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I had just gotten off the plane, but it was late (like twelve at night), so my friend couldn't come pick me up. I didn't have much money, but I had just downloaded Lyft, and I had my first ride free, so I decided to go ahead and use it. My phone was dying so I put it up, and didn't even bother checking who the driver would be.
I waited until I saw an old, red van with a pink mustache drive up, and park near me. The van looked a little weird. There was dirt and some mud on the side of the van, and the mustache was kind of tilted to one side. I wondered if this was some kind of joke. I'd heard Lyft drivers could be eccentric types, so I figured this guy must've gotten off on being totally creepy.
I opened the passenger side door and motioned for him to open the back of his van so I could put my luggage up. "Oh, I g-g-got those f-for ya!" he said, stuttering enthusiastically. I tried to check my phone to make sure this was my driver, but my phone had died. He grabbed my bags and loaded them into the back, and I sat down for the long ride. My friend lived a good sixty or eighty miles away from the airport, so I knew this would take a little while. The guy got in the driver's seat and started off.
When I tell you the guy's ride was a little off, I'm not kidding. There was this really weird smell in the car, kind of like something really sweet, but it also smelled kind of musty? I don't know, it was a weird smell, and then there was this radio station he was listening to. It was playing standards from, I think, the 1930's and 1940's. Just a fuzzed out, crackling radio station full of lo-fi songs. The guy himself was hulking, massive, must've been six feet and seven inches tall, and he wore this old army jacket and some gray cargos.
He had long stringy hair on the sides, but the top of his head was kind of balding. His nails looked dirty. I could see them as he clenched the wheel tightly. Every time we'd go under a street lamp, the greasy, dirty nails shined in the orange glow. He was pretty scraggly, and I was always under the assumption that Lyft drivers were harmless, artsy, urban types. This guy didn't strike me as "artsy."
We drove for a few minutes before he took an unexpected turn onto an empty road that led into the woods. I knew this wasn't the best way to my friend's house, so it perplexed me that he took this route.
"Hey, this isn't-" I started.
"No, it's a-alright, I kn-know a better way." He said, cutting me off prematurely.
I raised an eyebrow at him, but he just looked ahead. I turned my head, and settled into my chair. It was a little weird, but he was the driver, he had to know where he was going right?
We drove down an empty stretch of road. I could see the dead trees stretching out into the night sky like a spider's legs. It was one of those nights where the moon was heavily obscured by gloomy clouds. The lane lines were old and faded, and the road itself was cracked from years of neglect. I couldn't see much beyond the headlights that illuminated the road.
He was quiet, awkwardly so. I figured I should speak to him since we were going to be traveling together for a while.
"How long you been doing this?" I said, my eyes still ahead of me.
"N-n-not long," he responded, turning to me to flash a crooked yellow smile. I smiled back uncomfortably. I didn't have much else to say, so I started to fidget with my hands.
We drove for a little while down the road, and then I noticed him taking a turn onto a dirt road. I was starting to get nervous, and a little angry.
"Hey, this isn't-" I began angrily.
"D-don't w-w-worry about it, I k-know what I'm d-d-d-doing!" he interrupted firmly.
My stomach was starting to turn. What the fuck was this guy doing? Where the fuck was he taking me? We turned off onto a stretch of bumpy dirt road.
"You l-like s-s-scary m-movies?" He said to me as we popped up and down the rutty path.
"I guess," I responded, a little uncomfortable by the weird question.
"I l-like the r-r-really v-violent ones!" he said keenly.
"Yeah," I said, my voice cracking with the slightest hint of fear, "Me too."
"You a-a-afraid of d-dying?"
I looked at him, my face now pale, my hands sweating, and my stomach curling into itself. "I don't... know... I never thought about it."
He laughed at this. He laughed and just kept looking ahead. I felt this dense mass in my throat, and swallowed tensely.
"I b-b-bet you and I w-would be g-g-good friends i-i-if we k-k-knew each other." he said again. He never once glanced over at me. He had this twisted smile on his face, and he just looked ahead at the road the whole time. "D-don't y-y-you t-think so?"
"Yeah, I bet we would," I squirmed awkwardly in my chair. "Where are we going?"
"I-it's m-m-my s-secret," he said, his face still dressed with a distorted smile.
I started to sweat. I was scared. I was genuinely terrified. I would've started yelling at him, fighting him, but something inside me said to stay calm. That or I was in such a state of disbelief, I didn't know how to react.
I heard something move violently behind me. I watched him, studied him with one eye carefully before I slowly turned my head to look into the back of the van. That's when I saw it. There was a large, stained, burlap sack sitting on the floor not far behind me. In the darkness I noticed there was a pool of some kind of black fluid underneath the sack. I watched it for a second in disbelief. This wasn't happening! Was that a body back there? Was that... blood? The bag then lurched forward rolling across the shaky floor like someone was moving inside of it, but it made this guttural growling sound when it did. I turned back toward the front of the vehicle. I was gasping for air, and then I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the driver was looking at me. He had turned his head and was smiling at me.
He then pulled out of the rough stretch of road, and I noticed we were on my friend's block. He pulled up to my friend's house, and went and fetched my bags, and handed them to me. He waved goodbye as he got back into the driver's seat, and drove off. I stood at the curb, staring at the van as it faded into the distance. I was in shock. I walked to my friend's door and he greeted me. I was pale and out of breath, so he asked me what had happened, but I wasn't quite sure what had just happened.
I went inside and sat down and told him about the ordeal. When I went and plugged in my phone, I checked my messages. I had a few missed calls from the Lyft driver I had originally scheduled, apparently he waited for me at the airport for about fifteen minutes before leaving. When I saw his picture I realized it wasn't the same man that drove me. I tried looking into the strange driver, but I couldn't find anything about him.
I had a lot of questions after that night, but one thing I knew for sure, I would never use Lyft again.