Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
By Daniel Skye
Roddy’s white Jeep Cherokee glided across the smooth asphalt. The Jeep was a ’97, but still in remarkable condition for its age the fact that it was just over 100,000 miles. Roddy kept up with the oil changes, rotated the tires every few months, gave the Jeep a tune-up when necessary. He always used the best parts and high quality engine oil, never the cheap stuff.
He flushed the radiator once every six months, checked the fluids on a regular basis. He had recently changed the battery and installed a new catalytic converter. The engine was running fine. In fact, it was purring like a kitten as Roddy pushed the speedometer up to 75. It was past two in the morning, and there wasn’t a cop in sight. The road was virtually deserted. And they still had another hour to go on Route 25 before they made it home.
Jay had talked Roddy and Carine into traveling out of town for an all-day horror movie marathon. The final film had ended just after midnight and they’d been driving ever since.
Jay rolled down his window as he lit a cigarette, stuck his head out a bit, and gazed up at the stars. “Man, I would kill to see a flying saucer. You ever heard the theory that we’re all part of a vast alien experiment, that we’re all living in a human zoo? We’re just entertainment to extraterrestrials.”
“Where in God’s name did you hear this theory?” Carine asked.
“Facebook,” Jay said.
“Well, Facebook has always been a reliable news source,” Roddy quipped.
“I’m telling you, man, sometimes I feel like we’re being watched from something up above. And not God. It’s like something is studying us, monitoring us twenty-four-seven. And what about all those alleged UFO sightings in Roswell, in Phoenix, in–”
“Do we really have to talk about this at 2:15 in the morning?” Carine asked.
“Yeah, let’s change the subject,” Roddy suggested. “And how many times have I told you not to smoke in my Jeep,” he added.
“Fine,” Jay said, clearly annoyed. He flicked his cigarette out of the Jeep and rolled up his window.
“How’s it going with you and Rachel?” Carine asked Jay.
“Great,” Jay said. “She refuses to talk to me. She wanted her space, I gave her space. Then she got on my case for not keeping in touch with her. Then I started messaging her again, and she stop replying to my texts. I sent her cards, I sent her flowers, I offered to take her out to dinner. Nothing is ever good enough for her. What is it you bitches want from us guys?”
“Well, we certainly don’t like being called bitches, I can tell you that.”
“Girls are impossible to please,” Jay sighed.
“Or maybe we’re easy to please and you guys just really suck at it.” She grinned in the rearview mirror to let him know she was just busting his chops.
“Are we there yet?” Jay asked like a little kid trying to irritate his parents.
“Another forty-five minutes or so and we’ll be back in Dorchester.”
“Good, old Dorchester,” Carine said with a heavy hint of sarcasm. “Is there any place more boring than Long Island?”
“Delaware,” Roddy said. “I’d rather live the rest of my life in Long Island than spend more than a second in Delaware.”
“Turn on the radio,” Jay whined. “Let’s hear some tunes.”
Roddy had the radio set to his favorite classic rock station. But when he turned up the volume, all they heard was the insipid hiss of static. “I guess we’re still too far away from town to pick up WBAB. Let’s try K-Rock.” He switched the station. Static.
“How about Hot 97?” Carine asked.
Roddy tried Hot 97. Nothing but static and white noise.
He flipped through every station, but all they heard was the steady, banal sizzle of static.
“Maybe there’s something wrong with the radio,” Carine suggested.
“Maybe it’s aliens,” Jay said and started whistling the theme to the X-Files.
“Would you knock it off with that crap,” Roddy said.
“Whoa, slow down,” Carine advised him. “There’s a car up ahead. I can see the taillights.”
“Those don’t look like taillights to me. It looks like…”
The radio stopped hissing. Now it was emitting a low pitched buzzing noise. It sounded like a horde of bees nesting in the speakers. The noise grew louder and louder, piercing their ears.
“Turn it off!” Carine shouted.
The lights up ahead rose from the ground, floating above the Jeep. They definitely weren’t headlights. There was a whole clutter of lights that formed a strange, circular pattern in the air. A rounded object, like a huge disc, hovered in the air before ascending with tremendous speed and disappeared into the dark clouds above.
The Jeep begin to slow down on its own.
“Why are you stopping?” Jay asked.
“It’s not me,” Roddy said. “Something’s wrong with the Jeep.” He cut the wheel gentley and aimed for the shoulder of Route 25. The Jeep creeped along the side of the road and came to a dead stop before Roddy could even tap the brakes.
The electronics, as if being controlled remotely, went haywire. The radio changed stations by itself as the volume went up and down, rising and falling. The dome light and the headlights flickered. The horn blared without Roddy laying a finger on it.
Then, nothing. Silence. The radio cut out. The horn ceased. The lights went dead.
“What…the…fuck,” was all Carine could say.
“Took the words right out of my mouth,” Roddy said.
Roddy twisted the key in the ignition. The engine wouldn’t turn over. It didn’t even make a sound.
Roddy popped the hood and got out, followed by Jay. Carine was the last to exit the Jeep.
“Guys, what the hell was that thing in the sky?” Carine asked.
“This is all your fault,” Roddy said to Jay. “All your talk about UFOS and alien experiments.” He was clearly joking, if only to ease his frayed nerves.
“Maybe the alien theories aren’t so crazy after all,” Jay said, gazing skyward. Whatever the disc shaped object was, it was far out of sight. Jay wondered for a moment if he had really seen it at all. But if it was a mind trick, a hallucination, Roddy and Carine wouldn’t have seen it also.
Jay looked in every direction, making sure the coast was clear. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized they were alone. Alone wasn’t necessarily good when you’re broken down on the side of the road. But with that unidentified flying object out of sight, alone meant they were safe, at least for now.
“Everything looks fine,” Roddy said. “The battery terminals are tight. I just changed the battery a few weeks ago. The engine seems to be fine. Alternators alright. I don’t know what it could be.”
Carine took out her cell phone. “Of course,” she muttered. “Why would there be reception at a time like this.”
“I’ve got no reception, either,” Jay said.
“Same here,” Roddy said after checking his cell. He went to the back of the Jeep, opened the hatch, and began riffling through a toolbox he kept for emergencies.
“Be right back,” Jay said.
“Where are you going?” Carine asked.
“Got to drain the main vein. And it doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere anytime soon. I can’t hold it forever.”
Jay wandered off into the tall grass and started walking towards the Sycamore trees in the distance to give himself some privacy. Roddy got down on the ground, slid his body under the car, and tapped the starter with a hammer from his toolbox. He got back up, got in the driver seat, and tried the key again. The Jeep refused to turn over. The key grinded in the ignition, but the engine didn’t make a sound. It didn’t even attempt to start up. He jammed his foot on the gas pedal as he turned the key. No luck.
“Seriously, what was that?” Carine said, her voice failing to rise above a whisper.
“I’d rather not think about it,” Roddy said.
“I can’t believe this shit.”
“Neither can I. But it looks like we’re stuck here until somebody else comes along. Keep your eyes peeled for any passing cars.”
Jay returned a short while later, sweating profusely, clutching at his stomach.
“You alright, dude?” Roddy asked.
“Yeah, you don’t look so hot,” Carine said.
“I don’t feel so hot,” Jay said. “Must’ve been something I ate. I’ll be alright. Just need to lie down a minute.”
Jay got in and stretched out over the backseat, rubbing and cradling his upset stomach. He was breathing laboriously. He fanned himself with the hand that wasn’t favoring his stomach. It felt like his whole body was overheating.
A car, a red Corvette, flew down the road at top speed. Roddy waved his arms to try and flag them down and Carine was shouting to try and get the drivers attention. The driver didn’t stop, didn’t even look back.
“Dick,” Roddy muttered.
Jay sprung from the backseat and opened one of the doors, puking out onto the side of the road. Roddy and Carine came rushing over. His vomit was dark, as if he had ingested nothing but black food coloring all night. That’s when Roddy noticed the “sweat” dripping from his body. It wasn’t sweat at all. A black sludge-like substance oozed from his pores.
He vomited again, that black blood pouring out all over the asphalt. It was oozing from every orifice, even leaking from his eyes.
“We need to get him to a hospital,” Carine said, on the verge of hysteria.
“Hang in there, buddy,” Roddy said, struggling to maintain his composure. “We’re going to get help.”
Roddy paced back and forth with his phone, desperately trying to get a signal.
“Rod! Get over here, quick!”
Roddy came rushing back. Jay was out cold, his body still covered in that strange, black substance. “Look,” Carine pointed to his mouth.
Roddy got a flashlight from his toolbox and peered into Jay’s mouth. A translucent tube was drilled to the roof of his mouth and stretched down his throat, past his esophagus. There was no way to tell how deep it went, but Roddy had an idea where it ended.
“His stomach,” Roddy said, whispering himself now. “There’s something inside of him. The tube, it’s like a feeding tube of some kind. It’s like they’re using his body as an incubator of some kind. When he came back, he was complaining about his stomach. Who knows what they put inside of him.”
“Who are they?” Carine asked.
Roddy gazed skyward as if to answer her question.
“And if there is something in his stomach, what is it feeding on? What is the tube connected to?”
“Looks like it’s jammed right into the roof of his mouth. Who knows how far up it extends. I don’t want to speculate. And I know how crazy this sounds. But they could be feeding off his…off his brains. I can’t believe I’m even saying that. What the fuck happened to him out there? He was only gone a couple of minutes.”
“I’m not staying here another minute. You keep an eye on Jay. I’m walking back.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t know if it’s safe. You stay here. Take my keys. Lock yourself in the Jeep. I’ll go. There’s a service station just up the road a mile or so. It’s open twenty-four hours. I’ll go there and come back with help.”
Before Roddy could even hand over the keys, Jay snapped awake. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as his body quaked, his stomach shifting and pulsating as something twitched inside of him.
The gray, pear-shaped abomination burst through his stomach and leapt out into the road, skittering away on six angular appendages. It stopped about fifty feet away from the Jeep in the center of the road, as if waiting for something to arrive. They gasped as the lights appeared in the sky and the object made its return.
A bright beam of light shined down on them. It snatched the creature up and pulled it to the sky.
The lights were mesmerizing. Transfixed by that bright, burning beam of light, Carine started running towards it. She had no control over her own body. Someone, or something was pulling her strings now.
“Carine, stop!” Roddy screamed. “What are you doing? Get back here! Stay away from it!” But she couldn’t hear a word.
Carine stopped abruptly in the road and was seized by that luminous beam. It pulled her effortlessly into the sky and she disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Roddy’s whole world went dark. He blacked out, and woke up with the sun shining down upon him. He was in a grassy field that looked unfamiliar to him. No buildings or markings of any kind. He checked his pockets, but his phone was gone. So was his wallet and keys. He wondered how long he was out for and how he had gotten here. He didn’t remember much of anything.
He had a vague recollection of going out of town with his friends. But where were they? And where was the Jeep? Did he drink so much that he blacked out the whole nights events? Had he drank at all? Were they at a bar? So many questions, so little answers. His mind was fogged up. He couldn’t recall anything from the night before.
As he wandered from the field in search of his Jeep, he tried to piece the night back together. But something gnawed away at his stomach, the pain taking his mind away from his questioning thoughts. He assured himself it was just indigestion, something he must have ate the night before.
You’ll be fine, he told himself. Just find the Jeep, figure out where you are, and get home, and you’ll be alright.
In the pit of his stomach, he felt something squirm and shift. And the memories all started coming back to him.