Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: Do you have any real ghost or horror story to share? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I was about 6 years old when this happened, but my recollection of what I’m about to write is crystal clear. It doesn’t have the same fuzzy, uncertain quality that childhood memories sometimes have. I know for a fact that I didn’t dream it. I will never forget the thing I saw.
My father and I were driving in his pickup truck at dusk. We were on a major road in Philadelphia (Ridge Avenue, for those familiar with the area). One of my dad’s friends had called him for help; the guy was stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery. We were heading to the rescue with a set of jumper cables.
My dad spotted his friend’s car down a side street and pulled his truck over. Dense woods stretched out to the right side of the road, and the bright orange street lamps that had just flickered on cast a sickly hue over everything. My dad instructed me sternly to wait in the car — we were in a sketchy area of town and he was playing it safe. He grabbed the jumper cables, got out of the truck, and got to work.
Several minutes went by in what seemed like slow motion. I don’t know how long it actually was, but it felt like an eternity. I was starting to feel nervous in the truck by myself. The sky was growing darker by the minute and I was starting to wonder what was happening out there that was taking so long. I knew my dad had told me to stay put, but I felt compelled to get out. I had to get out of the truck and see my dad, just to reassure myself that he was still there and that everything was okay.
I opened the door and got out. I peered around the raised hood of the truck and looked for my dad. The friend’s car and my dad’s Toyota were still connected by jumper cables, and the jump had been successful — both engines were roaring. But nobody was there.
My heart began to pound. Where was my dad? Why wasn’t he here?
I stumbled around to the rear of the truck to see if he had gone back there for some reason. Nothing. Nobody. I was alone and growing more frightened by the second.
My dad’s Toyota was enormous compared to my 6-year-old body. I couldn’t see over the bed of the truck. I couldn’t see what was around the corner as I turned around to continue looking. I cleared the corner and was facing the woods — and then I stopped dead in my tracks.
I saw something.
Something horrible. Something incomprehensible.
I was standing about four feet away from what I can only describe as the thorax of an enormous insect. The orange streetlights were reflected in its awful, shiny carapace. It glistened with some kind of moisture, almost like sweat. And when I say this was an enormous insect, I mean that this thing was roughly the same size I was. It had two impossibly long, striated rear legs. It had a set of spindly, unnatural front legs that reminded me of a praying mantis.
It was moving.
I was frozen in place. Unable to move a muscle. I had forgotten all about my dad. There was only me and this unholy thing that was moving, slowly, laboriously into the overgrown brush that bordered the woods. Then, without warning, it stopped moving.
It knew I was there.
It slowly turned its triangular head, a head I hadn’t seen until this point. It had two enormous black bug eyes. Once again I could see the reflection of the streetlights in those eyes. It made them look like they were burning as they watched me. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t run. Knew it was futile.
Then, in an instant, it turned away from me and darted into the blackness of the woods.
My dad’s voice broke the trance I was in. He was furious that I’d gotten out of the truck. Ordered me back in immediately. I’ve never moved faster.
I never told him what I saw. In fact, I’ve never told anyone what I saw until now. But I know it was real.