“Girls! Where are you!” Bob Hawkins struggled to make his voice heard over the shrieking wind that filled the air with blistering particles of sand. His body strained forward and his half shut eyes darted around the empty canvas of the dusty landscape surrounding him. He listened, hoping to hear a voice or a cry cutting through the din.
Ruth Hawkins paced the floor of their farmhouse. The howling wind made the walls creak and groan, adding to her anxiety.
“I should be out there with him. Why did he make me stay? What if he doesn’t come back?”
Ruth’s mind raced as her footsteps left tracks in the fine silt gathering on the wooden floor.
The door was flung open and she recoiled as a dark shape collapsed on the floor in front of her.
“Bob!” Ruth ran to his side. He was caked with dust and gasping for breath. She grabbed a basin of water and splashed it onto his face. Through the streaks of mud on his face she saw a look of despair in his eyes.
“Nothing? You didn’t see them or hear anything? Maybe I should go. You stay here, I’ll go!”
Bob grabbed her skirt as she lunged for the door.
“You can’t”, he croaked through cracked lips. “It’s no use. You’ll never find them”.
Ruth fell to the floor next to him and wept as the fury outside continued.
“Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone,” Jason Gibbs sung along with the radio, grateful for the company along this long stretch of highway. The sophomore at Oklahoma State University was from Raton, New Mexico and he was headed home for Thanksgiving. This particular section of the trip was so lonesome. It was early evening and the road was deserted. The evening sun was sinking lower and he was sleepier than he wanted to admit. He glanced at his cell phone and frowned at the lack of service.
“One bar! How do these people live?”
An hour later, the sun had slipped below the horizon and Jason was fighting to stay awake. He would drift to the side, only to be startled by the thumping of the stay awake strips cut into the highway.
“Okay, okay, I’m up,” he grumbled to no one in particular.
Off in the distance he could see a light. As he grew closer he noticed an old farmhouse set back from the road. The house was awash in light and his curiosity or the exhaustion made him to decide to stop.
He pulled his car up close to the house and turned off the ignition. Two figures appeared from inside the house. Jason rubbed his eyes and tried to focus. The light from the house was blinding after being on the road so long. Despite the glare he could tell that the shapes he could see were distinctly female. He got out of the car and called out.
“Hey, what’s up? I’m Jason. Do either of you have a phone?”
One of the girls motioned for him to come in so he made his way to the steps of the house. He glanced at the girls as he made his way across the porch. They were beautiful, with dark hair and dark eyes. As he looked closer he could see that they were twins.
“Come on in Jason,” one of them said.
“You must be so tired,” the other one said.
As he walked into the house he couldn’t help but notice that everything looked so old.
“Wow! You’ve got a lot of vintage stuff in here. I like the retro look.”
The girls just smiled and offered him a chair. The girls sat nearby and chattered, almost as if he wasn’t there. His eyes became heavy. The warmth of the house and the rhythmic cadence of the girls’ voices lulled him into a trance. Before long he was asleep in the chair.
The first thing he noticed when he woke was the cold. The once brightly lit house was now dark and chilly. The soft whispers of conversation had been replaced by the harsh clattering of shutters being shaken by a steady wind outside.
“Hello! Girls! Where are you?”
He glanced at his watch and flinched when he saw how late it was.
“Good grief, I have to go”
Assuming the girls must have gone to bed, he let himself out of the house and got into his car. As he drove away, in the moonlight he could make out two distinct female shapes standing in the windows of the house.
“That was weird,” he said to himself.
He had traveled almost 40 miles west when he saw the lights of a gas station. In need of something to drink, he pulled off into the parking lot and went inside. The only other people in the store were an older woman behind the counter and a gaunt man sitting on a stool visiting with her. He grabbed a soda and made his way to the register.
“Where you headed young fella,” the woman asked.
“Home to Raton,” Jason replied, “Thanksgiving Break.”
“Oh, how nice. You know, we don’t see too many people out this way anymore,” the woman flashed a friendly smile as she handed him his change.
“Say, what’s the story with those two girls in the old house back down the road a ways? It seems kind of an odd place for two young girls to be all by themselves.”
The old man looked up from his coffee and shot a glance at the woman behind the counter.
“Would you be talking about a farmhouse about 40 miles east, off to the side of the road?” The old man asked slowly.
“Yeah, that’s it”
The old woman came around the counter and gently touched Jason’s arm.
“Son, no one has lived in that house for over 70 years”
“But, I was just there. There were two girls, twin sisters.”
The old man shot a sideways glance at Jason, “that’s the old Hawkins place. Back in ‘33 during a bad dust storm the Hawkins’ girls got lost comin’ home from school. Ol’ Bob Hawkins searched for ‘em, but never could find ‘em.”
“Poor things. Drove their parents to an early grave it did,” the old woman shook her head.
Jason felt goosebumps rise on his neck as he left the store and glancing east he thought he could make out a glow in the distance.