My girlfriend Emily and I had saved up money for months in order to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. After long days and hard work, the day had finally arrived to leave for the theme park that we both loved so much. The only downside is that it was about a 14 hour drive down to the Sunshine State from where we were, which would be quite agonizing. It being such a long trip, we decided to break the drive up into 2 days: 7-10 hours down the first day, spend the night in a hotel, and then drive the rest of the way in the morning.
We set out on our trip on Friday afternoon after we had both gotten off of work. We had her little Ford Escape loaded down with luggage, drinks and snacks; you know – all of the road trip necessities. As we started down the road, I glance at the clock on the dash of the car. 5:18pm. I attempt to do some mental math and try calculate what time we would need to pull into a hotel and what city we would be close to at that time. I figured that we could be down around the panhandle of Florida, just pasted the border of Alabama at around midnight, or maybe a little after.
We’re cruising down the highway, chugging along at around 75 MPH, trying to find the right balance of speed vs. trying not to get pulled over by a cop. The audio book my girlfriend had been listening to for the past 2 hours finally finished. Thank God – if I had to listen to that crap for one more minute, I would’ve tuck and rolled outside the damn car. I flipped the radio over to the weather to see what our forecast would look like down in Orlando. Finally after waiting for a few minutes, the periodical weather forecast came on.The weatherman said that the remanence of a tropical storm that had hit the Gulf of Mexico would be hitting most of the south-east tonight, but after that, it would be clear skies for the rest of the week. “Awesome,” I thought; while we reached our hotel, the storm would hit through the night, and maybe a last a little while in the morning, but then the weather would be great for the theme park.
I looked up at the sky while driving, tilting my sunglasses down from my face. The sky look pitch black down south, the direction we were heading straight into. As we continued driving down the highway, the trees on the side of the road swayed back and forth slowly as the wind from the coming storm began to build. Leaves blew across the highway and skipped across the hood of the car as the temperature reader on the dash slowly went down from 84 degrees to 79 degrees.
“Man, the weather sure is looking bad.” I said to Emily.
“Yeah, hopefully we can reach the hotel tonight before it gets too bad.” she relied.
Another few hours went by and the sun had gone down, just peeking over the horizon leaving just a bit of light left in the sky to the west. We stopped at a gas station just south of Montgomery, AL to fill up and also stretch our legs a little bit. The air was much cooler now than it had been earlier in the day. The breeze was stiff and warm and felt like heaven on my skin and face. As the gas pump stopped pumping with a loud “pop,” I reached and took the pump out of the car and placed it back on the machine. I looked up as I closed the fuel filler cap to see Emily walking back from the gas station with a Starbucks drink in her hand. Big surprise. I also notice right behind her off to the side of the building an old Chevy truck. The truck looked like it had seen better days – much better days. What little paint there was left on the old vehicle was a dull brown color, which complimented the rust on the truck. The headlights were off, but the glow of the yellow running lights were on. Inside, I could see 2 dark figures.
Emily gets into the car and yells playfully at me to get my ass inside. I snap out of my daze and realize I had been staring at that old truck for probably a solid 45 seconds. As I open the driver’s side door and get in, I give one last glance at the truck and see the spark of an orange light illuminate the cab for a split second from a cigarette bring lit. I start the car and get back to reality. For some reason that truck gave me the creeps. I have no idea what it was, but I just couldn’t stop staring the truck. I pulled through the gas station and pull back onto the highway and the old truck left all thought in my head.
Cruising down the highway, the wind was really whipping outside now and was moving the car slightly when a strong gust would hit us. The roar of thunder now echoed across the night sky periodically as the storm approached ever closer.
“Have you seen my phone??” Emily asked in a somewhat panicked voice.
“No. You didn’t leave it at the gas station by any chance did you?”
“No I didn’t take it inside, I just hope it didn’t fall out of the car when I was getting inside.” she replied. “Wait, I think I might have left it in the trunk when I was getting my blanket, can you pull over for a second so I can check?”
I gave a disgruntled sigh and agreed. This would slow us down even more, and I wanted to get to the hotel before the storm hit. I put my hazard lights on as I slowed down and pulled off of the highway; the tires roaring on the “wake up bumps” as I pulled fully off of the road. As soon as I came to a complete stop, Emily got out and walked to the trunk, opening it and digging around searching for her phone. As I waited, I looked in the side-view mirror and I am immediately blinded by headlights coming over the hill. “Man, those can’t be street legal!,” I thought as I squinted. Soon the vehicle flies past us, shaking the car from the wind gust. I look and notice as soon as it drives by, that it’s that same old truck from the gas station. The truck throws on its brake lights and slows down very rapidly. It also pulls halfway off of the road as if the driver can’t decide if he wants to pull over or not. After a few seconds, the truck pulls back onto the road and speeds off down the highway, just as a bolt of lightning illuminates the sky. “What the hell..” I thought. Emily opens the door and jumps in the car at this time and nearly scares the shit out of me since I was so focused on the truck.
“Did you see that?” I asked as Emily got back into the car.
“Yeah I did, what was he doing?”
“Hell if I know, but he was at that gas station we stopped at earlier.” I replied.
We both kind of shrugged off the event and tried come up with multiple rational explanations for the odd behavior of the driver. Maybe he was going to see if we needed help since we were pulled off to the side of the road with our hazard lights on with a bad storm fastly approaching. So, us having made ourselves feel better with these explanations, we continued on our way. By this time, our GPS had taken us off of the main highway and now had us traveling down back roads that would eventually lead us to another connecting highway. The time was now 12:16am and I was getting extremely tired – the long work day had finally caught up to me. I had planned on getting a hotel at the next city, but I was afraid that I wasn’t going to make it, as my eyes were getting heavier and heavier. Just as we came around a corner, a small motel became visible just up ahead. “Perfect,” I thought; I’m dead tired and I’m sure it’ll be really cheap. I tell Emily my plan, and half asleep – she agreed.
We pulled into the little motel. The motel was something straight out of a movie and a pure cliche – it even had the flickering neon “MOTEL” sign with the ‘O’ light out. The layout of the motel was in the shape of an ‘L’ with the joint, or ‘elbow,’ of the ‘L” being a small hallway where the vending machine and ice machine were. The main office was at the beginning of the ‘L’ and had a a dim neon light that read “vacancy.” So we pulled into the parking space by the front desk and went in. The man behind the counter was in his late 60’s and was extremely nice. We thanked him for staying up so late and for letting us get a room in the motel.
As we walked back outside to get our bags out of the car, a pair of headlights began to slowly turn into the motel. A bright flash of lightning lit up the sky, quickly followed by a boom of thunder that shook the ground we stood on. As the vehicle turned into the motel parking lot, I immediately saw that it was the same old truck that we couldn’t seem to escape.
“What the hell, man…” I said under my breath as I stared at the truck.
“What?” Emily replied.
“That truck, it’s the same one we’ve been seeing. The one from the gas station, and the one that slowed down and almost stopped in the middle of highway.”
Emily turned and looked at the truck as it slowly drove past us; the windows being very tinted to where we could only see silhouettes of 2 figures within the truck. It drove past us and pulled into a parking space on the other side of the motel – the truck still running and the lights turned off with the occupants still sitting inside.
“Okay, I’m officially creeped out – let’s just get inside our room.” Emily said in a shaken voice.
I agreed and we quickly got our bags and went inside our shitty motel room. After closing and locking the door to the room, I peek out through the blinds of the window to look at the truck. The truck hadn’t moved at all. It was still running with the lights off. As I’m looking out the window, I see small drops of rain begin to fall on the pavement as the wind blows fiercely across the motel parking lot. Then, all at once, the bottom falls out of the sky and sheets of rain blowing in the wind engulf the truck I’m looking at into a grey fog. I retreat from the window and, again, try to come up with explanations for running into this damn truck again over a period of 100+ miles as I am getting ready for bed. After brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts, I crawl into bed with Emily and pull the covers up. I glance to the window and all I can see is the mirage effect of the rain falling from behind the blinds. After 10 or so minutes of reassuring myself and being dead tired I close my eyes and almost immediately fall asleep.
Emily and I were both awakened to loud pounding at our motel door; slow powerful pounds. I grab my phone and look at the time still in a daze. 1:23am. Damnit, I had only been asleep for about and hour and I still have a long way to drive in the morning – what the hell could the manager want? Did my credit card not go through or something? I get out of bed and as I reach the door, the thought of the 2 men in the old truck shoot into my mind. In my sleepy daze, I had completely forgotten about them! I became more hesitant and slowly look outside the peep hole in the door. There is no one there and all and all I can see is the rain still pouring followed by the occasional roar thunder off in the distance. I then move to the window and peek outside the blinds to see if I could find anyone standing there. Nothing. I look over to where the truck was, and notice that it too was gone. This gave me some relief and finally I went back to bed.
“Who was it?” Emily asked sitting up in bed.
“I don’t know, I didn’t see anyone – by the way, that truck from before is gone too.”
“Good, maybe it was just the storm knocking the door around, or blowing something into it?” she said trying to rationalize it.
No way I thought, the pounding on the door was deliberate and rhythmic – it couldn’t be. Although, I had just woken up from a deep sleep and it’s possible my mind could have been playing tricks on me. As I sat in bed trying to go through all the possible scenarios in my head, the door shook again with 4 loud pounds making us both jump in bed. There it is – there’s no way that’s the storm doing that.
“Who is it?” I yelled to the door.
No reply. I slowly get up and walk to the door and look out of the peephole again. Again, no one there. Finally I look at Emily and say,
“Alright, fuck this, lets leave.”
She agrees and, quickly, we gather our things and get ready to leave. We stand at the door, bags in our hands, as I look out the window to make sure the coast is clear. My heart is now pounding and all of my fatigue is replaced by adrenaline. I see no one and decide that our car isn’t but 50 feet away from our room and it would take us only a few seconds to get there.
“Okay lets go.” I say to Emily as I rip the door open. As we ran to the car, the cold rain attacked my face and sent shivers down my spine. I unlocked the car and throw the bags inside behind me into the rear passenger seats. We both get in and I quickly hit the lock button. The locks on the door made a reassuring click as the rain slides down the windshield like a waterfall. After a few minutes of scoping the area out and feeling a little silly, I decide that I’m going to stop by the manager’s office to tell him what happened and that we were leaving. I start up the car and pull over in front of the manager’s office.
“I’ll be right back, lock the door as soon as I get out.” I tell Emily.
I open the door and run into the manager’s office. The man isn’t behind the desk so I call out,
No answer. I wait a about a minute just in case the old man is in the back room and making his way to the front. Nothing. I start to make my way to the back of the office to try to find the man to explain the situation. A door to my right is marked, ‘EMPLOYEES ONLY.’ I open the door slightly and again call out,
I glance down, and what I saw paralyzed me in fear. I break out into a cold sweat and freeze with the door cracked. The floor was covered in blood, the carpet completely saturated by the dark red liquid on the floor. Slowly, I open the door the rest of the way. I don’t know why I did it, I just had to see what was beyond the door. After opening it, I immediately wished that I hadn’t. The old man’s body was sitting in a chair in the corner of the small room behind a desk with his throat cut wide open – his eyes still open as his body was slumped back in the wooden chair. Blood ran from his throat, covering his clothes in dark red – the stream of dark fluid ran all the way to the door where it pooled up it. A loud and muffled scream broke me of my trance of horror. “Emily!” I screamed in my head. I moved my 500 lbs. legs as fast as they would go back to the front of the manager’s office to the door. As I rushed to the edge of the door I saw two men on either side of the Ford. One was a about 5’8” and looked to be in his late 40’s with scraggly long hair that was now soaked from all of the rain. The other man was much taller, probably around 6’2”, in his mid 30’s, and had a shaved head with a goatee and a tattoo on his neck. The shorter man was beating on the driver’s side window of the car while the bald man had a huge bowie knife tapping on the other window; Emily screaming her head off as they tried to gain access to the car.
“Open the door bitch!” the bald headed man screamed over the rain.
I had to do something, but what? I was only about 5’7” had had nothing to defend myself with. Finally finding the courage to do something, I yelled,
“Hey, get the fuck away from her!”
The two men both turned and looked at me, the bald headed man began walking my way with the bowie knife pointed at me.
“Come here, boy!” he yelled at me.
The short man gave no notice of me and continued trying to get into the car. Just then, the bald headed man gave chase and began to sprint right at me. Shocked, I take a few quick steps back into the manager’s office, then begin to run back inside hoping to find a back door somewhere. As I run through the labyrinth of small rooms, I finally come to a long hallway with a door at the end; if there was a back door, this would be it. As I turned the corner and ran as fast as my legs would take me, I heard the man behind me enter the hallway and he begins sprinting at me again. A chilling fact entered my brain – the man was faster than me, much faster. He would get to me before I reached the door at the end of the hallway. I stretched my legs as far as they would go and pumped them faster as my muscles began to tear from the inside out. Just a few feet from the door now. I give a quick glance back, and the man is gone… I open the door quickly as I reach it and stand in the doorway, with my hand holding the door open; looking back to find the man that was just chasing me. Nothing. He must have either turned back around or taken another door.
“Emily!” I thought, as fear an intense fear shot back into my mind. I take off sprinting around the back of the motel, making my way back around to the parking lot. The storm was still in full effect and the rain hadn’t slacked up at all; the boom of thunder even more pronounced as it was before. As I rounded the building to the front of the parking lot I froze in disbelief. The car was gone, leaving nothing but a few pieces of broken glass on the ground where the driver’s side door had been. I stand there in the rain with my hands on top of my head still panting from running. “What now?!” I thought as my mind raced through a million scenarios and courses of action to take – yet I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened.
“CALL THE POLICE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” I shouted to myself outloud.
I turn and run back into the manager’s office to find the telephone – still being cautious in case one of the men were still inside. I quickly scan the desk and find the old corded telephone. I grab it and hold it up to my ear praying to God that there is a dial tone. There is! I quickly try to punch in 911, accidently hitting multiple buttons on the receiver and having to hang up and quickly try again. The adrenaline hadn’t left my body, leaving my fine motor skills severely impaired. Finally, I get the number correct. I tell the operator everything that had happened and she assures me deputies are on their way and will be at the motel in 25 minutes. I hang up the phone and lock myself in a closet in the manager’s office until the police arrive. As I sit in the closet, an intense guilt and disappointment swept over my body. I left her. I let her get taken. God knows what they’re doing to her right now.
Soon the sound of sirens entered the area as I made my way out of the closet. I meet one of the deputies outside and tell him everything. Soon EMS arrived and gave me a once over. As I sat in the back of the ambulance, the cops inform me that they’ve called my parents, and Emily’s parents.
The rain slacked off to a steady flow as it poured down onto the ground. The distant thunder now almost gone completely as everything seemed to go quiet except for the white static of the rain.
My eyes shutter close as I slowly lose consciousness and drift into the dark abyss of sleep.
It’s now been 4 months since that night. Emily was never found, although police still claim they’re looking for her. Fuck them. Fuck me. I let her get taken by those men and can never forgive myself. I have been in a depressive state since that night. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep. I don’t work. How could this have happened? How could I let her be taken by those men? I sit at my computer as I replay the night over and over in my head trying to come up with something I could’ve done differently, anything I could’ve done.
Just then, my computer dings with an email notification. I click on the email. No address to it and no subject. I open the email and my heart drops and I nearly vomit. The email was a picture. A picture of a girl face down, naked, in what looked to be a basement. She had multiple lacerations all over her body and her left leg seemed to be broken, as it was turned all the way around. Under the girl were dirty white sheets covered in blood and dirt. I bust out crying and begin to hyperventilate. I couldn’t see the girl’s face – but I knew who it was the minute it saw it.
It was Emily, dead.