The Escaped Maniac is a scary story about a man who picks up a hitch-hiker on a lonely country road. It is based on an old horror comic.
I was driving down a lonely country road. It was a dark and dismal night. The rain was beating down and I had to slow down to negotiate each twist and turn in the road. I listened to the hum of the engine and the squeak of the wipers on the windshield.
All of a sudden, the headlights picked out a figure standing in the middle of the road. It was a man and he was waving at me. It was a terrible night to be hitch-hiking, so I decided to stop and give him a ride.
I pulled up beside the stranger. He opened the car door and jumped inside.
“Thanks!” he said. “The rain started so fast, I didn’t have time to take cover.”
“You look like you’re soaked to the bone,” I said as I switched on the heating. “There. That ought to dry you off.”
“Much obliged,” the man said.
We drove on through the heavy rain in silence. I looked at the man. His face was thin and pale and he had hollow, staring eyes. His hair was messy and his clothes were disshevelled. Something about him gave me the creeps.
Without asking for permission, he reached out and turned on the radio.
“Ah, my favorite,” he said with a grin. “I love classical music. It has a very calming effect.”
I smiled and nodded politely.
Just then, the music was interrupted by the voice of a news announcer.
“We bring you the latest on the dangerous maniac who escaped from the mental asylum earlier today. The police are still searching for this man. He is considered extremely dangerous and has already killed a doctor and a nurse. If you encounter him, you should exercise extreme caution. Motorists are warned to be on their guard. Police believe the maniac will attempt to escape the area by hitching a ride. If you are driving, do not pick up any hitch-hikers. I repeat, if you are driving…”
All of a sudden, the stranger leaned over and switched off the radio. I eyed him suspiciously.
“Why did you turn it off?” I asked.
“It’s not good to listen to stuff like that,” he growled. “Especially on a night like this.”
Our eyes met and a look of understanding came over his face.
“Wait a second,” he said. “You don’t think I’m the escaped maniac, do you?”
“Of course not,” I replied nervously. “But… you were hitch-hiking back there…”
“Look, I swear to you… It’s not me,” he said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his ID. “My name’s Charlie Drake. I’m down on my luck at the moment, but my brother said he’s found a job for me in a factory. I couldn’t afford to buy a bus ticket, so that’s why I’m hitch-hiking.”
“Well, you can’t blame me for being nervous,” I said. “After all…”
“Don’t worry, I understand,” he said. “But I don’t look like a homicidal maniac, do I?”
I shook my head.
“Let’s see if there are any updates,” he said as he switched on the radio again.
The music came on and we waited. The rain was getting heavier and I could barely see the road ahead. Just then, the voice of the news announcer interrupted the music.
“The dead body of a man has been found lying on the side of the highway. Police believe this is another victim of the escaped maniac. His clothes and ID were stolen. The killer’s hospital gown was found nearby. Police are warning people to be very careful. The maniac is usually calm and friendly, but when he gets nervous he will become extremely violent. If you encounter this man, do not try to apprehend him. Just keep him calm and try to call the police. Whatever happens, do not make him nervous…”
Just then, we hit a pothole in the road. The car swerved and ran into a ditch. I revved the engine and the wheels spun, but no matter what I tried, they couldn’t get a grip on the road.
“Maybe we can call a pick-up truck,” Charlie suggested.
“I don’t have a mobile phone,” I replied. “Do you?”
“No,” he said as he looked out the window. “Hey, look! There’s a house up there. Maybe they have a phone we can use.”
We got out of the car and started climbing up the hill. The rain was lashing down and we were getting drenched. When we came to the house, the lights were off and it looked deserted.
Charlie knocked on the door, but there was no answer. I tried the door and it creaked open.
I followed Charlie into the house and he switched on the lights. Inside, it looked warm and cosy. I was glad to be out of the rain. Charlie looked around and grinned at me.
“Looks like there’s no phone,” he said. “That’s too bad.”
“Yes,” I said, my voice shaking. “Too bad.”
“What are you so nervous about?” Charlie asked. “Look at you. Your face is pale and your hands are trembling.”
I didn’t answer. Charlie moved towards me, staring at me with his hollow eyes.
“You still think I’m the escaped maniac, don’t you?” he chuckled.
“Keep away from me, Charlie!” I shouted as I backed up against the wall. “Keep away from me!”
“You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?” he laughed as he took another step closer.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a knife.
“I know you want to kill me,” I shouted, “but I’m not going to give you the chance.”
I don’t know what happened next, but when I came back to myself, there was blood everywhere. It was a horrible sight. Charlie lay on the floor, his hollow eyes staring up at me. His head had almost been sawed off. I stared at the bloody knife in my hand.
Just then, I heard a car pull up outside. The front door creaked open and two policemen were standing there. They looked at me and then, they looked at Charlie, lying there in a pool of blood at my feet.
“That’s him!” one of them shouted.
“No!” I screamed. “You can’t take me back there! I won’t go! I won’t go!”
I lunged at them with the knife, but they tackled me and knocked me off my feet. I fell to the floor, hitting my head against the leg of the table and then everything went black.
When I regained consciousness, I was lying in the back seat of a police car. I couldn’t move my arms. They had put me in a strait-jacket. I could hear the policemen talking to each other.
“He must have hitched a ride and killed the owner of the car,” said one. “Then he switched clothes, dumped the body by the side of the road and drove off.”
“Then he picked up that poor guy and murdered him in the house,” said the other.
Now, I’m back in the mental asylum. They’re keeping me locked up here and they won’t tell me when they’re going to let me out. I’m writing this with a crayon. They won’t give me a pen or even a pencil. They told me they don’t know what I’ll do with it. They say I can’t be trusted. They don’t understand! Nobody understands! I have a right to protect myself. People are trying to kill me. They want to steal my thoughts! You believe me, don’t you? Don’t you?