Thoughtful Thursday: On the Road or In Your Head?

Annie WilderToday we welcome Annie Wilder, author of Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road, a perfect book for this Halloween season. Like all of us, Annie wonders whether these stories are really true, and maybe you can help answer that question. One commenter will win a copy of Trucker Ghost Stories. I’ll be interviewing Annie sometime soon, so stay tuned for that.

I write true ghost story books, and one of the things I’m most often asked is how I respond to people who don’t believe in ghosts. My answer is that I think people should believe whatever they want, as long as no one gets injured or maimed. So, even though I believe that astral beings (including ghosts, cryptids, and possibly aliens, among others) sometimes collide with our physical world, I never try to convince anyone else of that.

With Trucker Ghost Stories, a new question has come up: could the encounters described in the book be nothing more than hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation? My answer for those who don’t believe in an astral plane, with all its peculiar inhabitants and possibilities, is “Maybe.” But for everyone else, read on…

In many of these haunted road accounts, there is a clear gateway into the weirdness — and often, it has to do with weather. A cloud that doesn’t act like a cloud, a weird wind blowing in out of nowhere, a heavy fog, blinding rain, a blizzard that seems to warp time… Sometimes, the signs that something ominous is about to happen are more direct — streetlights gone dark, a busy road deserted, a stranger stepping out of the woods.

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If someone is driving in the dead of night or behind the wheel for hours on end, it’s likely that, at some point, they’re operating in an alpha or theta state of awareness (rather than beta, the most alert waking state). It’s my belief that being in an altered state, rather than causing people to see things that aren’t there, opens a door to a strange realm that is always there. But in many of these stories, the brush with the bizarre took place in the daytime or when the driver was just running a short errand.

The mostly firsthand accounts in my book are from ordinary people who were scared out of their minds, lost in parallel universes, attacked, chased. Many of the encounters involved multiple witnesses all experiencing the same thing. Some of the story contributors got messages or received information that later turned out to be true. And some of the drivers attribute their haunted road encounter with saving their life.

What do you think? Is there actually something out there, beyond the curve, just over the hill, peering in the driver’s side window? Or are all these things truly just in our heads?

Readers, comment below for your chance to win a copy of Trucker Ghost Stories!

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Guest reviewer STEVEN HARBIN is an educator who is currently a counselor at an alternative school. He was formerly a world history and literature teacher. He lives with several cats and dogs, two children, a loyal saint of a spouse, and a large number of books scattered all about his house. He discovered science fiction and fantasy in the 1960′s when his school librarian suggested he read the works of Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

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  1. My husband runs a trucking logistics company and talks to truckers all day long. I’ll have to ask him to ask them if they’ve got any creepy stories to tell!

  2. The idea of a meteorological event as a harbinger of these encounters is fascinating!

  3. I have a friend who lives in Hawaii, and one of the “spectral” events that is written of a great deal is the Night Marchers. Many people don’t consider them ghosts. Apparently drivers late at night are most likely to encounter them. Annie, I wondered if you’d heard of them and what you make of the phenomenon.

    • Hi Marion,

      Thanks for this post! I have never heard of the Night Marchers, but I’d love to find out more.
      I’ll do some digging around, but if you or your friend have stories or more info, I’d be really interested in hearing about it.


  4. sandyg265 /

    I think that usually there’s some type of explanation for events.

  5. Clayton /

    Annie, I’ve heard many stories of ghost on the roads. Once when I was in my 20’s I had something strange happen to me at night. At an intersection I saw a car traveling fast and not slowing down for the red stop lights up a head of me. My wife noticed he wasn’t stopping and yelled as we entered the intersection. I saw the cars light reflected off my drives window and knew I was about to be killed. I slammed my breaks on and smoke from my tired filled the air. When my car stopped my car when in the center of the intersection and the car that was entering at the same time was gone. We pulled over and walked around looking for the car never found it, only my tires skid marks on the road.

    • Clayton, thanks for sharing your experience. Ghost vehicles appear in more than a few of the stories in my book. In some, they seem to be present day apparitions, and in others, maybe an image from the past.

  6. Becca Gamero /

    I have never experienced anything paranormal, let alone seen a ghost, but I do believe in spirits. I believe that many times the positive influences attributed to guardian angels are in fact our departed loved ones taking care of and protecting us.

    • Hi Becca,

      I agree. Some of the most compelling accounts that truckers sent me were poignant stories of the spirits of family members helping them out or keeping them safe. There are actually a few stories in the book of ghost trucks saving drivers’ lives, too.


  7. Give trucking 48 years of night driving mostly and you will need more than a seat belt to hold your socks on your feet if the paranormal comes quickly passing you by! SCANIA 112M owner in Indiana

  8. Annie, I’ll talk to my friend in Hawaii about the Night Marchers. They appear as native warriors, always in groups, always at night, and apparently are often seen crossing roads in certain areas on the islands. I don’t know if they show up on all the islands. They are frightening. My friend’s theory is that they are not, strictly speaking, ghosts, but warriors who have been pulled across time in some way.

    • Annie and Marion,
      I think I remember a reference about the Night Marchers in James Michener’s novel Hawaii. Interesting theory about the warriors being pulled across time instead of being ghosts per se. Checking out some articles on the net, it appears that they are also sometimes referred to as “Spirit Ranks” and usually appear at sunset or before sunrise on certain days of the year. I’d be interested in hearing what your friend says about them, Marion.

      • Steven and Marion, thanks for the additional information about Night Watchers. It’s very eerie and intriguing ~ I love coming across something new (to me) in the paranormal and spirit realms.

        There is a somewhat similar story in my book, “Soldier Ghosts in Texas.” Written by a trucker’s wife, she says she and her husband were parked on a deserted road to sleep. They experienced an escalating series of weird events, starting with a loud knock on their truck. They heard chanting voices coming from the nearby woods, and saw a group of people cross the road in front of them ~ who disappeared when her husband turned on the headlights. She and her husband got to see what was going on, and saw a lone man standing near the woods. The man was dressed in a Cavalry uniform, and faded away as soon as they looked directly at him.

        Marion, I included this story in the “Time Slips” section of my book, which makes your friend’s characterization of the Night Marchers as warriors pulled through time even more interesting.

  9. Cody Joe White, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

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