Normally, I don’t pick up hitchhikers. By rule I don’t think it’s worth worth the risk when, if someone truly needs a ride, they can call an Uber or Lyft and be off in ten minutes. However, while on a quick snack run last month, I made the mistake of breaking my rule when I approached a young woman who was walking alone in the pouring rain.
At first, I fully intended to drive by as I would’ve with any other person. She must’ve noticed me driving up because right as I came up on her, she spun around, nearly jumped in front of my car, and frantically waved her arms for me to stop. As I screeched to a halt, she ran up to my driver’s side window and started on a tangent about how her phone died and how she was still six away miles from home.
Her face was obstructed by a mask, oversized hat, and dark glasses, so I couldn’t glean any semblance of sincerity from her facial expressions, but I could hear the desperation in her voice. Dumb of a decision as it was, I didn’t feel right letting her walk home in the rain without a phone when she was clearly begging for help. This is on top of the fact that I didn’t exactly have anywhere else to be at 1 AM.
I opened the door, and almost as soon as she entered the car, she asked for me to “Go straight.” As I drove, I tried to make conversation with the stranger, but I never could get an actual response. The only reply I’d received was, “I’d like to go home. Please help me get home.” Eventually, I just gave up entirely.
After around ten minutes of driving straight, I asked if I was supposed to be turning anywhere but was met with silence. I turned towards the woman for a brief moment to repeat my question but instead slammed on the breaks when I laid eyes on her. All the items covering her face had been removed to reveal a completely smooth surface. The only hint at some approximation of a face was the slight rise and fall of veiny skin where her mouth would’ve been, almost as if she was imitating breathing. Instinctually, I put the car into park and moved to run out, but before I could even touch the handle, a large hand clamped around my arm and held me in place.
I was close to having a full-blown panic attack, but she raised a gnarled finger to non-existent lips and made a quiet “Shh” sound. When she spoke, her voice had taken on a much more gravelly tone, and the pressure from her vice grip forced me to take every word with the utmost respect. “You will not leave.” She stated. “You must drive. You no longer have a choice.”
When she released her grip, I didn’t say a word. I didn’t even want to comment on the apparent bruising on my arm for fear she’d do much worse if I complained. I simply exhaled, put the car into drive, and kept going.
We must’ve driven for another half hour. She’d occasionally tell me to make a turn here or there. Still, after about fifteen minutes, I knew we were headed towards the more rural parts of the county. An area where people were known to go missing.
With every glance in her direction, I could see her featureless face was trained on me. It was as if she was observing me, not entirely sure of whether or not she could trust I’d take her wherever she’d wanted to go, and as soon as that trust was broken… It would very quickly be over for me.
Eventually, she instructed me to pull up to a lone run-down house just off the highway. The windows were boarded up, and I could see piles of trash strewn about the exterior. When we stopped in front of it, she told me to get out. An unconscious shake of my head prompted her to slam her giant fist on the dashboard, cracking the plastic. Without argument, I walked out into the cold night.
She followed behind and pointed at the house. In silence, we walked into the decaying building and were immediately met with a groan. I shined my phone’s flashlight forward and saw what appeared to be a homeless man writhing around on the ground in pain. He was foaming at the mouth, and his eyes were bloodshot. I gasped and took a step back onto some glass which alerted him to our presence.
He turned to me and begged for help. He begged for me to call an ambulance or at least take a message for his kids. He began rambling about how he’d made a colossal mistake, and unfortunately he… He never got to finish what he was saying.
The woman pounced. In the blink of an eye, she was on top of him. Her hand contorted into a claw that wrapped entirely around his face. Thirteen grotesquely long fingers held his head down as he struggled against her ungodly strength. He tried to fight back, but the weak man’s struggles were met with even more force. The creature upon him was determined to lap up every last breath, and I swore I could hear a twisted chuckle as it watched him cling to life.
The screams seemed like they went on forever, but in reality, it was quick. Maybe thirty seconds had passed, and he was gone. When she retracted from the body, a quick shine of my phone’s light revealed a broken jaw, a twisted nose, and deep bruising around the neck.
The woman faced away from me, and for a moment, we both just stood there in that horrible place. I tried to find my voice. I wanted nothing more than the strength to tell her that all I wanted was to go home and pretend like that night was all a nightmare.
But I didn’t have to. Reminiscent of the way she turned to me on that dark rainy road, she spun around and revealed not just a large smile but a brand new face. One that greatly resembled that of the man she had just taken from this world.
Her parting words to me in his voice were, “Thank you very much. Never return here.” With that, she simply walked further into the decaying structure.
As soon as she was out of sight, I sprinted back to my car and sped all the way home. That night I must’ve quadruple-checked all the locks, taped the curtains down, and left a pile of makeshift weapons by my bed. Every single dream I had for the next month consisted not just of visions of her but of many more creatures like her.
And honestly, despite it all, I still never wanted to tell anyone. I want nothing less than to be another random guy throwing a story in the sea of tall tales. I knew that anyone I told this to would roll their eyes and tell me that I’m being ridiculous or that I needed to be drug tested. I’d rather just avoid the scrutiny entirely.
But just last week, a man was found dead in his home. Clearly suffocated, jaw and nose broken. No tips have lead to anything significant. The police’s only hint is a crappy video of some young man who was described as appearing “featureless” being dropped off near the home. Funnily enough, just last night, I saw a post on one of those community apps saying that someone in the area thought they saw the murdered man walking the streets. Turned out to just be a young man who looked remarkably similar to him.
After hearing that story, I think I feel a little less crazy going public with this. To the man I enabled the death of, I’m so sorry. I thought I was doing something good, and as a result, it ended in tragedy. I will never forgive myself for that. I don’t know what you were going through, but you deserved so much better. And to the world at large, if you’re ever in a situation where someone is trying to hitchhike with you, please, keep driving.
Credit : Bryan A Young
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