08 Jan You Left Your Lights On
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"You Left Your Lights On"Written by
Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
The moment I stepped out of my house, I knew I had made a mistake. I could hear my mother crying on the other side of my front door, and the frigid air that filled the cold, October night felt particularly painful on my exposed skin. I had just decided to go on a run. That’s what I usually do to destress or calm down when I get angry. My mother and I had just got into a pretty heated argument about my grades, and I said some things I definitely shouldn’t have. I thought it would be ok if I just left for a little while and allowed the both of us to calm down a bit.
I bent down to re-lace my shoes, and I took a deep breath. The cold air stung my throat as it filled my lungs, and I noticed just how thirsty I was. Despite this, I stood back up and started off into the inky, black darkness that filled the night. It was a particularly dark night. The moon seemed to be missing from the sky, and, living on a distant, gravel road, there were no street lights. I know it’s dangerous to run at night without any lights or reflective gear, but the alternative was to be yelled at, and I certainly wasn’t going to be having any more of that.
As I reached the end of my driveway, I turned left onto the familiar Parallel Road, and began to run. By now, my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I could see pretty far in the distance. I gradually started to accelerate as I got into the swing of the run, and I settled into a comfortable but fast pace. As the cold breeze beat against my face, I shivered. I couldn’t help but feel as if something was wrong. I guess I had spooked myself, because I started to jump at every little thing that moved. At one point, the wind had picked up a little and caused a branch of a distant tree to sway. I convinced myself something was waiting for me down the road, but as I drew closer, I realised my monster sightings were nothing more than childish delusions.
As I continued to run down the road, I thought about the moments that had led up to my run, and I couldn’t help but feel bad about what I had said to my mom before I had stormed out of the house. You see, she was doing her best to raise my little brother and I. My dad left on deployment earlier that month, and needless to say, my mom lost a good part of her happiness when he left.
My thoughts started to wander from the subject when I saw a pair of lights ahead on the road. Strange, I thought. Parallel was a pretty barren road being at least fifteen miles from any sort of civilization in either direction. That coupled with the fact that it was 11:30 at night, it was pretty strange to see any sort of signs of life out. As I ran closer, the source of the light became more and more clear. About 100 feet from the light, I could clearly make out a small, white car that was parked in the middle of the road. It’s headlights were on, and it just sat, stationary with no signs of a driver. I stared at the car, trying to make sense of things, but eventually, I just ran past it.
I ran from the car for about a mile, and started to slow my pace. I was at least three miles out now, and the frigid air was taking its toll on my dry throat. I decided to turn around. I ran down the road for about a mile, when I noticed something a little strange. For one, the car was missing, but that didn’t concern me. Where the car use to be, there was a horrible, gut-wrenching stench. I honestly had never smelled anything quite as bad as this. I can remember dry-heaving a couple of times as I ran, desperate to get away from whatever was making that horrible smell.
Eventually, I escaped the area from where the smell permeated. Not long after, I noticed something else. Down the road, I saw the same two lights I had seen before, only this time, they were facing the other way, directly at me. The lights seemed to be stationary again, so I assumed the car was parked like it was before. As I drew closer to the car, I found that my assumptions were correct. The car was no different from the time I first saw it, though I could make out a faint, black figure in the driver’s seat of the car. The figure wasn’t moving, so I assumed they had fallen asleep somehow. I decided to wake them up and see if they needed help.
“Hey!” I shouted as I drew near to the car. I slowed my pace and stood next to the driver’s window. I noticed the window was rolled down. “You left your lights on. I just wanted to know if you needed any help.” What happened next I will never forget. The dark figure turned its head towards me, and opened its eyes. My heart started to pound as I stared at whatever was sitting in that car. The eyes that stared back at me were completely red and seemed to glow in contrast to the darkness that filled the car. It opened its mouth and let out a loud screech.
At this moment, I turned away and ran. I ran faster than I had ever run before. My heart was pounding as if it was trying to escape from my chest and my breathing heightened in a desperate attempt to supply my body with enough oxygen. What I heard next filled me with dread. The rolling of tires. The car was turning to face me once again.
I didn’t know what to do. In a frightened panic, I threw my body into the foliage that lined the road, and found myself in a ditch. I looked up ever so slightly. I held my breath as I watched the lights of the car light up the road just in front of me. Whatever was driving that car was looking for me. The car slowly drove along, and luckily, passed my hiding place among the reeds and grass. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, then, very slowly, I raised my head to check my surrounding, and got up, brushing bits of grass from my shorts. I mustered up the courage to run home, making sure to check the distance for any cars.
I reached home about twelve minutes later. I sprinted up my driveway, opened my front door, and slammed it shut behind me, making sure to lock it. The house was dark apart from a couple of lights, so my mom and my brother were probably in bed. Still spooked, I slowly crept around my house, first to the back door, locking it, then to my room. I walked over to my bed and collapsed on it. I was shaking, and quite frankly, just wanted the night to end. Before I could fall asleep however, I was alerted by a light coming from my window. I sat on my bed and watched a small, white car pull up in my driveway. It parked right in front of my window and shut off, lights and everything. I started to sob. I could make out a pair of large, red eyes in the car, and they were staring directly at me. Paralyzed with fear, I stared back, but I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I awoke the next morning on my bed in front of my window.
The first thing I did was glance outside. There was no car in sight. I chuckled in relief.
“It must have been a dream,” I told myself outloud. I got out of bed, and changed into some sweatpants. I noticed that I was so tired the night before, that I had forgot to turn the lights off in my room before I got in bed. I flipped the light switch to OFF then I walked out of my room and made my way into the kitchen.
“Good morning!” I said to my mom who was sitting at the table with a mug of hot coffee in her hand. She looked troubled, but returned the phrase and invited me to sit with her.
“Bevin, I need to ask you something.”
“Sure,” I replied, rubbing my eyes.
“Did you notice anything strange on your run last night?” We stared at eachother for a moment in silence.
“Why,” I asked weakly.
“The police came by this morning,” She told me. “They found a body of a man who had apparently been murdered very violently. He was about two miles down, just strewn across the road. All they found at the scene of the crime was a message.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper. Scrawled in red ink was a message.
-Hey! You left your lights on. I just wanted to know if you needed any help-
Credit: Bevin Coon