01 May Genevieve’s Smile
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"Genevieve's Smile"Written by
Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
Note: This story is a true, unembellished personal experience that occurred on December 9th, 2010.
I’ve always been a skeptical, logical person—a critical thinker. At a young age my father, a doctor, told me that everything outside the physical realm is a myth after I had a nightmare about demons. “Hocus Pocus”, he said, “An illusion created by errors of the human mind”. By the age of five I didn’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Nevertheless I loved horror movies and supernatural subjects because I thought they were fascinating, even from a scientific standpoint, and I think on some subconscious level I wanted to discover something so unbelievable as a ghost. That’s probably one of the reasons I decided to visit the North Trestle.
The North Trestle is an old, outdated railroad bridge that towers high over a narrow part of North Lake, a winding river valley flooded by a dam over sixty years ago. The bridge is even older than the lake, and as with all old things people perpetuate rumors about the bridge being haunted by a ghost of some kind. The story goes that Genevieve, a wealthy girl who went to our high school in the 60’s, used to secretly meet her female lover at the bridge on moonlit nights. When her controlling mother found out and wouldn’t let her see the girl anymore, she hung herself from the bridge. Apparently if you walk across the bridge on a full moon, you’ll see her. “Genevieve” was a classic story every freshman at our high school heard, and I thought it was just stupid.
One day I decided it’d be fun to go to that bridge and film it for our school newscast, hopefully to put the dumb story to rest. Chris, our editor, was all for going with me, and our friend Jenna wanted to go just to see something happen firsthand. One week later on a full moon, we grabbed a camera and a two-liter of Mountain Dew and headed for the bridge.
We took the north road farther and farther out of town until only pine trees and cornfields surrounded us. This was the part of Catawba County most people didn’t think about—a dark corner of the map. Thank God for the full moon, I thought to myself; we hadn’t seen a streetlight for miles and I have pretty bad night blindness. Even basic shapes I can’t make out if the sun is down or the lights are dim. After what seemed like forever we finally saw moonlight shimmering on water, and parked in a marina near the bridge. “Ahhh it’s cold!” Jenna shouted as soon as we opened the car door. “Good”, I said. “We need a cold, clear night like this, I don’t even think we need a light for the camera.”
But for some reason the moonlight piercing the cold air was more eerie than total darkness, the way the light trickled through the pine trees to the bare ground. In some odd way it felt like the night wanted to show us something. As we walked along the rusted railroad toward the bridge, Chris spoke up: “So, we walk to the middle of the bridge, Dan you film some there, then walk to the other side of the bridge, then come back. We get at least ten minutes of film, and I’ll edit out the boring parts. Good plan?”
“Good plan, but the whole thing’s gonna be boring parts”, I said.
“You don’t know that, Dan!” Jenna replied.
Walking on the trestle bridge was nerve-wracking in itself; the gaps were easily large enough to step through, and as soon water was below us we were at a dizzying height.
“Could you jump off this thing? Maybe we should come back here in the summer”, Chris noted.
“It’s gotta be pretty deep”, I added.
“Well you two can have fun with that”, Jenna replied. She was usually the voice of reason.
Just before we got to the middle of the bridge, I was paralyzed. A cloud had covered the moon and I might as well have been in a cave. “Hold up guys. I can’t see where to walk.”
They were both shocked. “You can’t even see the bridge?”
“I can’t see my own hand” I clarified. “Just chill out and give me a second”. I felt around for the wood ties and made slow progress.
“Why did we trust you with the camera?” They laughed. “Don’t trip and drop that thing!”
To my relief the cloud passed and the moon came out again. Finally we made it to the bridge’s midpoint and sat down to film some uninteresting material.
“Here we are at the North Trestle, said to be the one an only place to see Genevieve’s ghost! High school students in our area have heard this story for over a decade…” Chris narrated enthusiastically for several minutes until the low battery light came on. “Oh crap”, he said. “Dan, you walk down to the other side of the bridge and come back, that should be enough time for Jenna to go get the spare battery.”
“Yeah right, I’m not going by myself!” Jenna spoke up.
“Fine, fine, I’ll go with you”, he compromised.
They set off back toward the car and I went in the other direction to reach the other side. Only five minutes later I heard a loud, high-pitched scream. “Jenna!” I said out loud. I reasoned she must have tripped or fallen, but when I looked back down the long track I saw they had both already made it off the bridge. The scream also sounded like it came from the other direction—the direction I was headed. I kept walking, though somewhat more reluctantly. For the first time, a cold breeze blew. Some dull, low noise was now humming—I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was just my heightened hearing detecting some distant disturbance.
A few minutes later I was at the last quarter of the bridge, feeling more confident that the North Trestle was just a bridge and the only trace of “Genevieve” was six feet underground somewhere, dust by now. That confidence was shattered, however, when I looked toward the sky. A cloud was on its way toward the full moon again, and beyond that were a few more clouds. “Damn”, I said aloud. Seconds later I was cloaked in darkness.
“Alright, nothing to panic about”, I tried telling myself, but the sound of that bizarre scream was still in my mind and the low humming noise was getting louder. I shuffled and felt for the right steps, slowly making progress toward the other side of the bridge.
“Daniel”, something ahead of me whispered faintly. I froze. It had to be the wind. At that point I just wished I could see something, even just a shadow, but there was no hint my eyes could give me. I walked forward.
I thought I heard breathing, as I slowly found the right places to step. Suddenly something rushed past me. I turned around and shouted “HEY! WHO IS THIS?!” Now I knew my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me—someone was here. It had to be someone there to play a prank on us, I thought, or some homeless wanderer who wanted to be left alone. I stopped and placed the camera on the track. Having a camera is one more reason for someone to kill me, I reasoned. I’d go back and get it later. For a few minutes I waited, until my phone rang. It was Jenna. “Dan, we have the battery is that you coming towards us? Did you film the other side yet?”
I shouted at first chance “No, it’s not me, go back to the car! I think someone’s here!”
She hung up.
“Okay”, I thought to myself. “How do I get back to the car? This person trapped me.” I thought about going to the other side, but I’d never be able to find my way in those woods. Even if I could I’d be on the other side of the lake, and there wasn’t another bridge for miles. “Damn”, I said aloud again. I would have to confront this person, say I’ll leave and never come back, and get to off this terrible bridge. I shuffled some more in the dark, heading back the way I came.
A minutes later the moon came out again, and I saw it. A figure was coming my way. The bridge was only lit for a few seconds until the moon again disappeared behind a cloud.
I shuffled forward, my shaking leg almost falling through a gap. The moon came out again, and it was much closer—only about 200 yards away, but still it looked like just a shadow. The moon disappeared again and I shuffled forward, now shaking so much I thought I might fall.
When the moon came back out, I stopped cold. The figure was closer now; only about a hundred yards away, and I could make out its unusual features. It was limping forward, it’s arms swinging as if they were sewn on. Greasy black hair hung down to its knees, and its head was tilted to the side. But the face—that’s what made my blood turn cold, made my stomach feel sick. It was off-white with a green hue, and blank—no eyes, nose or mouth, just a wrinkled texture like a pumpkin that had rotted. I prayed that the next cloud wouldn’t cover up my only light again, but my prayer went unanswered—darkness fell again.
“It’s someone in a mask, it’s someone in a mask, it’s someone in a mask” I tried telling myself, but something in me said otherwise. The way it moved was just…unnatural. I tried backing up slowly, almost tripping. “How cold is this water?” I thought. “How high am I? Wait, what am I thinking?! Why is that an option?! What are my other options?!” I looked up and saw the moon, just about to reveal itself. My legs were shaking like Jello, barely holding me up. I had the feeling someone gets just before they bungee jump, though I didn’t have a bungee cord.
Moonlight crept out from behind the cloud one more time and I caught one glance—one terrible glance. It stood ten feet in front of me, head tilted to the side. I was wrong about one thing—it did have a mouth. A hideous smile spread wide across its blank face, it’s wrinkled skin spread to reveal black gums and jagged teeth. “Daniel” the smiling mouth said. It took one step forward.
Instinct took over, like when your hand pulls back after touching a hot pan; my legs threw me sideways, my mind not even calculating how far I needed to jump to avoid the concrete foundation below. My stomach dropped, but I didn’t even look at the water I was headed towards; I didn’t straighten out or prepare for the impact—for all that time, as the cold air rushed past my body, the image of that grotesque smile was imprinted in my mind. Only at the last second did I twist and avoid my back hitting the water first as I narrowly missed the concrete. Even submerged in icy water, all that was on my mind was her smile. Even shivering in my boxers on the car ride home, all I could see was Genevieve’s smile.
Credit To – Dan Davis