Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
There are so many scary stories that start with a car breaking down or running out of gas. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes to mind. In many movies, there’s that tension-filled scene where the-one-being-chased cannot start a car. When you are in unfamiliar territory, sometimes the best sound is the engine.
In today’s true story, submitted to Jezebel’s annual scary story contest (2012), two sisters are stranded at a gas station. Will they escape alive?
This is a scary story, but a completely human one.
Back in the late 80’s, my sister had to go to Plano, Tx, for some training. I offered to drive with her. We were heading west on I-20, not long after we’d crossed the Texas border when the car started acting up. We went from exit to exit on the highway, but couldn’t find a gas station that had service bays. Finally, near Tyler we saw a station with bays that looked active.
As we pulled into the gas station, two men in coveralls walked up to us and asked if they could help. We assumed from their actions that they worked there. They opened the hood and diagnosed the problem as being the water pump. About this time, my sister and I started to get really bad vibes off these guys. One was tall and thin and was talking at what first seemed to himself, but it became increasingly clear it was to someone or something only he could see up in the air. The other guy was average height with a big gut and seemed alright except that as he moved, his coverall zipper had come down a bit. He didn’t have a t-shirt on and there were what looked like fingernail scratches down his chest. We said we needed to talk to the service station manager. The men said we shouldn’t bother the manager. My sister and I tried to walk in the office/mini-mart and the men blocked us. We went two different directions and I managed to reach the person at the cash register. I asked him about the men, he said they didn’t work there. I noticed the repair bays were being used to raise house plants under gro-lights. I asked him for help. He said it wasn’t his problem. I walked outside with the man with the big gut trailing me. As I reached my sister and the man talking to the invisible people, the man with the gut said that they could fix our car but didn’t have a part. As it was late, he couldn’t get one from the auto store that night. He suggested that he tie our car to the back of their van. They’d tow us to a bank machine where we could get out the money to buy the part in the morning and tonight the two of them would show us a real good time. We said NO and told him to put the water pump back in the car, that we’d limp the car to the next exit. They wouldn’t put the car back together, instead trying to talk us into getting in their van with them.
My sister and I once again went walking different directions and I made it to the pay phone, over at the edge of the lot, and used my back to block the man with the gut from hanging up as I dialed. Neither my sister nor I had a cell phone in the late 80’s. I’m not sure what was going on in my mind at this point, but instead of calling 911, I called the toll free AAA number and told the lady who answered that our car had broken down and two guys were trying to abduct us. She told me to make sure my sister and I stayed around other people and she’d have someone right there. She also asked me to describe our car and the men’s van. I swear it was only around 15 minutes later when a huge tow truck came ROARING into the service station and stopped right between our car and the van. A tall man in a cowboy hat, muscular and built like a barn, stepped out and said “Ladies, get in my truck and lock the doors.” We did that immediately, as you might imagine. The tow truck driver walked over to the two of them, stared them down, and said some things we couldn’t hear. The two men handed the tow truck man the water pump and left. The tow truck man put the part back in the car and hooked it up to his truck. He got in with us and asked where we were going. We told him Plano, which was around 100 miles away. Our AAA coverage covered local towing. This man drove us all the way to Plano, saying he’d been meaning to visit his cousin up there anyway. We were supposed to be charged by the mile for the extra distance, but he wouldn’t hear of it. We insisted on giving him money for dinner for he and his cousin, $60.
The next morning, I called several police stations in the area of that gas station but they either said it wasn’t their jurisdiction or that no crime had been reported. The Tx DPS said that they’d have some of their officers keep an eye on the station.
I have no doubt in this world that those two guys were trying to abduct us and that if we’d have been bullied or cajoled into getting into that van that my sister and I would have been assaulted or killed. I’m not sure why I called AAA, but I thank God for that operator and the tow truck driver. They literally saved us.