It was past dusk, but not yet dark. Not too dark to walk home anyway. He had been on this old road many times. People walked most everywhere when they lived close enough together. He walked now thinking about her. He hated to leave her but he had to get home and get to bed. Tomorrow was another day, and work must come. Still his thoughts kept drifting. He thought of having supper with her and how nice it would be to have supper with her in their own home. He liked these thoughts. He could still see her waving as he left her. This memory always stayed with him each night until long after he got home. He would marry this girl one day. Just as soon as he thought they were both ready. He walked along happily studying about his future, and hers.
Then all of a sudden his thoughts were shattered as something drew his attention to somewhere to his left. There, ahead, just off the road a little distance, moving ever so slowly toward the road! He couldn’t make out just who, or what, it was from this distance, but he knew with all certainty that it would make it to the road ahead of him before he could get past it. He stopped, and while studying about his next plan of action, he noticed that “it” stopped too. He watched as it stood there as if daring him to run for it. Each time he took a few steps, he noticed whatever this was, waiting for him, took a few steps. It mimicked his every move, taunting him, daring him. He had never encountered so much as a rabbit, or skunk on his many trips up and down this old road, and he knew it like the back of his hand. Or at least he thought he did!
There was no getting around what was waiting just ahead. He had no choice but to keep going along the road because this was the only way home. He had to go further than his new threat was lurking. If only he had already made it to the curve in the road, it would have put him ahead of this ominous creature who stood between him and home. And now it was getting later. It would be dark soon and then what? He could tell now as he drew closer that this thing stood very tall. He couldn’t judge its height from here , but he knew it was much taller than he. He could almost see a physical transformation as it seemed to be getting taller and bigger with each step he took. Or was his imagination playing tricks on him. He didn’t think so. He couldn’t figure out why he had never seen it before, or why no one else had ever mentioned seeing it.
He thought about being out here alone, but the only consolation in that was that no one would have to know how afraid he was. The plain truth was he was gripped by a terror like he had never known. Here he was a strong young man not afraid of anything or anybody, now so overcome with such a feeling of dread he could hardly move forward. But he knew he must because he certainly did not want to be caught out here when it became pitch black. His heart was beating so fast in his chest he thought he could hear it, and his hands, normally as steady as a rock, were shaking like leaves in the wind. He was totally alone and on his own.
Finally the thoughts of suppers together, and of seeing her again gave him new strength and determination to overcome his fear. He looked toward the long curve he was approaching and judged where the curve ended on the other side. He could barely see now, but he could see that even though there were now bushes between them he could still make out its silhouette there just ahead and now even closer to the road! With his new-found strength he walked with a new purpose. He would meet whatever this was head-on and be the victor and triumph over fear, or he would go down and be mourned and missed, and maybe talked about with fondness from time to time. He just knew that no matter what was going to happen he could not wait, he would not wait, until it became completely dark. He would see his “whatever” coming!
His steps became more sure, and his heart, though still beating wildly, was beating with new adrenaline. As he came into the curve he noticed a slowing in forward movement of the creature. It seemed to just stand there kind of “bouncing” in place as he walked. He was not sure what was going to happen, but whatever it was would be happening at any time now. He was almost upon it and as each step brought him closer, he emerged from the terror stricken boy to a young man determined to give his all. In the back of his mind were floating thoughts of a black haired girl waving to him, and calling him in to supper. He looked around, but nowhere was there anything that could be used as a weapon. He wasn’t even sure what kind of weapon he needed.
He decided that the best plan of action was just charge ahead and let it be done. Make it quick. Then there it was right in front of him! It stood a good eight or nine feet tall. From here it looked like it was standing right in the middle of the road. He had but to go a few more feet around the curve to be face to face with probably the biggest, blackest, thing he would ever meet. A little caution crept back into his steps and he moved forward more slowly and with anticipation of the unknown. He rounded the rest of the curve. That is when he realized——-
It was not in the middle of the road, it was not even in the road. He walked almost right up to it. It was big and tall, maybe even ten feet. It still looked ominous, but not so much so now. Not even as the day was giving away to darkness. An automatic urge caused him to look around to see if anybody was watching him, yet knowing he was out here alone. An embarrassed smile played at his mouth as he relived the moments of terror before he reached the curve in the road. As he looked upon this thing that just a, very long, few minutes ago had him gripped in fear, had his heart pounding like a jack hammer, and his knees shaking like rubber bands, he could only think that no one would ever know about his encounter this night with an old dead, scorched tree stump that stood by the side of his old road.
Source: Based on an actual experience of a family member, (without all the terror), but embellished to add color to the story.