Cry Baby Bridge by Rob Fields
A young group of friends want to test the legend of their own "Cry Baby Bridge" but things may be more real than they could ever imagine...
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The boys suddenly awoke when they heard the loud noise off in the distance. One of them turned on the battery-powered lantern. The three of them yawned and slowly sat up inside the tent where they were sleeping. “Aw, man . . . ! You better not have farted again, Chunker,” the boy with the crewcut on the right side of the tent groaned. “I didn’t, dude,” the husky boy on the left side muttered. The skinny boy in the middle put his glasses on. “Trust me, if Chunker would have let one go, we’d have known it. We’re all in this tent, right?” The right boy pushed the middle one a little. “Why you gotta be such a nerd, Horton?” Horton looked to his right. “I’m just saying, Chapman. Chunker would have cleared us out of this tent.” Chunker had a mischievous grin. “What, you mean like this?” He sat up a little bit. BBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!! Chapman and Horton quickly fumbled over one another trying to escape from the tent as Chunker sat there and laughed. As soon as the two boys were out and on their feet, Horton turned and pointed to the tent. “Chunker, you sick pig!” Chunker was still laughing as he crawled out of the tent. Then he stood with his two friends. Horton sighed. “Great! Now what are we going to do? Chunker just fumigated the tent.” Chapman slapped Chunker’s arm. “C’mon, man, you can at least open up the tent and air it out. Geez!” Chunker raised his hands. “Okay, okay . . .” As Chunker lifted and tied up the flaps to the tent entrance, Horton was getting the campfire going again. “Any idea what time it is?” Chapman asked. Chunker had his smartphone on him. “It’s almost four – in the morning!” Suddenly, the boys were startled when they heard the original sound that work them up in the first place. “Aw, man!” Chunker complained. “Really? An owl?” Chapman groaned. “Well, some stupid owl woke us up, and Chunker ripped inside the tent. What are we gonna do now?” “Hey, maybe we can sit around the fire and tell more ghost stories,” Horton suggested. “Like we did last night.” “Sounds good,” Chapman said. “Yeah, why not?” Chunker agreed. The other boys joined Horton, who began first by telling the urban legend of the Gang High Beam Initiation. When he finished, he stressed that, “It actually happened on the other side of Strickfield, over along Township Road 113.” Chapman spoke up. “Yeah? Well, I heard a story about this college couple that got murdered in an apartment just near the college.” He told the story as best as he could recall hearing it. Then he finished by saying, “It was said that the roommate came back the next morning and found their bodies, he also found this message on the wall – written in blood! It said, JUST BE GLAD YOU DIDN’T TURN ON THE LIGHT!!!! That part never made the newspapers, by the way.” “Geez, Chapman, that does sound pretty scary,” Horton said. Then he turned to the other boy. “How about you, Chunker? You got a story?” Chunker opened the cooler they had brought with them and took out a soda. He cracked it open and took a drink. “Yeah, I got one.” He nodded in the direction of the deserted road they were camping off of. “It’s actually not too far from here, the old Cry Baby Bridge.” He told the story about how just after the American Civil War, Abigail Tomlin, a poor woman, and her fiancé, Alvin, a rich lord Abigail had been promised to, had been fighting all through their courtship. Prior to their wedding night, when they had had their last fight, Abigail had taken their baby boy, Arthur, and fled. Alvin’s carriage had caught up to Abigail’s as it was nearing the outskirts of Strickfield. As Abigail got out of her carriage, Alvin drew his gun and shot at Abigail. She moved, but ended up taking the bullet in her shoulder. She was bleeding all over her wedding dress fast. She knew she couldn’t let Alvin have Arthur. Unbeknownst to Alvin, Abigail also had a gun. She took aim and shot Alvin, wounding him also. Abigail took the baby out of the damaged carriage and fled. She was in a great deal of pain from the bullet. She could hear Alvin screaming for her, that he would finish her and take their son back. Abigail couldn’t keep the crying Arthur quiet and knew Alvin would soon be on them. By the time Alvin had caught up to his runaway bride, she had reached a metal bridge that spanned the Castalia River. The water below was high and rushing. All little Arthur could do was cry and cry. Abigail took a last stand against Alvin and tried to shoot him, but Alvin was faster and shot her first. Abigail was mortally wounded now as she moved to the center of the bridge. She still had both Arthur and her gun. Alvin raised his gun and demanded Abigail give Arthur back. When she wouldn’t, he shot her one last time. Abigail fell over the side of the bridge and into the raging river – with baby Arthur still cradled in her arms! Both she and the baby disappeared down the river. A search was conducted by the authorities of many neighboring towns and villages. The bodies of neither Abigail Tomlin nor Arthur were ever found. “Now . . . if you go near that same bridge . . . the one over on Indian Hollow Road – this road . . .” Chunker looked from Horton to Chapman and back again. “Just wait a while . . . You just might hear the sounds of little baby Arthur Tomlin crying and crying. That’s why it’s called the Cry Baby Bridge by the people who have told the story over the years.” Chapman had his arms folded in front of him. “You really expect us to believe that, Chunker?” Chunker raised both of his hands. “Hey! I’m just telling you the way my dad told my older brother Kenny and me.” He raised his finger. “He also said that anyone who hears the crying baby ends up dying before morning. That’s why no one really drives down this road at night.” Chapman wasn’t convinced. “Oh, yeah? How?” Chunker shrugged. “Dad said no one really knows for sure. He said no one lives long enough to say what happens.” Chapman shook his head slowly. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into sleeping out here after we just finished sixth grade.” “Hey! We could go and check it out,” Horton suggested. “Chunker did say that bridge isn’t too far from here, right?” Chunker pointed south. “The Cry Baby Bridge is less than a mile from here.” Chapman considered it. Then he clapped his hands once. “Okay . . . Fine, let’s go check it out.” The three friends got up and made their way to the one-lane gravel road. The moon was full and helped give them light as they made their way along. Soon they saw the bridge just ahead. “What are you looking up on your phone, Chunker?” Chapman asked. “Nothing . . . just checking something.” Chapman pointed to the bridge. “We’re here.” “Man, the bridge looks just like it did all those years ago,” Chunker said. “Just like in this picture.” The three of them looked on Chunker’s smartphone at the old black-and-white picture of the bridge taken after it was completed. The only real difference between then and now was that the bridge in the real world was rust-colored. Chunker put the phone away, and the three of them looked ahead to the bridge. After looking at it for a long moment, the boys walked to the bridge. When they reached the edge of it, they stopped. None of them said anything. Finally, Horton got bold and stepped onto the bridge. Chapman wanted to protest, but then he saw Chunker was stepping onto it. Chapman groaned and followed Chunker. They reached the center of the bridge. Horton moved to the side and looked down at the water. “It doesn’t look so raging now, like you said in your story, Chunker.” “It does when it storms for a while,” Chunker said. The three of them just stood there and waited. “I don’t hear anything,” Chapman said. They continued to stand there. Soon, they thought they heard something. It started out softly at first. It sounded like . . . baby cries. The cries sounded innocently enough. Then they started to become louder and more frightening. The three friends looked at one another in fear. Suddenly, a figure appeared from behind them and grabbed hold of both Horton’s and Chapman’s shoulders as it screamed loudly! The three of them turned to see the figure was dressed in black and had a glowing white skull in place of its face. Horton and Chapman screamed before they turned and run. They quickly noticed that Chunker wasn’t with them. They turned around and saw both the figure and Chunker pointing at them and laughing hysterically. Chapman raised his arms outward. “What the heck is this?!” “Kenny? Is that you?” Horton asked. The figure removed the glowing mask. Kenny Chunk turned to his younger brother and slapped a high-five with him. “We got’em, little bro. I knew after Dad told us the story, we could scare people with it.” “Yeah, it sure worked,” Chunker agreed. “Just like you said it would. Those owl hoots were a nice touch, too.” Chunker explained that he was awake in the tent. He and Kenny were texting each other and came up with the idea on how to scare Horton and Chapman with the local urban legend of the Cry Baby Bridge. “Okay, Kenny, so how did you get the baby crying to happen, then?” Chapman demanded. Kenny motioned for them to come with him. They walked off the bridge and made their way down to the water. Sure enough, there was a big speaker attacked to the side of the bridge. Kenny raised his smartphone. “The sounds were on the speaker. I just had to use my phone to turn it on and increase the volume.” Kenny retrieved his speaker, and they all went back up to the road. He turned to the others. “Well, that was fun. I’ll let you guys get back to your campout. I’d stay and chat some more, but I got things to do with Dad in the morning.” As Kenny started to walk off, Chapman pointed at him. “You just wait, Kenny. We’ll get you for this!” “Whatever, Bill . . .” Kenny muttered as he kept on walking. Soon he was out of sight. Chapman pointed to Chunker. “You, too, fatty!” Chunker started laughing. “Just seeing the looks on your faces . . .” “Yeah, ha ha, very funny,” Horton muttered. The three of them walked back onto the bridge and stood where they were before the scare happened. They talked for a little while. Before long, the wind started to pick up. The trees began to wave with the blowing winds. “Hey, you hear that?” Horton asked. “Hear what?” Chunker replied. “Just listen!” Horton insisted. The three of them waited and listened. Sure enough . . . they started to hear what sounded like . . . a baby crying. Even through the winds, they could still hear the sounds. The crying started off innocently enough at first. Then the crying became louder and more maddening! Chapman turned to Chunker. “Okay, you and Kenny got us! We ain’t falling for this again!” Chunker raised his hands. “Hey, it ain’t me! I swear!” Horton turned to Chunker. “Come on, Brian, that’s enough!” “It ain’t me, Richie!” Chunker persisted. The baby crying continued its loud and maddening echoes. Suddenly, Chunker and Horton felt something on their shoulders. Chapman’s jaw dropped as he pointed right at it. Horton and Chunker turned to see for themselves – and screamed when they saw what appeared to be a glowing woman in a blood-stained, damp wedding gown. The woman looked as if her flesh had decayed. Where her eyes should have been were bright, glowing red lights. Then the horrible apparition said to them, “My baby!! Give me my baby!!” The three of them screamed and ran like their lives depended on it. The ghost of Abigail Tomlin screamed loud enough to pierce the night winds before she gave chase. “My baby!! Give me my baby!!” The three of them ran until they made it back to their campsite. They hurried into their tent. Horton quickly undid the flaps and zipped them up. Now they all huddled around each other in the center of the tent. “Still think I’m doing this?” Chunker snapped. “Shut up!” Chapman snapped back. In the tent, they could hear the wind whistling and blowing harder. They wondered if the tent might be whisked away somehow. Suddenly, the front of the tent just flew open. The boys screamed again as Abigail Tomlin looked in. “My baby!! Give me my baby!!” Skinny little Richie Horton scurried out of the tent and cried out as he ran. As the ghost turned towards him, the other two escaped and ran after him. They knew they were being pursued again. “If you will not give me my baby . . . then I shall claim you three as my children!! There’s no escape!!” To Chunker’s surprise, he was actually able to keep up with Horton. “Oh, man! I swear I’m gonna go on a diet if we live through this!” “Shut up and run!” Horton cried. They ran further up the road until they came to a nearby farm. Chapman pointed to the barn. “We can hide in there!” “There’s nowhere to hide, my children!! Come to Mother!!” It was getting harder and harder to run in the blowing winds, but they finally made it to the barn. They all climbed in through a window. Chapman quickly felt a wooden ladder step and started climbing. The others followed him until they were up in the hayloft. And then . . . “Come on, Chunker! Not now!” Horton groaned. “Aw, man!” Chapman cried and waved his hands frantically in front of him. “Seriously?!” “I can’t help it, I’m scared!” Chunker admitted. “Come out, come out . . . wherever you are . . .” The boys continued to hear the wind blowing and howling. They weren’t sure if the ghost came into the barn. Suddenly, they got their answer as the barn doors literally flew off their hinges and were swept away by the high winds. From the hayloft, they could see Abigail Tomlin seemingly floating along the ground inside. The boys were hiding behind pillars and piled-up hay. The ghost looked from one direction to the next. “It’s time to come home now, children! Mother will take good care of you all!” Horton had to stop his teeth from chattering. But he had much to scream about when Abigail Tomlin was suddenly up in the hayloft with them. “Found you, my children! Now it’s time to come home!” The boys didn’t even think about it. They just screamed and ran – right off the hayloft. They didn’t realize they were falling until they were about halfway down. The only thing that saved them all from serious injuries was the full hay wagon they had fallen into. They climbed out and ran back out of the barn. They tried to run north, but the winds were much too strong to run in that direction now. They were forced to turn and run south again. They ended up running until they realized they were nearing the Cry Baby Bridge again. As they started to cross the bridge, the boys knew they couldn’t run anymore. They were tired and exhausted now. As they turned around, Abigail Tomlin was almost upon them. “I tried to escape with my baby! My tyrannical husband-to-be sealed the fates of both myself and our baby so many years ago!” She pointed at them. “Now I claim you three as my children! Don’t despair . . . you won’t remember what it means to live after a time . . .” The boys knew they couldn’t run anymore. But then something happened. The winds began to calm down. Horton pointed to the east. “Look!” The others looked to see the first rays of the morning sun. “No!! Nooooooooooooooo!! Not when I’m so close to having children again!!” With renewed strength and hope, the boys turned and ran again. Abigail Tomlin howled with rage and gave chase again. But as the sun continued to rise, the boys were widening the distance between the ghost and them. The last thing they heard before Abigail Tomlin disappeared was the deafening howl of defeat. The boys made it back to their campsite and found that their stuff was everywhere. Even the fire had been blown completely out. “Man, I can’t believe that actually happened!” Chapman stated. “You got that right!” Chunker agreed. “I guess now we know what happens, don’t we?” Horton said simply. “Hey, guys, we actually lived to tell about it!” Chunker shook his head. “I ain’t saying nothing about this! Who’d believe us, anyway?” “But if we don’t say anything, someone else will meet Abigail Tomlin,” Horton stressed. The boys talked it out and ultimately agreed to keep what they had experienced to themselves. They packed up what was left of their camping gear and headed for home. But were the boys really able keep their secret to themselves? Because it wasn’t too long after that that they had all just disappeared without a trace. The Strickfield local legend has it that on dark nights . . . just like the one that the boys had experienced . . . you can still hear their cries for help. If you drive to Strickfield, go to the Cry Baby Bridge on Indian Hollow Road at night and just remain there . . . Only for a while . . .
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