12 Hitchhikers, Truckers, And Travelers Share Their Most Terrifying Stories From America’s Darkest Highways

via Flickr - Laurent Henschen
via Flickr – Laurent Henschen

1. Hitchhiking

In the late 70’s, my Uncle was studying medicine at the University of Chicago. After a morning class, he decided that he would hitchhike back home to Lincoln Park on the North side instead of pay for a taxi. A man drove up in a Plymouth Satellite and offered my Uncle a ride. The man looked normal and seemed friendly…lighthearted even, so my Uncle got in the car and they started driving towards Lake Shore Drive. However, once they got there, the man drove South on Lake Shore instead of North, towards Lincoln Park. My Uncle told the man he was going the wrong way and to turn around and head North. The man looked at my Uncle, put his hand on his knee and said, “No son, you are coming with me” and smiled darkly at him. My Uncle froze in panic, and when they hit traffic near the South Shore, he quickly unlocked the passenger door and ran away without looking back.

A year or two later on a cold December day, my Uncle was having coffee in a cafe with my future Aunt when he caught something on the TV that made his blood run cold. He saw the man that had picked him up from school that day the year before. He had been arrested for the suspected rape and killing of over 20 young men and boys. The man on the television was John Wayne Gacy. And he had removed the door handle off the passenger side door to prevent the men he picked up from escaping.

2. Bodies On The Highway

I was driving a shortcut from Twentynine Palms, CA to Albuquerque, NM. Twentynine Palms is located in the desolate high desert east of LA. The shortcut was all two lane road through total nothingness, except for passing through Amboy, CA. Amboy is a nearly abandoned town nearly as far below sea level as Death Valley, with a dormant volcano and lava field on one side and a salt flat on the other. It was also, at the time, a hotspot for satanic group activity.

So I was driving by myself in the afternoon. I stopped in Amboy and snapped a picture of the city sign, just to prove I was there to friends who dared me to take that route to I-40. I got back in my car and proceeded to drive up into the mountain range between Amboy and I-40.

Once I reach the top I am driving north through a canyon with high grass on both sides of the road. Up ahead I see some stuff in the middle of the road. As I approach I slow down to see a red Pontiac Fiero stopped sideways across both lanes, a suitcase open with clothes scattered everywhere and two bodies laying face down in the road, a man and a woman.

I stop a hundred feet or so away and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Being a Marine, I reach under the seat and pull out a 9mm pistol and chamber a round. Something seemed very wrong, it looked too perfect as if it were staged. An ambush? Was I being paranoid? Something was just wrong. Getting out of the car seemed unthinkable, it was the horror movie move.

As I scanned the road I saw a line I could drive. Pass the guy in the road on his left, swerve to the right side of the woman, behind the Fiero and I’d be on the other side. I dropped it into first gear, punched it and drove the line I planned.

I passed the back of the Fierro without hitting it or either of the bodies in the road. I continued forward a couple hundred feet and slowed down so I could breathe and let my heart slow down. As I looked up into the rearview mirror I saw that the two bodies had gotten up to their knees and twenty or so people emerged from the tall grass on either side of the road by the car and bodies.

At that moment my right foot smashed the gas pedal to the floor and did not let up until I had to slowdown for the I-40 east onramp.

I will never know what would have happened to me had I gotten out of the car to check on the bodies or stopped my car closer to them. Somehow I do not think it would have been good. Sometimes real life can be scarier than a movie.

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