My Father Told Me To Never Stop At Rocky Gap, Virginia, No Matter The Emergency (Part 1)

Flickr / Dean Souglass
Flickr / Dean Souglass

You see a lot of shit as a truck driver.

Working as an international and interstate driver means witnessing things from your hometown down to the deepest corners of Mexico and the coldest trade routes of Canada. My old man John hauled weight all his life and without a proper education, I took the same path. I mean, it’s not too bad. Most of my buddies throw on the radio and listen to music for hours on end. I decided to make the most out of my time and listen to some podcasts or maybe an audiobook or two. Apart from the rest stop hookers, audiobooks were what kept me sane on those ass-numbing, monotonous hauls. Stephen King was my favorite, not only because of the writing, but because of the guys who’d always read his stories. Their voices matched the emotion and genre of the books so well.

beetlejuice

Ever since my old man got sick, I’ve had to take on more miles than ever. I’m talking cross country and back. The medical bills are piling up each day and I’m only making the smallest dents. What made me happy though is that I’d always fit in at least one day every week or two where I’d spend the entire day with him sharing stories and shootin’ the shit and what not. He’d always say something that stuck with me though. Out of all his stories, one of them stayed on my mind for a while. He told me about a place in Virginia called Rocky Gap and how he went through there on Route 77 a while ago. Now, the reason it stuck with me was because I remembered when he came home from that haul. He left a man and came back a husk, he got sick right after. He stayed that way for a couple months before he regained some form of who he once was. John was always a man of few words, but he did tell me one thing about Rocky Gap. He said to never stop anywhere near those woods no matter what.

beetlejuice

Summer came and went and the winter season was upon us. I had just picked up a haul job from southern California to Dover, Delaware. I packed my things: Toiletries, clothes, audiobooks, the whole lot. I hugged John goodbye, got in my sleeper truck and went on my way at about 5:45 AM.

It wasn’t until about 34 hours later — I was well into Virginia at this point — when my old man’s story nudged its way into my consciousness. I started to feel very uneasy. I was positive the road I was on — Interstate 81 — had no business leading me there. The fact that it was foggy and that it was 2:30 in-the-morning didn’t really help my uneasy feeling. I hadn’t seen a rest stop for quite some time now, or other cars on the road either. I felt like I was being watched and it was getting worse. I looked at the clock: 3:33 AM. Now that doesn’t make sense. Last I checked, it was 2:34 AM.

The sound of my right front tire exploding cut through the Stephen King audiobook, drowning out my thoughts as I struggled to keep the rig steady. I steered the four-ton behemoth down the next exit as I slowed down. My headlights cut through the fog and a huge sign shone back at me.

“Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area And Welcome Center”

I slowly pulled the rig into the empty parking lot. Turning off the audiobook, I stepped out to inspect the damage. The wheel was shredded beyond repair. There was nothing I could do until morning when I’d get some light to work with. I took a step back and took in my surroundings. This would have been a nice place to visit if I wasn’t stranded at 3:30 AM, I thought to myself. I noticed there were absolutely no signs of wildlife — none of the noises you would expect to hear if you were in a forest were present. No buzzing, no raccoons, no owls, no crickets…

I quickly stepped back into the rig and locked the doors. I pulled down the driver side blinds and leaned over to pull down the passenger side blinds when something caught my eye outside the windshield. The fog had cleared considerably and when I squinted, I could make out a figure standing facing away from me in a clearing about 500 feet from the front of the truck. It looked as though it was crying considering how the shoulders were moving up and down, but I realized the whole thing was shaking — vibrating even. I went to turn on my headlights when something hit the side of my rig with considerable force.

The impact sent me flying towards the passenger seat as my head hit the window. I crumpled down onto the floor of the truck. Grabbing at the arm rests, I pulled myself up. The jarring impact coupled with the metallic taste of blood in my mouth heightened my senses as I looked up and out the front of the truck. My headlights were on and pointing directly into the blood-drenched, mutilated figure of something half-man, half-goat. Directly behind him stood a sea of hooded figures. I felt this monstrosity’s burning stare as the truck was hit again, this time from the opposite side.

I lost consciousness. TC mark

Read Part 2 here.

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