I have always had an interest in things like this. While I maintain a reasonable level of skepticism, I’m also willing to admit when I really can’t come up with a mundane explanation that ties up all the loose ends of an incident. The following fits into that category:
In late 1999, my friend Skip found out about a road in West Milford, NJ that is supposedly haunted, or frequented by cultists, or some other such bizarre thing depending on whose story you’re listening to. He told me about this, and we agreed it was worth a visit. We rounded up about eight people, and took two cars. Skip drove his trusty 1987 Jeep Cherokee, and another friend took his Toyota Tercel. We brought portable CB radios in the cars, so as to be able to communicate between them. The intent was to drive out to this road at around 11PM, make several passes along its approximately 12-mile length, and just generally observe and see if anything unusual took place.
So, we drove out to Clinton Road, and took one drive along it. It was definitely a foreboding place; the road was very narrow, and appeared to have been last paved in about 1970. There were no street lights and only a few houses, at the far ends of the road.
I was a passenger in Skip’s car, with the Toyota following behind us. As we were driving along slowly, another guy in Skip’s car insisted that he had seen a wallet lying in the snow along the road. We didn’t really buy the story, but he was absolutely certain that what he had seen was a wallet.
We got to the end of the road, and turned around and went back. Skip’s car remained in front. When we got near the “wallet”, the guy who had seen it talked Skip into stopping. So, he pulled over, and the Toyota passed us. The Toyota’s driver then decided to stop and wait for us, about 100 yards down the road.
Charlie, the guy who had seen the alleged wallet, got out of the Jeep and began looking for it. While we were waiting, I noticed a vehicle coming the other direction, toward us. I am quite knowledgeable about cars, and I tend to notice every detail. As the vehicle passed by, I saw that it was a circa-1985 Dodge Ram full-size passenger van. It looked a bit odd to me, as it was in excellent condition, and it was painted in what appeared to be flat bright white…that is, the paint was pure white and very clean, but not glossy. I did not notice any people inside the van. I don’t mean that there was no one in it (that would be quite a ghost story!), but simply that I was looking at the car and not the passengers, and I have no recollection of who was inside.
Strangely, the “wallet” was nowhere to be found. Not only was it not a wallet, but Charlie couldn’t find anything at all that looked like what he had seen. As he was getting back in the Jeep, I noticed a flash of light behind us. I turned around, and saw the Ram Van making a U-turn in the road, a decent distance behind us. To my consternation, it then accelerated right at us. I yelled something, Skip checked his mirror and realized what was about to happen, and stomped on the gas. We went off at about 45 mph on this tiny, twisting road, with this van tailing us as closely as it possibly could.
We passed the Toyota, which was still parked by the side of the road. We radioed them and told them to follow us quick. So, we now had the Jeep in front, the Ram in the middle and the Toyota in the back, all headed down the road at high speed. Skip was trying to keep the speed reasonable, but the Ram was behaving as though he wanted to run us off the road, so we had to keep some distance.
This kept up for several miles. I was looking back at the Ram the entire time. Suddenly, something resembling steam began billowing from underneath our car, blocking my view out the back. I thought the radiator had boiled over, or we had blown a head gasket, but the engine continued running fine and the temperature gauge stayed at normal. The steam was so thick that I could only see the Ram’s headlights barely piercing it. If this was our engine coolant boiling away, we would have been about out of it.
At this point, we came upon a tight curve, marked by the typical >>> signs. Skip braked hard and pulled the Jeep around the curve. Suddenly, the steam dissipated, and I could see headlights clearly again. The problem was, they were the Toyota’s headlights. As we went around the curve, the Ram had apparently vanished.
We drove the rest of the way back to the highway (Rt 23) , and parked in a lot at the intersection. The Toyota pulled in behind us, and we compared notes. They reported that they had seen us blow by them with the Ram following closely, so they pulled out and tailed the Ram for several miles. Suddenly a stream of of “thick gray smoke” (it looked more like regular steam to me) blocked their view, and they were driving basically by following the Ram’s taillights. The taillights gradually dimmed and then faded away altogether. Just then, the smoke vanished, they came around the curve, and saw Skip’s Jeep on the road ahead.
We drove by that curve many times afterward, including in daylight. There were no intersecting streets or roadways in the area. The only things we could find were a few narrow, rutted dirt paths that looked more suited for an ATV than a van, and none seemed to be in right spot to be a possible escape route for the Ram. At any rate, at that speed, a vehicle of that size would almost certainly have become stuck or hit a tree if it had abruptly turned down one of these paths. And no one in any of the cars had seen the van’s lights on in the woods, or seen anything that indicated it was making a turn. All parties agreed that it appeared to have vanished with the cloud of vapor. By the way, I gave the Jeep a thorough going-over, and I found no coolant leaks or coolant in the oil. It never produced smoke like that again.
I know this story sounds ridiculous, but that’s why I’m posting it here. I enjoy pursuing weirdness of all types, so I have seen a variety of things that were unusual or unexpected, but few that were as truly inexplicable as this one.