Vicky Stowers, the author of “A Killer in the Fog,” and her husband, Don, have two trucks leased to Transcorr LLC. They have three kids, three kids-in-law and four grandchildren with another one on the way. She has had stories published in Truckers News since 1997. Stowers has written two novels and is currently working on her third.
The weather was getting foggier by the minute.I made it in to the truckstop and found a parking space before it got too bad to see. I tied Tarzan, my black lab, to the door of my truck and went inside for a shower and some dinner.
When I came out of the restaurant the fog assaulted me. I couldn’t see anything. It was so thick I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find my truck. I walked a few feet and suddenly I was lost. I felt along the edge of the truck and trailer beside me but I couldn’t see it. I heard whispered voices. I started to call out, but the tone of the voices stopped me. They were angry. One voice was a soft southern drawl and the other was northern. They were both male, and from the sound of it they were having an argument about a shipment of something that was being delivered late. I stopped where I was because I was afraid I would bump into them if I didn’t. I was close, real close.
I heard the southern drawl demand payment for the late shipment and I heard fear in the other man’s voice as he asked for a few more days. The southern drawl wasn’t soft when he denied the man’s request. “Please,” I heard the northerner say, and then I caught a glimpse of something shimmering. Just for an instant, then I heard a thump. A man fell right at my feet. I couldn’t see him but I felt the air as he hit the ground. I moved my foot just an inch and I felt him. I tried to hold in my scream but a muffled sound escaped. I felt rather than heard the other man stop. I stayed perfectly still. I heard the killer take a deep breath. I nearly fainted from shock when I heard him say, “I smell your perfume. I never forget a fragrance. I’ll find you, even in all this fog.” I was terrified and I had to think quickly. I scooted up under the trailer as far as I could and hurriedly stripped my sweater off. I dropped it and scooted out the opposite side. I quietly moved along the trailer, as quickly as I could. I was totally disoriented and I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear the footsteps of the killer as he followed me.
I was breathing hard, but I was trying to do it quietly while I kept ahead of the killer. I was afraid he was going to reach out and grab me at any moment. I was beginning to think that I was never going to find my truck when I heard Tarzan bark. I nearly cried out with relief. He barked again and I followed the sounds. I reached my truck and fumbled for my keys. I had them, but I was shaking so hard that I dropped them. I searched frantically but they eluded my shaking fingers. Tarzan growled. A low, menacing sound. I scooted between the truck and trailer and stood perfectly still. Tarzan growled again. He began to bark and growl intermittently. I could hear him straining against the leash that held him to the truck.
“Are you looking for these?” A slow southern voice asked as keys were jangled in the air. “Here they are. Just tell me where you are and they’re yours,” he laughed softly. Suddenly I heard a group of laughing voices coming through the fog. They were trying to figure out where their trucks were parked. Tarzan barked, and I heard one of the guys tell the others that he remembered being parked by the truck with the dog tied to it. As they moved closer their laughter slowed and their conversation turned serious as they discussed the fog. Even though I knew I was taking a chance I called out to them. “Help. Can someone help me? A man is stalking me.” They must have heard the fright in my voice because several voices came back asking me where I was.
Several people showed up all at once. I heard footsteps running away. I was pretty shaken as I told my story to an enthralled audience. Two of the men walked with me back to the truckstop restaurant where I called the police. Tarzan wasn’t allowed inside so I stood just outside the entrance with him and the two truck drivers who had already helped me so much. Two burly officers in a police cruiser soon arrived. One officer introduced himself as Mark and pointed to the other officer and said his name was Trevor. Trevor tipped his hand to his hat but didn’t say anything. Mark was asking all the questions. I answered them the best I could and he wrote while I talked.
Trevor was across the way taking statements from the two truckers who had rescued me. After a while I saw them shake hands with the officer, and they waved at me as they walked away. I yelled my thanks to them as they disappeared into the foggy night. Mark finished writing in his notebook and waved Trevor over. “I’m going to cover this area and see if I can find anyone else who saw or heard anything. You take her back to the station and I’ll be there in a while.” Trevor just nodded. Mark turned to me and said, “I’m sending you back to the police station with Trevor. Don’t worry. You’re safe now. I’ll take your dog with me if you don’t mind. He might be able to help me find my way back through all this fog.”
I turned to Trevor as he took my arm to guide me through the fog to the police car. We hadn’t gone far before we were engulfed in the fog. I felt Trevor tighten his hold on my arm and I was grateful for the protection. I felt a shiver run up and down my spine, though, when Trevor spoke for the first time since our initial meeting. “Yes Ma’am, you’re safe as you can be now.” The slow southern drawl was unmistakable. It was him. The killer. I’d know that voice anywhere. I tried not to show my fear but I must have stiffened up or something.
Suddenly I was certain that he knew I knew who he was. His grip on my arm tightened even more. “I really like that perfume you wear. It’s very nice.” Before I could scream I felt a hand clamp over my mouth effectively silencing any sounds I might have made. I kicked out at him, catching him off guard for an instant, but he quickly regained control by yanking my arm high up my back. The pain was so intense I thought I would pass out. Trevor pushed me into the car and closed the door. He got into the front seat. I reached for the door handle but it had been removed.
“If you don’t stop it you’re going to make me kill you right now. I want to tell you a little bit about me first,” he said. “You really should know a little about the man who is going to end your life.”
“You’re insane.” I told him.
His face turned red and his eyes looked like the eyes of a madman. “Don’t ever say that to me,” he said in a rage. “I’m not insane. In fact, the very opposite is true. I’m quite the genius. I’ve been killing people and getting away with it for years. How many people can say that? I’ll tell you who. Only the most intelligent of us.”
I stared at him in horror because it was obvious that he believed what he was telling me.
He continued. “It all started when I was in college. I killed my best friend. We were wrestling around and things got out of hand. Before I knew what was happening I had pushed him out of a 12-story window. I was scared at first, but I told everyone he had jumped and they believed me. I really should have been an actor because I can make anyone believe anything.
“It got easier to kill after that. I just made up the stories before I actually did the deed and every single time everyone believed me. They’ll believe me about you too. I’ll just say that we were on our way back to my car and you heard your dog bark and went to find him. I’ll tell them I tried to follow you but I couldn’t see anything. You know they’ll believe that. I heard you scream but by the time I got to you the killer had already been there. Sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I said.
“Oh, but you are.”
He got out of the car and opened the rear door. He reached into the back seat and I moved away from him. He cursed and grabbed my arm and pulled. I was half way out of the car when I felt his hold loosen. I scrambled out of the way and I saw Officer Mark holding a gun to Trevor’s head. I watched as another officer put handcuffs on him.
“What’s going on?” I asked with evident relief.
“We’ve been suspicious of Trevor for a long time. It seems he was always around when a murder happened. This provided the opportune moment to catch him. We’ve had the car bugged for several months but he never had a victim in the car long enough for us to get the information we needed.”
The other officer took Trevor away and Mark brought Tarzan to me. He escorted me to my truck through the thick fog. I opened the truck door and Tarzan and I climbed inside. After an uneasy night of fitful sleep I awoke to a beautiful day filled with sunshine. I opened the truck door and a note was stuck there. I opened it and read. “If you are going to be in town for a while I’d like to treat you to dinner. Mark.”
I grinned. I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number. When I finally got through to Mark I said, “Thanks for the invitation but I’m not going to be in town. I’m leaving right now.”
“Maybe next time you’re in town then.”
“Thanks Mark, but I can guarantee you I’m never coming back to this town. If you ever get by my home though, I’d be happy to have dinner with you.”
I started my truck and made my delivery and I left that foggy town and I’ve never looked back. I wonder about Mark sometimes though. He was awfully good looking.
Affected trucks include model year 2008-2018 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks. DTNA says after hard brake applications, the brake light pressure switch may not activate the brake lights with the light application of the brake pedal.