The sky was drowning the Oregon Coast during the summer in 1932, that Monday–August 4th–had brought two unexpected inches and it looked as if they were going to get at least that many more before nightfall. Harvey glanced up at the dark and angry storm-clouds overhead, his dirty rain-streaked face bore an unfortunately stern look. Harvey paired up with Jack, both men were large and burly and their capabilities with the equipment had never failed them before. They had a few special jobs to take care of in Section 8 and one of them to take down a particularly massive pine. Their hands were both slick with sweat, rain, and grease; halfway through the trunk, their saw bucked suddenly as it hit a knot. Harvey’s glove slid clean off as he scrambled to control the blade at which point he lost his footing. The saw raked him hard against his left cheek and then his torso–then–everything went black.
His eyes were coated thickly with dried blood as he made an attempt to open them, he barely registered the paramedics looking down at him as they bounced along the wet roads of the old coastal highway. Half-way to blacking out again, Harvey heard a loud thud, then darkness overtook them all as the ambulance was swept off the highway in a mudslide. The rescue crews came around the next day when they could finally reach those who had not made it back the night before–they uncovered the lifeless bodies of the driver and paramedics, but Harvey’s body was never recovered. In an official capacity he was reported as a missing person, but presumed dead from all of the injuries he had sustained.
It wasn’t the best night to be on an unfamiliar highway, the patches of fog which only seemed to break for torrential downpour. The onslaught of rain smacked heavily against the windshield suddenly which disturbed Lee out of her uneasy sleep. Her eyes were wide and dark as she searched the gloomy scenery from the passenger seat as if to figure out where they were.
“Hey, you okay?” Mason, Lee’s boyfriend, gave her a sideways glance and a playful jostle to her knee.
“Huh? Oh,” she blinked and swallowed as if that would help clear the fog in her mind. “Yeah, just got a bit startled is all,” the rain was drowning out the sound of the weather forecast and it proved impossible to hear over the extra static on the radio. All she could see out of her water-streaked window were the outlines of trees made possible by the dingy high beams of their old shaky single-cab. “Where are we anyway?”
“Well I think we’ll be coming up on highway 26 in a little while, so according to GPS we’re just outside of Cannon Beach?” Mason didn’t sound sure, but with a quick look at the phone on his dashboard showed him that he was way off course. “Wait… that’s not right. Let me just pull off the highway real quick…”
Mason saw a side road that led off the narrow highway and realized too late that it wasn’t well maintained as the truck listed hard to the side into a pothole. The two of them heard a loud pop just as they went careening towards the trees. He stomped so hard on the brakes he was surprised he didn’t break the pedal—but it only took the couple a moment to realize how close they had just come to serious injury. The two looked at each other breathlessly before they both burst into that uncontrollable and slightly inappropriate happy-to-be-alive laughter. Lee hung her head in her hands and her laughter turned into a groan.
“Of course, this is what happens on our first road trip together,” she pulled out her phone to call roadside assistance and Mason grabbed a flashlight then hopped out of the driver’s seat to check how much damage there was. From Lee’s perspective, it looked as if Mason was just shaking his head in disbelief, while the rain soaked him down to the bone.
“Did they say how long it would be for a tow?” Her waterlogged beau climbed back into the cab after a while, clicked the flashlight off and sighed.
“Well, there’s a problem, since we don’t know what road we’re on, all I could tell them is that we were on our way into Cannon Beach when our GPS started acting up and we pulled off—I’m not sure how much they heard, I had to repeat the policy number four or five times because the reception here is terrible. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to find us for a while,”
Mason cursed under his breath, “did you bring the blankets up here at the last rest stop we made?” Lee nodded and pulled her part of the seat forward to pull them out of where they had been stashed. Mason was already shaking from the chill that ran through his body as he pulled off his wet shirt and pants in an attempt to dry off with one of the blankets.
“I don’t like it here Mason,” Lee’s voice trembled a bit, her knuckles whitened from the vice-like grip she had on the second blanket. “It feels like we’re being watched.”
“Baby, we’ll be alright, we’re right outside of a town, if it weren’t raining we could probably walk—”
“—I am NOT walking anywhere! That’s the kind of thing that gets you killed in horror movies,” she huffed and Mason reached over to push her thick dark hair out of her eyes, an unyielding expression had overcome her.
“Come here, you whiner,” Mason smiled and pulled her over to him, “we’ll be alright, we’re not walking anywhere. We’ll have to stay here until morning though if the tow truck isn’t able to find us.” Lee’s lips returned to their pout and she leaned into him, “In fact, I think this is pretty great—it almost feels like we’re going parking,” Mason laughed, a devilish grin spread wide across his face and he snuck a kiss from her.
“You’re terrible,” she teased between his kisses before they finally lost all words and the sensual, playful kisses turned into clumsy, feverish fumbles—reminiscent of their teenage years. Lee pulled the second blanket around them as the windows began to fog up; the rush from their accident and subsequent stranding had turned into an insatiable lust for one another. Mason had Lee’s shirt halfway unbuttoned when they both felt it—the whole bed of the truck leaned heavily to one side and then bounced back.
“What the—” they both sat up to look out into the bed of the truck, “can’t see anything,” Lee used her sleeve to wipe the foggy window clean and immediately screamed in terror. There were red luminescent eyes looking back at her through the window, through a strange mask—no, not a mask, they were bandages. Mason fumbled with the flashlight to see what she had seen, but by the time he shone the flashlight through the back window there wasn’t anything to see. Whatever it was, Lee was inconsolable and babbling about red eyes.
“Lee!” He shook her, “LEE! Listen to me! What did you see?”
“Mummy,” she squeaked out between sobs, “red eyes,” it was like her throat closed after that and she couldn’t find words to explain—the truck shifted again, the front end of the car sunk slowly down and they could hear the metal bending under something heavy. Mason tried to shine the light through the windshield, but the heat inside of the cab made the windows impossibly opaque. He had never had a reason to not believe what Lee said, but he didn’t know how to process her claims. Before he could even reach up to the windshield to wipe it off, someone—or something—began pounding on the windshield and roof of the truck.
“We’ll be okay,” his voice was soft, “we’ll be okay,” his voice got lower, “we’ll be okay.” Mason began to choke as a stomach-turning stench wafted in through the vents—it was the unmistakable smell of rotting flesh—the pounding continued for a few minutes and Mason held Lee protectively, she whimpered and ducked her head into his arms. It sounded like whatever was banging on the truck had moved back to the bed and Lee jumped at the sound of when it began beating the glass of the back window. Then it all stopped, but Lee couldn’t bring herself to look up.
The glass behind Mason’s head shattered as a bloodied and bandaged hand smashed through and grabbed him by the hair. Screams erupted from both of them and Mason attempted to beat away the bandaged arm with the flashlight he still had in his hand. Lee scrambled backward; blood-curdling screams propelled her through the door after she fumbled for the handle. Her body fell like a ragdoll out of the cab of the truck and she landed hard on the muddy ground. Frantically she grasped for footing in the slick and unforgiving earth below her, she caught a brief glimpse of the broken silhouette of the thing as it pulled her boyfriend out of the broken back window. It was strangling him; she could see him gasping for air through his broken cries for help.
Mason’s body went limp and Lee couldn’t find her voice to scream anymore, but she had wasted her opportunity to get away, frozen in place as she watched her boyfriend die before her eyes. Disbelief left her body as adrenaline pumped deafeningly through her and she scrambled back toward the highway at a sprint. Lee thought she saw lights coming through the fog, but a filthy bloodstained hand covered her mouth and yanked her backward.
It was nearly daylight when Larry pulled slowly on to Bandage Man road—he’d been searching for these tourists all night after his company received a call for a tow, but he’d been told it was garbled and all they knew is that they had been on their way into town.
“That damn pothole, I told ‘em it’d cause a problem sooner or later,” he moaned to himself as he navigated around the lake that had formed within it overnight. Once he caught sight of the truck he frowned, the passenger-side door was wide open—that was strange—and one of the back windowpanes looked as if it had been busted out. Larry stepped out of his rig and hollered, “Hello?” No response. He noticed as he walked up to the driver’s side of the truck that there was blood on the freshly broken back window, along with a lingering odor he couldn’t quite place. When he finally saw that there was no one in the truck, his heart began to race wildly—he knew as soon as he saw that ripped and bloodied bandage on the seat what had actually happened here, nearly a hundred years after Harvey, the Bandage Man, had met his brutal end.
Bandage Man of Cannon Beach, Oregon
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Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.