What was the worst thing you’ve ever done? I won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me … the most dreadful thing …
Because he thought that he would have problems taking the child over the border into Canada, he drove south, skirting the cities whenever they came and taking the anonymous freeways which were like a separate country, as travel was itself like a separate country. The sameness both comforted and stimulated him, so that on the first day he was able to drive for twenty hours straight through. They ate at McDonald’s and at root-beer stands: when he was hungry, he left the freeway and took a state highway parallel to it, knowing that a drive-in was never more than ten or twenty miles away. Then he woke up the child and they both gnawed at their hamburgers or chili dogs, the child never speaking more than to tell him what she wanted. Most of the time she slept. That first night, the man remembered the light bulbs illuminating his license plates, and though this would later prove to be unnecessary swung off the freeway onto a dark country road long enough to unscrew the light bulbs and toss them into a field. Then he took handfuls of mud from beside the road and smeared them over the plates. Wiping his hands on his trousers, he went back around to the driver’s side and opened the door. The child was sleeping with her back straight against the seat, her mouth closed. She appeared to be perfectly composed. He still did not know what he was going to have to do to her.
Peter Straub. Ghost Story.