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Friday night folk-tale: The Disappearing Passenger

The Disappearing Passenger is a famous story belonging to the type of folkloric tales that are called urban legends. It has been localised in many countries, and Iceland is no exception. The area where this version is supposed to have taken place was a very lonely and rather desolate place before they put down electrical lighting along the road, and was thought to be haunted long before the motor-car was invented, so it was perfectly natural that sooner or later a ghost story would pop up in connection with cars.

This isn't a translation, but the story as it was told to me. 

It was during the Second World War and a lorry driver was driving from Keflavík home to Reykjavík after dark. There was a blackout, so no lights could be seen anywhere except the car lights, and those only lit the road for a couple of meters right in front of the car, because of black-out precautions. The road in those days was all gravel and the going was slow. On a lonely stretch of the road the driver began to feel uneasy, and when he glanced towards the passenger seat he was startled to see that he wasn't alone in the car. He knew he had been alone when he started off and since he hadn't stopped anywhere since starting out he found this very peculiar. 

The passenger was dressed in a dark jacket with a deep hood that was pulled up so that the driver could not see his face. The driver was somewhat spooked by this, but since the passenger wasn't making any threatening gestures but just sat there, he decided that he must be harmless. He even tried to engage the passenger in conversation, since it was a lonely drive, but he got no answer and soon gave up. After a while the feeling of uneasiness disappeared, and when he looked at the passenger seat, the passenger was gone. 

When he got home to Reykjavík and told the story, he was told that he wasn't the first to pick up this mysterious passenger, but it only happened if the driver was alone in the car.  After that, the driver refused to drive this route alone after dark, and he never saw the mystery passenger again.

Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.


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