This will probably be a little different then the rest of the stories submitted but I still think it applies. This is a really long story that i've tried my best to distill down to what's relevant.

Here it goes.

So for reasons that are unimportant I found myself heading from NW Indiana to Homa Louisiana on a Friday evening, setting out sometime in the afternoon. My best friend at the time had made an agreement with his ex wife to come get his eldest daughter over thanksgiving week, and this was the return trip to take her home. I should also mention that this occurred in early 2000's and I was in
my early 20's.

My friend who for this I will refer to as simply D was a truck driver and had been OTR (Over The Road) the last few days. So the agreement was I would start the drive and he would sleep, and when he woke up we'd stop somewhere and swap. His daughter, who was around 7 at the time, quietly played on her game boy for the first few hours before falling asleep in the back of my Blazer.

I found myself driving down either I 55 or I57 I can't remember, when around 3 A.M. D started to wake up. He asked me how the drive was going. I told him fine. He glanced back to see his daughter crashed out in the back and finally asked me what state we are in. I told him Arkansas and he nodded. He then watched as a couple mile markers went by and told me there would be a rest stop up ahead a few miles and we could stop stretch our legs and he'd take over driving. I nodded and we conversed about nothing until the exit sign for the rest stop came into view within a few miles just like he said.

Now I was driving fast. Not insanely but maybe 80 or so. When the exit came around I took it not really slowing down. Immediately I noticed something was wrong but I couldn't figure out what it was exactly. Coming around a curve I was met with the concrete divider that separates residential and commercial vehicles. That's when I realized that the problem was none of the pole lights that lined the ramp were on. It was pitch black out and I hadn't seen the divider due to the curve. D grabs my oh shit handle and starts pumping imaginary brakes and I veer hard left barely missing the divider and killing us all.

I slow way down easing into the residential parking side where again there are no operable lights and notice the entire lot is full with the exception of one parking space the very first one you can take actually.

I park as D comments on the power apparently being out and we sit there for a moment coming down from the adrenaline rush that was us nearly dying in a fiery car crash. He glances back at his daughter who somehow managed to remain sleeping while I sent her thrashing about the back of the Blazer. Then looks to me and says. You go first, I'll stay with her, and when you come back I'll take her and then we can get back on the road.

I nod and go to shut off my vehicle when my hand reaches my keys and just hangs there for a moment. Now one thing you gotta know about me is I never, EVER, and I mean EVVERRR leave my keys in my vehicle. Can't stand it, don't like it. I have this weird thing about if I'm not in it. I want my keys on me. Don't know why, nothing has ever happened for me to have cause for this. Just one of my quirks I guess. So as I sit there with my hand on the ignition key, D goes.. You alright man? I shake my head a bit and reply with yeah.. Yeah.. I'm just going to leave it running. Now my buddy knows me and he knows about this particular quirk but just shrugs and says all right.

What I didn't tell him was that I just had this weird feeling that if I shut it off it wouldn't start. Which made no sense since the vehicle was perfectly sound and had never giving me cause to have that particular worry.

I hop out and like I said we were in the very first parking spot so we were on the far end of the rest rooms. The woman's side as it turned out, so I had to walk to the other side to get to the men's. Instead of walking down the side walk I opted to cut across the grass since it was shorter. As I'm walking I figure that if none of the lights in the parking lot are working odds are none of the electric is on inside the restrooms either. It's not a problem per say. I don't scare easy and I prefer the dark over daylight. Also I grew up in a haunted house and had my fair share of creepy experiences. Ghost stories? I got tons of them. The point I'm getting to is that while I believe in the paranormal and the likes it takes more than a dark room to get under my skin.

So as I approach the men's room I resign myself to this fact and open the door. Sure enough pitch black. I sigh but notice that the moon is out and full and with it's light I can get a basic Idea of the lay out of the bathroom with the door open. The door however is spring-loaded so it would close behind me but at least I had a heading for when I went in.

I go to step in and my hand to god my feet refuse to move. So I stand there at the threshold trying to will my legs to work and and nothing. Someone might as well nailed my feet to the ground. I try in vein for a few moments to take the next step inside the room, getting angry at myself for not being able to. While becoming increasingly embarrassed by how dumb I must look standing there when, for reasons that lack all rational, I think maybe the lights are motion sensitive. Maybe you just have to go in far enough and they'll turn on. Dumb I know, and being an electrician by trade I knew the odds were hard against me. But it was something. Not enough to get my legs working mind you so instead I settled on holding on to the door jam with one hand while waving my other hand inside trying to catch the attention of a motion sensor deep down I know doesn't exist.

A few times of this and I'm inwardly admonishing myself for looking so foolish when, and to this day I still don't know why, I became immediately terrified. Just like with my vehicle I had this sudden and overwhelming feeling that if I didn't get my hand out of that room something I couldn't see was going to grab it, yank me in and that'd be the end of me.

As fast as I could I ripped my arm out of the door, and closed it while putting my back into it. With every ounce of strength I had I dug my boots into the concrete waiting for what ever monster my imagination had conjured to shoulder check the door from the other side. I was sweating, breathing hard, and growing tired from the fear and exertion.

Did anything happen? Nope. I stood there looking ridiculous till I finally let off the door and stood to face it one last time. As I stood there I chuckled at my own stupidity and shook my head at the thought that this is the kind of stuff that scares other people not me.

None the less I came to two very simple revelations in that moment. One there is no way in ten hells I'm going into that bathroom. Two I'm a guy and any tree will do. Fortunately the rest stop was nestled in a wooded area so my options were vast and varied. I find a nice size oak out of the way and walk over to it. Go around the back and proceed to take care of business. Which puts me directly between the thick oak and the woods so of course I get the feeling that I'm being watched.

I'm over this whole thing at this point so I say out loud and to no one. I'm sorry your life is so boring that you have to resort to watching a guy use the bathroom as I'm finishing up, and as I come back around the tree facing the entire parking lot of 30 ish cars I freeze. I stand there, the smile from my poor attempt at humor fading fast and you guessed it.. My blood ran cold.

For the life of me I have no idea how or why it took me so long to notice this. Maybe it was the initial rush on our arrival maybe it was my tunnel vision of contending with the dark bathroom I don't know. But there I stood looking over a sizable parking lot full of cars, mine the farthest away, and there wasn't a soul anywhere. Not one other person to be found. 30 + cars empty. No one walking their dog. No one stretching their legs. Not one single other person anywhere. I thought I had to be missing something so I looked all around in every direction and nothing, and it was quiet. It was like the world was holding it's breath. It was one of the weirdest most unnerving moments of my life.

I took a breath and started making my way back to my vehicle only this time I opted to take the side walk so I could see into most of the cars parked in front. They were all empty, and while I understand that having a car seat doesn't demand that one is traveling with a child, some of the other bits and bobs and acutramons strongly suggested it.

When I got back to my vehicle I got in and before I closed the door D told me in a tone that was very unlike him that we needed to get the hell out of there. I wasted no time and peeled out of the parking lot as fast as the Blazer would go.

We ended up finding a truck stop and stopping there for facilities, snacks, and drinks. I don't remember why but I continued driving and after his daughter fell back asleep unaware of the entire rest stop excursion, D finally asked me what I experienced. I told him, and when I was finished he told me that like me and despite any explanation as to why it took him so long. He noticed the same thing. Only for him it was the trucks in the commercial lot that got his attention. He said he had his window down so he could smoke and noticed none of them were running. I didn't see the relevance but he explained to me that truckers don't often shut their rigs off unless they're leaving them. If they are parking for the night or out of hours they will leave them running to power tv's, game consoles, or what ever form of entertainment they have with them. Not to mention AC or heat. When he didn't see any truckers in their cabs filling out there log books or walking around talking to loved ones on cell phones, he started really paying attention. That was about the time I started back towards the truck myself. When I got to my door he was as he put it thoroughly unnerved.

We continued to Homa with out further incident. Dropped off his daughter, and spent some time there so he could see his younger daughter. Left there and stopped for a genuine po boy that was fantastic if you've never had one. The off to Mississippi so I could meet a lady friend of mine I'd met online. Spent about 6 hours there and had a lovely time, minus a small misunderstanding where her father pulled a gun on me. It was fine she pulled one on him and diffused the situation. It really is like a whole nother world down south. We were on the gulf so I asked if D minded if we stop by the ocean. I'd never been to one and didn't know if I'd ever have the chance again. Not for nothing but I'm 40 as of July of this year and haven't been to an ocean since so good call i guess. After an hour or so there I'd been awake for something like 34 hours. D told me to crash and he'd start the long drive back. It was still light out but I crawled into the back of my Blazer and passed out.

Some undeterminable time later I awoke to D screaming dude dude wake up. In my sleep addled state  I sat up and asked him what was going on. It was dark out by this time and he told me to look out the window. I did and saw red and blue lights on the other side of the highway. They were everywhere. Had to be a couple dozen patrol cars all in a row bunched up in one area. You could also see at least 2 choppers flying around in circles above them. I asked him what was going on. Was there a bad accident? I'll never forget his response. He said No dude we're in Arkansas, that's the rest stop.

A few years later for reasons that are also unimportant I had to tell this story in front of a literature class. (Not mine.) After I finished I started to leave when a few of the students raised their hands. I looked at the professor and she nodded so I pointed at one of them. It was a guy who had a question. I don't remember what it was but I answered. Then another and another. Finally a woman raised her hand and I pointed at her and she said aaaaaaaaand?

I said and what. She replied with and you never found out what happened? I regarded her for a moment before replying with.. The way I figure it this story ends one of two ways. Best case scenerio... After state and local authorities received multiple reports of abandon or otherwise unattended vehicles at rest stop such and such, an extensive search of that spot and surrounding areas turned up the gruesome discovery of corpses stacked like firewood in the woods. That's the best case scenario.

Option two. After state and local authorities received multiple reports of abandon or otherwise unattended vehicles at rest stop such and such, an extensive search of that spot and surrounding area was conducted. After putting forth countless man hours, personnel, and resources, they found absolutely nothing.

Either way I don't need to know that badly.
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