A truck with a strange set of lights appeared while on a long road trip. But where did the truck disappear to?
- Posted on May 20, 2019
Staring out at the highway, I could barely keep my eyes open. Already I’d been driving for more than four hours. Now it was long past midnight and we still had hours to go to reach our home in a small town in the foothills of southeast California.
Please, God, help us get there safely. The thought, more reflex than prayer, jolted my consciousness for a split second. I looked over at my 16-year-old daughter, Katie, sleeping peacefully in the seat next to me. I hated to wake her. She was as exhausted as I was. She would have to take over for me at some point, but not yet. If only there was a place to pull over. I could sleep for a while before going on. But in every direction there was only pitch-black darkness, not even a glimmer of a town in the distance, no sign of an exit anywhere. I couldn’t remember the last time I had even seen another vehicle.
I took a deep breath, trying to tamp down the sharp fear building inside of me. I felt so alone. In the driver’s side mirror I could barely make out the shadow of the 35-foot horse trailer behind our heavy-duty pickup. That was the reason I was in this fix. More specifically, Toby—our majestic, award-winning Paint—snug inside of it. We were coming home from the APHA World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. Our first time to show outside California. We couldn’t pass that up. Toby hadn’t placed, but the experience was invaluable.
But we couldn’t drive during the day, what with the desert heat topping 120 degrees. There was no way to keep the trailer cool. So we parked in the daytime at a campground, where we could find shade for Toby and get some shut-eye ourselves, then set off at night, hours after the sun set. This was our second night of driving. Katie had her license but wasn’t experienced enough to drive a horse trailer for long. I knew when we started that the driving would be on me. I hadn’t counted on how hard the isolation and the accumulated stress of the last two days would be.
I fiddled with the radio dials, trying to find music to keep me awake. Nothing but static. I drummed against the steering wheel, but that couldn’t keep my eyes from feeling heavy lidded—I jerked my head up. That was too close! I looked around desperately for something—anything—to focus on. But there was only mile upon mile of asphalt. And the drone of the tires against it. Monotonous. Stupefying. Sleep inducing. I yawned, feeling helpless to keep us safe.
Just then a blinding light shone in my mirrors. A big 18-wheeler coming up fast. I was grateful for the momentary distraction, even if I knew the truck would blow past us in seconds. To my surprise, it settled behind me instead, practically riding on my bumper. The headlights glaring, impossible to ignore. Go around, bozo! I thought. Nothing doing. It was as if the trucker was intentionally trying to irritate me. I slowed down. He did too. Some answer to prayer this is!
“Can’t you at least get him off my tail?” I muttered, though I was certain now that no one was listening. Mile after mile we drove, for more than an hour, my heart pounding. I thought again of how alone I was. If this trucker had some bad intention, there would be no one to save us. Those kinds of worries kept me awake now. When I felt myself nodding off the headlights jerked me awake. They seemed to shine brighter, jarring me back to attention.
At last I saw a glimmer in the distance. A gas station on a hill to the left. Thank you, Jesus! The off ramp came into view and I put my blinker on to let the trucker know I was getting off. As I came up the exit lane I looked left to see the 18-wheeler go by. My eyes followed. Up ahead there was nothing but the road, desolate as ever. What had happened?
I pulled into the brightly lit gas station, parked the truck and slumped down in my seat. I just could not understand it. Katie stirred and I told her everything. About the truck. The lights. The disappearing. “Well, that’s weird,” she said and went back to sleep.
I tilted my seat back, and the next thing I knew I awoke to the truck bouncing from Toby pawing impatiently in the trailer. I felt refreshed, like I’d slept for eight hours, though it was less than two. I filled a bucket of water for Toby. Katie was ready to drive. Now that I was awake, I couldn’t stop thinking about those headlights. I was scared in the moment, but the more I thought about it the more the presence of that truck seemed reassuring, protective even. He’d appeared just when I needed him and stayed until I was safe, as if I’d been sent a 10-4 by God himself.
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