I put everything away and walked to the driver's side of my truck toward the cab. I took the last couple of puffs off my cigarette and flung it into the parking lot, used my keys to unlock the truck and popped the door open. Just as I planted my foot on the fairing, I heard a distinct giggle. A girl's giggle. I stepped back down and shined the flashlight around. Nothing.
"This is getting kind of creepy," I said aloud.
"He heard me," a small girl's voice answered back.
I jumped backward away from my truck. The voice had come from inside the cab! Something was wrong. I had the entire truck locked up while I was walking around. There was no way that someone could have gotten in without breaking a window. Steeling myself for what was going to be an uncomfortable encounter at the least, I took a step up on the fairing and leaned my head into the truck.
"Is anyone in here?" I asked. I hit the switch to turn on the sleeper berth light. I climbed in. I put a knee onto the seat and peered into the sleeper berth.
"Goodnight," a soft voice said, which seemed to emanate from all around me. I flinched as I heard the word and felt a cold chill run through my body. I slid off the seat and stood up in the cab, bumping my temple off the overhead storage bins. I looked around the sleeper. No one was there.
I turned around and shuffled into the cab to close the door when I saw the young girl standing outside my truck on the pavement, looking up at me with lifeless eyes. Those eyes, you see, weren't meant for a person. They were designed for a predator, and all of a sudden I felt like prey.
I reached forward and slammed the door shut and flicked the lock. I quickly decided that I was not staying here for the rest of the night. I turned the key and heard my truck's motor rumble to life, along with the familiar, annoying buzzing that was my air-pressure gauge telling me that I didn't have enough air to release the brakes. I took a furtive glance out the window, and there she stood - still as a tree, looking up at me and smiling. I didn't want to get any closer to the window until I was ready to get my truck moving. This was wrong, and I didn't want any part of this.
That "girl" wasn't human, at least not anymore she wasn't. It was almost as if she was something so inhuman that it would take the form of a human. It's hard for me to explain and I feel sick just thinking about it. I heard the siren shut off and hit the valves to supply air to my brake system. As the system began to air up, the siren came on again.
Screw this, I thought to myself. I have enough to get out of here. I disengaged the clutch, grinded the truck into gear and roared out of the parking lot like the devil himself was behind me... which, for all I knew, he was.
I looked in my side mirror as I was about to start turning right and saw the girl washed in the red and amber glow of my running lights. She was smiling at me and waving. I flew through my gears as quickly as they would let me as I got back onto the interstate.
THE KNIFE AND THE POSTCARD
I drove for about forty-five minutes, repeatedly hitting the switch to turn on my interior lights to look around the cab and the sleeper before finally spotting a larger truck stop at the next exit. After backing into one of the few remaining spots left, I shut off my lights and turned on the sleeper berth light as I walked into the back. Then paused.
At the store, I had bought a souvenir. Nothing fancy, just a postcard with a picture of Arkansas on it. I also had bought a new knife. I had never even taken the knife out of the box, and remembered putting the postcard into a drawer for safekeeping. The point of the blade had been driven directly into the spot on I-40 where I had originally stopped for the night! The blade had been driven in deep, pegging the postcard to my nightstand!
It took me several minutes just to work the knife loose enough to withdraw it from the nightstand. Thankfully, when I turned the postcard over, no message had been left for me.
To this day I do not know what I saw. I hear other truckers talk of strange things that they see on the interstates, U.S. highways and state routes, but I've never mentioned my experience. I've always felt that just by mentioning her, I'd walk back out to my truck and there she would be, sitting on my bunk and waiting for me.
I threw that postcard away and tossed the knife into a dumpster. I got another postcard from Arkansas, just to keep the collection going. I've got 36 so far.