In 2006, a horrific discovery changed a small, Southwestern town forever. Witness the events leading up to the discovery of the fabled “maggot men” and the calamitous aftermath.
Ticket booths for American Expeditions—the Night Bus—appear in major bus terminals across America every night. Yet, hardly anyone has ever heard of American Expeditions. This is because the company does not exist.
Of course most travelers take no notice of these unusual booths, as they have already purchased their tickets. American Expeditions attracts the desperate and those who seek cheap prices above all else. For just $5 USD, you can buy a ticket to any city in the United States. And there’s always a bus that arrives immediately after purchase. Convenient, no?
I think so. Unfortunately for you and I, most riders on the “Night Bus” tend to disappear forever. Those who do reach their destination have a hard time recounting their time on the bus, as it all seems like a dream to them in retrospect. A small group of travelers though, have it worse and think that this is the dream and the bus is real.
Before getting into the details, I’d like to share some background information on American Expeditions. Information on the non-existent company is, as you can imagine, beyond hard to come by: even stories of the Night Bus take keen ears to uncover. However, after some serious detective work, I present to you as full a picture as I could gather of the fabled “Night Bus”.
Appearances by the Night Bus go all the way back to the early days of the United States interstate system in the 1950s. I found a verified magazine advertisement for American Expeditions from the early 1960s. It appears at one point, the company was real.
No public information or company charters have ever been found concerning American Expeditions in any state. The address given in the ad is now home to a contemporary office building belonging to a Silicon Valley company.
I have heard many theories about what happened to the company. Some claim that an AE bus passed near Area 51 one night and was caught in an experiment gone wrong, which caused the bus to vanish. The company was then shut down and erased from history by the federal government. It is true the bus company was based in San Francisco—it’s ad said that—and serviced the Southwest region of America.
Another version of the story has it that a man named Jerry Benjamin, a scientist involved with the Manhattan Project during the war, got aboard an AE bus with a large briefcase. When the bus was out in the deserts of southern California, Benjamin opened the briefcase and detonated the inside device which caused a massive explosion.
Whatever the case may be, American Expeditions popped up but just as quickly disappeared. Over the decades however, stories of it and its ghostly Night Bus have surfaced. The Night Bus has recently become a very popular subject among paranormal enthusiasts, much like UFO sightings and abductions.
Like UFOs, there are people who claim to have ridden on the Night Bus and survived to tell about it. the first thing that struck me after reading through travelers’ accounts and hearing some in person, is that it appears there is only one “Night Bus”. Everyone describes the same bus—a white 1960s-era passenger bus with blue stripes and the company name on its sides. There is no designating number or ID. The driver seems to be the same person as well. He is described as a short man in his 60s or 70s. Gray-haired with watery blue eyes and large glasses, he wears overalls, a bow tie, and a cap.
Another constant is the desert landscape that passes by outside the windows. No matter where the passengers started from or where they are going, they always see deserts outside. Occasionally too, they see cities far out in the desert like oases of lights. The cities seem strange though: they appear as clusters of skyscrapers and high-rises, radiating with light, but they end abruptly. There are no suburbs. It is like the downtown of a large city, New York or Los Angeles, was cut out and dropped in the middle of a Californian or Nevadan desert.
The Night Bus carries passengers from any location in the United States to another in a single night. That is what self-claimed riders of the bus say. In 2006, Andrew Smith missed his bus, leaving him stranded in Chicago. It was late: around 10 at night. He knew that missing his meant he had missed his flight back to northern Virginia. He was low on cash too. That was when he noticed a ticket booth. A sign by the booth advertised low fares and an incoming arrival. He purchased a ticket to Baltimore for five dollars; immediately an old, retro bus pulled up to the designated terminal.
He reported all the experiences I’ve described above: desert landscapes passing by, even though he was going from Chicago to Baltimore; The little, old driver cradled in his large seat seat; and a sense of timelessness. Andrew describes how tired he became once he boarded the bus. He desperately wanted to sleep, but kept himself awake. Andrew is a veteran of the Marine Corps and is used to sleep deprivation. he also doesn’t like falling asleep while traveling. The bus made a stop at a hotel. Andrew had no idea where they were—empty desert surrounded them on all sides. This hotel is another recurring element of the Night Bus story.
The American Travelers Overnight Bus Stop & Hotel filled Andrew with two extremes. He wanted desperately to go inside, get a room, and collapse on a soft bed. Yet at the same time he wanted to stay far away from the hotel. There was something sinister about the large building and its blocky construction. It had too many windows; Andrew felt many eyes watching him from the windows. Inside the lobby, he saw the figures of the bellhops in uniform. There was a strange, unkind look in their gaunt faces that made Andrew decide to stay on the bus. A handful of passengers got off and went inside. Later, Andrew had a gut feeling that they would never leave that hotel.
Other travelers have reported similar experiences with the hotel. A strong combination of allure and terror. No obvious sign of alarm can be given about the hotel. People simply report a feeling of dread when they look at the building. No Night Bus rider has ever stopped at the hotel. Presumably those who have are there still, which is what Andrew believes.
Andrew could not tell me when exactly the desert gave way to the outskirts of Baltimore, but it happened so seamlessly he didn’t even think about it until later. When the bus pulled into the station, Andrew checked his watch. Sure enough the trip had only taken the night: he had gone from Chicago to Baltimore in 7 hours. At the time, Andrew was too exhausted for this to have any affect on him. Andrew was so tired, he wasn’t prepared at all for the shock that awaited him in Baltimore.
Sure, he had arrived home in record time, yet it wasn’t his time that he arrived in. Andrew had left Chicago in the year 2006, yet the clocks and newspapers in Baltimore said it was 1985. The local fashion and models of cars showed Andrew that this was true and not a hoax. When he turned back to look for the bus, it was already gone.
Andrew Smith, born in 1971, served in the Marines in the Gulf War and the American invasion of Iraq. He went missing in 2006. His parents were both dead and he was divorced, and had no close family or friends. His disappearance took a while to be noticed.
A man named Andrew Smith, a native of Baltimore, claims to be the same man. Andrew turned 68 this year. He lives with his wife and has three grown daughters.
From Andrew Smith’s story comes one of the biggest elements of the Night Bus story: the difficulty of passengers in reaching the right place and time. From other stories it is gathered that one must order a ticket and tell the driver where and when you want to go in precise language, otherwise you might end up in a completely different year—or even a different world as one man claimed.
Joe Garcia arrived home in San Francisco two days early thanks to American Expeditions. He arrived at his home on Russian Hill. His wife came to the door to greet him—except the woman wasn’t his wife. Joe was married to a woman named Theresa; this woman was named Becky. She knew him and tried to give him a kiss. Becky clearly thought they were married. Joe was stunned. When he regained his senses, he thought he’d made a mistake. But the house was his: it was the same building with the same address.
Inside, the house was clearly his, yet things were different. The rug in the living room was a different color—green instead of brown. The countertops in the kitchen were granite instead of concrete. And there hanging on the wall were pictures of Joe Garcia with Becky and children that weren’t Joe’s.
Joe’s reaction obviously distressed Becky. She brought down their four children—except that Joe had two children, a girl and a boy. After knowing for sure this was the right address and that was him in the pictures, Joe tried to settle in with his new family. Except that as he tried to go about his days, things about the city were different. He worked at a different job. The mayor of the city was a different person. Even some newer streets and buildings were changed—or missing altogether.
After eight months, Joe could take no more. He wanted to go back to his real family. He distanced himself from this alternate family. This was too much for Becky. Joe had been acting strange for almost a year. She overdosed on prescription pills three months later. Distraught, Joe left everything behind. While wandering the strange streets of this altered San Francisco, Joe remembered he had known a girl named Becky in high school. She had had a huge crush on him, but had committed suicide because of troubles at home.
Joe Garcia wandered into a bus terminal and spent his last five dollars on a Night Bus ticket. He wanted to get out of the city and hardly cared where he went. After a restless night, Joe was dropped off in Augusta, Maine. After earning enough cash for a plane ticket at a fish processing plant, Joe flew to San Francisco where he found an ongoing police search into his disappearance and his real wife, Theresa, waiting for him.
Time and space appear not to be a barrier for the Night Bus. The highways the Night Bus traverses are made of more than asphalt.
However, if you happen to lose your ticket while onboard, then you will never really be able to leave the bus, as Rosie Hendricks has experienced for the past five years or so. Rosie Hendricks lives in a rundown trailer home in Montana. She suffers from an incurable form of insomnia. Her many doctors claim it was brought on by stress and deep-rooted psychological problems. Rosie tells a different story.
Rosie Hendricks bought an AE ticket because it was the cheapest. She was fleeing a life of prostitution in rural southern Texas to go to Montana. However, while on the bus, she dozed off. When she awoke, she found her ticket was gone. When the bus stopped, the driver just looked at her with his sad, watery eyes when she explained her ticket had been taken.
She was allowed to leave and soon she was settled into her new Montana life. But every single night she woke back up on the Night Bus. The same empty desert and eerie cities, radiating with electric light, passed by. Just when the sun started to show on the eastern horizon, Rosie woke back up in Montana. She often found herself outside. She quickly discovered she walked in her sleep. In fact, locked doors wouldn’t even keep her contained.
Each and every night, bus stops at the American Travelers Hotel. Rosie, like the others, finds the place frightening just to look at, yet its allure has grown on her over the years. She told me in the interview that she has become fascinated by what might be inside and she might one day finally get off the bus.
After five years of this, Rosie Hendricks is in poor health. Nights give her no rest: her mind is always on. It has gotten to the point where Rosie believes this life is the dream and the bus is real. She believes this so much, she has taken to doing life-threatening stunts in an attempt to truly wake up. She once leapt off the bridge near her house into a shallow river. She was rushed to the hospital with two broken legs and internal bleeding. However, Rosie did miraculously survive and walks around quite fine. She treats life around her with dream-like serenity, taking nothing seriously.
So, the Night Bus. Is it real or just a myth? Like UFOs, it is hard to say for sure. After speaking to passengers of the bus, I cannot just discount it as a myth. What do you think of it? It is a legend? A victim of a government experiment?
Some have claimed the Night Bus is a modern American Charon, the ancient greek ferryman of the dead. Like the obol coin paid to him, so the Night Bus requires a mere $5. The old bus driver has been likened to Charon himself. Could the Night Bus be a ferry taking unwitting travelers into a sort of “underworld”. Might that explain what the American Travelers Hotel is? Perhaps what makes it so frightening and yet alluring is that the hotel is a gateway into another world or another mode of existence.
Who can say for sure. Tell me what you think.
The names of people and locations in the following article have been changed for the sake of the privacy.
The home of the Smith family in New Jersey seems like an ordinary, middle-class residence. From the outside it is a two story domicile on a half-acre lot. It is totally normal and from all appearances is constructed similarly to its neighbors. Brian and Jane Smith have two sons, named Josh and Kevin, aged 6 and 4.
Both boys love to explore their house for nooks and crannies. So they were elated when they discovered the eaves closet on the second floor of the house. Subsequently the boys would be gone for long hours at a time. Then they would reappear downstairs, dusty and excited. When asked by their parents where they had been, Josh replied they were exploring caves. Thinking the boys were playing games of imagination, Brian and Jane didn’t worry.
Josh and Kevin made a whole game out of exploring the eaves closet. They would tie handkerchiefs around their mouths to protect from dust and they would both bring along flashlights. They also got in the habit of leaving the door open so they could easily find their way back. Brian and Jane remember hearing both boys refer to a new imaginary friend around this time, one “Mister Scruffum”.
However, one day the boys forgot to close the door behind them after an adventure. Later that evening, Jane wondered where the family cat was, as she hadn’t seen him all day. Josh and Kevin, guessing where the cat had gone, donned their handkerchiefs and grabbed their flashlights and headed inside the closet. Josh even brought snacks and juice boxes for them to eat. He assumed they were going to be gone a long time.
And so they were. Bedtime came and went with no sign of the boys. Brian checked outside while Jane checked the upstairs. She noticed the eaves closet door cracked open. She peered inside to be safe but saw nothing except the few boxes, spare blankets, sleeping bags, and a backup AC unit, all of which blocked her view of either end of the eaves closet. Seeing nothing, Jane closed the door.
The next morning with no sign of either boy, the Smiths called the police. Even before the police arrived, Brian and Jane had figured their sons had gone to look for their lost, beloved cat. When the police arrived and they heard the story, they organized a search of the area and soon after logged Josh and Kevin Smith as missing persons. The hypothesis is that they went off into the nearby woods to look for their cat, who must have gotten outside.
No sign of the Smith boys was found for two days. Brian and Jane feared the worst. Then, in the middle of third day, little footsteps were heard descending the stairs. Brian rushed from the living and saw a filthy Josh and Kevin hobbling down the steps.
Their faces were covered in dust. Their knees were stained and bruised. Both desperately needed baths and were severely dehydrated. Both also needed immediate changes of clothes. The boys, especially Josh, didn’t seem to mind that much. All he was concerned about was that he hadn’t found their cat and he said that once he was ready, was going back in to look.
Brian and Jane, and the police who had already arrived, were perplexed at this. They asked Josh where he and his brother had been. Josh got nervous but eventually told them they had been in the eaves closet. Jane said she had looked there the evening they disappeared. Josh would say no more, but Kevin finally admitted in private to Jane—to whom he was especially close—that the closet was far bigger than it seemed from the outside.
Brian, Jane, and a police detective went upstairs. They opened the eaves closet and had a look inside. The inside of the closet was unfinished, with a plywood floor and exposed ceiling struts with squares of insulation in between. The Smiths began to fear their boys’ imagination had gone too far, to the point of delusion, when the detective shone his flashlight down both ends of the closet. He said he should have seen either end of the closet, but couldn’t even though the entire length of it was no more than 20 or 25 feet. He pulled out the boxes and other stuff and showed the Smiths. Instead of the light of his flashlight reflecting off the insulation that should have been at either end, the darkness inside the closet just kept going.
Brian and Jane were stunned: they had never realized the closet was so big—longer than the room it was in and perhaps even the house—and they swore it had been a very normal closet when they moved in when Josh was a baby.
The eaves closet was too narrow for Brian or the detective to comfortably fit inside, so Jane took the flashlight and crawled inside. She went down the right side. She crawled and crawled for more than a dozen feet, expecting at any moment to find the end. She never did. The police detective followed her outside, walking from room to room and listening to her scuffling movements through the wall. When he reached the end of the house, he could still hear Jane, muffled and increasingly distant through the wall. Brian called Jane back.
The three were more than confused. They had absolutely no idea what was happening or how this was possible. The eaves closet was, as far as they knew, longer than the house was. They tried to come up with all manner of explanations, but after Brian and the detective crammed themselves inside and crawled around for themselves, they all had to accept that the eaves closet was not ordinary.
More police were brought in. A hole was drilled into the closet at the end of the house. When someone crawled inside, they could see the hole and look through it into the room beyond, yet the passage of the closet continued on, well past the exterior wall of the house.
When a drill was used on the closet walls beyond the boundaries of the house, the drill bored through wood until it reached the end of the bit.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, police investigators discovered a descending staircase 45 feet down the righthand side. The stairs, made of unfinished plywood like the rest of the closet floor, descended down 7 steps, then the passage continued as normal.
A police officer recommended inviting the American Society of Paranormal and Extraordinary Research (ASPER) to the investigation. The officer had a cousin who worked for ASPER. The head detective agreed, as it would allow the police to continue to investigate the house, which they would not have if they had told a federal agency of the house.
ASPER, a privately-funded research organization with a keen interesting in investigating reports of the paranormal along scientific guidelines, sent a crew equipped with a remote probe. The team set up shop and sent the drone into the closet. What they found they’ve likened to a cave system or anthill.
Both the left and right sides of the eaves closet continue on to a still undetermined end. They’ve found more staircases, which go both up and down, as well as large “caverns”. The eaves closet is 2 feet high from the tallest point of the sloped ceiling to the floor. These open areas are as tall as 6 feet. The tallest of these even had plywood lofts for added floorspace. The passage of the closet never turns, but always runs straight in either direction. There are ramps found that descend at 45° angles to as much as 15 feet down. As of writing this, there have been found 9 instances where the passage splits in two: one going above while the other goes below the plane of the normal passage. These branched passages always reunite later. There are also 3 instances where a plywood “bridge” crosses a pit filled with squares of fiberglass insulation.
The only unique location found to date lies 100 yards down the lefthand side. The space, measuring only 10 feet long, was unique because the passage actually widened from its regular 3 1/2 feet to 10 1/2 feet. The space, dubbed “the fort” by the ASPER team, reaches an astonishing 16 feet high. There are a number of plywood platforms along the walls, connected by either plywood bridges or ladder rungs made of the same wood as the struts. The place has the haphazard look and layout of a treehouse.
It was at the fort that the next major discovery were made: signs of life. Traces of Josh and Kevin’s adventures were found in the form of hand and knee prints in the dust and discarded juice boxes. But at the fort, signs of someone or something other than the boys was discovered. Strange, lateral markings in the dust and large balls of fur were found in abundance. There was also what looked like a nest or tent made of fiberglass insulation high up among the platforms. Scratches were seen on the ceiling struts.
The cat, by the way, has not been found nor has any discernible sign of it.
After hearing the full story, the ASPER team believes all these markings were made by “Mister Scruffum”, Josh and Kevin’s supposed imaginary friend. They are still on the lookout for more definitive signs of his existence and have found more of the fur balls and thin marks in the dust outside the fort. Josh and Kevin have not given any more details on Mister Scruffum.
Upon these revelations, the Smiths moved permanently into a new house. Josh and Kevin were not happy to leave their home and the source of so many hours of entertainment, but Brian and Jane became worried for their family’s safety.
ASPER bought the house from them to continue their investigation. The police have kept the whole affair quiet, but since I have contacts in ASPER, I am able to share this story with you.
As of the time of writing, ASPER has explored a total of 13 3/4 miles of passages with no end in sight. If this whole story is true—which I have no reason to think it isn’t—this is the strangest, most puzzling, most unexplained discovery made. A dream of mine is to go to the house and see the closet for myself. To date the exploration is ongoing, with new discoveries being made weekly.
If I hear of any groundbreaking revelations, I will of course report them here.
No matter how familiar we are with a place—even one has intimate as our own homes—we can still make shocking discoveries; learn things we never knew about the place. Who’s to say what’s lurking inside your own home? What undiscovered mysteries hide just under the surface, waiting to be discovered. It makes you think what secret worlds might be hiding in your own closet…