The uninvited passenger
By Correspondent Ales Verlic in Ptuj, Slovenia.
The story takes place near Huda luknja (roughly translated as “the mean hole”), on the road from Velenje to Slovenj Gradec in the northern part of Slovenia.
It was late at night when he was driving home from a late dinner with his business partners. He was tired from the long day and alone in the car. It was one of those unpleasant cold and foggy nights when the roads are empty and you feel all alone in this world. The gentle music coming from the radio and the heater turned to max didn’t help much in keeping him awake and concentrated. He decided to open the window, let some fresh air in the vehicle and lit a cigarette. It instantly got better and he felt much more confident. Some of the ash fell on his lap when he inhaled the smoke and he cursed before lowering his eyes to spot the ashes. The car went here and there for a second as he wasn’t paying attention, but he managed to stay in the right lane. He took a look in the rear view mirror to make sure nobody was driving behind him, when he saw her.
There was a figure sitting in the back of his car, long dark hair falling down her shoulders and a pair of cold eyes staring at him. The fear was so intense that he almost drove of the road and into the near river. After a lot of tire squeaking and wheel spinning he gained control again. The woman was still there giving him the chills. He started to shiver, his hands were sweating and he was afraid to look in the mirror again. He was despairing. How is this even possible, what is she doing in the car and most of all, what is she?
It took him a while to remember the old stories again, the stories of a woman dying in unexplained circumstances many years ago, whose ghost was supposedly seen hitchhiking on this road on numerous occasions. He never believed in this nonsense, until now. Once again he overcame his fear and looked in the mirror to check on her, but the rear seat was empty. As suddenly as she appeared, she disappeared again without trace. His relief was enormous. Later that night, while lying in bed, his thoughts constantly wandered to the woman, making it impossible to fall asleep. Eventually the tiredness took its toll and he dozed off to an uncomfortable sleep.
He drove up and down that road many times since the incident, in good weather and in bad, while the sun was shining and in the darkest nights, but he never looked in the mirror on that stretch of the road again.
Ales Verlic is a philosopher and freelance writer from Ptuj, Slovenia.