When I was in 5th grade, I had a friend whom we'll call A- for the purposes of this story. A- and I both attended the old SG elementary and were in the same class. A- and I were both outcasts of a sort - me because I was considered so durn weird, and she because she was so durn poor. We often paired up together to work on projects, and by default played together at recess. One fall day, A- invited me to spend the night at her house that upcoming Friday. Her mother called my mother, and my mother reluctantly let me go, but impressed upon me the fact that no matter what time of night I could call her to come get me at any time. (I found out later this was because my mother had heard rumors about her mother, but there were no actual charges and no concrete reason to say "no" without seeming like a hypocrite, so she let me go.)
That Friday, I rode the bus home with A-. She lived way out in the backwoods of the county, where the roads were literally paved over cowpaths. She only lived marginally closer to SG than she did to S'ville, so that's how she wound up going to SG elementary with me. The bus actually couldn't get all the way back to where her house was, so her mother had to meet us in her car quite a ways from their house. The rest of the road (and I use this term loosely) was so narrow I was afraid their car would plunge off the edge of the road and down the steep hillside. We pulled up outside their house, and my heart sank. The steps were wobbly and barely held on to the rotted and warped porch by a few rusty and bent nails. The house had holes in the walls. As I walked up those steps, A- told me where to step so I didn't fall through. The porch was the same way. She told me to walk where she walked, lest the porch fall in. This wouldn't have been so bad if the porch hadn't been about five feet up off the ground. I knew if I fell through that, I could be seriously hurt.
The evening went downhill from there. A- turned surly and churlish; she'd hardly talk to me. I tried to get her to play cards or something with me, but she ignored me. Her mother started drinking beer the minute we got in the door, soon followed by straight vodka out of the bottle. Then her mother sat on the floor and shot rubberbands at the mice and rats that scurried across the floor, laughing hysterically and saying "Betcha ain't never had no entertainment like this afore!"
I tried to stick it out. I was so adamant that my mother let me go on the sleepover, despite her misgivings, that I didn't want to prove her right (I was a stubborn cuss even then). As the night got later and the house got colder, I became more miserable and finally made up an excuse that I didn't feel well and needed to call my mother. Even though she was drunk as a skunk, A-'s mom was able to give my mom directions. It helped that my mom was a mail carrier and had once substituted on a route in that area. Otherwise, I doubt she would have found the place based on A-'s mom's directions.
It was fully dark by the time Mom picked me up. I remember that it was cold enough to see my breath, and there were dark clouds scudding over a nearly-full moon. The house and all the area were surrounded by bare, tall trees. It was quite spooky outside so I rushed to the car, hoping I was moving fast enough that if the porch did fall in, I'd have already gotten across it before I fell through.
We pulled out of the driveway and started our way back toward the main roads. Mom couldn't drive very fast because it was dark, the road was very twisty, and there were no reflectors or lines to speak of to show where the road ended and a long slide down a steep ravine began. The tree tops closed up overhead, only letting patchy moonlight through their bald limbs. Even with Mom's headlights on bright, it was difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. Mom was concentrating on the road, so we weren't talking much. I was just relieved to be in the warm car, knowing I was safe with her. Then the hair on the back of my neck and my arms lifted straight up.
I don't know why, but I slowly turned my head to the right to look out my window. Running along beside our car was a big black thing. I couldn't see much of it in the backwash from my mom's headlights, other than to tell it was HUGE. The little bit of light from the night reflected red from its eyes. It was irrational, but I reached out and slammed the lock down on the door. Mom glanced over to see what was wrong with me. When the car swerved to the left and I heard her suck in her breath, I asked her "Do you see it, too?" I was hoping it was just a figment of my overactive imagination. That hope was dashed when Mom muttered "Oh, shit" and started driving faster.
Whatever it was, it kept up just fine with our car. Mom had a Ford Taurus at the time. I remember thinking whatever it was outside our car must have been really really big, because it seemed like it was having to duck its head to look in the window at me as it ran along beside us. It even snapped its teeth at the window, as though it were trying to get to me through the glass. Mom went faster, and the thing kept running alongside. I had moved over as close as I physically could to Mom without actually climbing into her lap. Part of me knew not to get too close, though, because she needed both arms to get us the hell out of there.
Mom looked down at the speedometer and noted she coudn't go much faster and stay on the twisty road. She was already going 50 mph and the thing seemed to have no trouble keeping up, snarling and snapping at my window. Mom just kept on going, and finally we approached bigger, straighter roads with less vegetation. Mom floored it to 70 mph, and when I looked up again, the thing was gone. I'm not even sure when it disappeared - one second it was there, the next it was gone.
When we got home, I asked Mom to describe what she had seen. Naturally, she was concentrating mostly on the road, so she didn't get a good look at it. But her general description fit mine - humongous, black, and scary as hell. It was bigger and faster than a dog, but somehow conveyed the impression of something canine.
To this day, I get nervous when I'm in wooded areas after dark - even if I'm driving through. I still don't know what that thing was, and I hope never to find out. I think if I got close enough to it to see what it actually was, I'd probably be on its menu.