I had taken road trips often as a child. My dad had some sort of fantasy relating to seeing the wild America he had dreamed about as a kid. We’re not from America, you see. We're originally from England, and my dad used to watch those old movies about great road trips, like National Lampoon and that one movie where John Travolta plays an angel.
When we moved here, we would venture out, every spring break, every winter break, every summer. We would drive for hours to see things like the "Biggest Ball of Twine in the World" or those dry, arid Badlands that were only a few days away. My childhood was filled with images of empty roads and endless fields, with some grazing cows every few miles. It was a boring childhood. I’m sure anyone who has road tripped before would agree. I spent the time by reading books and counting the billboards advertising for various roadside attractions. My mum and my sisters eventually pestered him into taking us on proper vacations, like visiting England or going to Florida or New York.
The road trips stopped around middle school and my dad abandoned his "American Dream." I didn’t leave my state for several years afterwards, getting a chance to focus on more local places for fun during vacations. My friends who traveled around began to share the same grievances I had as a child and I offered my sympathies. One of my friends told me this rather funny story where he had driven twenty miles, all hyped up for his trip before getting car sick and having to drive back home. I told my dad about this and he said I got carsick often when we did the trips. Now, this was kind of strange because I never once remember being sick when we traveled. I asked my dad to explain. He said that when I was around 8 or 9, I started getting violently sick on vacations. At first he thought it was because of the food we usually ate - road food was shitty. He never considered the idea of carsick because we traveled to often for something like that to happen.
Then he mentioned what I did when I was sick. He said I saw a man.
My dad said that when I was sick, he sat me by the window so I could vomit outside if I couldn't hold it in long enough to pull over. When I sat there, I kept saying there was a man outside following the car as we drove and that he was scaring me. Apparently, my mum would look out and say that nobody saw anything, as the road was empty and the fields or forests we passed were clear as well. At this point, my mum chimed in and said I started crying once because no one believed me. My entire family was sick of me getting ill, as well as insisting seeing this man, so we stopped doing car trips all together.
Naturally, I was curious as to what frightened me as a little kid. Having no memory of this, I began searching through my mind for any recollection of a strange man, but nothing came to mind. I’ve always been interested in weird or unexplained things (huge creepypasta lover!), but this attempt at remembering left me feeling... uneasy, I guess. I mean, I don’t get scared easily, but I was... I don’t know. I had a strange feeling about it. I left it alone after needlessly questioning my family, who had no answers.
I’m going into college now and I have to drive all my stuff to my new dorm down south. Driving to Florida was going to take a couple of days, so I had my friend Micha come with me to keep me company and switch off driving with me so that we didn’t need to stop or rent hotels. Micha is a really down to earth girl and didn’t share my fascination with the unknown. But, she got scared easily so it was more fun on my part to tell stories about ghostly hitchhikers and backseat serial killers while we drove.
I packed all my bedroom things into a rent truck and started my drive early morning on a Tuesday, expecting to reach somewhere around St. Louis by midnight or earlier. Micha and I drove onwards for hours, trading stories, advice, and constant “Oh my god, high school is over, what are we gonna do with our lives?” moaning. I’ll skip everything about our journey towards St. Louis, as most of it isn’t really understandable out of context.
We had driven past a place called Decantur in Illinois, off the main road, at around nine that evening and we switched places. Our truck had a sort of back seat that we designated as the bed, so I prepared to take a nap. Micha started listening to an audiobook on the radio via her phone cable; and as I hunkered down, I gazed through tired eyes out the window from my half slouch.
It was then that I saw two, tiny lights. Two, glowing, pale white lights gleamed from the darkness outside of the car. From the black of the outside, I wondered in my fatigued state of what it could be. At first, I thought something inside the car was reflecting off the window, maybe my phone or some shiny buttons from the dashboard, I didn’t really know. But these lights moved around in a pair. The car wasn’t bouncing around, so it couldn’t have been something within the car. I sat up and drew closer to the window and peered out, my curiosity overcoming my tiredness.
As I stared out, I found myself staring at the road rushing by us, with thick forests on the side of the road in the almost imperceptible darkness. My eyes adjusted, despite the light within our car from the dashboard and I saw what I cannot explain to this very day.
The two lights, tiny pinpricks in the night, were attached to a hairless, wrinkled head. They were eyes, eyes that shone like the tapetum in animals. The head was a part of long, lean, naked body that spanned around the length of a horse, eerily thin and pale. Muscular legs raced along the side of the road and its arms were bent at painful angles to match its speed. It had long, clawed hands that were barely visible in the slight light from our truck’s beam. It ran beside us, like some sort of wild animal chasing its prey. The naked, awful thing pursued alongside us, leaping over speed signs and along the fences of private properties. It kept pace with us, never faltering and always staring at me with those terrifying, piercing, glowing eyes.
My mind lapsed and my ability to decipher what this was escaped me. I instinctively pulled back from the window and cowered on the opposite side. I don’t know if you’ve had that feeling of pure confusion and fear, but oh my god, it...it is awful.
Micha at this point had glanced back at me and asked me what was wrong. My eyes were still glued to the window, to those lights, those eyes. I tried to speak, but my mouth wouldn’t open, no words could come to mind. She asked me again and slowed the truck down, her more-rational-than-mine mind thinking maybe we need to stop. But once I felt the steady speed of the car drop, I broke from this strange, nightmarish grip of fear. I screamed at Micha to fucking drive, to not stop, to go as fast as the truck could go. She was confused and a rapid-fire influx of questions came.
“Fucking drive! Just fucking GO!” was the only jumble of words my mouth could produce. Micha, now beginning to look terrified, complied. That thing, that frightening, naked, godless thing never stopped. It ran beside us, a few feet away from my window. I stared into it face, wanting nothing more than for it to go away. It soulless eyes glared at me, and as my eyes adjusted even more to the blackness of the night, I began to see its entire face come forth. A gaping, hungry mouth-- so human, yet not at all normal-- bleeding blackness, teeth like a wild dog’s. No tongue flapped in it mouth, just a cavernous empty dark. It's skin was stretched over protruding bone and was pale, bloodless and scarred. It had stumped, ragged flesh around its supposed ear, like it had been chewed on-- torn out. This thing was also nose-less: an unbroken expanse of skin where it should have been. It wasn’t human, yet it looked so similar and real and terrifying and I just wanted it to go away.
I felt wetness on my skin and touched my face. I had been crying... crying and not remembering any of it. I glanced to Micha and saw her wide-eyed face, fiercely driving down to road. In broken sobs, I described the grotesque lumpy pile of flesh as it gazed at us, though I don’t think I made much sense in retrospect. I don’t think she believed me, but the way I was acting must have struck her in some way.
I stared back out and that thing was still beside us, still chasing, still fucking staring at me with those glowing eyes. I felt sick and nauseous, and my body was shaking, my skin cold and clammy. Something inside me snapped and I slammed on the window, crying out. I screamed at it, begging it to stop, to stop following us, to leave us alone, to leave me alone. Overwhelmed, I pleaded Micha to drive faster. She was frightened out of her mind, spewing questions and demanding I answered them. The world began to tilt sideways and spin. I felt off center and gripped the seat to steady myself. It was a blur, those eyes, Micha’s questions, the constant, steady stream of words from the audio-book that played over the car speaker. That thing never faltered, always following, always fucking following us. My hands to my face, trying feebly to block out what I saw.
- The eyes, my sobs, my hand weakly pounding on the window.
- My mother comforting me.
- Micha's almost hysterical questions, the blare of the sound, the car on the road.
- There’s nothing out there sweetie.
- Those eyes. Those disgusting, gut-wrenching, mind torturing, burning, soulless eyes.
- Mum there is! I see him! He’s following us! MUM! PLEASE!
- Those eyes.
I remember daylight. Micha’s hand on my face. The faint roar of speeding cars on some nearby highway.
Her gentle questions rose me from the feverish, uncomfortable unconsciousness. We were outside a hotel - we had agreed previously never to stop at motels if we were going to stop. Too many stories had come from them.
Lying in the back of the truck, I sat up and asked, my voice raspy, "What happened?''
She said I passed out as we approached the main highway again. She said I had been a shrieking, shriveling mess, screeching about some thing chasing us. She even said I had been sick all over the floor of the backseat, her face recoiling slightly as she glanced on the floor beside me.
We stayed at the hotel for a bit, having arrived early in the morning, and agreed to travel by day only on major highways. I sketched for her what I saw, and with shaking hands described it. She claimed she never saw it head on, focusing on the road instead. I don’t know, even now, if she thinks I was telling the truth or if she thought I was having some sort of breakdown, but she comforted me all the same. For the rest of our trip, I barely spoke, those eerie eyes filling my thoughts, and at night, filling my dreams. We stayed at hotels at night, but neither of us slept well. Well, I didn’t. I would sit and stare, ramrod straight, at the curtains, too afraid to look out, too afraid to look away.
To this very day, I don’t venture out at night. To this day, I never road trip. I always take public transport, despite my mum’s disdain, despite the dangers of getting mugged. Humans don’t scare me anymore. Nothing can scare me the way that thing did. Micha tried to drive back but I insisted she take a plane and even paid for it myself. She was the only one who had been with me then and the thought of... it getting her was enough to make me fork over the money needed. I never told my parents or my sisters. I tried to go back to normal life, but it’s still hard. I live with roommates, but they avoid me because I sometimes breakdown in that gripping fear all over again. My walls are plastered with images of the figure, that thing. It never leaves my mind, not even in the brightest, sunniest day.
I’ve been getting better, though, if I’m gonna end this account on a lighter note. Last night, my roommates took me out and I had a genuinely fun time, dancing and drinking away what would have been a nervous night.
But there is a nagging fear. As an adult, I know now why I was so afraid, why I have nightmares of those road-tripping days. I’m sure as a kid you did the same thing that I did then. When looking out the car window, you imagined some sort of thing running beside your car, hopping along fences and telephone poles. I’m sure you saw something tame like a cat or dog or a horse or something running along. I’ve had friends who imagined skateboarders do the same thing. But I very much doubt you saw what I saw. Sometimes, traveling at night, the idea that something was running alongside you was darker. This thing needed to see as it ran. This thing needed to look at you as you slept in the backseat. This thing needed what I see every night, in every dream, along every road, in every single corner.
Glowing, white eyes.