10/31/2022

Horror on Interstate 89 (scary short story)

Every Halloween I release a free short horror story. Here's my tale for 2022. Happy Halloween!

Scary skull
ESTIMATED READ TIME: 5 minutes.
Copyright © 2022 Owen Mulligan. All Rights Reserved.

It was October 28, 2019, when it happened. Now I live in perpetual fear.


I was driving on a remote stretch of Interstate 89 heading home to Swanton, Vermont after visiting some friends in Massachusetts. It was around 2 AM and pitch dark with no moon in sight. There was no light pollution either since the next exit was at least thirteen miles away. It seemed like I was cruising through a black hole somewhere in the far reaches of outer space. I hadn’t seen another car or truck for miles. 


As I cruised along in silence, lost in my thoughts, something came into view in the headlights. Roadkill. I quickly swerved into the left lane and barely missed the bloody carcass. It looked like a young deer and a fresh kill. I switched on my high beams and sat up straight. Better stay alert or you’ll end up like that deer.


As the time passed and the miles stretched on, my eyelids grew heavy so I cracked open my window. The autumn air was brisk and carried the subtle musk of the decaying leaves and vegetation, which perked me up some. I turned on the radio. Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” played on the rock station. That perked me up even more. I turned up the volume and sped up my Chevy Malibu. Home was still at least two hours away.


Towards the end of the Ozzy song, the red glow of tail lights appeared in the distance ahead of me. I maintained my speed as the car came into sight. The interior lights were on, and the car moved at a snail’s pace. Probably only about 35 miles per hour. What are they doing? I eased up on the gas and switched off my high beams as I followed about forty feet behind. It was a Chevy Malibu like mine. Same color too. Silver ice, but it didn't have a license plate. Not even any temporary tags. Strange. I moved into the left lane to pass but the car started weaving in and out of its lane. I blared my horn and eased back. The asshole must be high or drunk. The car continued to weave so I slowed down even more and kept back at least eighty feet in the left lane. I was barely going 30. The speed limit was 65. I turned off the music and eyed my cell phone under the radio. Should I call the police? I wanted to get home and sleep. Not deal with this shit.


After a minute or so, the car stopped weaving. That was my chance. I hit the gas and grabbed the steering wheel tight with both hands. As I drove up next to the car from the left lane, I matched its sluggish speed. I needed to get a look at the driver. Better not weave into me asshole. I turned my head as far right as I could while holding my car steady. The driver’s window was down and he turned and stared at me with a wide leering grin. A chill slid down my spine, but not from his malicious expression. No, it was like looking into a mirror. The driver looked exactly like me. Caucasian with the same short black hair. Even the same face… the same eyes. Wake up! You’re sleeping at the wheel. Wake the Hell up!


That's what I thought at first, that I was dreaming and had fallen asleep at the wheel. But this was no dream. I was wide awake and somehow the driver was me. Not just a look-alike. Even under the crude interior light, I could tell. Those eyes staring back at me were mine, and they mocked me with a wicked glint. I turned away and hit the gas. Full force. 55… 65… 75… Screw the speed limit. My heart raced like the Chevy’s engine. I just wanted to get the Hell away. Get it together, you're overtired. You're seeing things. You don’t want to skid off the road and end up like that deer. 


I checked the rearview mirror. His headlights shrank into the darkness and out of sight so fast it was like I blasted off in a rocket ship. 85… 95… Slow down, he’s not chasing after you. I focused back ahead on the road and eased off the gas. Am I imagining all this or hallucinating? I’m too young to be going senile. I’m only 32 for Christ's sake. Maybe it was just a trick of light and shadow. My mind raced with my pulse. Take a deep breath. There’s gotta be an explanation. I breathed in the cold draft from my open window and slowly exhaled as I eased down to the speed limit. 


Good thing I slowed down. A state trooper was parked next to a no U-turn sign in the median strip between the two sides of the interstate. The cruiser’s lights were off. I slowed to 55 just to be safe. Sorry officer, I’m speeding to get away from myself. It’s an emergency. Surely you understand? I checked the rearview mirror as I passed the trooper on my left. Shit. The glow of headlights appeared in the distance. Is that him? My dead ringer? He must’ve sped up. Maybe the trooper will pull him over. If he sees the car has no plates or tags he will. Please, please pull him over. Just keep him away from me. I kept an eye on the rearview mirror and prayed for the blue lights to flash. The headlights grew closer. The highway was mostly straight and level from this point so I could see way back into the distance. I slowed my speed to 40 to keep him in sight. The blue lights flashed. Thank God. The car pulled over into the shoulder with the blue lights close behind. I turned my focus back on the road ahead and hit the gas. If only the trooper could lock him up and throw away the key. At least he'll probably get a ticket with a hefty fine.


***

Later that night, I sat like a vegetable on my couch with a TV dinner and some beers. I just wanted to forget what had happened. I clicked through the TV channels with my remote. Nothing really piqued my interest until I came upon the evening news.


“...a Vermont state trooper was dragged and run over during a traffic stop early this morning,” announced the blonde anchorwoman. “We have the dashcam footage but I warn you, it is disturbing…” 


I sat completely still as I watched the video from the trooper’s dashcam come up on screen.


Sgt. Henry Morris pulled over the driver on Interstate 89 at 2:41 AM…” The anchorwoman's narration faded from my mind as my stomach tightened up in a knot. 


It was the same silver ice Chevy Malibu with no plates parked on the shoulder of the highway. The trooper stood at the driver’s window. It looked like they were arguing. The Chevy then took off with the trooper caught on the door. It dragged him down the highway for what looked like 40 yards before he broke free. The car stopped as the trooper started to get up. I shouted at the TV, “Hurry! Get out of the road!” Too late. The car backed up full speed and ran over the trooper. You sick bastard. The car sat idle for a moment, then bolted forward and drove over the mangled trooper again as it sped away.


“...the unidentified driver is still on the run and is wanted for murder,” the anchorwoman continued.


My hands trembled as I switched off the TV with my remote. What if they identify the driver? If he’s me then I could be held accountable… couldn't I? But it’s not me, not really. I could never do something like that. Jesus. How many people has this imposter thing killed? Am I next?


I decided that night it was time to buy a gun. And so now I wait. Always armed. Always vigilant.



Copyright Notice: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on this blog are the property of (and under copyright to) Owen Mulligan, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform (this includes YouTube and TikTok), or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of the author.

10/13/2022

My New Halloween Tradition

Jack-o'-lantern Halloween pumpkin

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. It's been that way since I was a kid. I have fond memories of dressing up in spooky costumes, and trick-or-treating with my family, and later on with my friends as I grew into my teen years. I actually went trick-or-treating up until I was about 18 or so, which some people considered too old. Maybe for them, but not for me. Halloween traditions should be for all ages, whether it's trick-or-treating, telling scary stories, watching horror movies, carving jack-o'-lanterns, or visiting haunted houses. You're never too old for some spooky fun. Anyway, that leads me to my new Halloween tradition. Starting this year, I'll be releasing a new short horror story for free every Halloween. This October, the tale is "Horror on Interstate 89". See you on 10-31!