Monday, February 22, 2010

Living Stories

Isn't that a pretentious title? Good for me! But in a way, it applies.

I love urban legends. They're so creepy and fascinating, and when you really stop and think about the life behind them-- and they really do seem to live on their own-- they're really bizarre. Really think about them, and the stories nine time out of ten really are ludicrous. A woman masturbating with a live lobster? Why the hell would she do that when you can get such a wide and frequently frightening variety of sex toys? Or why would someone steal a kidney in a motel bathroom? Pretty sure that kidney won't be reusable; bathrooms don't tend to be terrifically sterile. I really think that today's urban legends (and rural, for that matter) are an extension of the cautionary stories told by our peasant ancestors. Today's Mexican rat mistake for a chihuahua was the big bad wolf a thousand years ago.

That being said, sometimes they're closer to you than your cousin's friend's roommate. I have a friend from high school; we went to the same church and even went on mission together to Honduras the year I graduated. Miranda believed in urban legends; she'd experienced one herself.

A few years before, she and her father had driven across country, I'm not sure why. I think it was to visit family on the East Coast; it was winter when they were driving back. Somewhere in the Midwest the weather was getting meaner and meaner; fog was coming in patches, and it was that wet, freezing fog that clings to everything it touches. It wasn't snowing yet, but it the weather definitely looked like it was heading that way. The sun went down and it got really nasty; they were driving on a back road at a crawl, when they saw her. This poor young woman, huddled in a red hoodie and a skirt of all things, and she was hitchhiking.

Like most people with a soul would do, they stopped and picked her up; the weather was nasty enough that hypothermia was a real concern. She was very grateful and explained that her house was about a mile away and her car had broken down. This was juuuust before everyone and their dutch uncle had a cell phone, so the likelihood of this happening wasn't that outlandish. Miranda told her there was a blanket in the backseat, and other than the occasional directions given, conversation lapsed back into tense silence, stress over the weather. After some time, Miranda's father figured they must be getting close to the street her home was on, and asked her if they should be on the lookout for a street name.

You all know what comes next. No answer. Repeat, still no answer. When Miranda turned to look, there was no one there. Of course. The blanket was puddled on the seat, but that was the only sign anyone had been there. The car was driving slowly, but certainly not slow enough to allow a person to tuck and roll without harm, not to mention that in any car you'd hear the door and sure as hell notice that one of your passengers had decided to give low flight a try. She had simply disappeared.

Miranda's father doesn't believe in ghosts; he thinks she was an angel, there to ensure that they drove safely through the nasty weather. Miranda agrees. While I certainly believe in angels, well, you already know what I think she was, don't you?

"..and then a ghost will follow you home!"


Matthew said...

Funnily enough, I knew how your story was going to end for a different reason. I recently rented this DVD from my library (as it was one of the few ghost documentary-type films they had), which just runs through a few North Carolina ghost/paranormal stories - and horribly renders them on a green screen background.

One of the stories was set in NC, but was almost exactly the same. It featured some guy picking up a woman who was huddled under a bridge in the rain. He drives her right home, while she points to all the streets he should turn on, but when he goes to open her car door, she's gone.

He then goes to the house's front door to ask if she'd already come inside, and the woman brings out a framed photo of her daughter who'd passed away. The woman at the door says it's the anniversary of her daughter's death, and implies that this sort of thing happened every year around the anniversary.

Similar story, but I had no idea it was also a well-repeated urban legend.

I have read other ghost stories like it though, always of women getting picked up off the side of the road.

If you have any more to share, please do :) (though I know it's a rarity for someone to actually experience these urban legends, rather than just recant them).

Stac said...

Matthew, thanks for the reply!

The Hitchhiking Ghost is a very common urban legend, one that I think is supposed to circle the globe. There have been hitchhiking ghost stories since before there were cars to hitch with. One great recurring account is that of Resurrection Mary, outside of (I think) Chicago. Really great reading on her!

The fascinating thing about my friend's story was that I have NEVER met anyone who ACTUALLY experienced this-- it's always "my older sister's boyfriend's cousin" kinda thing. When I heard the story we were sitting in the mess hall of our camp in Honduras- no A/C, no fans, nothing. It was HOT. And yet STILL my hair stood on end and I got the chills.

Nojh said...

Wow. That was a cool story. I'm never really sure what is an urban legend and what isn't. I just hear stories a lot of the time. But I /did/ know the ending to that one. Although I've heard some other endings where the person would ask them to stop in the middle of no-where, insisting that their house was just right there and thanking them, would get out of the car, and just walk into the weather and disappear.


Cins said...

*L* This so reminds me of that weird freaking guy on the side of the road I saw when I was young...only not as sinister feeling. Still, that would scare the hell out of me.
There are so many variations of the hitchhiking ghosts probably because there are so many freaking car accidents out there. And I do believe some of them are true, especially after my own lil incident of weirdness.

I love your creepy ass stories.:)