By Patrick Christian
Jules stared out from the darkness of the alley. At the stoplight was a crisp, new black sedan. It looked like an Audi, but he wasn’t sure. The moon reflected off the car. It was the best on the street and it was here and here was Crestwood Heights, or as the cops called it ‘drug town.’
It wasn’t unheard of for high-end cars to be in the Heights, but when it happened, people knew the car was probably bought with drug money. Jules Redford was about to find out exactly what bought this car to Crestwood.
The car stayed there, even though the light was green. The driver remained unseen behind tinted windows.
Jules ran towards the car, his pistol pointed at the driver. He pulled open the door to reveal a white guy, in his late twenties, in a sweat-soaked t-shirt. “Get out motherfucker!”
The seat belt released and the man jumped out. “Thank you!” he screamed, tears running down his face. “Thank you!” As the guy ran across the street, a van came out of nowhere and hit him. His body fell under the wheels and was crushed. A long stream of blood ran from under the van as it drove a hundred feet before stopping.
“What the fuck…” Jules muttered. His eyes went from the dead man to the ultra clean black leather in the car.
Jules jumped into the car. The seat belt automatically secured him. He slammed the gas pedal and sped away. The dashboard showed an eerie orange glow. Jules felt like he just won the lottery. He would make a lot of dough from the car—maybe a hundred grand.
Jules got onto the 405 and flew past cars and trucks. He turned on the radio. Hip-hop music blasted the inside of the car. Then he noticed he was almost out of gas.
Just ahead, Santa Monica Blvd., and a gas station. The exit was a mile away; he’d make it. In the distance under a streetlight, he saw a hitchhiker with a suitcase and a sign that read ‘SANTA BARBARA.’ Jules had no intention of stopping, but the car slowed down and pulled over on its own despite his attempt to control it.
The car pulled over, and the passenger’s side door opened. “Thanks man,” the hitchhiker said. “My wife dumped me here two hours ago. Nice ride. What is this, a Ferrari?”
“I wish I knew.”
The man scratched his head. His dirty white shirt showed troubled times at home and the old suitcase between his legs showed he didn’t own much of anything.
Jules pulled back onto the 405. He was tense, but felt better now that he controlled the car. He laughed to himself, thinking maybe he needed to stop smoking pot.
“My name is Henry Miller. I’m a dentist, from Nashville originally. My wife and I moved to LA a year ago.”
“I’m Jules…” He stopped mid-sentence when Henry coughed violently.
“Man, this seat belt is tight. How do I get it off? And please, turn off the heated seat. Man, this is hot.”
Jules saw the switch for the heat in the off position. “It’s off. Maybe you’re sick or something.”
Henry tried to lift his ass in the air but the seatbelt got tighter. “Damn, it’s burning me. Please, turn it off!”
The car sped up. All control on Jules part was gone. He tried to release Henry’s seatbelt belt, but his own seatbelt pulled tighter and he was frozen against his seat.
Henry screamed. He tried to move to make the pain go away, but the seatbelt wouldn’t budge. The seat glowed red, yet it emitted no heat. Jules watched the man’s pants burn away.
Then suddenly, the skin melted off of the screaming man. Henry pulled his hand up and the skin fell off. He looked at Jules, as his face began to sink and his eyeballs fell from the sockets. Soon, the screaming stopped and his head went limp. His body sunk into the seat like a man who jumped into lava. Suddenly, Henry was gone and the seat was normal. There was nothing left except the suitcase.
Jules’s seat belt loosened and the fuel tank read full. He began to cry. The car was under his control now, so he pulled over. He reached for the door handle but it locked and the belt stiffened, reminding him what would happen if he tried to escape. “What do you want from me? I don’t need this shit! I just wanted to steal a fucking car. You killed Henry! He was a cool dude!”
The car revved and turned back onto the street. Its speedometer climbed as it drove down the road. Jules closed his eyes when it reached 140 mph.
The car screamed past a police car and a police motorcycle that immediately began chase. Jules felt comfort as he heard the sirens. Then the car pulled over, which confused him.
The cops pulled up, lights flashing and sirens wailing. The evil car shut itself off. Jules saw a fat cop get out of the car and walk towards them. The motorcycle cop stayed on his bike and spoke into his radio. As the cop peered at his license plate, the car started up and threw itself in reverse.
Jules screamed as the car hit a bump, which was obviously the cop. The motorcycle cop pulled his gun, but the car turned and crushed him against his bike. The cop’s innards burst forth from the shell of his torso intertwining with the engine components and making both bodies become one.
Jules was half awake and half out of his mind as the car sped down the 405. “Why me?” he screamed. “Momma always said I was no good. And she was right. Look at me, stealing cars, and doing drugs and driving around in a devil car that kills people. This is the end. I know it.”
The car continued down the highway at 150 mph with Jules trapped in the seat. At one point, the car slowed and Jules saw motorcycles ahead. “Oh fuck, man. Please, leave them alone. Come on, man. Leave them alone.”
The car followed the bikers up a mountain where huge gashes were cut into the earth years before to make room for the highway. The bikers thought it strange that the car passed slowly. It made its way to the front and went just fast enough to stay there.
Suddenly, the car slammed on its brakes. The bikers couldn’t stop. They swerved and slammed into the car and into each other. They lay amongst their bikes some crawling or trying to get up, while others didn’t move. The car backed up and swerved to run over each one of the bikers. Jules cried as the car sped away. They traveled north for a few hours and he fell asleep.
A sudden jerk woke him up. The car pulled over for a beautiful blonde in a sundress whose car had broken down. Her hair blew in the wind as she waved. Jules shook his head while tears rolled down his cheek.
The door opened and she jumped in. “Thanks. I’m Crystal. What a beautiful ca… Hey. Why are you crying?”
Jules didn’t look up. He just stared at the empty gas gauge.
“I should go,” Crystal said. Suddenly, the seatbelt pulled her violently into the seat.
Jules didn’t look. He just stared at the fuel gauge as it rose. Soon the screaming was gone and the tank was full. Jules sat dumbfounded, insanely talking to himself and crying.
The car traveled for sometime before his seat belt loosened.
The silence was a burden to his soul and the comfort he wanted, that he had as a child, was music. He stuck out his shaking hand and turned on the radio. But it didn’t play music. Instead, he heard a familiar voice.
“Where am I?” the voice said. It was Crystal.
“You are with us,” said another. “In the darkness.”
“Where is this?”
“We don’t know.”
Jules looked at the radio and his lips quivered.
“C-Can you hear me?” Jules asked.
“Who said that?”
“Jules. I’m driving.”
“Why did you do this to me?”
“I didn’t do nothing. It’s this fucking evil car. It’s possessed. It won’t let me leave! I don't need this shit!”
There was a silence. “Am I dead?”
The voices in the darkness replied, “Yes.”
Crystal started to cry. Jules was now in control of his anxiety and nervousness, “I’ll help you lady, anything I can do. Just tell me what to do.”
Another silence followed. “You must destroy the car.”
“How?” Jules asked. Then silence.
Jules tried to think of a way to kill the car. He just wasn’t smart enough. He couldn’t think. The car drove along another stretch of the road and came across a mother and daughter jogging. They didn’t even know what hit them. They were bloody bodies after the car drove over them.
Jules didn’t even notice the carnage. He went through three more hitchhikers before he came up with an idea. While stretching his legs he pushed the mat over and saw wires for the radio. It occurred to him that if the radio was the prison for their souls, he might free them by shorting it out.
Jules pulled the wires out. The car veered out of control, swerving right and then left. It accelerated until the speedometer could move no more. He screamed as the car careened off of other cars. His seat belt got tight and then loosened as if the demon car had been injured.
“Jules, there is light. I can see the other souls!”
“Go towards it. Get out!”
“Thank you,” she cried. Then there was silence.
The car continued to build up speed and bounce off anything in sight. Jules passed out from the pain of the belt tightening his chest.
His dreams were pleasant and calm for once.
When he awoke, Jules thought everything was fine until he looked down and saw the steering wheel. He was in a mall parking lot. Other cars were near and people walked around with packages. He didn’t know what the evil car intended to do, but someone was going to die. Then, a strange thing happened. The driver’s side door opened and the seat belt retracted.
“I’m sorry, I thought this was my car,” said a woman. Jules jumped out and bolted through the lot. The woman stood there bewildered. Jules ran fast, and then glanced back for an instant.
A van sped down the lane, looking for a parking spot. The driver didn’t see Jules. Jules Redford’s life ended under the tires of that van, but his soul became eternal. He had freed slaves and was now righteous.
Across the parking lot, the woman screamed in terror and fell back onto the front seat. The door slammed and the car drove away.
This story is from the new horror collection Tales of Man, now available on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, published by Broken Ocean Entertainment. By Patrick Christian
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