The Man on the road

It was about midday by the time I crossed over into Colorado. I had just filled up my SUV and picked up some snacks and drinks that I thought would help keep me awake on the drive from California to Indiana. After having driven straight through the night, nothing I put in my body was going to safely simulate the amount of sleep my body needed. I was traveling through Ouray when I started to become especially groggy. I tried to keep the radio on as loud as it would go, but the mountains kept killing my reception. I had the AC on full blast, even though I would have still been freezing without it. My eyes started to waver and cloud. I knew that I’d have to pull off the highway and rest soon. I told myself that I would stop at the next motel, just to get enough sleep to keep me going.

When I pulled off at the next exit, I was surprised to find very little in terms of what you would normally find in businesses on the side of the highway. There were no fast food places, gas stations, or hotels for me to stay in. I found myself driving down a much smaller mountain road thinking that there needed to be someone around who could point me to the nearest hotel or motel. The road was long and much like the rest of the exit, didn’t have anything that would indicate why anyone would want to be there. As I had just reached up to rub my tired eyes, a man walked out in front of my car. I couldn’t react quickly enough to slam on my brakes. I hit the man going forty five miles an hour on a mountain road. He tumbled over my hood and slammed into my windshield, sending him flying over the roof and onto the road behind me. I slammed on my brakes as hard as I could. My eyes shot open in a rush of both awareness and disbelief. My heartbeat had become a constant hum of adrenaline. My mind scattered in a thousand different incoherent directions.

My continuous stream of thoughts and questions kept me from acting on the situation. Should I call 911? Should I just drive off and let someone else find him? Nothing had ever prepared me for that situation. I could feel all the color fade from my face and knuckles as I had come to the realization of what may become of this. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw him lying on the road. He was a pale man from what I could see. My heart sank with dread as I watched him lay motionless on the road, wishing and praying that he would just move a little bit. After several long seconds of dreadful stillness, I swallowed my fear and got out of the car.

I kept my eyes on the man as I looked back at him. He appeared to not be wearing any clothes. His immense paleness shone out like a roadway reflector against the asphalt. The state he was in was mortifying. Though there was no blood on the ground, the man was covered in massive, bloody gashes. A single giant tear in his skin reached from the nape of his neck down to his lower back, with dozens of smaller rips and cuts all over the rest of his body. His arms and legs were twisted and mangled beyond repair. I almost broke down sobbing right there on the side of the road at the sight of him, but I fought to keep myself together. I inched closer to the man and called out.

"S-sir?” I asked.

That’s when he began to move. I was momentarily relieved, but that feeling didn’t last. His arms and legs cracked as they lifted his body off of the ground. His joints rotated in ways I had never thought possible. He twisted his wrists and ankles to support himself on his hands and feet.

His spine stretched and curved, snapping with each new exaggerated motion. His neck jerked from side to side. His breath was slow and loud at first, but became quicker and quicker with each exhale. His head lurched upward. His face was just as cut up as the rest of him. His eyes were completely white. His jaw hung unhinged. The man started to walk forward slowly on all fours toward me.

I couldn’t stay any longer. I got in my car and floored the gas pedal. Through the smoke from my tires, I could see that that thing was still chasing me. It sprinted on its hands and feet, its head and jaw thrashing from side to side as it ran. It must have run me down for several miles judging by how fast I was driving to get away from it, because it didn’t let up for about ten minutes. By the time I found the highway again, I had lost it. I then found in myself all the awareness I needed to make the drive all the way home without having to rest anywhere.