Sandra glanced at the figure at the side of the road as her car hurtled by. It looked like a young man, in plain clothes with a simple pack, with his thumb held hopefully up: a hitchhiker. She hadn't seen a hitchhiker in decades, but this was quite the night for unusual events. She wasn't thinking about what might have happened back at the house. She wasn't thinking about what might happen next.
The second time she passed him, she sped up. This was twelve miles further up the road, but she thought it was the same figure: the same dark hair, the same simple clothing, the same small backpack.
The third time she passed him, she slowed back down. If he was just going to keep reappearing, then he wasn't much of a threat... and the last thing she needed was a speeding ticket. Samantha stirred in the back seat, and Sandra asked: "Honey?"
"I don't know," said Samantha, in her Big Girl voice. "He isn't hunting us, not exactly. And he isn't a vampire, or a werewolf, or a sorcerer, or... anything else, really."
"Should I stop?" asked Sandra. She hated calling on her daughter's vision, hated it, but... there was a sense of inevitability to this. If she just kept ignoring him, he would probably show up wherever she finally stopped. She couldn't drive forever.
"I think you have to," answered Samantha, nearly echoing her thoughts.
Sandra made a sound in her throat that was half growl and half groan, and kept driving. Sure enough, she saw him again a few miles later.
This time she slowed, let the car drift to a stop just past him, and waited until he approached.
He came at a normal human walking speed. A ghost? It seemed possible, though she'd never met one.
When he opened the passenger door, she was pointing a gun at him. "Get in," she said, "If that's what you're here for."
He opened the door the rest of the way, climbed in, and closed it. Then, very deliberately, he fastened his seatbelt. The straps settled against him and stayed: he was definitely flesh, though small-built and slim. He looked to be maybe twenty years old. "They aren't chasing you," he said, "but you should still keep moving."
"Who are you?" asked Sandra, her foot still on the brake.
"Nobody in particular," he said. "Not yet. Do you want help?"
"No," said Sandra.
He tilted his head, looking at her sidewise. "Not even from the vampire?"
"And not from me, either."
"Whatever you might be? Absolutely not."
He didn't react to that, just nodded absently. It might have saved his life: she still had the gun pointed at him, and the ammunition inside was meant to deal with unusual things. Or maybe he's just too damned powerful -- or too damned strange -- to worry about bullets. If he'd so much as turned, she'd have shot him. Instead, he just sat there.
"Then let me leave this," he said, and reached into his jacket. What he pulled out was a small amulet with a simple cord, which he set on the console between them. "It's just a protection. It won't let me spy on you, and it won't cost you anything. Check it yourself -- or run it by someone you trust." He tugged on the latch and swung the door open, then stepped back out into the night. His movements were still slow and casual, still utterly human. He closed the door gently and stepped back, and for a moment Sandra just stared at the dim silhouette of him outside the window.
"We should keep it," said Samantha, from the back seat.
Sandra swallowed. "...Why?"
"It's a good thing. And sometimes it's a kitten."