Nephi, Utah

By Katrina

The story I’m about to tell you is 100% true.  That is to say that I experienced everything that happened in this story.  If Nephi, Utah is not anything like what I have described here, then I well and truly drove off of Highway 15 into the Twilight Zone, pretending to be Nephi, Utah, and I offer apologizes to all Nephites who might be offended by what I’ve written. 

In 1994, March of 1994 to be exact, I remarried my ex-husband.  We were moving from where I lived in Quartz Hill, California (between Palmdale and Lancaster) to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.  Neither of us was thrilled about the assignment.  I was working three jobs to make ends meet and he was furious that I didn’t have the house packed and ready to go into a U-Haul.  I’d figured on packing the week after my job ended and before we left.  We finally got the U-Haul packed, but he packed the essential stuff last (so we can get to it easily) and that resulted in the truck (all 28 feet of it) being packed with nonessentials and my essentials (like furniture) being left behind because it wouldn’t fit.  He had the two younger boys (David was almost 14 and Josh was almost 12) and the two dogs with him in the big truck and I had Joe (16) and Delena (16 months) and the four cats and Simon the Cockatiel with me in our 1989 Honda Civic sedan.  Off we went. 

Paul was not one for stopping once he was on the road.  We drove and drove and when we hit Utah, he decided to stop for the night.  We parked along the interstate somewhere around Fillmore and looked at the map.  We saw this:

Provo, the closest thing to a big town that we saw, was still about an hour away, but Nephi was coming up soon.  He said the U-Haul needed diesel and although the Honda still had almost half a tank, I wanted to gas up because stations had been few and far between.  It was about 1:00am and who knew what would even be open?  I was exhausted.  The kids were sleeping except for Joe, who’d been up keeping me awake company.  I can’t drive at night, plain and simple.  When the sun goes down, so do I.  I can’t really say why, but if it’s dark and I’m in a car, I’ll be nodding off in a few minutes, probably some uterine memory of swaying in the dark.  Once, in our first marriage, Paul and I were driving from Alamogordo, New Mexico (where we lived) to LA to visit his family.  He wanted to make the Arizona border before he took the wheel, so he (with the idea of driving at night while the kids slept and the desert was cool) went to sleep.  I drove to the other side of Las Cruces, about 60 miles from home and couldn’t stay awake any more.  I tried to wake him, but he wasn’t budging.  Feeling that I was going to have an accident after being jiggled awake by the reflectors to the right of the lane more than once, I pulled into a rest stop to rest my eyes for a few minutes and get my bearings.  The next thing I knew, it was light and Paul was shaking me awake, excited that I’d driven for so long!  Where were we?  (Hmmmmm)  When I told him we were 60 miles from home, he was less than pleased and wouldn’t talk to me for the rest of the trip except to bark at me to get him a soda from the cooler.  After that, he just stopped asking me to drive.  Eric was informed from the beginning of the marriage, so we have avoided such calamities.  Know thyself, I say.  Back to Nephi.  I’d managed to stay awake, but was fading fast, so we decided to stop in Nephi, gas up the vehicles and find a hotel.  

The U-Haul was ahead of us and Paul stopped just below Nephi and ran back to tell us that he’d seen a gas station that sold diesel as he’d topped the hill.  He wanted me to take the exit for Nephi, cruise the main drag, find a hotel and meet him back at the gas station.  I wasn’t excited about splitting up, this being the days after CB’s and before cell phones, but I was too tired to argue.  That stop was the last time I remember things being normal. 

He ran back up to the U-Haul and topped over the hill.  I saw the lights of the van disappear into the exit for Nephi and promptly be swallowed up in the darkness.  I followed, presumably.  Joe and I were talking about Nephi as we drove the road that the exit routed us onto.  It looked like a tiny town and most notable was that the first few blocks worth of town on the right seemed to be a huge cemetery.  We joked about why a small town would have such a big cemetery and speculated that it was the many travelers who had stopped for gas and lodging, bwwaaaahahahahahaaa. 

As we drove, we got into a residential area and Joe pointed out that there were very few street lights.  Not that they were burned out, there just weren’t many.  He also noted that there were people standing in their yards.  I thought he’d gone off the bend, but then I noticed that there were people in about every second or third yard, just standing there, looking out at the road.  At 1:30am.  Some were holding babies or had children milling about. They were chatting to one another and looking at the road, like a parade was going by or something.  We were the only ones on the road.  This went on for a few blocks, then the houses  thinned and I wondered where the gas station was Paul had seen.  We’d driven a good 2 miles or so on this road and I would think that for him to see it topping the hill, it would have to be closer than that.  As we drove on for a bit, I saw a little convenience store (no gas pumps there) with a big parking lot, so I decided to pull in there under the light and wait for Paul to show up.  If you get lost, sit still, hug a tree, right?  I had only seen one road coming into town and no side roads, so he’d have to double back to find me.  I knew I’d followed him onto this road.  The parking lot was set up like this:

So there was this big parking lot for this little bitty store and one street light at the far end.  I pulled in and turned around so that the car was facing the road and my back was to the light.  And we waited.  We figured Paul would be along shortly, fussing about us not finding the gas station.  While we were waiting, Joe and I started talking about the kid who was behind the counter at the convenience store.  He looked to be about 19-20, had a pimply face and was the only one in the store.   What a crappy job that would be.  We could see pretty well into the lit store from where the car was parked and we wondered if he was getting uncomfortable having someone just parked in the parking lot and not coming in to buy something.  We dismissed the idea and laughed at him picking up the phone, to talk to his girlfriend, no doubt.  Then we wondered if he was calling the police.  Hmmmm.  No problem.  We’d just let the police know why we were there and everything would be cool.  “Holy shit!” Joe’s eyes about bugged out of his head.  “There’s a midget in there!”  OK, so there’s a midget in there.  I mean, midgets exist and I presume even exist in Nephi, Utah.  This midget was wearing a white top hat and white tuxedo with tails.  He stood at the counter and talked to the young guy who was still on the phone.  In his tuxedo.  And top hat.  He gestured wildly with his little fingers.  The boy nodded and continued talking on the phone.  O.  K.   [Stop laughing.  I swear to God this is true.]

Mind you, even though this was strange, especially when coupled with the audience we’d driven past on the road to get here, we still weren’t spooked out.  It was just a series of “weird” things and you don’t ever stop and think that something out of the ordinary could be going on.  It just *is*.  A beat up old pick up truck pulled into the parking lot.  Because of the way we were facing, I couldn’t see the driver; his lights were in my eyes as he came in, but he shut them off right away.  He faced me in his truck, then backed up so that his truck was at a 90 degree angle from my car, him facing the convenience store with his lights off and his motor running.  Now I could see into the truck, but it was just a shadow.  A few minutes later, a newer car came into the parking lot and did a similar thing, turned off the lights, backed up so that their back was to the convenience store, facing the truck, 90 degree angle from my car on the left.  Just a few minutes after that, another truck pulled in, turned off their lights and backed up beside the first truck, facing the convenience store, motor running.  I didn’t wait any more.  I floored it.  As I turned onto the road, going the same direction as I’d been going and hoping for a freeway onramp, I saw what I prayed was the U-Haul, topping the hill.  I drove like a bat out of hell.  As the U-Haul went down the hill behind me, I saw there were other vehicles behind it.  By now, it was 2:00am.  I drove for about five fast minutes and saw an on-ramp for Highway 15, a beautiful sight.  I snagged it, still praying it really was Paul behind me.  I could go faster than the truck, but he caught up to me about 5-6 miles out of town (town?) and hit the horn, so I pulled over, still pretty shaken.  He was furious, having found a hotel (hadn’t paid yet!) and gotten gassed up.  He’d been waiting at some mysterious gas station for me all this time.  I told him we were staying in Provo, he insisted that we go back to Nephi.  No.  Way.  This time I won.  When we got to Provo, we got a room with no problems and I told him what had happened.  He gave me the “silly woman” routine, but Joe and I both knew what really happened in Nephi, in some town that was pretending to be Nephi or some other place altogether.  To this day, ask Joe about Nephi, Utah and he’ll tell you the exact same story.  To this day, even though I live in California, if I have to travel west, it won’t be through Utah.  We’ll take the long way, thanks.


Updated:  I have since talked to other people who have experienced really weird things driving through Nephi at night, as well as hearing tales of websites out there that have stories of Nephi on them.