Purgatory Road

This August, my friends and I were taking a road trip from New York City to Rhode Island. None of us had been before, so we were excited about the drive, especially because we rented a Mustang convertible for it. We left a little later than expected—it was about 10:30 p.m., and since it was a busy Friday night, we decided to punch our destination into Waze to beat the traffic. 

Eventually, we started losing steam, so my friend in the back seat fell asleep and I just kept driving along quietly, when my friend in the passenger seat told me to exit the freeway to take a side road. At first, driving on the unlit, winding back roads was relaxing, but then the wind picked up and it got increasingly foggy and misty. I wasn’t scared, per se, just a little on edge. I was thinking about pulling over to put the top up but decided against it since there were no there cars in sight. The forecast for the entire weekend was heavy rain, so I wanted to get the most out the convertible. 

So I kept going along as normal, if not a little too fast to get back to the main roads as quickly as possible when something just shifted—I don’t know how to explain it other than an unsettling feeling of being exposed. I remember pulling my sweater over my legs to cover up a little. Then my friend up front told me to look at the street sign in the distance. It read, “Purgatory.” We woke up our friend in the back seat, who sort of scoffed. 

Seconds later, we went around a bend where a large red cross was installed on the side of the road with nothing else in sight. We just shrugged it off as a creepy coincidence. By then we were kind of joking about and indulging in the spookiness, but around the next bend, a big truck came hurling down the one-lane road straight at us. Luckily my impulse was to swerve a little to the side, otherwise, it probably would have been a head-on collision. My friend tried to get his license plate number but he sped off and my other friend found the quickest route away from this road. 

We didn’t really discuss it after because we were too creeped out, and we haven’t talked about it since. But when I was writing this story, I decided to look it up. I spent about hour trying to retrace our route and found the little road—it was indeed named Purgatory, and though we didn’t notice it at the time, I could see on Google Maps that it was situated right near an old graveyard. Curious about this road, I researched it further and discovered that two teen girls had died there in August of 2011 in an accident when they were going to visit the grave of Rhode Island’s infamous “vampire,” Mercy Brown, who died in 1892.  Apparently, they decided to go for a drive down this “dark, windy road” because they thought it looked “haunted.”