My self imposed criteria for not being crazy when I see something strange is to have either a picture or a witness. So this following true as I experienced story, may fit the crazy part as I have no pictures or witnesses. I did have a ton of text message traffic between me, a friend, and the Hubby but in the end none of that fits the criteria.
I had flown from Atlanta, Georgia on 30 September, back to St Louis where I would pick up my car, my camping gear, and then head out the following morning back up the Great River Road towards Minnesota.
I had my camping gear all stored at a friends house just down the road, a 1 hour drive into Illinois. I drove over to her house after she got off work. Had a nice dinner and conversation. As I was leaving, Pam started loading me up with food to take on my drive. First one sandwich and then another, and soon there was at least enough food in the sack for six people! I joked with her that maybe she was hoping I would make friends along the way. She just laughed off my comment and kept putting more food and then small drinks in the bag.
I said my good byes to my dear friend. Then started my, now after dark, trip back towards St Louis. I was staying the night in a hotel close to the airport.
It was a clear dark night. No moon, but I could see the stars in the sky as I sped down the interstate heading towards the St Louis skyline. I had to really focus as the road construction could have me off on the wrong direction quickly. Years of diving experience through this area of St Louis has had me more than once heading off on the wrong direction due to the interstate road construction! As I finally safety negotiated the last road construction sign and passed over the Mississippi River bridge for the last time, I let out a little whoop to myself. I had now accomplished my trip goals and was heading towards the last part of my vacation.
It was right at 9 pm as approached the Loves station from Interstate 70. I have used this station for years when I have travelled to St Louis. Close to the airport, the Love’s Station at North Broadway just off the Interstate 70 is my normal refueling stop point. I slowly pulled off the Interstate and as I approached the end of the ramp, I saw them!
They creeped from the Interstate towards the intersection of the street and the off ramp.
Just off to the side of the roadway and walking, well… more like placing one leg as as step and the other dragging behind their bodies, were two men. Both walking this way with each one with their left arm at a right angle held close and tight to their bodies. The fist of that left hand crippled and pointing skyward. Clothes ripped, ragged hanging on the way thin bodies. Thin stringy hair falling long from their heads.
“Ok! That is weird! Zombies!” I thought as these two dragged themselves towards the intersection to cross the road.
Clearly they were heading to the Loves Station as well! Scared of any encounter with these two, clearly zombies, had an immediate influence on me. I pulled my Subaru around them. I made sure as they walked passed me on the road intersection, I gave them plenty of clearance. I then slowly drove to the gas pumps. My hope was that these two would be across the parking lot and into the station before I needed to get out and pump my gas. Maybe they would hopefully be causing trouble with the cashier while I was busy getting my car filled. I would then quickly leave the area. But, as I drove up to the pump and stopped these two were still crossing the road!
“How is that possible?” I thought. “Ok, I will just sit here in my locked vehicle until I see where they are going.” my internal conversation was in high mode and sounding a bit irrational and stressed. But, I listened and carefully started to adjust my odometer/trip and gathering trash, and doing anything but looking at these two zombies that now looked like they were heading straight towards my car.
As I peeked over the steering wheel to see where the two were and how much longer before they reached me I suddenly had a face at my drivers side window!
“OMG!” I shouted and grasped my chest with my hand. Now, I was clearly scared out of my skin!
This very thin looking man (not a zombie) was trying to talk to me through the window. I briefly saw the two zombies behind him still making their way in my direction, but when my focus turned to the man at my window and trying to figure out what he was saying the zombies seemed to disappear somewhere in the parking lot.
The man was talking very fast. He asked me if I had anything for him to eat. Instantly I thought of all the food in the backseat that my friend Pam had packed. But, I didn’t reach for the food just yet.
I slowly got out of the car, the man backed off like he was scared of me. I started asking him questions and received more answers than I expected. Clearly, he wanted help and he was not going to keep anything about his past from me. He rattled on and on as I half listened and scanned the parking lot for the now disappeared zombies.
Prison- check. Hungry-check. Homeless-check. Alone-check. Don’t do drugs-check. Occasionally likes to drink-check. Sounded like a real hard case to me. But, I have seen a few things in my years and even this story didn’t instantly make me melt to giving him the food. Plus, I was still worried about those zombies that could still be lurking around the gas pumps.
“Go wait over there by that sign.” I told him. “When I finish gassing my car I will bring you something to eat.”
“Oh, thank you ma’m, what sign?” he asked.
Now, this Love’s station has the biggest sign in the local area and anyone in their half mind could see it from miles away!
Making an exaggerated gesture towards the pole from the ground to the top. “That sign right there. Do you see it?”
“Yes, I see it. Ok, I stand there, you will bring me food when you are done.” he said more to himself as he turned and started walking towards the pole.
I turned and walked to the other side of my car. I carefully scanned the parking lot again for the zombies. I saw that the hungry man was doing exactly what I asked, standing by the pole, waiting.
“Wow, he must really be hungry!” I thought as I listened to the gas flowing into the tank. “I know how that must feel, darn, that really sucks!”
I contemplated the situation as I fueled the tank. Occasionally scanning the parking lot again and looking towards where the man stood.
As I went back around the car I thought “What a strange night! What the heck, just give him the entire bag of food. He needs it more than you ever will, plus you know what it is like to be in his situation, it sucks!” I pulled the bag full of food from behind the drivers seat and placed it in the passenger seat next to me. Started the engine, and pulled up next to the man waiting.
I rolled the window down, handed him the bag. Said the first kind words that popped into my brain. He looked like he had just won the lottery.
I drove away and kept thinking again how strange. This is the sort of night you would expect on Halloween with a full moon!
I drove the last few miles back to my hotel haunted by the recent events. I texted the hubby and my friend Pam the zombie sighting from the safety of the parked car in the hotel parking lot. My friend Pam asked if I had gotten pictures!
“Really?” was my reply “I am not stopping for a photo shoot with two zombies!”
She sent me a laughing emoji. But, I was serious!
Then I told her the rest of the story. She answered she just knew that the extra food would come in handy. Another laughing emoji.
Thanks Pam for having a good intuition about giving me food! I guess I could have given it to the zombies too if they had attacked me. Laughing emoji!
As I finished up my text messages in the dark parking lot I got out. Just as I was reaching for the back door of the car to get my bags, a quick dark shadow moved across the car and disappeared. I jumped right out of my skin at this point!
Instead of running screaming through the parking lot, I looked up at the sky and yelled at the universe.
“HAHAHA! You guys think that was funny don’t you? Is that all you have?”
Then thinking maybe the last comment was maybe not wise after the night I had just experienced. I quickly got my stuff and headed towards the safety of the hotel.
I walked into the hotel and instead of going straight to my room, I went to the bar and ordered, no…not a drink, but…
“Give me anything on the menu with garlic!” I told the bartender.
Looking at me a bit strange he replied “The only thing we have is asparagus with garlic.”
“Yup, that will do fine and load on the garlic please.”
I had a rather sleepless night that last night in St Louis. Protected now from the evil that seemed to be lurking around me I was loaded up on garlic. That should protect me until I could see the sun to peak over the horizon.
Everyone since this encounter has tried to explain the zombies I saw in a rational way. Drug crazy men on meth, disabled men out for a walk, maybe these guys had a stroke and were heading to the station to get help. All I know is what I experienced and how do I know it was real? This is how…
Look closer at October 31st class!
Maybe those two zombies were walking from St Louis to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN to participate. Plus, if LLBean has a class then it must be a real threat!
Happy Halloween from the safety of my Dutch location and a Hubby who will protect me from all things related to zombies!
The normal The Cedar Journal blog will return on 4 Nov 2019 with the continuing stories of my Great Mississippi River Road trip.
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