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Lost in Colony Cove
The retirement village your sweet old grandmother lives in;
The retirement village the sweet elderly librarian lives in.
Colony Cove: appearances can be deceiving.
On the outside it looks like a normal trailer park:
A fresh-cut lawn trimmed by a multitude of colored flower petals; a double-wide trailer painted in bright shades of blue, red, lime green and even a few pink; lawn ornaments decorating the driveway and lawn and porch; gnomes guarding the mushroom mailboxes; deer and rabbits nesting in the shrubbery; stepping stones proclaiming “Heaven Bound!” and “I’m From the Thumb! Michigan” and even “Half My Heart is in North Carolina” creeping their way toward the front steps.
But on the inside of this oh so normal trailer park things are quite, quite different. Something is going on there. But no one knows it.
That is until one foggy Christmas Eve…
~ ~ ~
Cara Lawson begged her parents to take her and her sister out to look at Christmas lights. But since all the nice Christmas decorations and lights were found out at the beach where the mansions were, and apparently they didn’t have enough gasoline to make it out to the beaches where the mansions and nice decorations were and not enough money to put more gasoline in the car to make it out to the beaches where the mansions and nice decorations were, they decided to settle for their own pathetic neighborhood and a few retirement villages down the street.
It seemed that year was the year no one was in the Christmas spirit. In the Lawson’s neighborhood they found, possibly, three houses completely decked out with Christmas lights and only a few others having a string of colored lights or white snowflakes across the porch or a poor looking nativity scene with a broken star and missing Joseph’s staff on the front lawn.
The same was to be found at a few retirement villages down the main drag off of the Lawson’s house, but that was to be expected by people in their late sixties on up.
Mr. and Mrs. Lawson--being quite disappointed in what they found and being quite relieved at having an excuse to go home and spend the rest of the night in front of the TV watching classics such as Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story or more probable, the classic which shall live in infamy, Elf, while sipping apple cider and snacking on Mrs. Lawson’s world famous almond rocca and caramel corn--announced their return to the homestead. Cara’s older sister, Taylor-- just as Mr. Lawson turned on the blinker, signaling his plan to turn around and head home -- pointed out, to her parent’s dismay, a brightly lit neighborhood. The sign out front read “Colony Cove.”
~ ~ ~
Upon passing through the gates of Colony Cove, a feeling deep in the minds of each Lawson told them there was no turning back. The moment they passed the candy-cane decorated neighborhood sign, an eerie tingle slithered its way up each Lawson’s spine.
Taylor swallowed hard, quickly renouncing her decision to enter. Mr. Lawson waved her off and told his family that there was nothing to worry about, although not more than a half hour later, he also regretted his decision to bring his family into this dangerous, vicious place.
Unable to turn around on the narrow roads, the Lawson’s quickly found themselves driving around in the twisting-turning, mind-bendingly confusing maze of roads:
Owl 1 ran into Blue Bird 3 which brought them back around to Chickadee 7; after driving down Chickadee 7 for quite a while, they found themselves returning to Owl 1, except, this time when they drove down Owl 1, instead of bringing them to Blue Bird 3, it brought them to Mockingbird 8.
After a mind-numbing hour of looking at the brightly lit and decorated doublewides sure to bring Christmas cheer to any who passed by with their garden gnomes disguised as Santa’s little helpers and giant Christmas gifts and bows and candy-canes and flamingos with elf hats with bells and fur coats which surely would have made them sweat if they had been real, and Mr. and Mrs. Lawson’s attempts to find the secret passageway out of Colony Cove, Cara spotted a Christmas party at the Cove’s clubhouse.
“Dad, please go ask for directions!” she pleaded.
Mr. Lawson sighed, swallowing his manly pride and vow never to ask directions, and pulled into the already over-crowded parking lot. “If I’m not back in ten minutes, call Gibbs!” he joked as he removed his seat belt and exited the van, closing the door behind him.
If only Mrs. Lawson had taken him seriously.
~ ~ ~
Ten minutes had come and long since passed and Cara began to wonder whether or not her father would ever return. Apparently, so did her mother. Mrs. Lawson, after a long bout of drumming her at-home-manicured fingernails against her forehead, unbuckled herself and stepped out of their fading hunter-green minivan.
“Do not leave this car!” she warned, her daughters obliging with mumbles and eye-rolls.
Mrs. Lawson walked toward the clubhouse with its almost blinding bright party-lights. She hesitantly pulled open the glass double-wide doors and stepped in, immediately wishing she hadn’t. The moment her foot touched the cheery welcome mat within the clubhouse, the record player in the corner of the room blaring “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” ceased its noise and every eye was upon her.
But this wasn’t what stopped her heart from beating. Standing in front of Mrs. Lawson, staring at her through empty eyes, was her husband. But, at the same time, this was not her husband. His usual leather-rough, tanned skin was now a pale-white wrinkled covering for his big-boned turned bag-of-bones figure; his jet-black hair was now grey, almost white, and balding.
Mrs. Lawson had to do a double-take when she spotted him, thinking her eyes may have been playing tricks on her, but her husband’s bright blue eyes gave him away; she could have spotted those eyes in a pitch-black room. This man before her was her husband, only an elderly version of him.
“Get out!” Mr. Lawson hissed, his voice hoarse with the rapid age change. “Now!”
Mrs. Lawson didn’t need to be told twice when she spotted the elderly partiers walking slowly towards her. She spun on her heel and raced back to the van. She quickly launched herself into the driver’s seat, her daughters frantically inquiring their mother’s erratic behavior. Mrs. Lawson did her best to explain the whereabouts of her husband and the danger making its way toward them, while fighting the grinding transmission of the ’99 Grand Cherokee.
She gave up once she spotted the herd of elders barreling towards her and the girls. She hopped over to the passenger’s seat and threw open the door while shrieking at Cara and Taylor to run.
“Run as if your lives depend on it!” Because they did.
The last thing Cara saw before following her mother and sister speeding down the road was an elderly man, who bore a striking resemblance to her missing father, waddling down the sidewalk, following the pack. With one last glance at the man, Cara leapt from the car and followed her family, keeping a large distance between her and the ever nearing pack of elders.
Cara, Taylor and Mrs. Lawson raced down the newly paved road until there was no road left. It seemed to vanish beneath a wall about ten feet high; a wall Mrs. Lawson could have sworn had not been there ten minutes earlier. Mrs. Lawson linked her fingers together, providing a lift for one of her daughters whom she would then help over the wall. Cara placed her foot into her mother’s hands and then placed her hand on the giant wall to brace herself. The moment her fingertips brushed against the stones that made up the wall, a wire shot out of the top, electric sparks shooting out of it, blocking the Lawson’s escape.
Taylor’s scream alerted Cara and Mrs. Lawson to the fact that the menacing crowd of elderly folk was growing nearer and nearer. Mrs. Lawson turned and grabbed hold of her daughter, who stood, frozen to the pavement, watching the mob, and dragged her along. Cara was already quite a ways ahead of them, weaving in and out of the perfectly manicured lawns and their various lawn ornaments.
By the time Mrs. Lawson and Taylor reached Cara, she stood in front of the back wall, frantically watching the electric wire and searching for an escape.
Leaving her daughters staring helplessly at the wall, Mrs. Lawson turned to her right and ran, only to be stopped by a stout elderly woman with long white hair and beautiful hazel eyes. The sudden familiarity of those eyes seized a hold of Mrs. Lawson’s focus and forced her to take another look at the woman. A name came to mind and Mrs. Lawson gasped.
“Nadia?” she asked. Nadia had been the secretary at Mrs. Lawson’s school where she worked as a tenth grade math teacher. The young secretary was said to have moved three years prior. Could it have been her?
“Nadia? Is that you?”
The woman stared at her blankly, no recognition of any kind flashing across her eyes. Slowly, in an almost zombie fashion, she lifted her arm stiffly, pointing behind Mrs. Lawson. She turned and screamed at her daughters, but it was too late.
Instead of her sixteen year old daughter, before her stood an aging sixty-something; her low-rise distressed jeans and over-run sequin tank top now sagged off her hips and shoulders; her dark brown hair was then a dull grey and her bright blue eyes, empty.
Cara was no where to be found.
Mrs. Lawson then realized there was no escape. They had no way out and Mrs. Lawson had no reason to continue living. Her family had been destroyed; turned to zombies. Why not her also?
Behind the woman, Nadia’s cracked and dry lips spread to form a sly, devious sneer.
~ ~ ~
Colony Cove is still going strong with three new doublewides within its boundaries. The Lawson’s are still there and aging rapidly.
I’m begging you! I escaped from Colony Cove that day, so many years ago. I went with my family to look at the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. I was fifteen.
Now I don’t know how old I am. And I’m dying still.
Never-and I mean never-visit the ominous retirement village called Colony Cove. You may never escape and if you do, you will be forever changed.
You’ve been warned.
Now the choice is up to you.