Surrounded by a large plantation of trees and a river is a backroad so nondescript it is not marked on any maps of Underwood Falls and its surrounding areas. Lurking at the bottom of that dusty old track, accessed by crossing a weathered, steel-arched bridge, is a large overgrown field. Most of the residents of the town avoid the area, calling it “The Road to Hell.”
Protected by a sturdy fence and thick, heavily rusted gates, the field is the final resting place of hundreds of crashed, stolen and repossessed cars. Long before it became an overrun automotive burial ground, the field was once owned by Underwood Falls resident Chad Reville.
Ever since he was a small child, Chad loved cars. He was born with a wrench in his hand, so it was no surprise when he opened a small garage in the center of town. That was back in the days when you could pick up a set of used tires for $30 and buy used parts for next to nothing to keep your clunker on the road. Sometimes Chad would buy a car just for parts or he would be given a vehicle that was taking up space on someone’s driveway because it was crapped out. He kept these vehicles just outside of town on land he had bought with profits from the garage. He nicknamed the field his “boneyard.”
Once word got out about the boneyard, Chad amassed quite a few cars in a short period of time. Aldo, Chad’s father, was an old-school craftsman and he helped surround the field with a fence. He also crafted the sturdy steel gates, designed to keep the contents inside and intruders on the outside. Above the gates Aldo built a metal archway with letters, flame-cut from steel plate, spelling:
CHAD REVILLE AUTOSALVAGE
Chad ran the garage and boneyard successfully for a number of years. He was always picking up abandoned vehicles and adding them to his ever-growing collection. More often than not he towed a vehicle for free or in return for a favor. Business was good.
During one of his many visits to drop off another car, Chad noted how one area of the field was always a lot colder than everywhere else. Whenever he went near that particular corner he was struck by spells of dizziness and nausea. Mystified, he mentioned his experiences to a few of his customers.
“Ghosts, I tell you, Chad. Ghosts,” said one of the town’s old-timers who swore the field was haunted. He claimed that Native Americans from the Lenape tribe used the field as a burial ground in the last century.
Meanwhile, hunters who regularly visited the area across the river at night were adamant they had seen light “orbs” floating over the water. Most of these claims were dismissed because the folks making them were frequent visitors to Walt McCluskey’s hillbilly moonshine still in the woods. Local legend had it that after a jar or two of Walt’s home-made corn liquor you could not walk unaided, never mind see bright lights by a river.
As the years caught up with Chad, his trips to the boneyard became less common and he handed the garage and yard businesses over to his son, Harry. Sadly, like father, like son, did not apply where young Harry was concerned. The once well-kept boneyard became overgrown and quickly disappeared from the town’s landscape. Pretty soon only Harry Reville, a handful of Underwood Falls’ older residents and the local hunters were aware of its existence.
Despite the neglect, Aldo’s gates remained strong and true. The archway fell victim to the elements and some of the now-rusty letters had fallen to the ground so the sign now read:
With Harry in charge, time stood still within the confines of the yard. The road became overgrown with less and less activity until it was just two thin, tire-width dirt lines leading to the gates.
Despite the lack of use and neglect, the sightings of floating light orbs at the boneyard continued. Observers of the phenomenon believed the orbs were visible evidence of a restless spirit from beyond the grave who travelled these lands many years ago, nobody was certain and nobody in Underwood Falls was brave enough to visit the boneyard at night to find out what was really going on…
Samuel Martin lived in the town and frequently went hunting in the fields opposite the boneyard. He too had seen the lights and mentioned it to a friend. As is often the way, the friend mentioned it to another friend who had a friend who dabbled in the paranormal investigations.
The ghost hunter visited the site and witnessed the spectacle. He believed the lights were ghosts or entities using the energy generated by the river to materialize. He said that each orb of gold, green, white, blue or crimson light could carry the energy of one or more entities. And like every living person, had a unique, sometimes horrific, sometimes sad, story to tell.
The entity could be a Native American who lived and died on that land decades before and his spirit retained an attachment to the area. It could have been one of Underwood Falls’ early settlers who lost his or her life during the lawless early days of the town.
When word about the findings reached the townsfolk, it was agreed that, other than for salvage yard business, the field would be left in peace. Nothing untoward had happened in all the years of the sightings, so why poke the bear with a stick now?
There was one orb that shone brighter than all the others. This new spirit was different. While it was once a human form, this one had a connection with one of the cars in the yard.
As the day drew to a close and the sun’s rays burned hellfire red across the sky, the elder spirits gathered to confront the stranger, intrigued by this aggressive new entity. Their ghostly apparitions glowed orange and red in the setting sun. For many years they were the only ones using the river as a spirit portal – the vessel that allowed them to travel to the physical world from the spirit world and back again.
A cold breeze blew across the yard, carrying the smell of old engine oil and tires, whistling as it passed through the gaps in the gate and fence. For the first time in many months, there was activity at EVIL AUTOS.
The sound of an engine coughing, stuttering, trying to start pierced the chilly night air from the darkest corner of the boneyard. Eventually it fired and the elders waited for it to appear.
Out of the darkness and rolling across the boneyard before them, the elders saw the spirit form of a Chevrolet Impala. In its previous life, the ghostly relic was once painted metallic red with a white roof with chromed alloy wheels and wide white wall tires.
The Impala stopped and a dark shadow stepped from the driver’s door. The shape moved toward them and in a deep, rasping voice asked:
“What is it you want from me?”
One of the elders – John Yellow Hawk, a Native American Chief from the Lenape tribe who died in the late 1800s – moved closer and stared inquisitively at the shadowy form.
“Introduce yourself,” he commanded. “What is your name? Why are you here?”
“My name is Jacob Morrison,” the shadow figure replied. “My story is long.”
“We have all of eternity to listen, Jacob Morrison. Begin.”
“I have a lifetime of pain, anger and revenge to share with you. I mean no harm. I want to move on to my final resting place.”
Yellow Hawk turned to the other elders, beckoning them closer.
“Tell us, Jacob. We are waiting.”
Jacob moved to the front of the Impala and sat cross-legged on the ground.
“I had a cold steel heart and went a little batshit crazy from time to time…”
Click HERE to read Part One of “The Road to Hell.”
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