Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.
I didn’t grow up wealthy. We had enough, my family, but we were never “wealthy,” the way some of the other families were wealthy. I had clothes; not the latest fashion or anything trendy, but clothes. We had food; we were never able to go out to nice restaurants and try fancy dishes, but we had food. And I had toys; not the latest game consoles or electronics, but toys.
When it finally came time for me to go to college, I knew I wanted to go to medical school. But medical school is long, and expensive; even if you aren’t enrolled in a particularly prestigious establishment; which I was not. My family helped with what they could, but like I said, we weren’t rolling in money or anything.
Luckily I was a hard worker. I worked all the way through high school as a cashier at a local supermarket and saved up a little. I also did some neighborhood jobs like mowing lawns, cleaning gutters, shoveling snow; and I was a pretty good saver! So by the time I entered college, I had a decent savings. That along with the help from my family and I was looking pretty good for the first few semesters.
But college was hard work, and very often I would have to spend hours a night focusing on schoolwork. This made it pretty difficult for me to hold even a steady part time position anywhere. So I started looking for work that was a little more flexible. I tried making a YouTube channel, sort of documenting my time at college, but it never really took off and I never made any money. I tried writing articles for some blogs, but barely made anything doing that.
And then I found what I thought was the perfect temporary college job. A delivery driver for a pizza place right down the street from where I lived. It was perfect. I would go in, I could bring all of my books and schoolwork, I could sit in the back and work on my school stuff, and when there was a delivery, I would just load up the food, punch the address into the GPD on my phone, drive to the location, drop it off, and head back. Everyone there was super cool, and they had a few college kids work there before, so they knew the deal; they were extra flexible with me, and I was grateful for that.
One evening, I got a delivery in an area a little ways outside of town that I wasn’t familiar with. But as usual when the order came in, I put down my schoolwork, grabbed the two pizzas and free order of garlic knots and loaded up my beat up four runner before punching the address into my phone and hitting the road.
It was fairly late in the evening; The pizza place closed at 11PM, and it was getting close to that now, so this was definitely going to be my last delivery of the day. As I crossed the town border I glanced back at the food in the back seat to make sure everything was still secured; Nothing sinks your tips faster than jacked up pizza during a delivery.
I yawned. I was VERY excited for the weekend to be here. All I needed was some rest…Maybe a day to sleep in and just…do nothing. That would be nice. That would…
Huh. That was weird. The GPS was telling me to make a right on a road that I knew connected our town with the next one; As far as I knew there really weren’t any houses or neighborhoods this way; Just a LONG stretch of road. I made the turn like the GPS said but then pulled over and pinched out on the map so I could see where it was taking me. It looked like a little ways down the road was a small neighborhood. I sat for a moment, wondering; but not really knowing WHAT I was wondering about…Just deliver the pizza, you know?
So, with the fear that the pizza might get cold before I reached my destination, I shifted my car back in drive and continued on.
I drove for about five or six minutes before glancing at my phones GPS again. It was telling me I still had another 7 miles before the turnoff… That couldn’t be right. When I pulled over, it said it was 3 miles to the neighborhood where I was supposed to be making this delivery. While driving, I pinched the GPS out again to take a wider look at where I was going. And I SWEAR it was different than when I looked the firs time. Now it didn’t have me going to that small neighborhood off the main road, but a turnoff down a long road that went into the woods with maybe one or two houses at the end of the road.
I continued on, but with a weird feeling now. I knew I was probably being paranoid, but I already didn’t love going so far outside of town for deliveries, and now it was dark, and this GPS thing… I don’t know it just gave me the creeps.
But before long I slowly made the turn off the main road onto the long dirt road that my GPS was instructing me to go to. I saw the number of the house, “2808” affixed to a ratty looking mailbox at the entrance to what I assumed was a long dirt driveway. Good thing I drove an SUV! I bounced and buckled up and down as I drove down the dark path, trees lining both sides of the road like a long hallway; the only illumination coming from my headlights as I pushed forward. I glanced back once again to make sure the pizzas weren’t getting bounced out of the seat.
After maybe two or three minutes of driving down this road, it just… stopped. The road dead-ended and I was left sitting in my car with my headlights shining on just… more trees. There was no house. This road simply ended on more forest. I sat there in confusion for a moment before suddenly and abruptly getting a chill and mashing the ‘lock door’ button. This was very strange. My GPS said “destination 100 feet ahead”… But 100 feet ahead of me was just…a forest.
I called back to the pizzeria to let them know what was going on and confirm the address. They confirmed it. 2808 Barbary Road. But there was no house here. They conceded that, yes, it was very weird, and they told me to just make my way back. If the customer called to complain, they would handle it and explain the situation. I was relieved, and excited to just get out of this forest. I went to turn off my phone’s GPS, when I noticed something…REALLY strange.
My GPS said: “Destination 70 feet ahead.” I stared at it a moment. I just looked at it a few minutes ago…and didn’t it say 100 feet? Maybe I’m misremembering. I should just get out of here… But then it changed again. “Destination 50 feet ahead.”
I looked up through my windshield, half expecting to see a house randomly appear in front of me… But nothing. Just woods. My GPS pinged again. “Destination 40 feet ahead.”
I looked up again, my eyes affixed on the woods, scanning the area in front of me lit up by my headlights; the rest of the area shrouded in pitch black darkness. And then I saw it. It was peeking out from behind a tree. It’s frame was like a humans…But massive, like double the size of a full grown man. It’s hand wrapped around the side of the tree as it peeked toward me, it’s fingers long and sharp. Its skin was a fleshy pink color, but wrinkled and worn like old leather. It’s eyes were wide and black, larger than a human’s eyes, and more oval. It’s mouth was agape, as if it was screaming. But there was no sound.
Art by Danny Ingrassia
I froze. Staring at this…this thing. This monstrosity. And it stared back at me. In the headlights I could see a trail of thick, mucus-like saliva slowly dripping from it’s mouth. I don’t think this thing wanted pizza. I think it had something very different in mind for tonight’s meal.
I saw it take a step forward from behind the tree. It’s arms were long and thin, but sturdy, like branches from a tree. It stood almost 8 feet tall; it’s head tilted like it was sniffing the air. But it kept it’s black, empty eyes fixed on me. My GPS chimed
“Destination 38 feet ahead.”
That snapped me out of my trance-like state. All at once I jammed the car into reverse and began backing down the long dirt road until the creature was just at the edge of my headlights. But I could tell it was chasing me. And it was fast. My GPS kept chiming over and over like it couldn’t make up its mind… “Destination 25 feet ahead…Destination 29 feet ahead….Destination 24 feet ahead….” And then my phone battery went dead.
I could feel my SUV hitting rocks and pothole and scraping the sides of trees as I floored it backwards out of that forest, but I didn’t care. All I cared about was getting out of here as soon as possible. Putting as much distance between me and that thing as possible.
It seemed like an eternity, but I finally flew out of the forest backwards onto the main road. I whipped my wheel around and began flooring it back to town, glancing in my rearview mirror to make sure that thing wasn’t still following me.
I went straight home that night. I didn’t go back to the pizza place. I didn’t even care; I would just have to come up with some explanation in the morning. I needed to reconcile what I saw. I needed to process it. What the hell was that thing out there?
The first thing I did is go on my computer and google the address. None of the google maps results matched the area that I was in. How was this possible?
I knew what I would do; Tomorrow, when I was back at the pizza place, I would look up the number that called to place the order and see if I could find any more information about it. I needed to know more about that thing in the woods.
And all at once, like jet-lag, it hit me how tired I really was. I slipped into bed, my eyelids already closing. I rolled over and plugged my phone into the charger. As I drifted off to sleep I heard the familiar sound of my phone powering on as the charger did its work.
But then my eyes shot back open as I heard my GPS chime. “Destination reached.”