15 years ago I was visiting the U.S. to go see my sister who lived in Illinois. But all I was provided was a map and I didn't own a GPS so I took a lot of unnecessary routes to get to my destination.
Eventually from all my wandering I started to run out of gas, so I pulled over next to a farm in a small town just outside of the Illinois state-line. I walked up to the little house next to the barn and raised my hand to knock on the door when I was startled by a voice behind me.
"You need somethin'?" I turned around and politely asked him for directions to the nearest gas station. He told me the quickest route to a BP gas station.
I thanked the farmer and was about to turn around when a mother collie walked from behind the farmer with her litter following her. I showed my soft spot for dogs and he asked if I wanted one.
"Yes! How much?" I said excitedly.
"10 for male, 15 for female," he said.
I pulled my wallet out and had the sudden depressing realization that I wasn't carrying any American money.
"Sorry, I'm not carrying any money on me," I disappointingly said.
The farmer chuckled and said "I'm sorry boy, but how you goin' get to the gas station when you ain't carrying no money?"
I laughed to hide my seething and self-hate for forgetting this crucial factor in traveling. Depressed, I told him goodbye and thanked him again for the directions and slowly turned and walked away. I was halfway to my car when he yelled to me
"Hey boy! I'll give you the lil' runt for free!"
I turned around, smiled and ran back to the farm.
He chuckled again and said "Y'er lucky I'm in a nice mood t'day. Also I can fill y'er tank there if you help me out".
I agreed, and for the next hour I helped him move haystacks and milk cows. When we were done he filled the gas tank, and gave me the dog. Once I got in the car we exchanged our thanks and goodbyes. I had just started heading down the road when the farmer yelled.
"You best take care of ol' Jessie's pup!" he shouted.
I waved my hand to show acknowledgement of his demand, and headed to Illinois.
That was all 15 years ago, Now me and my dog are back home in west West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. I named my dog Bayde after the farm (Baydes farm) where I got him. But he's in his old age now and sadly, I am expecting him to pass away soon. I'm middle aged now and can't imagine life without Bayde. We do everything together.
Bayde would always cock his head when I was talking to him and he would bark back when I was done speaking or asking a question. It was like we were having a real conversation. He was basically professional at puppy dog eyes even in his old age. He ate at the same time as me and I would give him a bath after I was done showering. He was like family.
But sadly he is in his elderly age and can't be as hyper and energetic as he used to be. Same goes for me. But he still listens to my every command. He is always good toward guests and defensive against strangers. He was the perfect dog in my eyes.
On a normal day like any other we were on our routine night walk. I would let Bayde lead me to wherever he wanted to go. This time he took a different path. Then he stopped in place and waited. I looked away since I wouldn't enjoy the scene of my dog leaving excrement on the grass. But he wasn't moving. I looked down and he was just sitting there facing forward. I thought this was his way of showing me I could lead the way now but when I pulled forward on the leash he pulled back. I subdued to his stubbornness and laughed to myself at the thought of Bayde becoming senile in his senior years.
Then a figure in a cloak came into view across the street and Bayde ran towards him. He did this with no warning, and I wasn't prepared, so Bayde's leash slipped out of my hand. I started running after Bayde. Bayde came to a sudden stop when he got close to the hooded figure and began to walk by him the same way he walks behind me.
I apologized to the hooded person and stepped on Bayde's leash and commanded "Stop!". Bayde wouldn't listen to me and slipped out the leash. I yelled "Bayde!" but he was ignoring me. I was in shock; Bayde had never disobeyed me except when he was learning as a pup.
I was yelling at Bayde so much I hadn't noticed we reached a bridge structure. The cloaked person came to a stop and turned around. I couldn't see his/her face as it was too dark. The person then looked down at Bayde, then pointed over the bridge as if he was commanding him to go somewhere. Bayde followed his silent command and jumped off the bridge. I tried to catch him but I was too late. I heard him hit the ground with a disgusting splat and the sound of bones crunching.
I looked at the person and screamed "What the fuck!?"
Tears running down my face, I was going to attack this hooded figure but then I heard sounds at the bottom of the bridge. Bayde was alive! I called to him as he made his way back up to the hill towards me. When he got on the bridge I ran over and hugged him. Bayde cocked his head at me and licked me in the face. I smiled and hugged him again.
We just sat there for a while before Bayde jumped out of my arms and ran to the cloaked figure. I screamed to Bayde and outstretched my arm only to notice my forearm and hands were soaked in his blood. The figure then pointed over the bridge and this time I noticed his finger was white. Like bone. Bayde then jumped, and I just laid there crying because I knew he couldn't survive that twice. I laid there crying for a while. Then I looked up and saw ravens. Hundreds of them.
I blacked out.
I awoke in the hospital. They told that I was fine. They said I was just dehydrated. I thanked them and walked home.
A week later I awoke, still depressed. I looked out my bedroom window and noticed there was a sickle in the ground next to my mailbox. Out of curiosity I went outside to inspect it. Nothing was out of the ordinary and I was about to go back inside, but decided to check the mailbox since I was so close already.
It was mostly junk mail. But one letter stood out.
The letter looked like it had been from the 18th century. It had a wax seal. I studied the seal, but all it depicted was a black hand like someone stuck it in paint then pressed it against a wall. Behind, there was a skull with a rose through it's mouth and a scythe surrounding them. I opened the the envelope and it had a letter in it.
Don't worry. You'll be joining Bayde soon.
Sincerely~ The Ferryman.