Thursday, February 6, 2020
By Randy Romero
It always happened at night, when he was alone in the car. Most evenings, Andrew Bell would give his co-workers a lift home. Or he’d volunteer as a designated driver and pick his tipsy friends up from the bar. He even picked up a hitchhiker once. Always hoping that it would happen in someone else’s presence. Just so he could prove that he wasn’t losing his grip on reality.
But, no. It only happened when Drew was alone.
The radio would turn on by itself. He’d hear the crackle and hiss of static. Then those tormented souls would echo through the speakers.
The disturbing din lasted only a few seconds at a time.
He thought the stress of his job had pushed him to the brink of madness.
But the voices, as surreal as they seemed, were no figment of his imagination.
He was a few blocks from his home that evening when it happened again. The radio click on. That irritating buzz of static. Then the voices came.
Indistinguishable, overlapping voices.
Sometimes it was impossible to decipher the words over their screams and moans of agony.
But that evening, among the shrill cries of the dead, he heard a message as clear as day.
The voices were telling him to do something sinister, something irreversible. They were telling him to hurt everyone he cared about.
The car was a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, black in color. The car was obviously used and Drew had purchased it for a steal. Now he understood why the owner was so eager to get rid of it.
He still had the address and decided to drop by, ask a few questions. He pulled up to the curb and got out. Walking up to the house, he saw the yellow patch of grass where the Plymouth once resided.
Something came over him that day when Drew saw it parked on the grass, FOR SALE sign taped in the window. Looking back on it, he didn’t know what possessed him to buy it.
He knocked on the door and didn’t recognize the man who answered it.
“I’m looking for John Henley,” Drew said.
“Well, you’re four months too late. I’m his brother, Vic.”
“I bought your brothers car. Any idea where I can reach him? It’s kind of urgent.”
“You got a Ouija board, because that’s the only way you’re going to get in touch with him. He’s gone.”
“Sorry to hear that. How did he go?”
“He took his own life. I’ll spare you the grisly details.”
“You don’t sound too broken up about it.”
“My brother lived here with me, but we were never really closest growing up. And his behavior became erratic over the last few months of his life. I wanted to get him help. But everyone else in my family ignored the warning signs. If you ask me, it all had something to do with that car. He was never the same after he bought it.”
“Do you know where he bought it?” Drew asked.
“Police auction. It was dirt cheap. Don’t ask me who owned it before him. Probably a drug dealer or some murderer on death row. I never liked the thing. Always gave me the creeps. Something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. And John was obsessed with it. He never did say why he decided to give it up.”
“I think I know why…”
“You want my advice? Sell that thing before it’s too late and the same thing that happened to my brother happens to you.”
“T-thanks f-for your time,” Drew stammered and slowly backed away from the porch. “I really should be going. Sorry again to hear about your brother.”
Drew didn’t give anyone a ride home that night after work. He made two stops. One to the gas station, where he filled up a gasoline can and loaded it into the back of the Plymouth. And the second stop was in a vacant lot on the outskirts of town.
He felt dirty just sitting in that car, like he needed a shower. He couldn’t help but think about who owned it before John Henley. Had somebody died in this car? Was it more than one? Did the cops find a rotting corpse in the trunk? Did it belong to some murderer like Vic Henley suggested?
Drew got out and retrieved the can of gasoline. He opened the doors and doused the interior of the car, poured the rest of the gasoline on the roof of the car. It trickled down the windshield and onto the hood. He lit one match, tossed it into the car. He lit another and tossed it onto the hood, and wiped his hands of this nightmare.
He slept like a baby that night. Better than he’d slept in months. But that peace was subsequently shattered when he went outside to retrieve the morning newspaper. The car was sitting in the driveway, unscathed. Not a mark on the exterior. Not a scratch in the upholstery.
No, it’s impossible, he thought. I torched the damn thing! I destroyed it!
But Drew was being taught a valuable lesson. Evil never dies. You can’t burn it. You can’t destroy it. You can’t bury it or hide it away. Evil never rests. And it was only a matter of time before the voices pushed him over the edge. It was only a matter of time before he obeyed their malevolent commands. It was inevitable.
He only had one other option.
He put a FOR SALE sign in the window that day and got an offer almost immediately.