Growing up, I wasn’t the prettiest girl in school or the brightest kid in class. To put it kindly, at 14-years-old, I had the face only a mother could adore, but she sure did adore it. My mother was always very proud of me and constantly encouraged me to break out of my shell, which is why I worked up the courage to try out for the cheerleading team the summer before my freshman year of high school. To my surprise, I made the squad and in return, my confidence, along with my social status, was given a little much needed boost at last.
One gloomy autumn evening, my mother and I were driving back from one of my first practices. Light was fading into the grey clouds while the moon loomed larger and brighter in the sky. Up the road, I noticed a swarm of firefighters and ambulances. Police officers blocked off the road, forcing cars to take a detour. In the background, sirens wailed like angry banshees interrupting the previously peaceful drive.
“Alright Sophie, looks like we’re going to be taking a detour of our own,” said my mother as she made a sharp left turn. “It will give us some time to catch up. I want to hear all about school,” she continued, obviously feeling guilty for having to work so many hours lately.
“Where are we going Mom?” I asked, peering out the window at the leaves falling like flesh off bones from the trees.
“Down Route 28, we’re just going to take the old back roads,” she replied.
We chatted about school and reminisced. As we followed a curve, I noticed a little girl up ahead, sitting on the floor rocking back and forth. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but as we drove past her I noticed her torn and tattered clothes and she had severe road rashes covering her body.
“MOM! STOP THE CAR! THERE’S A LITTLE GIRL UP THERE, SHE’S HURT!” I screamed.
“Sophie, calm down!” my mother shouted. “What are you talking about?” She looked in the rearview mirror. “There’s nobody there. You probably just saw a shadow or something,” my mother shot back. “You scared the hell out of me!”
“No, turn around! I know what I saw and she needs us,” I said, trying hard not to panic. “NOW MOM, NOW!”
My mother rolled her eyes, but she turned the car around and slowly drove back up Route 28.
Our eyes never left the road. We didn’t see the little girl where I had originally seen her, so about a mile down, my mother turned the car around.
“This makes no sense mom. I know I saw her. She was sitting on the side of the road just rocking back and forth and there was blood all over her clothes,” I cried.
My mother’s face seemed to turn a little pale but she pursed her lips and kept driving. “Well I don’t know where this girl could have gone, there’s nothing out here but road and woods,” she said.
I had almost convinced myself that maybe my imagination was playing tricks on me when out of nowhere my mother swerved the car and came to an immediate stop.
There was the girl, in the middle of the road, with her back to us. Skin was peeling off her arms, which were raised over her face. She was covered in blood and as my mother rolled down the windows to call out to her, we could hear the girl sobbing uncontrollably. She didn’t answer, so my mother stepped out of the car. As soon as she exited, I heard the sobbing get louder and louder, but it didn’t seem to be coming from the little girl anymore. I scanned the area around her — then it hit me. The sounds were coming from the woods. The hair on my arms stood straight up and I felt sick to my stomach. I knew something was wrong, but I was so paralyzed by fear I couldn’t yell out to my mother. My eyes were wide with fright, I watched my mother walk up to the little girl and place her hand on girl’s wounded shoulder.
“Honey, let us help you,” my mother said in a soothing voice.
That’s when the little girl turned around. Her face was gone except for a skeletal grin and deep, dark holes where her eyes once were. Maggots crawled from the dark holes into her mouth. My mother let out the most terrifying scream I’ve ever heard and ran back to the car. She jumped in, slammed the door, and put the car in drive. The little girl ran after us, sobbing louder and louder while clawing at the windows. We sped off onto the main road until she was finally gone.
We didn’t sleep that night. We cried, held each other, and tried to convince one another that what we saw didn’t really happen.
Neither of us to this day know exactly what we saw, but the next morning, the top story plastered all over newspapers and on the news was about the car accident we had originally been detoured away from earlier. The accident involved three cars. Everyone involved narrowly survived except for a seven-year-old girl named Rebeckah. Whether this was pure coincidence or perhaps the lost soul of poor Rebeckah, I will never know.
I still have nightmares of what I encountered on Route 28.