You Can’t Keep Up
Alabama ghost story about a mysterious young girl who takes a newcomer on a dangerous hike. Written by Bill Darby
He had seen her twice before she called out to him. He walked up to her porch and took a seat by this lively country lass.
“What’s your name?” she asked as he stretched out his legs.
“Frank, Frank Gorin. I moved here just a few weeks ago.”
“I’m Carol Haislip. I seen you a walking down through the road there.”
Frank almost laughed at her slurred words and grammar. She was charming to look at… to be with. He took her to be in her twenties; but she didn’t seem to be very mature. Oddly, he liked that about her.
“I need to take walks,” he said. “It helps me get the layout of the town. I moved from a bigger city. Had to change jobs, ways, a life.”
He was beginning to like this town. His new job was tolerable. The slower pace was getting hold. Somewhere in the distance he heard some kids playing – a sound that he had almost forgotten. He wondered if this Alabama town was typical of other southern communites.
“You like walkin’?”
“Sure. There’s not much else to do here.”
“You like runnin’?” he eyes brightened as she sat up a bit.
“Pretty much,” he said almost laughing again. “I was on the track team in high school. Boy, that seems like such a long time ago.”
“I love to run,” she said sitting back. “I run most every day. I was always the fastest one in my school. I bet you couldn’t keep up with me.”
Again, he was almost startled. She sounded like an eight year old.
“Oh, I imagine I could,” he argued nudging her slightly.
“I’ll take you around the block, right now.”
“Here? Wouldn’t we look kind of silly?”
She giggled. “Folks around here just expect to see me runnin’. It won’t matter a bit. They know me.
“Maybe some other time,” he said.
He felt her relax next to him. He felt strange; but he was enjoying this. The dusk had begun to creep in; and there was a slight August wind whispering through the street.
“There’s this lake, Peterson’s lake that’s a beautiful place. We could go there,” she said softly.
“That sounds fine,” he agreed. “What do you say, you show me the lake this weekend.”
“OK,” she said.
So he had a date. When he knocked on her door that fine Saturday morning, she appeared in a long skirt, obviously worn a long time. It was sad how these people lived, he thought. But, also, there was an alluring charm about it as well. He drove her to a beautiful lake beside several green hills.
After they ate, they were sitting in the shade of a big oak. The talk was scattered and unimportant. This was a new experience for him.
“Hey,” she said suddenly, “Why don’t we race?”
“We just ate,” he protested.
“So,” She stood up, looking around like an excited school girl. “I race ya to that tree over there.”
He laughed, starting to get up. “What is it about you and racing?”
She was off. He took off after her; but to his amazement, was unable to gain on her. Her legs ran with precision as she flung the long dress wildly. He turned on the speed, determined to catch her; but he gave out. A stab of pain in his side reminded him that he hadn’t run for a long time. She stopped and looked back.
“What’s the matter?” she called out.
“Give me a second,” he said bending forward.
She strode back up to him with a smirk on her face. “I got you on that one.”
“It’s been a long time,” he heaved. “Longer than I thought.”
“Oh, that’s OK,” she said. “Let’s go for a walk. There’s some really neat trails up on those hills.”
He straightened up. Those hills looked tall; and he wasn’t in a hurry to climb them. Still, he couldn’t let her show him up so. Without a word, she took his hand, and off they went at a lively pace.
They arrived at a small stream that fed into the lake. They stepped across, seeing a winding trail that led upwards into green thicket. She started up with agile steps. He followed more cautiously.
“You must come out . . here a lot,” he said.
“All the time,” she said. “I like it here.”
The climbing became more difficult; and again, he found himself being outpaced by this sturdy country girl. “Try to keep up,” she said.
A few minutes later, he was alone on the trail, his progress reduced to to a slow plodding. She was nowhere in sight. He looked upward trying to see.
“Come on,” she called out some distance away. He continued on; but his side was hurting him again. After a few more minutes, he had reached the hilltop. He struggled over to a fallen log and sat down, getting back his breath.
“What’s the matter?” came a voice beside him. She was there. He jumped over to the right.
“I didn’t see you,” he heaved. “Where did you come from?”
“Right here. Come on, there’s a neat little cave down at the bottom of this hill.”
“Can’t we rest a minute. That climb almost killed me.”
“Ohhh, ” she mocked. She sat down. “What’s wrong old man. You can’t keep up with me.”
“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “like I said, ‘s been a long time. . ”
He was cut off in mid sentence. He saw something. Slowly he got up and walked over to a large maple. The rounded object looked, at a glance, so much like . . He moved it with his foot. It was an old yellowed skull – a human skull.
“Look at this,” he almost said to himself. Carol came up beside him.
“Carol. Somebody died up here.”
“These hills are haunted with ’em,” she said with her eyes sparkling. “At night you can hear them whispering and crying to each other. Awful sound.”
A chill went down his spine. “But, we need to report this,” he said looking for something to say.
“You can tell old Rodgers about it,” she said. “He couldn’t even climb these hills if he had to.”
“Well, I’ll look him up and let him know about it. This was probably a missing person or something. I wonder how he could have died.”
“He couldn’t keep up,” she said perkily.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Come on,” she said tugging at his arm. He followed her. She was headed down the hill – in the other direction.
“Oh, not that way,” he said. She was running ahead. “Wait.”
He regretted this date. He had gotten a lot more than he had bargained for. He went down a slope which suddenly turned steep. The trail was hard to see. He was holding limbs and small trees to keep his balance. He swore, falling a few times.
After several more minutes of this, he found himself at another stream bigger than the one before. He would have to wade through it to get to the other side. But there was no sign of a trail now.
“I see you,” came a distant voice.
He looked for her without success. Noticing the sun, he saw it lowering through the western trees. How could that be? How long had he been here with this wild lass?
“Carol,” he called out.
Groaning, he stepped through the water and began to climb the hill. This one was not as steep; but he was fatigued, and every step hurt. He didn’t want to think about the trip back. He would take a few steps, then rest against a tree. He temples were throbbing.
At last, he reached the top. He was in a canopy of green, sweat pouring off of him. He heard some footsteps beside him and looked.
“Don’t tell me you’re sittin’ again,” she said.
“Carol. It’s getting late. We’ve got a few miles of hills to cover before we get back to the lake.”
“All right,” she conceded. “But I can get back there in no time at all.”
“Yes,” he agreed, but I can’t.
“Old man,” she muttered.
His humor had quite disappeared. He only wanted to get back home and take a cool shower. He stood, because his left leg was getting cramped. That is when he saw the rib cage.
Walking over to it, he knelt down. It had to be human. And here was an arm bone, and some other smaller pieces.
“Holy cow! Here’s where somebody else died. What is this place? Do people just come up here and drop dead?”
“Listen,” she giggled. “They’ll start telling you secrets if you listen real close.”
Something was working in his mind – something really dark and sinister. There was some very uncomfortable questions forming. He had heard really strange tales about lynchings and murders in the country. But all of that was over now, right? That sort of thing did not happen any more.
“We’d better go,” he said.
“OK lazy bones, I’m off.”
“No ! Carol, wait.”
But she had run down the hill. Incredibly she wove through the trees without so much as a bump. He took off as well, making about fifty feet before he fell. His side was killing him now. He could not run.
It seemed that dusk was coming. He knew the way back, he thought. Sure. Down this hill to the stream. And wouldn’t the stream lead right to the lake? But he couldn’t leave her on the hill. He had to find her again. In time, he made it to the stream. He looked around.
“Up here slow bones,” he heard her say from above. Another hill.
He climbed. He rested. The sun was now low and red, peeking at him through the forest tangle. His side hurt. His legs were numb. Years of neglect were showing. But finally, he had topped the first hill. It would have been beautiful to view if he wasn’t in such pain. Again, she was beside him as if she had appeared.
“Come on,” she said.
“I can’t. In a minute. Carol, I found another body on that other hill. We’re going to have to report this. People don’t just come up here to die. Something’s wrong here.”
“You couldn’t keep up with me,” she said slightly pouting.
“All right!” he shot back. “I couldn’t keep up with you. What is the big thing about keeping up?!!”
“Nobody can,” she said. “You’re just like all the rest.”
He tried to stand back up; but he collapsed again. “What do you mean ‘all the rest ‘ What are you talking about?”
“I’m going,” she said disappointedly.
“Wait,” he moaned with closed eyes. “I don’t know the way back. There’s . . . there’s no trail. Just give me a minute. Ohh.”
But she disappeared down the hill, out of sight, still gaily bouncing. She paused a moment to look back at him. He saw a look of teasing glee in her eyes as she turned away to resume her escape. Again he tried to rise; but he could not. His legs seemed to be paralyzed.
He was alone. The sun was setting. He was terribly thirsty; and he knew, somehow, that he would be spending the night there. And slowly, his mind echoed her last words to him – ‘You’re just like all the rest’. Slowly, painfully, he now realized just what she meant.
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36 Responses to “You Can’t Keep Up”
So does that mean she runs people up those hills until they drop dead? I wasnt sure what happened, it ended a bit vague.
Great story! I loved it. It was told with flair and style and just the right bit of mystery.
This story makes no sense at all! Who was this mysterious girl, and did the guy just lay there and die? What was the outcome of the ending? In other words —> “What happened” ….???
i think she died on the hill and bring guys up to the hill to join her and make it so they can;t move out of pain
for the most part she killed them
i liked it.. sneaky little girl!!!
so did she mean as in all the rest as like she made them run till they couldent run enymore thats why all the bodies were there
evil little girl
eerie! i loved it!
maybe she did die on the hill and was lonley and wanted some one to play with her so she get them on the hill to die so she could have a play mate
That’s why it’s a great story – it leaves you wondering….
Lucas A Turney:
A good story and nicely paced but poorly written to say the very least. I’m not trying to be the hard-ass psuedo-editor but the prose and punctuation is awful. The story though, as I said, is a good one and deserved more time and attention from its author.
She was raped and killed there. Any man whomsoever goes there a again will enjoy some of the pain and terror.
Good story, I only wish for a little more. Would like to know more about the girl.
I thought the story was interesting, and with a little work, could easily be an episode on a “Twilight Zone” type show. Not bad. 🙂
Mrs. Turner's Class:
You need to tell more about the girl. We don’t know enough about the ending. Not very scary.
CiCi and Lei-Lei:
Wooow this story was waaay too long and not very good. I (sniffle) don’t even, don’t even BELIEVE in good ghost stories anymore!!!! man…
A good story but very very slow and long. I think it needs to get to the point a little bit more but overall it was a pretty good story. I like the ending!
it was a good story but if you ask me. Well the girl did not die but she challenged this man to a race and when they got up to all those hills, he was plain tired. but im guessin that before he had came to the town. The girl challenged all those other guys to race her but they were too slow and they died while racing her. Then when the man came into town, they were friendly then came out to be friends then it just plain turns out to be murder for the man cause he got too tired ,henceforth that just makes the title,You Can’t Keep Up, with the addition to it being a great story but not that scary. But the great thing is, is that if we didn’t have great authors like these then what will we do without them?
Great story. Punctuation critics should learn how to punctuate and use correct gramar before critisizing. For others who want to know more….it’s a MYSTERY!!!! We old folks know, that means – you figure it out for yourself!
Great story. The playful, child-like element in her personality was a wonderful balance against the sinister truth. The pictures are beautiful. Where is this place?
Around Union County, GA near Blairsville.
She may not be a person at all, but a type of spirit. Not all paranormal phenomenon deal with ghosts; there are other denizens in the spirit world as well.
This tale reminds me of a Greek myth of a maiden who didn’t want to marry just anyone, Alanta. From the sounds of the story, Alanta was a follower of Artemis, Goddess of the Moon the virgin huntress.
I thought the story was interesting, and with a little work, could easily be an episode on a “Twilight Zone” type show. Not bad. 🙂
Wonderful story! Please keep writing!
I loved this story. I really wanted to know more and have more to read!
I thought it was intresting about some girle comes out of no where and desides to walk to the forst and hills but i think it more work to don”t know what happen at the end but again may be its a mistery type of storey
I loved the story!!! Had all the anticipation I expected. Would love to see more from this Writer!!Where can I find more of his stories?? Looking forward to knowing more about the author and where he gets his Inspiration. Sincerely, Michele Carmack.
Maranda de Santos:
Absolutely loved it. The girl is perhaps a little cold hearted, to say the least.
It’s a really good story, but i think they should say a little more about that girl…
I love this story!
just wanted to say i dont really like this story kinda long dosent get to the point and not scary at all! please make more scary stories!
I'll rate you xoxo:
I wished the author decribed Carol a bit more! I wanted to know why she did this to the men she meets, why did she have a thirst for murder? Maybe a bit of backgroud information about her past with men would have fitted in somewhere in the story. I liked the steadiness and pace of the story though, and some of the imagery techniques used.
I liked Frank you could feel much compassion for him and a feeling of ‘why why him?’ he was a likable character and was only ever nice to Carol which is why I would punch her in the face if I ever saw her or could catch her! Carol is mysterious, wonderous, deranged and evil. I never guessed at the start she would be so… malicious!
Prose and Punctuation: 5
Pretty average use of punctuation and words used. Could have been a bit more thought-out and revised.
It kind me left me hanging, or though I found the last paragraph to be poetic and gentle. I would of liked it better if it was just a little bit more scarier and maybe involving the bones of the victims coming to claim Frank or something like that!
Loved the photos gave the story another element and an idea of where it is ‘shot’. Beautiful photos!
this story is so allsome and so good i hope you make another book like this
Just a thought… Maybe the girl is not evil or bad just really childlike and innocent. The story says at the beginging the girl was childish like an 8 year old so perhaps she just likes racing and convinces people to go up in to the woods to race her.
People don’t tend to die of exhaustion from one day running, so what is killing them? probably not the girl…she ran off at the end. Yes she must be aware that it ends up getting them killed but in her innocence doesn’t see that as wrong?
This way the story would have a great moral as well, Something about never letting innocence lead you astray.
one of the greatest stories ever,love it
I’m guessing that the girl was some type of supernatural being and in her twisted little mind thought that if the men she brought up there could beat her they would be worthy of her. This must have been going on for a while because the guy kept dropping hints about how outdated all her clothes were.
Also a shout out to all the people who say it wasn’t a scary story: imagine yourself in the main character’s place.:D
Hey, loved the story. I would like to talk to you about adapting this story for a local tv show I do called Tales of the Strange. contact me through my website. My show airs in Troy, Ohio on Halloween each year, so time is of a factor. Keep writing!