This happened to me about three years ago, in the March of my senior year of high school. I was eighteen, living in a tiny little pitstop of a town just outside of a major city in Colorado, ready to graduate and get on with my life. Everything was going pretty well for me; I was getting decent grades, I was on the baseball team, I had been accepted to my dream program for college, and I had recently started dating my (still) girlfriend, Maggie.
She and were were- and still are- pretty different. I'm more of a laid-back type, while she's very uptight (she'd be the first to admit it). I don't mind a bit of chaos, but she likes things to be organized and set in a certain way. I'm Two Gentlemen of Verona, she's Macbeth. You get the picture. But I've changed in a certain way since we've been together, and all because of this night- I now believe in beings that are not of this world. I didn't before. I was a man of strict science and logic. But after this and many other experiences with her, my mind is forever changed.
Since we first met, she and her family would tell me ghost stories of things that supposedly happened to them. The first time, it was her grandma telling me about the time she found Maggie sitting on the stairs in the middle of the night, talking to the air as if it were an old friend. At first I thought it was a joke, but I was very seriously regaled by her family with tales of the creepy occurrences that seemed to surround her. She, apparently, was followed by the unexplained wherever she went. I just nodded along, secretly thinking they were exaggerating. But now I know they weren't.
Enough with the ado, I'll just get into it.
Like I mentioned, we lived in a very small town about 30 minutes outside of the city. There are two ways to go from one to the other; either use the highway, or use the back roads. The back roads are narrow, gravel paths that go through the more rural parts of the state, there's no lighting aside from the occasional farm driveway, but they're usually faster, far less crowded (and have a much smaller police presence, which is handy when you've had a brew or two). We were going to a party in the city that night. Since we pre-gamed at my friend's place in town, we took the back roads, just in case.
We stayed for a few hours in the city, and I admittedly had a few too many. Thankfully, Maggie, who had only had one seltzer, offered to drive us back to town in my car. So off we went, at around three in the morning. I was dozing, but felt suddenly awake when she pulled into the back roads. She turned off the radio, and I knew it was because she was nervous- she has some driving nerves to begin with, and especially at night. She was clearly getting a little anxious, as I watched her adjust the rearview mirror and shift in her seat, glancing back in the mirror every few seconds. I held her hand for support as we slipped away from the city, the light disappearing and leaving us in total blackness save for the high-beams.
We were about halfway between the town and the city, in the absolute thick of rural CO, when she asked me in a very quiet, very tight voice, "Did you ever go to church?"
"Uh, as a kid," I told her. I knew that her family was very anti-religious, but I wondered why she was asking me this now. "My parents didn't make me go after I made my confirmation."
"Do you remember any prayers?"
"Can you say some? Out loud. Please, Sam."
"What's going on?"
"Just start fucking praying, Sam, please." She was squeezing my hand so hard I thought it might burst. She was paper-white, looking like she was on the verge of tears. I'd never seen her- or anyone- so profoundly frightened.
Her outburst alarmed me, and I sat up straight, trying my best to remember 'Our Father'. I couldn't remember any other prayers in my tired, drunk state, so at her insistence I repeated it maybe three or four times. After that, she pulled over onto the grass, stopped the car, and burst into tears. I did my best to comfort her, but it was difficult considering she wouldn't tell me anything about what had upset her. After a while she was able to calm down and continue driving, but for the rest of the night she was very obviously uncomfortable.
We crashed at my older sister's place. The next morning, after I had thrown up and been fed Gravol and a plain bagel, the night started coming back to me. As Maggie sat next to me on the bed, I turned to her and asked what I had been wondering.
"Hey, I don't want to upset you again, but what happened last night, in the car?"
She looked at me with slightly bemused eyes. "You'd never believe me."
She took a deep breath and set her phone down. She wouldn't look at me when she spoke. "I started getting this awful feeling as soon as we got on the back roads. It was like this dread in the pit of my stomach, like the most intense feeling of impeding doom I've ever felt. I felt like I was going to die. I kept driving, and as soon as we were in the pitch black, I looked into the rearview mirror."
I waited for her to say more, but she just stared at her lap. "Is that all?"
She shook her head slowly, and I could tell she was getting overwhelmed again. "When I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw someone in the back seat."
I've told you before, I'm not one to scare easy. But when she said this, every single hair on my body stood on end.
"I knew the fear I was feeling had something to do with whatever that was back there, I could sense it. It was dangerous, I could just tell it wanted to hurt us. I didn't know what to do, the only thing that made sense was to pray, but I've never prayed before. You finished the first prayer, and I looked back in the mirror and it was gone. Sam, whatever that was wasn't human. Whatever that was- it was straight from hell."
After a lifetime of being a non-believer, I still don't know why this singular incident changed me. Maybe it was how sincerely scared she was, both in the moment and telling me afterwards. Maybe it was how out of the blue it was. Whatever the case may be, I believe her 100 percent.
Every night before I fall asleep, I hold her hand, say a prayer, and hope that that's enough to keep whatever was in the car away for good.