Good afternoon, welcome. Please, please, make yourself comfortable back there. What’s the destination? Alrighty, one sec. Let me just type that in here on the GPS. Oh, yeah, okay. I actually made a stop past that neighborhood just the other day. Shouldn’t be too hard to navigate to. Probably would be a little under a fifteen-minute drive. Or, well, yeah—it’ll be about fifteen minutes. Does that sound about right? Great, great, nice.
Lookin’ sharp, what brings you here dressed like that? Returning home or visiting? Coming home from a conference, gotcha, gotcha. Sounds like quite the location; was it a fun trip? Productive, at least, then? Oh well, I doubt those things usually are. Though I’ve never been to one myself, so who am I to say? Guess I haven’t shown enough upward mobility in the cab business yet to qualify for any drivers’ convention, ha! Well, regardless, welcome home.
I reckon that’d be a decently long flight, though, for just a weekend trip. And it’s a hot one today, no less. If you’re thirsty, there’s a brand-new case of bottled water on the floor, to the left of your bag. You probably saw it already. I bought that for any customers who wanted some, so please, help yourself. Oh yeah, yeah, of course; you’re welcome.
Dang it! Sorry, sorry to yell. Traffic around the airport is just always such a pain. As you know, I’m sure. Don’t worry, though; I’ll navigate us out of it in only… one… moment… See, there we go. Now we’ve got some room to move. Just sit back and relax.
But, uh, is there a family at home excited for your arrival? Oh, they don’t even know you’re coming yet, interesting. Surprise, eh? Mm. That’s always fun. So you were able to duck out before the conference ended, but what’s the occasion? Oh, birthday. Awesome. How old? Ah, okay. Yeah, nine is… nine is a great age. Well, a very happy birthday to him. That’s really nice of you to make it. Really.
Will it be a big party tonight, then—lots of folks? Just the family. Okay. And how many is that? Four? So three other people, and then you. I see. Well, if you ask me, that’s a perfect size for a family. Sounds like it’d make for a great time. Again, very cool of you. I’m sure they’ll be surprised, definitely.
Oh, no, no, the GPS is fine. We transfer ride notifications to each other sometimes. Us taxi drivers, I mean. We send pickup requests and whatnot—if we’re not taking them ourselves. It’s like a… like an interconnected platform, really useful. So, yeah, I was just sending one there. My hand? Oh yep, it’s alright. Appreciate you asking, though. Must be low on blood sugar or something. Sometimes I can get tremors if I go too long without eating. I gotta stop skipping meals, but these past couple days have just been so hectic. Maybe I’ll grab a snack after I drop you off.
Speaking of nutrition, did the—did the water help at all? You haven’t had any yet? Alright, well, when you do, I’m eager to hear what you think. Really. I usually drink straight from the tap, so I can’t say I’m that acquainted with the bottled brands. To be perfectly honest, I just grabbed the cheapest pack. But it’s actually not too bad? Excellent, glad to hear.
What’s that? What’s been busy? Oh, yes; that’s right. I did say that. Yeah, these last 48 hours have been a blur. Um, mainly just… mainly just work. I think I’m beginning to truly understand the toll this job can take. Appreciate your concern, though. I really do. Thank you.
But looks like we’re about halfway there! We’ll arrive at the final destination shortly. I’m sure they’ll be excited to see you. In the meantime, what if we stopped at the pizza place right down that ramp and grabbed a slice for the road? Kidding, kidding. Just a joke. I know you’ve got somewhere to be. But I can’t lie; I’m famished. Maybe that’s where I’ll go after dropping you off. Yup, dinner while on the clock. Oh well, nothing like pizza to relieve some stress. Curious how it’s used to celebrate both the beginning and end of something. I mean, a pizza party could imply either anticipation or relief. Isn’t that fascinating? Does it even make sense? Maybe I really am just hungry.
But while we’re on the topic, how about you—are you a big pizza fan? Yes, I suppose it’s a bit hard not to be, heh. Do you have a favorite type? Or, you know, like a favorite flavor? Mmm, okay, not a bad choice. Not a bad choice at all. Personally, I’ve always been partial to barbecue chicken. The parlor back there makes a mean pie, and that’s the… that’s the kind my daughter and I used to share when we visited. Once she got older, we didn’t really go as much. Haven’t been to it in a while, actually. But if today goes correctly, I think I might take her back. Sometimes life serves you a fresh perspective, and then you realize it’s the little things. Right?
Yep… yeah. I have my daughter, and then a son as well. Love ’em both to death. She’s the older sibling, at thirteen. My boy’s eight. Raised by my wife of seventeen years and myself. I’d do anything for them. I’m sure you know that feeling, don’t you? I mean, of course—you left the conference early for your family. You had your priorities straight, and I respect that.
But wow, you sucked that water down pretty quick. Please, help yourself to another if you’d like. Those plane rides can just zap the hydration out of you. Yeah, I don’t blame you for feeling tired at all. It’s astonishing how quickly the wave of exhaustion can hit after a trip. Don’t worry, though; we’ll be arriving soon enough.
In fact, it looks like your neighborhood is coming up soon, is that right? About a quarter mile out. And your house will be on the—let’s see here. Left side of the street, correct? Okay, then. And yep, this road looks familiar. Like I said, I drove a customer by here the other day. Seems like a great location, with some nice homes, no less. Beautiful around here. Really is. Don’t ya think?
Huh, you weren’t kidding when you said you were tired. Are you feeling alright? Well, I guess your house is coming up soon, but in the meantime, just keep drinking some water. It’ll help. And let me know if there’s anything I can do. But see, see? There’s the turn to your street right up ahead. Almost there. And… here it is. Oh my, what a pleasant neighborhood.
What’s that? Sorry, I didn’t catch what you said. You’ll have to speak up just a tad. I missed it? Missed what? The turn? I missed the turn to your driveway. I sincerely apologize. How—how stupid of me! Alright, let me just turn around here. Again, a thousand apologies.
On second thought, the street’s a bit too narrow. I don’t think I’ll be able to turn around in it, but I’ll drive to the end and then loop back around a different way. Is that okay? Oh my, you really are exhausted. Come again? Oh, no, no, you’re far too tired for that. We’re at least a few hundred feet from your house—that’s too long of a walk in your state. It would be irresponsible of me to just drop you off here. Please, let me drive you. We’ve had quite the journey together already, and it’s only right that it be completed. I insist. Just relax…
Hmm, looks like this is the end of the road, though. Or at least the end of your street, I mean. If I take a couple right turns here and get on a parallel route, we’d eventually return to the start of your neighborhood. And yet the easiest option would just be to make a Y-turn and go back the way we came. I knew that all along, actually. It was possible right after I missed your house. But I couldn’t do it then. I can’t do it now, either. I hope you can understand why. I really do. As a taxi driver, I’m letting you down, but I told you I respect when priorities are recognized. Now, I’m counting on you to do the same.
Not that it really matters. I know you can’t fight it anyway. You sure did drink a lot of that water. But don’t worry; the muscle paralysis is only temporary, apparently. I’m not sure what drug they put in there—sounded like “sucks-in-a-colon,” or something like that. Shoot, I don’t know. I don’t know. I only—I only put it in the car. Please, just understand I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to do it at all.
But when I said I drove past your neighborhood the other day, that was true. I did. And it wasn’t because I was spying on you or your house. It was pure coincidence—I had no knowledge of you until fifteen minutes ago. No, I had another customer that day. Just a passenger. That was all. Only they turned out to be very influential. And they made me drive to where we’re going now.
I’d really like to reiterate how sorry I am, though. This isn’t meant to be anything personal. It’s because of them. All because of them. It has just been a really, really busy weekend; let me tell you.
I was like you—simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing more, nothing less. I know you only wanted to go home after a long trip, and I’m sorry that you can’t. I was just trying to make ends meet as a cabbie, and I couldn’t refuse a new fare. This client wasn’t ordinary, though. It may have looked like a person, but I refuse to believe now such evil can be human. And still, I blissfully escorted that thing right where it desired. Two days ago, I picked them up, and the ride has yet to end.
How are you taking this? I know you can’t respond, but you must think I’m crazy. I’m telling the truth, though. I really am. And it’s important that you listen. If you do, you might find it in your heart to forgive me. No, no. I can’t expect you to do that. I would despise me too if I was in your position. All I ask, then, is that you try to understand. Just listen, please.
You see, the passenger said they wanted something. They craved something. A sacrifice of sorts. A series of them, actually—delivered routinely by a compensated third party. Like some morbid subscription. And they knew I had the means to provide such a service.
Naturally, I refused. No. I laughed. Laughed it off like a joke. Who could believe a proposal like that, let alone agree to it, right? But I won’t lie. Deep down, I was terrified. I bid them farewell and drove away as quickly as I could. When I got home that night, my house was empty, and my family was nowhere to be found.
Wife and kids. Gone. I knew before I read the note left on my kitchen counter who took them. I was lucky, though. The note—it said mercy could still be shown. All it took was an agreement to the contract I’d scoffed at just four hours earlier. If I made the first delivery by the end of tonight, my family would be returned as commission. So, I agreed. It was a matter of priorities. I had to. And I waited at the airport, assessing candidates till I could alert my creditor that I’d found the perfect one. That’s where you came in. Wrong place, wrong time—at least for you. But your situation fit the bill.
Again, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry it was you I chose. But I needed to. If I didn’t, the first sacrifice… it would have been them. It would have been my family. I would have lost them. And I’d be alone. Forever.
So, thank you.
Because there was one condition—one key condition to the exchange. To save them, the new offering had to be proportional. And, well… I have three other people in my family, and so did you.
I missed your turn so you wouldn’t have to see it.
Credit: Cole Bayer
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