A Place to Die For (Friday Fictioneers, 13 April 2012)

This week’s photo prompt for Madison Woods Friday Fictioneers is the Van Winkle tunnel, running underneath Highway 12.

Something real weird about Van Winkle trail.  Used to be a bridge here over the highway, but it attracted leapers.

They’d no sooner clean up after some poor jerk, before another’d spread himself on the blacktop.

So they pulled the bridge down, dug an underpass.

Soon as it opened, people started hangin’ themselves from the roof supports.  Damn’ forest was full of people lurkin’, ropes in hand, waitin’ turn.

Lot better these days.

There’s  benches here now, so you can take the load off while you wait.

Hey move up, bud;  how much room do you want anyway?

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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88 Responses to A Place to Die For (Friday Fictioneers, 13 April 2012)

  1. EmmaMc says:

    Wow, I don’t really know what to say other than I really like this very much. Superb



  2. Madison Woods says:

    Oh my! And you even have the highway tagged! How am I ever going to get any peace there now? What a hilarious morbid story!! Damn it, I’m going to be watching the trees next time I stop in. Too funny Sandra, good surprise.


  3. Brandon Scott says:

    That was great! Madison put it perfectly: hilariously morbid! Couldn’t help but smile at this one.

    My story: http://authorbrandonscott.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/the-secret-lives-of-children/


  4. Quill Shiv says:

    Excellent! Our dark side is rubbing off on you! I loved it. Funny and so horrible. Wonderful job!



  5. janmorrill says:

    Oooh and wowee! Very dark humor, and I love it! Went back and re-read it a few times, just to get the chilling pleasure again.



  6. Ha! Very funny – we have to queue for everything now. Next you’ll have to sign up thru email, then wait in the queue.


  7. Lindaura says:

    Gee, Sandra, I always love your stories. They are always both imaginative and perfectly wraught. Consequently, I hate you. Otherwise, I would try to be more like you. I swore to myself I would write a story like yours this week, but I couldn’t! Now there is nothing left for me to do but wait my turn on the bench…
    Here is what I did this week:


  8. Hey Sandra, this is a first and favourite for the week. Just tripping for the darkside humour of it. and Carlos up here complement it all ‘we have to queue for everything now’…even, to die?! Just as my Johnny has been waiting 15year to be executed. Thanks for sharing.
    I am here this week on:


  9. Great voice here, I especially the term “leapers.” Very nice, Sandra.


  10. erinleary says:

    Oh my goodness. What do you suppose happened there to make it such a dying place? I liked your dark story. Thanks for your comments on mine!


  11. Made me chuckle. I guess the dark side rubs off on us all eventually. But it was such an interesting take on the jumper/dangler subject. Move up.. LOL. I liked it.



  12. I think it’s oddly funny that there are so many suiciders around this area. Must be something in the water? Curious to know what’s behind it. Now that’d be big story.


  13. Sandra says:

    It would be a story, wouldn’t it? Maybe one day … thanks for commenting.


  14. Beth Carter says:

    What a unique take on this prompt. Great job and glad you added humor to the darkness of death.

    My story, “Shell Shocked” is here: http://www.banterwithbeth.blogspot.com/


  15. I really like your sense of humour in this one. Truly, I’ve been laughing my head off over here. A different and well, macabre twist indeed!

    Here is mine: http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/flash-fiction-story-eloped/


  16. elmowrites says:

    wow, I liked your dark view of this place. The “It’s much better now line” is perfectly placed to make you think things have changed, and then at the end you realise maybe the people on the benches aren’t resting on a leisurely stroll after all – nothing’s changed at all. Perfect!

    I’m over here: http://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/friday-fiction-the-tunnel/


  17. Russell says:

    Gee, I guess I’ll have to take a number. Who would have thought a suicide spot would be so popular, especially in the Ozarks? I can hear them now, “Hurry it up! How damn long can it take to hang yourself.” LOL



  18. teschoenborn says:

    Ha, ha, ha ~gasp~ wow, I’m still laughing! I love dark humor.

    Here’s mine:http://teschoenborn.com/2012/04/13/friday-fictioneers-3/


  19. Hi Sandra, you’ve written this one in such a way that the narrator feels very authentic, your word choice reflecting a regional or informal dialect. This really reinforces the tone of your story and makes the dark subject matter and gallows humour all the more effective. I was struck by the question of why this place might be the epicentre for so much death. What ties them all together? Very intriguing. Well done 🙂


    • Sandra says:

      As a Brit, I work very hard to make the narrative convincing if I’m writing in a US context. So I’m pleased it seemed authentic, and I’m also open to pointers when I get it wrong. Thanks for commenting.


  20. Scott Hays says:

    Your story is much better suited for a Friday the 13th than my feeble shot at romance and longing. I especially like the blend of humor with macabre … “taking a load off” while you wait to kill yourself is layered. I’m surprised there isn’t a ticket dispenser somewhere near the benches. This definitely sets the stage for a longer story.


  21. Sandra says:

    I thought your story was really charming. Now… ticket dispensers… hmmmm
    Thanks for commenting. 🙂


  22. Gary says:

    And I thought my story was dark! 😉
    This is such a superb story. I was wondering if you’d tell us why this place was so full of suicidal people – only to be left laughing (perhaps shamefully) at the punchline ending of it all!
    Absolutely fantastic.

    Mine is this-a-way:


  23. Clever. Ending was a surprise, and tied in nicely with the photo. Here’s mine: http://furiousfictions.com.


  24. siobhanmuir says:

    Lol! That was wonderful, Sandra! I truly enjoyed that, the dark humor (“Lot better these days”) and the impatience to die. Well done. 😀

    Here’s mine:



  25. rich says:

    what did you get from google regarding the tunnel?


  26. Brooke Ryter says:

    A very different and interesting way to approach. Really enjoyed it!!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on mine!! =)



  27. jean says:

    Cool, liked the take on hanging. Here’s mine. http://jemcogdell.blogspot.com/2012/04/running.html
    Hope I do the twitter part right.


  28. Interesting voice used throughout – very different and appropriate to the story line. It has that Stephen King edge of a haunted place – you did it well!

    ~Susan (http://www.susanwenzel.com/)


  29. unspywriter says:

    Loved the concept that the benches are for those waiting to use the rafters to hang! And so droll!


  30. epbeaumont says:

    There’s nothing like gallows humor (literal here) to make me smile on a tired Friday night after too long at the day job. Thanks!

    (It’s the inconvenience. I remember thinking: if dueling were still legal, people would be signing up for pistols at 40 paces at all the local parks. You’d have to reserve in advance.)


  31. I always enjoy a good mixture of darkness and humor. This story mingled the two sides nicely. well done.


  32. Judee says:

    Lolol! Oh Sandra, I do love your sense of humor, and how you can capture a character’s voice in such a short piece. This was delightfull dark humor, gave me quite a laugh!


  33. Sandra says:

    Thanks Judee. Glad it made you laugh. Hope all is OK with you.


  34. Parul says:

    Haha! This is very nice.. Enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing..


  35. rochellewisoff says:

    Loved it. Black humor…one of my favorite things.


  36. I really like this piece. The history and dark humor combined make me want to google the tunnel now!


  37. Sandra says:

    Thanks Amanda, pleased that you liked it.


  38. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    A Place to Die For was the perfect story for that unfortunate underpass. (This is how urban legends start, you know.) Your story unfold naturally, from the matter of fact voice of the narrator describing the highway cleanups, to the scene at the benches just outside (sort of a green room for death, if you will). Your stories always have a solid voice and sound ‘real’. That is a testament to your skill as a writer and adds immeasurably to the depths of your stories. I always enjoy reading your contributions on Friday (even if I got to yours a bit late. Sorry:)




  39. R. N. Fontenot says:

    Nice. And I thought mine was morbid! Good read.

    Thanks for commenting on my site!


  40. Michael Fishman says:

    I probably shouldn’t be smiling but I can’t resist. How can I not love a suicide-watching guy who sounds as grumpy as this narrator!


  41. Lora Mitchell says:

    Should I be laughing at such a dark story? Well, hell…why not…it’s called Black Humor…right? However, there seems to be some serious Karma going on in that tunnel area. Remind me never to venture in that direction. Well…maybe a drive, just to see how long the line is. lol. PS: Tks for commenting on my story.


  42. Stacey says:

    I have to agree, I don’t know if you were going for that or not, but the way you told it was highly amusing. I particularly enjoyed “They’d no sooner clean up after some poor jerk, before another’d spread himself on the blacktop.” I am curious to know what draws all of these people to this particular locale (some sort of witchcraft?). It reminded me of the Japanese “Hanging” Forest, AOKIGAHARA. Very creepy. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/03/19/suicide.forrest.japan/index.html


  43. Sandra says:

    Thanks for commenting Stacey, and for providing that link. That’s incredibly interesting and I’d never heard of it – coincidence hey? 😦 It’s given me some ideas too … (for stories I mean, not … well you know… ):)


  44. I like the dark humor. It reminds me of some of the scenes from “The Happening”. I was not a fan of the movie overall, but there were certain terrifying scenes that I thought were well done, and your story reminds me of them.


  45. The Lime says:

    Wow. Sandra, this one’s creepy and so intriguing. It feels like it could be pulled out into something bigger. Reminds me a little bit of John Burnside’s The Glister… if you’ve heard of it. Anyway, fantastic job.


  46. Robert says:

    Awesome, Sandra. One of the better drabbles I’ve read in a while. I love this type of voice–darkly themed and yet with a casual tone.
    Here’s my Friday the 13th take: http://the-drabbler.com/the-tunnel-of-misfortune/


  47. I love reading these flash stories. It amazes me the different takes people come up with. Loved yours.
    Mine at http://shirleymccann.blogspot.com/2012/04/nightmare.html


  48. Don’t think my post took, so here goes again.
    I love reading these stories. It amazes me the different takes on the pics. Loved yours.
    Mine at http://shirleymccann.blogspot.com/2012/04/nightmare.html


  49. sacha1nch1 says:

    good story; it was nice of the authorities to put the benches there and stop all that forest lurkin’ from going on…….i just can’t abide that forest lurkin’


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