It snowed last night here in Denali, Alaska. Only on the peaks of the mountains, but still, it is cold. Really cold. And really dark. Where we live and where we work are about a mile apart along the only major road that runs through this part of the state. So, walking home at night with tired truckers and tourists driving at you at seventy miles an hour (my husband just corrected me and said it was forty-five, but it’s really freakin’ fast either way) can be dangerous at the best of times. Now, in the pitch black, it’s worse.
One of our good friends that we work with told us to take our flashlights and shine toward the approaching cars twice to make sure they notice us and then sweep the flashlight between the shoulder and the road so the drivers can tell exactly how far they have until they get to us.
It’s worked really well thus far. Lots of kind people slowing down and giving us extra room so we don’t get pebbles to the back of the head as they speed by.
And then tonight we were coming back from watching the premier of a friend’s documentary all about rites of passage and what it means to be an adult. My husband and I were walking in the pitch black with his flashlight, talking about the time our car broke down on the side of the road and we had to drive from Florida to Arizona without stopping to sleep and how that was our rite of passage.
A truck passed, so we shined twice to the driver and swept. He scooted over and didn’t wind slap us. Then another car came, my husband did twice to the driver and started to sweep, but the car put on its flasher and pulled over behind us.
We shrugged and said we hoped they didn’t think we were trying to hitchhike and kept walking. But then the car turned in the turnaround! Instantly, my mind turned to every urban legend about flashing drivers with your brights and them coming to kill you!
I told my husband to walk faster, and the car began driving after us. We ran as fast as my freezing cold cowboy boot feet could run up the really steep turn off to our building. We were off the main road out of view of their headlights. I stopped to turn around, and they we coming up the hill after us! We were going to be killed by an Alaskan axe murderer! There are so many places to hide a body in Deanli! No one would ever find us!
We ran for the door, but there was no way we were going to beat the car. As they pulled up beside us, my husband shepherded me to have himself blocking me from view of the car. We tried to look nonchalant so as not to put the serial killer on their guard. We looked over to see our stalkers, and four twenty-something female tourists were looking back at us. They couldn’t figure out which hotel they were supposed to be going to. Breathless, we pointed farther up the mountain and walked to our building.
Alaska is terrifying in the dark.