The billboard says whatever you need it to, there on the side of the road.
Some people driving by are leg-crossingly desperate for a potty break, and thank their lucky stars when it displays “Next Rest Stop – 2 Miles”. Some people are nodding off at the wheel, and with the assistance of their guardian angel—who keeps the driver’s eyelids open—the billboard gets them to the next motel.
Sometimes the billboard is less benevolent, however, and sends messages that might not be wanted, but are seriously needed. Like an easy number for finding a therapist, or singing lessons for those who aren’t short on enthusiasm, but maybe on finesse. If the billboard can’t tell what the passerby wants or needs, it just shows the latest deal on doughnuts, because. . .well, doughnuts.
Occasionally the billboard remembers someone particularly nasty who comes into town, someone who is only and ever bad news, and the billboard wants to protect the inhabitants. So it displays a message about a raccoon invasion, or a badger war, and that usually does the trick to keep that person going on their dastardly way.
Once someone came back to the town who the goddess Hekate didn’t want to ever return. And, well, the billboard wasn’t quite sure what to do, so it just put up Hekate’s exact words. It seemed to work.
The driver—an especially horrible excuse for a human being—swerved and fish-tailed across both lanes, nearly colliding with one of Hekate’s favorite ash trees. They righted the car and carried on, too shocked to fully comprehend what had just happened.
For Hekate can me merciful, sometimes.
She may be goddess of the night, witchcraft, magic, and ghosts, oh and necromancy, but that doesn’t mean she can’t also be kind. She certainly always keeps in her mind the billboard outside that small town, just before one of her favorite crossroads.
It’s one of those perfect happenstances where balance is found between Nature and Man. The roads intersect at exact right angles, the crumbling asphalt giving way to scrubby grass, and then old-growth forest of oak and ash. Their leaves go russet brown and yellow in the fall, casting golden light on any who linger at the liminal space.
Not that many do. It’s not common to see pedestrians in such a rural area, so only the rumble of cars going past punctures the wooded silence. (Two boys from Kansas did rumble through here once, and stopped to perform a ritual at the center of the crossroads, but they didn’t quite have the favored ingredients.)
There are other such places in the so-called New World, scattered amongst the once endless forests, dripping with legend and folklore. Places where the veil feels thin year-round, but never more so than in the mist-shrouded autumn.
So if you find yourself winding down crooked country lanes, or wondering at an especially pertinent advertisement that seems to speak to you, that resonates deep in your bones, where magic might be laying dormant—think of Hekate and her billboard.
It will show you the way.
And if not, well, you might get a good deal on doughnuts.