Out in the sticks
Our friends back east tell us – even before we move – that liberals like us have no business relocating to places like Iowa.
They believe Republican conservatives will lynch out the first week we get here.
But we are sock sick of New York City’s rudeness – not to mention the expense – we move anyway.
We always fantasized about life in small towns, running reels of “It’s a wonderful life” or films about Andy Hardy in our heads.
We’re not disappointed.
This village in Iowa is exactly how we pictured it.
If anything, people here are overly friendly in a way that scares us.
We always figured we might have to tangle with drunken rednecks or people in white robes. But this friendliness is too weird.
Then the Davis couple shows up at our door.
They claim they are the welcoming committee.
We’ve seen such things in movies.
But these two look and sound like robots, they are so herky jerky in the way the move.
We, of course, believe we have let our imagination get the best of us.
We are still strangers here.
Over time, we will fit in and people like the Davis couple will seem perfectly normal.
We might even come to like the Davis couple.
We already love the landscape and the unhurried life.
It is everything we could wish for and more.
We think no more about it until later when we drive home from the mall and our car sputters to a half on the shoulder of the most remote rural highway we have ever seen.
Desperate to get help, we approach one of the farm houses – as dark and dismal as any graveyard.
We’re near the door to the house when a strange sound comes from the direction of the bar. Bright lights streak through the cracked wood walls, giving the building the look of a Steven Spielberg space ship.
We figure that’s where the people are and head in that direction.
Not confidently, mind you, but rather like trick-or-treaters who think we have encountered a house full of real ghosts, and need – despite our growing dread – to get a glimpse of them.
We’re about to peek at what’s going on inside when Mr. Davis steps out, blocking our view while demanding to know why we’re skulking around out here in the dark.
His eyes glow with outrage and perhaps something more sinister and savage.
This fades somewhat when we explain about our car.
He agrees to help us then calls back into the barn for one of the others to give us a ride.
We’re so scared and numb from it, we’re glad to escape that place, even if curiosity demands to know what exactly those people are up to in that barn.
We wisely keep silent and take the ride home, confident that the tow truck will deliver our car home the next day.
After a few days, we relax.
Life settles down into the dull routines we always imagined and craved.
We stroll through the village nodding at people to have them nod back at us.
When we hear a sound in the yard a few nights later, we think little of is, until we glance out and see gray and eerie shapes moving around our house.
We feel fear so primal we keep to the house, hoping that like the angle of death did for the Jews, these aberrations will pass us by unscathed.
Not until we hear Mr. Davis call for us to come out do we panic.
No, more like a chant, repeated over and over, not by him along, but with the murmur of many voices.
We shout for them to go away.
The chant grows louder and more intense.
When we still refuse to come out, Davis and others begin pounding on the doors and walls until the whole house shakes.
We think if we stay in the house they will kill us.
So we make our escape through the garage.
No one has disturbed the car.
We ease onto the cold seats, then start the car just as we hit the automatic door opener.
This startles the people outside as I car roars passed them.
But the headlights do not illuminate the friendly people from the village.
Instead, we see packs of beasts, two-legged yes, once human, perhaps, yet snarling and snapping beasts dedicated to savaging us.
Even Davis seems more goat than country gentleman, horns growing out of his forehead above eyes with slanted pupils.
We clutch at the door handles to keep them out, not trusting the locks as those beasts thrust themselves at the class, leaving blood stains smeared over the windshield with their attack.
We can’t believe they had us so much.
We need all our will power to keep the fear from immobilizing us.
The car lurches forwards as we barge through them, then down the driveway to the lane, then along the lane towards the highway.
We don’t even slow when Davis leaps out in front of us, the thud of his body resounding through the whole car.
Even when we reach the highway, we don’t stop.
We know we must keep going, out of the village, out of the state, out of this whole part of the country until we’re back in the ruthless city and safe once more.