31 Days of Halloween with The Kelly Society Day 10 - The Loneliest Road in America
31 Days of Halloween with
The Kelly Society
Welcome back, friends. It's Donna from Luna Books, and I'm sharing a spooky story from one of my customers.
Each Halloween season Marina Kaye comes in after driving from Alturas, which is still in California, but almost at the Oregon border. She comes in to get the latest additions to our metaphysical bookstore and to gather up some glass blown pumpkins created by artisans in Half Moon Bay. We got around to talking about eerie stuff and then I said, "Have you had anything weird happen to you living in rural America?"
"Well, we don't have the Headless Horseman," Marina Kaye replied. "But, I did have a really chilling experience on Highway 139 one night."
I had to add her story to this blog, so here it is in her own words:
I live in rural California. I joke that if I reach out my arms, I can stand in California and touch Oregon and Nevada at the same time. The closest larger town is 1 ¾ hours away in Oregon.
The drive North from Alturas, CA (classified as a “semi-ghost town”) to Klamath Falls takes you through wilderness until you hit the first tiny town of Tulelake 74 miles into the drive. This is what happened to me on HWY 139, a stretch described as one of the “Loneliest roads in America.”
It was June 5th, my birthday. I had made the journey alone to Klamath to shop, eat, and see a movie. The movie let out at 10:30 PM, so I was making the drive home late. For those last 74 miles of the drive, there are no services, no lights, no people, buildings, and no side roads (except for County roads used in case of wildfires). UPS and logging trucks go by, but you often don’t see other cars. I passed through the Agricultural Checkpoint (known by locals as the “Bug station”), and then hit the 20 mile stretch of higher elevation known as “The forest,” called that because of all the tall pine trees that seem to spring up out of nowhere. It’s always colder here, even in the summer, and in the winter the white-out conditions have twice made me have to turn back. Tonight, on my birthday, it is extremely cold. We still get snow in June. I’m driving with the heater on, aggressively watching the sides of the roads for deer, who famously wait till the last minute to fling themselves in front of your car.
I see something coming up on the right side of the road. As I get closer, I see it’s two children standing side by side, facing away from me. This section of road you can drive 75 MPH, so the thoughts that ran through my head took only the seconds it took to pass them. As I passed them, I saw two boys, one a young teenager, and the other younger, maybe 7-8-ish. Both boys had short dark hair and were wearing a mix of white, red, and khaki modern T-shirts, shorts, ball caps, and tennis shoes. They were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with their arms rigidly at their sides, and their heads were slightly tilted up, as if they were looking at something. They never moved. For some reason I thought they were brothers.
The first thing that hit me was the wrongness of the situation. They weren’t acting like kids would here, especially on the side of the road at night. As a child clinical psychologist, I know typical juvenile behavior. If you’re standing dangerously close to the white line on the road, in the cold, dark, middle of nowhere, with no lights, you turn around to face the car, you step away from the road to the gravel shoulder, and you make sure they see you. They never moved, never twitched, nothing. They never acknowledged that I was even there.
The younger child was closest to the car, and it also struck me wrong that the teen didn’t move him away from the car, or move him at all.
I realized they weren’t dressed for a cold June night. They looked like they were going to go play baseball on a hot summer day.
I would never leave children stranded in the middle of a lonely, dangerous road. Working with students at schools, my first instinct is always to check to see if a child needs help.
I got a deep gut feeling that said these were not normal children. That this was all wrong. That they weren’t alive. Do Not Stop.
My stomach clenched in cold fear as I passed them.
They never turned to face me, and I got another gut feeling that it would not be good for me if they did turn around. I was afraid to see their faces.
Even after I passed them and I looked in the rear view mirror, I did it not in hesitation that I may be leaving kids in a bad situation, but in fear…fear of seeing their faces but unable not to look, fear that they had started chasing the car or something equally horrible and creepy. They were gone.
You would think I would be able to shake it off and put the odd moment behind me, but I didn’t. I am a doctor, a trained professional who often travels alone and who doesn’t spook easily. I believe I saw spirits, and the fact that I could see them so clearly unnerved me. I flashed back on ghost stories of lonely roads I have seen on TV. I checked the back seat. I stated out loud that no one was allowed to come with me. The rest of the drive was done with the radio playing loudly, the heater on high, and my body tense and anxious. Even finally at home I felt shaken, if I could see something like that, what else was possible? What could I encounter or see next?
The next day I decided to investigate that section of the highway. What I found was a report of a car accident that killed “2 minors” in 2004. The next time I drove that section in the daylight, from the opposite direction, I was able to see a roadside memorial, with plastic flowers and a picnic table…maybe for the family to visit and share a meal with them?
I told my friend at work about what happened, as most folks in town travel that road for shopping. She responded by saying, “Oh great! I have to do that drive tomorrow night!” She didn’t report seeing anything.
I’ve never heard of anyone else seeing the boys. I’ve come to believe maybe it was a combination perfect storm of factors that made it happen. And I haven’t seen them again. Maybe they were focused on something I couldn’t see, or maybe we weren’t actually sharing the same time and place. I just don’t know.
I will tell you - the next time I did that dark drive, I was scared I would see them. I was scared they would be further down the road, as if they were slowly walking towards some destination, hopefully not my town, my house - as if they missed the ride.