Witnessing something strange during the drive down the dark roads of Arizona.
There’s something about Arizona that creeps me out. I’m not sure if it’s the sand, the heat, or the lack of life in the place, but driving through long stretches of road with no lights around gets my mind to wander to some very dark places.
My boyfriend and I decided to go to a town near the southern border of the United States for my friend’s wedding ceremony that was supposed to take place on a Saturday. It was Friday morning and we were making the drive from California, but as always, we left late. Too late.
The sun was starting to set and we hadn’t even crossed the California state border. Before we knew it, it was midnight and we were on the straightest road I had ever seen when I finally decided to offer to drive. Sam was getting sleepy and I could tell by his eyes watering. His eyes always water when he holds in a yawn. I was kind of hoping he would say no, but I felt bad for him.
Did I tell you that he would know nobody else at this wedding? Just me.
He admitted that he was tired, but we had just passed a rest area. Rest areas are little spots on the side of the road with bathrooms and vending machines where you can walk around to stretch your legs or take your dog out to poop or even catch a short nap.
An option was to pull over to the side of the dark road, switch seats, and keep driving, but he suggested that we should instead stop at a parking lot of what ever gas station or shop came up along the road. I took out my phone to check Google maps for anything, but the only thing that showed up was a blue dot with a yellow road. The closest gas station would be at the next highway intersection, about 120 miles ahead. I think it was called USA Gas or some unknown brand like that.
Feeling a little bad about the situation, I told him that it was okay, that we could just switch wherever he found a wide enough space on the side of the highway. He agreed.
But just as I was turning my phone’s screen off, I saw headlights ahead and on my side of the road. The headlights were aiming toward a dark building. Sam glanced over at me, and I acknowledged that I could see the lights too.
Sam slowed down as we were passing the two-space dirt parking lot in front of what looked like a broken down wooden house about 30 yards away from the road. I lowered down my window to a gush of warm night air, and I could hear our car’s tires in the gravel a little more clearly when suddenly the sound of deep laughter numbed my face. Sam hadn’t heard it and was instead staring at the old beat up car.
I wanted Sam to drive away, but the words wouldn’t come out and he just wouldn’t get it. My heart was beating so hard, I could feel it on my neck.
Suddenly, the other car’s brake lights got brighter as it squeaked in reverse and then began to turn around toward us.
Whoa, Sam said.
Go! I remember screaming.
Sam started slowly speeding up while the other car grumbled toward us at full speed, until Sam finally got the message and stepped on the gas of my red Corolla. I rolled up my windows in a panic as the car behind us started honking and flashing their high beams at us. We must have been going at 80 miles per hour when the headlights disappeared behind us.
We didn’t know what to say to each other, but Sam was fully awake now and clearly shaken up. He had heard somewhere about criminals setting up traps for drivers on empty highways to take all of their stuff and leave them on the side of the road. I, on the other hand, had no idea what to think of the situation. I just found it strange.
We didn’t know what to say to each other, so we just stared at the dashed white lines on the road.
Up ahead, I could see bright lights and the typical Gas Station, Carl’s Jr, McDonalds, Subway logos.
When we got there, Sam decided to top off the gas tank but I had to use the bathroom so we both walked into the gas station together. When I came out of the bathroom, I couldn’t see Sam inside. He usually goes for one of those hot dogs, I don’t know why he likes them, but he wasn’t by them nor by the topping station. It was weird of him to leave like that, so I decided to peek outside and found him talking to a man by the car.
I figured that the guy had approached him to ask him for change, but as I walked closer, I saw the same old beat up creepy car we had seen earlier and I felt my face turn cold. I could see two other guys in the back seat looking attentively at Sam from the back driver side window.
“Hey!” I yelled, getting Sam’s attention.
The bearded man looked at me, startled, and started to back away toward his car. Nervously, he opened his door and got inside, started the car, and they left.
Sam was confused as he got into the passenger seat of our car and I took the driver’s side until he finally decided to speak up.
The man had approached him to first, ask him if he needed a place to stay, but Sam refused. Then started to explain himself, saying that he was doing nothing wrong and then started to aggressively tell him that he should say no word of what we saw.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the Sam’s window.
It was the gas attendant employee.
“Hey, I know this may sound crazy, but what did that guy tell you?”
Sam explained that he was offering a place for us to stay and then started threatening us to not say a word.
“I called the police already, I got a visit from police officers earlier today.”
According to the gas station attendant, the police had been searching for a car matching that description tied to a local case of a missing person. He asked us to stay while the police got there to give our witness account.
We were forced to wait about half an hour tell the police officer what we had witnessed, then we were thanked, and given a police officer’s phone number to call in case we remembered additional information.
The whole thing didn’t feel real as we got back into our car. We drove away in silence.
Who were they?
And were they trying to get rid of us in an attempt to hide whatever they were up to?