High Beams is a scary story from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It is based off a legend known as "Killer in the backseat", a common, car-crime urban legend well known mostly in the United States and United Kingdom. It was first noted by folklorist Carlos Drake in 1968 in texts collected by Indiana University students. The legend involves a woman who is driving and being followed by a car or truck. The mysterious pursuer flashes his high beams, tailgates her, and sometimes even rams her vehicle. When she finally makes it home, she realizes that the driver was trying to warn her that there was a man (a murderer, or escaped mental patient) hiding in her back seat. Each time the man sat up to attack her, the driver behind had used his high beams to scare the killer, causing him to duck back down.

High beams

The Story

The girl driving the old blue sedan was a senior at the high school. She lived on a farm about eight miles away and used the car to drive back and forth. She had driven into town that night to see a basketball game. Now she was on her way home. As she pulled away from the school, she noticed a red pick-up truck follow her out of the parking lot.

A few minutes later the truck was still behind her. "I guess we're going in the same direction," she thought. She began to watch the truck in her mirror. When she changed her speed, the driver of the truck changed his speed. When she passed a car, so did he. Then he turned on his high beams, flooding her car with light. He left them on for almost a minute. "He probably wants to pass me," she thought. But she was becoming uneasy. Usually she drove home over the back road. Not too many people went that way. But when she turned onto that road, so did the truck. "I've got to get away from him," she thought, and began to drive faster. Then he turned his high beams on again. After a minute, he turned them off. Then he turned them on again and off again. She drove even faster, but the truck driver stayed right behind her. Then he turned his high beams on again. Once more her car was ablaze with light. "What is he doing?" she wondered. "What does he want?" Then he turned them off again. But a minute later he had them on again, And left them on.

At last she pulled into her driveway, and the truck pulled in right behind her. She jumped from the car and to the house. "Call the police!" she screamed at her father. Out in the driveway she could see the driver of the truck. He had a gun in his hand. When the police arrived, they started to arrest him, but he pointed to the girls' car. "You don't want me," he said. "You want him." Crouched behind the driver's seat, there was a man with a knife. As the driver of the truck explained it, the man slipped into the girl's car just before she left the school. He saw it happen, but there was no way he could stop it. He thought about getting the police, but he was afraid to leave her. So he followed her car. Each time the man in the back seat reached up to over power her, the driver of the truck turned on his high beams, Then the man dropped down, afraid that someone might see him.

Audio Tape

"High Beams" Audio Tape

"High Beams" Audio Tape