that case, you don't have much of a choice. 
Dead Man's Curve in Clermont County, Ohio isn't located along some lonely, obscure county road. It is part of a major highway (albeit in a rural section of that highway). Each day, thousands of people travel over Dead Man's Curve on their way to and from work, school, etc.  
According to local legend, those who travel over the road around 1 a.m. might see something disturbing.
2.) The haunted roadway contradicts our notions of the secular and modern: Roads are symbols of modernity, of humankind's ability to tame the forces of nature.  
But when a road becomes a source of persistent supernatural phenomena, that undermines our assumptions about modern society. 
Supposedly, modern civilization banished the unknown to the realm of "superstition".  
Tell that to the people who live on or near Kelly Road, in the vicinity of Ohioville, Pennsylvania. As Frater writes:

"A one-mile section of Kelly Road, Ohioville, Pennsylvania is an area that has had numerous reports of paranormal activity and bizarre happenings. Reports say that when animals have entered this haunted stretch of road they suddenly turn from peaceful and quiet to violent (think Cujo), chasing after other animals and even people. The road is surrounded by dark, thick and creepy forest where white apparitions and noises that can’t be explained have been seen and heard. No one is quite sure why this short section of road is haunted but theories suggest that is could be somehow connected to cult activity that was once taking place in the area and curses that have been put on the land for some reason."

A haunted road is therefore invasive: Sometimes there is only one way to travel from point A to point B, and that is via a stretch of road that has a nasty history and an equally nasty reputation. 

The conveniences of modern automobile travel won't save you. There are no shortcuts or detours . You simply have to drive and take your chances, and hope that the stories are only legends.