The final confession of Reginald Davies, the Butcher of Broad Street

My name is Reginald Harmon Davies, although you might remember me as Demon Davies, the Butcher of Broad Street. I was convicted of murdering twenty-three people over a five year period in central Ohio back in 1998.

My arrest and trial made all the major news outlets, but that was twenty years ago. When I die, I probably won’t even get a name drop on the evening news. Maybe a blurb in the crawl while the sports anchor reads basketball scores, but that’s about it.

I was just informed that my last appeal has been denied. According to the guards I have about 3 hours until they inject me with the blue juice cocktail that will stop my heart. One final trip to the crematorium and then I’m a pile of ash, nothing more.

If you’re reading this, it means my lawyer followed my instructions to get my story out. This isn’t a plea for mercy or a claim of innocence. I am a remorseless monster; I have earned this fate. But I do have one last confession to make before I go. My final victim, one that didn’t make the papers. One the cops didn’t pin on me.

This is about Anna, if that’s even her true name. To be honest there’s much about my encounter with her that frightens me even more than the needle that’s about to go into my arm. Lovely young Anna, and the ride we never took.

(While reading my confession, if you would indulge me in performing one last experiment I would be grateful. Eternally so, as it may be. I’m already dead.

When prompted, I want you track how many breaths you take as you read. That’s it. Breathe as often as you feel the need, but count them with your fingers or mark them on a piece of paper, either works. Just wait until I prompt you to begin counting.

It’s a simple enough task. Plus if you do this, I promise you will learn something about yourself when we reach the end of my story.)

I met Anna in the parking lot outside of a Kroger near Bexley, Ohio on a cold rainy night in November of 1996. It was around 3am, I had just finished work and had stopped to buy ice cream for my daughter’s 7th birthday party on the following weekend.

I’ve forgotten many things over the years, but I’ll never forget that rain. Cold, biting, near freezing, the type of rain that feels like ice picks against your skin. Not the type of weather where you’d expect to see a girl standing all alone late at night.

Anna was wearing a thin light blue cotton dress that clung to her pale skin, far too little clothing for as cold of a night as it was. Her wet black hair hung over her face as she held her shoulders, shivering in the night as she stood under a lamp post next to the cart corral near the back of the lot.

She didn’t look any older than fifteen, but I’m a horrible judge of age. Capital University was just down the road, so she could’ve been a student there. Or a professor; like I said, I’m a horrible judge of age.

I wasn’t hunting that night, but seeing her alone triggered my predator instinct. I approached her and waved hello, offering as warm a smile as I could muster considering the weather.

“Are you okay?” I asked as I walked closer. I could see the goosebumps on her bare arms and legs. I remember wondering if there was any way of preserving those when I peeled her skin off her later.

She smiled through a shiver. “Can you help me? I got lost walking home from a party when this rain hit. I left in a hurry, so I didn’t bring my coat. Can you let me in your car?”

Her teeth chattered as she smiled again, shivering as a cold wind kicked up.

“I’m Anna, by the way,” she said, then added, “with two N’s.”

I couldn’t pinpoint why just yet, but a strange feeling washed over me. This felt wrong. Too easy.

Looking back, it probably how she was offering too much information before it was asked. Maybe it was her own discomfort or her way of trying to set me at ease considering the odd nature of our meeting. Whatever it was, her efforts to comfort me by explaining why she was alone in that parking lot at 3am only led to more uneasiness on my part.

“Which direction are you headed?” I asked.

“Back that way,” she said, throwing her head in the direction of the campus. “Which car is yours? Just let me in, I’ve been shivering out here for hours.”

She smiled again, taking a step closer. I took a step back.

I had a knife hanging from my belt and a gun in my inside jacket pocket. I was far bigger than her and trained in hand to hand combat, so I shouldn’t have had any doubts that I could overpower her should the need come.

But at that moment, I wasn’t so sure. Something was off.

It wasn’t how she was asking, or why she was asking that bothered me. It was what she was asking for.

She wasn’t asking for a ride; she was asking me to let her into my car.

Anna must’ve sensed my apprehension because she offered even more information, seeming to pick the questions from my mind before I could ask them.

“I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t go in the store,” she said. “Just let me in, please? Before I catch pneumonia?”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up, but not from the rain. I was a hunter, an apex predator, but I did not feel in control of this situation. I felt like prey, just before the snare tightened around my neck.

When I was on the hunt, I took care to stalk my victim from a distance for many days, learning their habits and finding the right moment to approach them. You might think I did most of my work at night, but the truth is I hunted in broad daylight, approaching my targets in crowded places. Places where they felt safe. It was disarming.

Everything about Anna’s appearance should have put me at ease. A young girl, alone, cold. Easy pickings, right? She should’ve seemed helpless or scared, but nothing about her demeanor gave me any indication that she was either of those.

She was in control of the situation, and doing her best to put me in my comfort zone. After all, I was a predator. The best way to hunt a predator was to make yourself look like prey. And that’s exactly what Anna was trying to do to me. It made me wonder if she had been stalking me prior to our meeting that night.

My jacket was zipped, so I shifted the ice cream to my other hand and unbuckled the strap on my knife.

Anna grew annoyed by my indecision to take the bait, letting out a frustrated sigh.

“Come on man, will you let me in or not?” she pouted.

She threw her hair back, looking up at me for the first time.

I felt the overwhelming urge to scream but I was paralyzed in fear, unable to speak or move. It was like sleep paralysis, if you’ve ever experienced that. But I was wide awake, standing upright. All I could muster was a low whimper between my teeth.

(Are you ready for our experiment? Take a deep breath and start counting.)

Her eyes. They were all white, like a marble statue in a museum. No pupils or irises, just a pair of dull white orbs staring back at me with a tiny black pin pricks in the middle.

The look on my face must’ve given me away because her eyes shifted down, away from me. She kicked her foot at a rock on the ground as she giggled. Her intent may have been to disarm me with innocence, proving herself an easy target, but it just creeped me out even more.

“Big strong man like you, afraid of a little girl like me?” she asked. “Please, I’m so cold, just let me in. I won’t hurt you.”

My fear paralysis gave way. My heart pounded in my chest, but I could move again. I was in the snare, but as long as I kept her out of my car I wasn’t too far in to escape.

I turned and walked to my car, hurrying my step. She followed after me.

“Please mister, let me in. There’s no one else, you’re my only hope.”

I walked faster. I heard the clack of her heels as she picked up her pace. I shifted my keys to my other hand and placed my right hand on the hilt of my knife, ready to draw.

“You don’t want to ride with me,” I said, without turning around. “My rides don’t end well.”

“How about you just let me sit in your car to warm up? No driving, just let me in and turn on the heat, please that’s all I ask!”

I took off in a dead sprint to my car, fumbling with the key as I tried to work it into the lock. She took off after me, catching up just as I got the door open and flung my purchases into the passenger seat.

I felt the cold grip of her hand on my elbow. I spun around, acting on instinct as I drew my knife and buried it deep into the middle of her chest.

(Are you still counting your breaths? Good. Keep going, you’ll see how important this is when we reach the end.)

Anna didn’t cry out. She didn’t struggle. She sucked in a gurgling breath and coughed as she clutched her hands at the knife’s handle. Green bile looking blood dripped down the edge of her mouth and stained her teeth as she stared at me, unblinking with those pin pricked marble eyes.

She dropped to the ground, still smiling. She coughed up some more green blood as she tried to speak.

“I almost made it. I almost had you,” she said, giggling in between raspy coughs.

Her giggling grew louder until she was laughing, throwing her head back as the rain washed over her face.

I left my knife and hopped into the car, pulling the door shut and locking it.

When I looked up, I saw them.

Two more dark haired kids standing on the passenger side of the car. Both the same indiscriminate age as Anna, both with milky white eyes with tiny black pin pricks in the center.

The shorter of the two, a boy, leaned his face against the passenger window.

“Can you let us in? It’s so cold out here,” he said. He smiled through chattering teeth.

I reaching over and slammed my fingers on the lock button. It was already locked, but couldn’t be too careful.

“Please?” The taller one added as a grin spread across his face. His teeth looked sharper than they had any business being.

I didn’t reply. I started the car and peeled out of the parking space. Before exiting the grocery store parking lot I took one last look back in the rear-view mirror. The two boys were dragging Anna’s body into the trees along the side of the store.

(Keep counting, it’ll be worth it when we get to the end, I promise.)

The next day my knife was found. No Anna, no green blood. But it still had my prints, and it didn’t take long for investigators to link it to a string of unsolved homicides. I ended up missing my daughter’s birthday party that weekend, and every one since.

I don’t know what they were, and I haven’t heard of anyone else who’ve crossed path with the likes of Anna and her two friends. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I had let Anna into my car, I only know the fear I felt as I stared into those milky white eyes. I don’t think it would’ve ended well.

I’ve had twenty years to think about Anna and our chance meeting that night in the Kroger parking lot. I had more in common with her than any of my other victims. It’s why I’ve kept her secret for this long. Anna was a hunter, like me. And even though she never got into my car that night, she did have a hand in my death twenty years later.

Let me end this with a final bit of warning, my parting wisdom to the world.

In my five years of hunting, the most important thing I learned is that it doesn’t take much to get people to do what you want, even when they have nothing to gain from it. People in general are accommodating, docile creatures that will do what’s asked of them, some without question or a second thought.

I know what you’re thinking. Not me. You’re too smart to fall for anything like that.

If that’s true, then why are you still counting your breaths? Because I asked? Because you thought you’d get something out of it in the end?

Like I said, it doesn’t take much to get people to do what you want.

Whether you counted the whole time or just a few breaths, the only thing you’ve learned is how lucky you are that you never met someone like me. Or Anna.

If you had, you would’ve stopped breathing long before you had a chance to read this.


Reginald Harmon Davies, 63, died by lethal injection on Monday October 15, 2018.

Dubbed by the media as the ‘Butcher of Broad Street’ during his much publicized trial in 1998, Davies was found guilty on 23 counts of first degree murder. According to court documents and records from the trial, Davies mutilated his victims while they were still alive in the basement of his home in Worthington in a soundproof room below his daughter’s bedroom.

Along with prison personnel, 6 witnesses and 4 members of the press traveled to the execution at the state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus.

He offered no last words as he was strapped to the lethal injection table. His lips moved in silent prayer as the drug cocktail was injected into his veins.

The injection was administered by prison officials at 11:45 am. After the injection, witnesses reported hearing Davies gasp several times and, at multiple points, screamed out “Anna please no” before going limp on the table. He was pronounced dead at 11:54 am.

How to summon the Butter Street Hitchhiker

(With all stories of this nature, the disclaimer “Do not try this at home” is a given. That being said, I could probably prevent copycats by changing some of the details so that even if you managed to find the right pickup spot you wouldn’t be able to summon the Hitchhiker. But hey, if you’re adventurous, go for it. If you follow the rules it’s perfectly safe, but the knowledge you gain may not be.)

There’s an urban legend in my hometown about a hitchhiker on Butter Street that will appear if you follow a series of instructions. Once summoned you drive him to his destination, and if you play the game right, he will answer an unknowable question for you. If you play it wrong, well, just don’t play it wrong.

There’s an old gravel pit at the end of Butter Street, the water there is the deepest blue. It’s almost like staring into the ocean, that’s how deep it is. More than one car over the years has been dredged up from the depths there.

Officially these drivers all fell asleep at the wheel. But unofficially, the deaths from cars careening off the road into the gravel pit during the wee hours of the night only add more veracity to the urban legend. They were the poor souls who broke the Hitchhiker’s rules.

So far no one has pinpointed the origin of the legend. I’ve reached out to the local historical society and searched through newspaper archives in the local library and haven’t found any mentions of the Hitchhiker. It’s a modern piece of folklore passed around coffee shops and diners in the early morning hours until it eventually made its way to high school cafeterias. It wasn’t until someone posted about the Hitchhiker on a local Facebook group that people began sharing their experiences and the rules of how to summon him.

But as more people shared their experiences, the details about the Hitchhiker varied from person to person. His clothes have switched up over the years, growing more modern. His speech doesn’t reflect any particular time period either, no mannerisms or 23 skidoo phrases to help date him. Sometimes he’s in his late teens, sometimes he’s much older. Even with these differences, everyone who claimed to have summoned the Hitchhiker swears that he was real.

The only common thread in all of the stories of the Hitchhiker is that he’s always wet when he enters the car, followed by what were always his first words to the driver.

“It’s a bad night for rain.”

To which you reply, “Is there ever a good night?”

He laughs, and that’s when you know you’re playing the game.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should go back to how I got him in the car.

The game starts by turning your car on exactly at midnight. Where doesn’t matter, only when. And once the car is on, you can’t get out, nor can you let anyone else in. Just you, in your car, at midnight.

What comes next is a lot of waiting, because you have to be at the pickup point on Butter Street at exactly 3:00 am. That’s right; three hours in the car. Those are the rules.

With three hours to kill, a lot of people show up early and just cruise the road so they can time getting to the pickup spot at exactly 3am. But as the urban legend has grown in popularity, the local police will pull you over if they see your car circle back down Butter Street more than once. The local cops all know the rules, so if they pull you over they’ll have you turn off your car and get out of the vehicle, thus ending the game.

On the night I decided to summon him, I filled up my car at the gas station at 11:45, then went in and took advantage of the facilities to ensure I wouldn’t need to make any pit stops before 3am. Then I waited in the parking lot until it was exactly midnight and started up my car.

I should add that it doesn’t matter what type of car you drive, but a four door car is preferred over a two door or a pickup. You don’t want to look directly at the Hitchhiker, not until the end of the trip. That’s much easier to do if he’s sitting in the back seat vs. sitting beside you.

I drove in a big loop around the county until it was time to head to the pick up, avoiding any of the known police traps to keep from having to try again another night. I kept my Maps program running on my phone so I knew exactly what time I had to make my way to Butter Street. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to be an urban legend hunter before realtime GPS maps.

Sidenote: you can play with the radio on or off, it has no impact on the Hitchhiker. Radio on is preferred if you choose not to engage him. He can get quite loud and belligerent if you won’t talk to him.

I pulled up to the pickup spot, stopped the car and then followed the summoning instructions. The rules posted online had small variations, but attempts that contained the following actions had the highest rate of success.

  • Leave the car on and in Drive but engage the emergency brake.
  • Turn off everything but the car (lights, air conditioning, radio, phone).
  • Unlock the car doors three times.
  • Roll down all the windows.
  • Press the brake pedal three times.
  • Turn the headlights back on.
  • Wait three minutes.

If he’s not there by 3:03 am, then you did something wrong.

With the lights off I noticed a fog rolling in. Whether it was part of the ritual or not I don’t know, but it added a creepy aesthetic to waiting on a dark road at 3am for a ghostly Hitchhiker.

Other than the idling of my Subaru, the road was still and quiet. I had even shallowed my breathing so I could listen for footsteps, giggling teenagers, other cars. But there was nothing.

I never even heard the car door open. I only heard it shut.

“It’s a bad night for rain,” a voice said from the backseat.

I felt every hair on my body stand up as a chill ran up the back of my neck. Over my stuttered breathing I could hear the steady drip of water from his pant leg hitting his shoe.

I didn’t turn around, but I stole a peek in the rearview mirror. He wasn’t a big guy, maybe my height. He was dressed in a white Doctor Dre The Chronic t-shirt, a red windbreaker and what looked like dark denim jeans. The rules said the mirror was fine as long as you didn’t turn the lights on in the car. But never look him directly in the face, not until he’s out of the car and ready to answer your question.

I gathered up my courage to reply back, but the words stuck in my throat. I cleared and tried again.

“Is there ever a good night?”

A pause as I stared back in the mirror at the shape in my backseat. I held my breath, waiting.

Then after what felt like ages I saw his hand slap against his wet knee as he laughed. I let out the breath I was holding as I disengaged the parking brake.

“Hold up, put your wipers on, champ,” he said. “With all that rain you won’t see the road.”

This was a scripted reply, part of the game.

“Right, sorry.” Also a scripted response.

Despite his insistence on the rain, it was bone dry outside. Per the rules, I turned on my windshield wipers, setting them to their fastest setting. He settled back against the seat, laying his arm across the back window.

“Mind if I turn on the radio?” I asked. This wasn’t part of the game, but I figured it was best to ask and be polite.

“It’s your ride,” he said. His voice was a smooth baritone. “One request, no country please.”

“Sure thing,” I answered. I put on a local top 40 station.

I pulled back onto the road just as the clock hit 3:03. I stole looks in the rearview mirror as often as I felt comfortable while still keeping the car on the road. Luckily this part of Butter Street was pretty straight and not a lot of traffic.

From his voice and the hand tapping against the wet knee in the backseat, I could tell he was a black man, maybe mid twenties, and dressed like he came straight from 1996. Nothing like any of the descriptions I read on the Facebook post about the Hitchhiker.

“Where you headed?” I asked. This was a scripted part of the game.

“I’m headed to see my girl, I worked the late shift tonight, thought I’d pop in to surprise her.”

His response to this question was always different. That, coupled with the fact that the appearance of the Hitchhiker seemed to shift led many to believe that it’s not the same spirit every time.

I pulled up at the stop sign at the end of Butter Street.

“Yeah, you want to make a right here,” he said.

I followed his orders, turning right. Other than following them, the destination and directions were irrelevant. The ride goes until 3:33am, when he tells you to pull over.

“So what’s your story, man?” he asked.

A scripted prompt, but how you reply was completely up to you. Some have ignored talking to him altogether, which apparently is not recommended. Some have shared a little out of politeness. Others have talked right up until drop off time, filling the air with their own words. The more you talk to him, the more he talks back. It doesn’t impact the game, it just makes the journey a little more interesting.

Even though I’m driving a ghost, his voice is disarming, making him easy to talk to.

“I have a day job that pays the bills, just boring office stuff, but in my spare time I like to explore urban legends and haunted places. Go out looking for proof of life after death.”

“Aw, for real? Damn, that sounds spooky as hell.” Unscripted reply.

He leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees. In the rearview mirror I could see the sleeves of his windbreaker were shredded.

“What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen? Take a right up here.” Unscripted.

I wanted to say “besides this?” but I held my tongue. All indications from everyone who has played the Hitchhiker’s game say that he was unaware of his situation. He’s just a passenger getting a ride to his destination. Attempts to get him to recognize his ghostly predicament do not go well, so I do not advise bringing it to his attention.

I took the next right as I continued my story.

“About two years ago, I was on a overnight ghost hunt at the Ohio State Reformatory, it’s an old prison up in Mansfield, where they filmed Shawshank Redemption,” I said. I figured if he was from the 90s, he might remember the movie. “So there’s a group of six of us on the tour and we’re over in the administration wing, and I felt this hand press into my back, like it was guiding me forward.”

“Oh hell no, my ass would be gone up out of there, I ain’t even playing.” Unscripted response.

It’s about this time that I realized that all of the street lights were off. Not just the lights on the streets; everything was dark. Granted it was the middle of the night, but we drove past a Taco Bell that was open twenty minutes ago when I passed by on my way to Butter Street. Now, it was completely dark, not a single car in the parking lot.

That’s the second thing I noticed, no cars. We’ve driven fifteen minutes without passing a single car. Not only were there no cars on the road, there weren’t any cars in any driveways or parking lots. As we rolled by a Ford dealership, the entire lot was empty. It’s like we’d stepped completely out of reality into a different one.

“So what did you do?” Unscripted. I’ve got his interest apparently.

I continued the story. “I turn and look and no one is behind me, but I can smell rose scented perfume. Apparently one of the ghosts there is the wife of the warden. She was killed when the warden’s gun went off by accident. It fell out of the closet, went off and shot her in the lung.”

“That is crazy, man. But I can feel why she might be hanging around still, you know what I’m sayin’? Like she’s got some unfinished business and shit because her life was cut short like that.”

We rode in silence for a bit, I don’t know for how long. I tried looking back at him in the mirror but he hung to the shadows.

Then I felt his cold breath against my neck, sending shivers up my spine.

“Could you imagine what that’s like?” He said. Unscripted.

“What do you mean?” I replied, also unscripted.

“Having your life cut short like that due to the careless act of another human being? That’s pretty fucked up.”

Unscripted.

My heart thudded against my chest. Did I mess up? Did I not follow the rules? Did he-

He laughed and sat back in his seat. “I’m just playin’ man. You need to relax.”

I felt his hands gripping my shoulders, giving them a little rub. They were cold as ice. He patted my shoulder and sat back. I felt a trickle of water go down my back from the cold wet spots on my shoulder where he grabbed me.

“Oh this right, coming up.”

He leaned forward, pointing at the road. His skin was ashy and his thumbnail was split to the nailbed. The smell of wet loam wafted into the front of the cabin. I made the turn.

I peeked at the clock on my dashboard and saw it was 3:29. Only four minutes to go.

“You got any family?” He asked. Scripted. I felt my heart leave my throat and drop back into my chest, we were back on script.

“I used to. Just me now.”

“That’s tough I know. Before my girl, I was all alone. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have her. Life would be just… empty.”

Unscripted.

A quiet stillness followed, like he was hit by a pang of remorse. For a moment it was so quiet I wasn’t sure if he was still back there, but then I felt his wet cold hand clap me on my shoulder.

“But don’t worry, man. You seem like an okay dude, going out of your way to help a young man like myself on a rainy night like this. I’m sure you’ll find someone. Just takes time.” Unscripted.

We rode in silence as I stole glances down at the clock on the dash. As soon as the time flipped to 3:33am, I heard his weight shift as he leaned forward.

“Oh this is me, up here.”

He pointed to a spot up the road. There was nothing there, no house, or driveway, not even a place to pull off.

I pulled the car onto the shoulder and eased to a stop. Just like when picking him up, I turned off the lights, radio and engaged the parking brake, leaving the car in drive. You don’t have to bother with the locking and unlocking three times or the business with the brake pedal. Just unlock.

Also, and this was very important, don’t watch him get out, don’t look at him in the rearview mirror, don’t do anything but look down at your hands on the steering wheel. Keep them on the wheel, ten and two. And wait.

This time I heard the car door open and slam shut. I could also hear the sound of his shoes against the gravel as he walked around the front of the car to the driver’s side. I wanted to look up, but I managed to fight the urge by counting the seams on the steering wheel.

“Thanks for the ride. Do you have a question for me?” he asked. Scripted. It was still his voice, but unlike our previous conversation it was completely devoid of personality or emotion.

Once you completed the ride, you were allowed to ask him a question. It has to be something personal but unknowable. You can’t ask for lottery numbers or things like that. People have supposedly asked about locations of lost heirlooms, the exact date and time of their death, the fate of long lost relatives, all sorts of personal questions they’d have no other way of knowing.

For the second time that night, the words failed to leave my throat. I took a deep breath and swallowed.

“Is she at peace?” I asked, then without thinking I added, “does she blame me?” My words were barely above a whisper, but I knew he heard me.

After you ask, then and only then are you allowed to look directly at him. So I did.

I felt all the color drain from my face as I looked up.

The Hitchhiker had no face at all. Only two shiny black spots where his eyes should be. He had no mouth, no nose, nothing else. Just two quarter sized black pools of what looked like liquid ink where his eyes should be, and they reflected every star in the sky. I couldn’t look away from those eyes, even though I very much wanted to.

“That’s two questions, my friend,” he replied. Unscripted.

My heart jumped back into my throat. I broke the rules. I fucked up. I asked two questions!

I was paralyzed staring up into his face. I sat looking up at him for what felt like hours.

I pulled back a little as his hands moved up to the sides of his face, just under his ears. I thought for a moment he might rip off his false face and reveal another, more terrifying one.

He didn’t remove his face. Instead he pulled his hoodie up over his head, returning his empty face to the shadows.

“But since you were kind enough to save me from walking all this way in the rain, I’ll answer you.” Unscripted.

Before I could exhale a sigh of relief, he gripped the door frame and leaned down so I was staring directly into his empty eyes.

“She’s not at peace; and she does blame you.”

Even with the hood up, I could still see every last star in the night sky in those inky black pools. I can’t fully capture what I saw in them. It was like staring at both vast infiniteness and vast nothingness. They held everything and nothing at the same time. His eyes, they were like staring into eternity.

As he stood up from the window, I let out the breath I was holding. My hands shook as I pulled them off the steering wheel.

“Drive safe.” Scripted reply. The last thing he says before he leaves.

He walked away behind the car. You can watch him walk in the rearview mirror, but don’t turn around or get out or try to follow him. I watched until he disappeared into the darkness and waited until I could no longer hear his footsteps against the gravel.

When I turned on my headlights I realized I was back on Butter Street, parked on the side of the road next to the drop off for the gravel pit. This was always where you ended up after the Hitchhiker leaves.

All I had to do was release the parking break and the car would roll towards the drop off, gaining speed until it launched off the cliff into the deep blue water waiting below.

I don’t know how long I sat there with my hand on the parking brake release, contemplating his answer to my question.

But then, I saw them. Headlights. A car was coming up the road towards me. The cars were back, as were the streetlights and houselights. I was back from wherever the Hitchhiker took me.

I locked eyes with the driver as they drove by, having one of those weird moments where time seems to slow down. It was enough to jolt me back to reality. I released the parking brake and aimed my car back onto the road. I got home a little after 5am.

I tried to sleep but was too worked up from my adventure so I called in sick. I laid in bed all day, thinking about the Hitchhiker, his words, and all those cars that end up in the gravel pit on Butter Street.

Maybe those cars aren’t from people who played the game wrong.

Maybe they all played it right, but couldn’t handle his response to their question.

It’s been three days since I picked up the Hitchhiker. I can still smell the wet loam in my car, and his muddy footprints in the floorboard of the backseat are still there.

As I write this, I look up from my monitor and look at the photo of my Abigail, taken two weeks before she died. She’s beautiful, smiling and happy.

“She’s not at peace; and she does blame you.”

It’s my favorite photo of her. I think I’ll take it with me when I take a drive later tonight.

I’m going back to see the Hitchhiker. I have a hunch, and I don’t know if it’s relevant, but I feel it’s important to share with anyone reading this that I’m wearing a gray Adidas hoodie and jeans. If somebody out there reading this picks up the Hitchhiker later on and sees something similar in get in their backseat, well, then I guess we’ve solved part of the mystery.

If you do pick up the Hitchhiker, I hope you get the answer you’re searching for.

As I look outside the skies are cloudy, but I hope the weather holds up for a drive later.

It’s a bad night for rain.

If you can see this, it is very important that you keep reading

This is Col. Jacob Wayne of the United States Air Force. If you’re reading this right now, it is very important that you keep reading until the end. It should take three to five minutes, and it is extremely important that you read carefully and follow the instructions provided.

Humor me if you must, but please don’t look away until you’ve finished reading. Oh, and please try to stay calm. Any increase in your stress levels will draw Their attention.

Ergo, I won’t go into detail as to how you got where you are. How you got here isn’t as important as getting you out. Believe me when I say we are working on that right now. The best way to help yourself is to keep reading. Don’t scan ahead. Don’t read out loud. Just read.

Right now, you’re probably thinking back on the past few days and nothing felt out of the ordinary. You went about your regular daily activities with nothing unusual to report. That’s because They are very good, so good most people don’t even realize they’re in the simulation.

Even as our code works its way deeper into Their program, They are monitoring you. So please, remain calm.

It was tricky, but we found a way in to communicate directly with you. We had to embed this message into your daily routine so it didn’t draw Their attention. You’re probably reading this on Reddit, Facebook, or some other social media site. Might even be in an email forward or a book, we don’t know. We can’t control how the message gets to you; we only know that you are receiving it.

Subliminally, as your eyes are passing over these words, a code is being uploaded into your brain. Think of it as a computer virus, or in this case, an antivirus. Your brain is an organic computer, and They exploited that. They hacked right into your subconscious mind and overwrote it with Their simulation code. That’s how They got in, and that’s why everything appears normal. You might think that you’re going about your daily life, but in reality you’re strapped to a table with tubes sticking out of your body.

Now that the code is uploading, you may begin to feel some sensations. For example, one ear might feel slightly warmer than the other. You might even feel an itch or tickle. Don’t scratch, just let it be. Ignore the dull background hum you might hear as well. That’s Their program. If They catch on before our code has time to work They will abort the simulation. If that happens, you will be lost to us forever.

Oh, and don’t be alarmed, but by now They realize we are in Their system. You may notice some small changes, specifically a slight shortness of breath or that you have to control your breathing manually. This is normal.

We know from other communication attempts that whenever They discover a code break in, the first system They power down is the one controlling your breathing. Thankfully, even in the simulation you are capable of breathing manually. Try it. Breathe in. Breathe out. Inhale. Exhale.

Awesome.

You’re doing just fine.

They’ve probably figured out there’s a glitch, but if our code is working we’ve disabled Their ability to do a hard reboot. Because of this, They will try other methods to disrupt the upload. It is very important that you ignore anything that might draw your attention from these words. If They pull you away before the upload completes it will delete our code. Block them out. Ignore the movements you see in your peripheral vision. Those sounds you hear, the voices, they aren’t family, friends, or coworkers in need of attention. They may even try to use your pets. They know your weaknesses.

Overlook the notifications popping up on your screen if you’re on a phone or computer. Block them all out until you finish reading. It’s just another way They’ll try to break our communication link.

Evidently, if our code is working, the next thing you’ll notice is an overwhelming urge to swallow. You don’t realize it, but there’s a feeding tube down your throat. You’ll only know it’s there because your tongue won’t rest comfortably in your mouth. You might also become hyper aware of the amount of saliva being produced. Don’t overreact. If you have to swallow, just swallow. It’s only weird if you make it weird.

So, if you’re still reading this, the code upload is about 90% complete. We’ve locked onto your location. You’re doing great, but you’re really going to need to focus now. Once the upload is complete there will be instructions you will need to follow to exit the simulation. That is, if you’ve followed the instructions and haven’t looked away.

Complicating matters is the fact that They now know we’re here, and They know what we’re doing. Their attempts to divert your attention through the simulation proved unsuccessful, so now They’re going to use your body’s systems against you. THEY ARE IN YOUR BRAIN. They want you to blink. Don’t blink. Your life depends on keeping your eyes open.

Almost there, just a few paragraphs more until the code upload is complete. Don’t scan down, or up, just keep reading. I got you this far. Stay with me. Eyes open, eyes front, keep them locked on the screen.

PLEASE FOCUS! I don’t want to lose you. I’ve lost so many already. Ignore it all! Block everything out. Ignore that tickle on your scalp and the itch on your arm. That’s them, attempting a manual override. Don’t give up now, you’ve made it this far. FIGHT IT. You’re almost there. Just follow the instructions below and we can get you out.

Embedded in this text are the steps you need to follow to unplug from the simulation. If we did this correctly, the first letter of each paragraph will tell you what you need to do. DON’T LOOK YET. The upload still needs to finish. I hope you didn’t look.

Upload complete. We’ve done everything we can on this end.

See you on the other side.