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The Devil on Washington Rock

The Devil on Washington Rock

As it happened to the author

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The dream was so vivid, she didn’t realize at first that it was a dream. The party was crowded, the guests cheerful, the food delicious. Then a rumor began to circulate among the guests. The Devil was coming to the party. The Devil was on the way.

She didn’t pay much attention at first. Until a hush came over the crowd. Turning to see what it was, she saw a tall, handsome blond man standing in the doorway greeting his hostess. Around her, the murmurs began. It was the Devil. He had come.

She watched out of the corner of her eye as the Devil made the rounds of the room. He looked so ordinary, it was hard to believe he was the Devil. Then he came to her group. As soon as he joined them, she knew the rumor was true. This was not someone to be trifled with. Frightened, she grabbed for a Bible her hostess had left lying on a nearby end-table and threw it at the Devil. For a moment, their eyes locked. The Devil’s eyes were full of ferocious anger, terrible evil, and malevolent malice directed right at her. She thought she was dead.

Then she woke, and lay trembling in her bed with the light on until dawn.

The next morning was the end of term. Her parents and younger sister helped her clear out her dorm room and packed the car. It was dusk before they settled into their seats for the two-hour drive home. They talked excitedly as they drove towards their home in New Jersey, interrupting each other often, contradicting themselves and laughing. It was good to be together again.

They were fifteen minutes from home when they left the highway. Her father turned onto Washington Rock Road that led up the mountain, through the C-bend around the Washington Rock State Park and then down the other side of the mountain. As they drove up the steep hill, a noisy motorcycle tail-gated them, trying to pass even though the road was windy and narrow. Finally the hill grew so steep that the driver was forced to slow down and eventually, they pulled away from him entirely.

The car reached the top of the hill and started around the long C curve that took them through one end of the park. The park was dark and still. The whole family automatically looked to their right, out over the gorgeous view of the New York City skyline. They all saw the small park cart, sitting next to the road just inside the park boundary. It was parked directly underneath the only streetlight, where you couldn’t fail to see it. And inside the vehicle….

She started trembling fiercely. Inside the vehicle was a tall, handsome blond man with eyes full of ferocious anger, terrible evil, and malevolent malice. It was the man from her dream. The man everyone said was the Devil!

The tension in the car was palpable. She had mentioned her dream to no one. But her parents and her sister all felt the evil pulsing from the still figure in the cart. No one spoke as they drove past the man.

Suddenly, the engine gave a strange cough. Her father gunned the motor, once, twice in a silent, desperate battle to keep moving. She gripped her hands together, praying silently as she stared at the figure opposite their car. The engine caught again and her father pressed down hard on the accelerator. Then they were past the man and roaring away from the park and towards the downward slope of the mountain.

She was sweating profusely, unable to stop shaking. She looked back out the window at the man in the park, and saw the motorcycle come roaring at last to the top of the hill. It drove half-way around the C-bend and as it drew opposite the figure in the cart, she heard the engine of the motorcycle cough. And then stall.

And then the park was out of view and they were riding silently towards home, not daring to speak until they were safely indoors.

She often wondered what happened to the man on the motorcycle.

A longer version of this story appears in Spooky New Jersey by S.E. Schlosser.

Author retelling: This is a unique author retelling of this folktale. This version of the story is copyrighted to S.E. Schlosser. See the Permissions page for information on reprints.