Do Not Download The App MyPassenger

Do Not Download The App MyPassenger

A Story by HadesRising
"

My friend Steve told me about the app called MyPassenger.

"
My friend Steve told me about the app.

He has to drive all over the place for work, and he heard about it through a friend of a friend. MyPassenger, it's called. The ultimate navigation companion. Like Google Maps or Waze, only better. More advanced. Steve told me he's shaved hours off his driving time since he started using it.

I can understand the appeal. I only used MyPassenger on a handful of occasions, but I noticed the difference straight away. It's not so much the speed, although the app does seem to always choose the quickest route: it's how aware the thing is. It's almost spooky. Waze will tell you about hazards up ahead, sure -- a vehicle stopped at the side of the road; a pothole; that sort of thing -- but this was in another league. The first time I used it the app told me to consider switching my windscreen wipers on less than a minute before it began raining. On my second trip, cutting through the countryside on my way home from work, the app advised me to drop 10mph below the speed limit because animals had been spotted ahead. One minute later a deer jumped out in front of me. I s**t you not. The thing froze on the tarmac and I slammed on the breaks, skidding to a stop about 10 feet in front of its muzzle.

I've deleted MyPassenger now. Wiped it from my phone. I had to. After what happened the third time I used it -- not to mention what I've learned since -- I didn't have any other choice. It's wrong, that's the thing. The app.

There's something badly wrong with it.

*

"Please consider turning on your headlights, Gary. Visibility has fallen to 80%."

MyPassenger's sing-song voice cut through the car's silence. I turned the headlights on. It was still early evening -- that in-between time when the last rays of sunlight are just starting to bleed out of the day -- but MyPassenger was right: it was getting a little harder to see.

I smiled to myself. This was another surprise function. It was only the third time I'd used the app, and I'd never tested it out in the evening before. I didn't know it could detect the onset of darkness.

My Ford KA cut a winding path through the New Forest. Trees blurred by on either side. A ripple of dark and light greens. I shifted in my seat. It was a Thursday night, and I'd been out after work to meet some friends at a pub. The trip had taken longer than I thought it would. The pub turned out to be about 30 minutes away from my house, and now -- heading back in the direction of Bournemouth as the shadows at the side of the road lengthened -- I was feeling tired. I had a dull headache and heavy eyes.

As if it it could read my mind, MyPassenger spoke again.

"A faster route has been detected, Gary. In 200 yards, turn right onto Mill Lane."

I glanced at my smartphone. It rested in a little holder that attached to the windscreen using a suction cup. MyPassenger's bright display lit the screen. I could see my car as a red arrow on a snaking grey line. Dark green blocks of colour, representing the forest, pressed in on either side. My suggested route was a bright blue line. Up ahead, near the top of the screen, the route suddenly cut away from the road I was on at a right angle.

I only hesitated for a second. It was true that I'd never driven back from this particular pub before, but I had spent a lot of time in the New Forest. Countless trips. I'd definitely driven on the road I was currently winding through before, too -- but I didn't recognise the shortcut MyPassenger was now suggesting. Mill Lane rang no bells. Still, what was the harm? The app had shown me new routes before, and it hadn't been wrong yet.

I slowed the car and indicated. Pointless, of course -- I hadn't seen another car for 15 minutes -- but a force of habit. The right turn came up so suddenly I almost missed it. Mill Lane was a narrow opening in the forest -- a road that seemed to be more gravel than tarmac. The trees crowded closer on either side, too.

"Please consider putting your headlights on beam, Gary. Visibility has fallen to 40%."

MyPassenger wasn't wrong. Mill Lane was dark. The tops of the trees joined together above the road, creating the effect of a shadowy tunnel. A dark green passage that was rapidly fading to grey.

I took one hand off the wheel and rubbed my eyes. My headache was getting worse. It felt like an invisible hand was holding my skull in a steadily tightening grip. I was only rubbing my eyes for a second at most, but when I took my hand away from my face again I was forced to grip the wheel, hard. I twitched my hands to the right, correcting the car's course and narrowly avoiding the trunk of an oak tree.

F*****g idiot, I thought. And then, after that: Shortcut my arse.

This was the problem with SatNavs. Sometimes they were so bloody concerned with the fastest route that they'd practically take you off road to save 30 seconds. Mill Lane was not going to be any fun. I knew that already. I'd been hoping the road might widen out the further along it I went, but that didn't seem to be the case. If anything, as I slowed to take the first bend, the trees seemed to press in closer on either side. Their branches reached towards me like fingers. Any closer and they'd be scratching the paintwork.

Up until this point I'd thought MyPassenger was different -- the app seemed to be very aware of driving conditions as well as speed -- but maybe I'd been wrong after all. I squinted in concentration, doing my best to ignore the headache.

Rounding another tight bend in the road, I was suddenly aware of just how quiet things were. I could hear the hum of the engine and the crunch of my tires on the road's gravelly surface, but nothing else. No other sounds at all. Not completely unusual, of course -- one thing I like about the New Forest is how peaceful it is. But the start of my journey had been different. When I'd left the pub, what now seemed like an age ago, the roads had felt full of life. Birdsong. The roar of a tractor in a nearby field. The wind in the trees. Turning off onto Mill Lane, though, it was like I really had entered a tunnel. The forest appeared to be so dense here that it muffled outside noise.

"A faster route has been detected, Gary." MyPassenger's voice cut through the silence, almost making me jump. "In 200 yards, turn left onto Twilight Avenue."

I frowned. Twilight Avenue? It sounded like a made-up road name. Sure enough, though, when I glanced at the app, it was there: a tiny grey line, snaking off from Mill Lane into that mass of dark green. My blue route marker had been corrected to follow it. But this time I wouldn't be making the same mistake again.

"Twilight Avenue," I muttered under my breath, "can f**k off."

The sound of my own voice reassured me. It was something familiar in the silence. And now I had a plan in place: I'd ignore any more shortcuts and follow Mill Lane until it emerged onto a bigger road. If it took longer to get home, so be it. Driving on these narrow tracks was no fun.

As if to illustrate the point, my car thumped over an object in the road. Something I hadn't seen. Probably just a small branch, but my eyes flicked up to the rearview mirror just the same. And I felt my breath catch in my throat.

A woman was sitting on the backseat. Her face, which was half obscured by a tangle of dark hair, filled the mirror. I screamed. Twigs suddenly began to rattle against the car's left-hand side, and my tires bumped along the road's muddy verge. I jerked the wheel to the right. My eyes flicked to the front windscreen as I desperately corrected the car's course, and when they flicked back to the mirror again the backseat was empty. No one there. I put my foot on the break and brought the car to a sharp stop.

I could feel my hands shaking. Sweat ran down my back. My face was hot and itchy. I pulled in long, deep breaths, trying to slow the rate of my heart. Thump thump thump thump thump. I began to count to three in my head, then gave up when I reached two and turned around in my seat.

Nothing. The backseat of the car was still empty. There was no sign of the woman.

You imagined it, that's all. I ran a hand over my sweaty face and through my hair. You're tired, and you have a headache, and you creeped yourself out. That's it, right?

It was MyPassenger that answered.

"In 150 yards, turn left onto Twilight Avenue."

"Get. Fucked." I put the car into first gear and began moving again. All I wanted now was to get home as quickly as possible, but I wasn't going to turn off onto any more narrow lanes. F**k that. I wanted to get as far away from these windy roads as possible.

My hands were slick on the steering wheel as I drove. My heart thumped high in my neck. The headache was much worse now, too. A low, sick pressure in skull. It felt like my entire head had was being compressed.

"In 100 yards, turn left onto Twilight Avenue."

I eased the car into second and rounded another bend. The road grew narrower still. Trees crowded in. They were so close now that their outermost twigs kept tapping against my wing mirrors. Outside the car, the world had darkened to a deep shade of grey. It seemed too dark, somehow -- unnaturally so. As if the trees lining the road had been planted with the sole purpose of blotting out the sun.

As I pushed the car into third gear, I had the horrible feeling that I was being watched.

"You're just tired," I muttered to myself. "You're tired, you have a headache, and you imagined something that wasn't there. There's no one there."

But even as I told myself this, a horrible urge crept into my head: an urge to peak into the rearview mirror again. Just to be sure. Just to make absolutely certain. It was like that feeling you get as a kid when an adult tells you not to do something: half of my mind wanted to look -- almost needed to -- but the other half was afraid. Afraid of what I might see if I did.

Because it was still there, wasn't it? That feeling of being watched. That nagging, crawling sense of eyes on my skin.

I rounded another bend in the road. Time felt like it was slowing down. The skin on the back of my neck burned. The headache raged behind my eyes. My hands were glued to the wheel. Twigs scraped against the car in a steady tick tick tick. I could still hear the hum of the engine and the crunch of tires but they were muted now, as if they were coming from a long way away.

From a great distance, I heard MyPassenger telling me to turn left onto Twilight Avenue in 50 yards.

And then the app said something else. Something that made every pore of my skin flare with a sudden, sick heat.

"An unfastened seatbelt has been detected, Gary. Please ensure all passengers in the vehicle are buckled up."

I glanced down at the polyester band across my chest. My seatbelt was on. I knew it was on. It had been since I left the pub's car park. And I was the only person in the car...

"Turn left onto Twilight Avenue. Turn left."

My eyes moved to the front windscreen. Up ahead was a gap in the crowded trees. A small opening. There was something wrong with it, though. The air around the opening seemed to run and shimmer. It was like the air above tarmac in a heatwave. I blinked my eyes, trying to shake the vision, but it stayed. My headache pounded. Fear sloshed in my stomach like poison. I increased my foot's pressure on the accelerator, willing my car to travel faster, but it didn't seem to make a difference. Time was moving impossibly slowly.

"Turn left onto Twilight Avenue, Gary. Turn left."

The wheel in my hand was starting to twist. To turn to the left. I could feel it, a subtle pressure, and I tightened my grip to try and stop it. But my hands were still sweaty and it was hard to keep the wheel in place. The tendons on my forearms stood out as the car began to drift to the lefthand side of the road. Towards the opening in the trees that we were now almost level with.

A defence barrier in my mind seemed to crumble. Terror like I'd never felt before -- and I hope to never feel again -- surged through my body. I started screaming. I clenched my hands so tightly on the wheel that pain shot through my palms. I hardly felt it. I pulled my hands to the right, as hard as I could, but it was like an invisible, iron hand gripped the wheel. The pressure was too great.

The car drew level with Twilight Avenue. We were on the far lefthand side of the track now, the car angled to take a left turn. I stared in horror at the lane I was about to be forced onto.

It was nothing but darkness. All darkness. The trees that lined the side of the track faded away into a yawning, black throat. The air at the entryway to that blackness shimmered and writhed, as if something invisible waited there.

As my panicked eyes searched for a way out, of any means of escape, they found the rearview mirror again. And I saw her. The woman was in the backseat once more, grinning at me. One cracked yellow eye stared through tangles of black hair. I screamed again. With every last bit of strength I had, I jerked my hands to the right. And time suddenly sped back up.

The force of my action didn't budge the wheel, but it did cause my sweaty left hand to slip. My palm lost its grip and flailed through the air, knocking into the phone holder on my windscreen and dislodging my phone. It tumbled out of its cradle and bashed against the driver's door on the way down, before disappearing into the footwell. My right hand, which had stayed on the wheel, suddenly found that there was no more resistance. I twisted the wheel to the right, away from the gaping darkness of Twilight Avenue, and the front tires careered across the dirt verge and back onto the gravel of Mill Lane. Tree branches scraped the paintwork, dead fingers struggling for a grip, and then the car suddenly had all four tires on solid ground again.

I slammed down the accelerator, still screaming. Trees blurred past on either side of me. I almost lost control of the car at the next bend, but somehow -- by sheer, blind luck -- I managed to keep from spinning into the trees.

When I finally worked up the courage to glance in the rearview mirror again, minutes later, the woman in the backseat was gone.

*

The first thing I did when I got home was delete MyPassenger. Wiped all traces of it from my phone.

I called in sick for work the next day, and spent the entire weekend locked in my house. Not answering the landline, not speaking to anyone.

I did do some Googling. I managed to find Mill Lane on Google Maps easily enough, but there was no trace of Twilight Avenue. It didn't exist. There were no roads or tracks leading off from Mill Lane at all, for that matter.

When I finally worked up the courage to turn my smartphone back on, I went straight to the app store. MyPassenger was gone. I couldn't find any trace of the app anywhere.

I suppose I might have given up there. I guess, with time, my exhausted and frightened mind might have been able to convince itself that what I saw on that drive wasn't real. That it was all just the product of tiredness and a bad headache.

But then on Monday night I got a phone call. The same phone call that prompted me to right this, in fact. It came from Steve's wife. She wanted to know if I knew where he was. She said he'd driven off to the pub to meet some friends straight after work, and he still wasn't back. Said she was starting to get worried.

That was two weeks ago now. Steve never came home, and no-one's seen him since.

© 2019 HadesRising


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Reviews

Re!one me a little of R.L Stein maybe a little Steven king. You write as if you have gone through this and it actually feels real to the reader.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Intensely scary story hades.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Very scary and a good plot to your story.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Very scary....you made me want to uninstall my driving app..

Posted 1 Month Ago



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Added on July 16, 2019
Last Updated on July 16, 2019
Tags: Horror supernatural scary

Author

HadesRising
HadesRising

London, United Kingdom



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The cruelty wrought between lines of despair is but one with my own labored heart Favorite Poets/Writers Dani Filth, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Tolkien, more..

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