30 Jan Parts
“Parts”Written by Corban Groshek Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Omega Black Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 42 minutes
He was called “Old Man McConnell,” but Jarrod McConnell never considered himself old; he was barely over sixty, for Pete’s sake. But then again, he never considered himself rude, unpleasant, smelly, or a social outcast, but ask anyone else in Lakota City if he was, and they’d answer “Yes!” in a heartbeat. In fact, ask the local schoolkids, and they had even worse things in mind. In some stories, he built kid-catchers out of the stuff thrown away in his junkyard; in others, at midnight under a full moon he transformed into a big, hairy monster, and needed the brick walls and giant sliding gate that enclosed his business to keep him from wandering at night and eating people.
Some of them often wondered how he could get even hairier than he was during the daytime, but there was no arguing with the rumors of curious children.
Children, however, were a distant memory that evening, as he slugged back another bottle of Jack Daniels while wandering his junkyard. The last few nights, he hadn’t returned home, but fell asleep in his office, on a sofa he’d received from someone who didn’t know quality when they saw it. “It just doesn’t fit the way I’ve decorated my house now,” she had told him. He decided to keep it in his office as a makeshift bed when he was just too drunk to move, and as comfy as it was, it was the only thing he had that was worth anything.
He had never wanted to be in the junk business; he wanted to be an antiques dealer. He’d been a great fan of Antiques Road Show, and hoped just one of these days someone would bring a lamp or old wardrobe that he could get appraised for millions and leave this town. Lakota City, despite its name, wasn’t really that big, though it was unique in that it was located on an island in the middle of Lakota Lake, with a single bridge connecting it to the mainland. It was a lot like Mackinac Island, except without the rustic charm, the horses pooping in the streets, or the booming fudge industry.
But tonight wasn’t a night for sleeping. He had been awoken every night right around one in the morning by a clattering and clanking noise, like someone jumping around. He didn’t know how they were getting in, because the brick wall with its razor wire was tall enough to discourage entry, and he had the only key to the front gate, which he kept with him at all times. Even if someone tried to bust the gate, it would take a lot of force and make enough noise to attract the attention from the nearby subdivision.
It was probably kids. It was always kids that did this kind of stuff. That was why Jarrod was so happy not to be one anymore; being a kid was a nuisance.
He held out his near empty bottle. “You’d better not be out here tonight! If you are, I’ll get you, throw you into this old barrel of…of…”
He kicked the barrel, putting a dent in it and making an awful clang.
“What were you full of? Don’t lie to me, I’ll find out!”
He hummed to himself while wandering, taking another swig of his drink, clearly reaching a state of inebriation that would make any attempt to catch a thief in his junkyard completely pointless. “No! Not the barrel, I’ll beat you ‘til you’re flatter than…flatter than…”
He kicked a piece of sheet metal aside. “This sheet metal! Then I can just mail you to the cops…nice, small envelope…envelope with the little window in it so they can see how flat I got you…what was I talking about?”
He stumbled and knocked over a pile of old, rusting tin cans.
“Get out of my way, stupid cans! Worthless! Bunch of old beans and chili! Should be cans filled with money, not old farts!”
He kicked the cans, some of which went scattering into a pile of old tubing, along with some old hardware parts.
“Come on out, you pantywaists! You want my junk? My old, useless, rusting heap of junk? Like it’ll do you any good, anyway! Nobody wants this crap!”
He starting throwing the leftover cans at some old broom handles, sticking up out of a pile of old kitchen junk.
“Stupid, worthless junk! Why couldn’t you be worth more than a couple of bucks? Now I’m stuck with you until this island flips over on itself! That’s…islands can flip, right?”
A large clang came from behind him. He turned, smiling. “Gotcha! There’s nowhere to run now!”
He ran back, finding the empty barrel that once held…something…flipped over on its side, gently rocking back and forth.
McConnell went to rub his chin in thought. He missed. “You’re close by, I know it…just come out, and I promise, it’ll be over quicker than your last date!”
He looked blearily in each direction, but couldn’t see anything.
No, wait. There. Something shifted in a pile he’d wandered by before.
He rushed over, bottle brandished like a club, ready to bash either the skull or the keister of whoever was sneaking around.
But, then, he saw no one. Other than the rubber tubing and the old hardware, there was nothing.
Then, he heard the sound of a table saw starting. But, that didn’t make any sense.
He didn’t have a table saw out here.
When he finally located the source, his screams were loud, but not as loud as somebody trying to blow open the lock on his front gate.
* * * * * *
“Hello? McConnell? You still taking old crap? Or just in the middle of taking a regular one now?”
It was early morning, but outside the large gate that led into Jarrod McConnell’s junkyard, Jules Reilly was beginning to get mad. He’d been standing outside the gate for over twenty minutes now, and even though the junkyard should have been open for almost two hours already, the gate was still locked.
Next to him, already unloaded from his pickup truck, was his old washing machine, and considering how much of a bear it was to unload, he was not going anywhere until he got Old Man McConnell to take it…even if it meant ripping the gate out by the hinges to do it.
Jules was not known as a patient man. At nearly six and a half feet tall, he was one of the tallest people in the island town of Lakota City; along with that and the successful chain of steakhouse restaurants he owned called “Reilly Fine Dining,” he was used to getting his way. And one thing he wanted was to dump off this washing machine that could barely hold more than a small load of laundry. As a “Very Important Member of the Community,™” he needed something to handle clothing that befit a man of his stature, both physically and socially, and the TriStar 3-in-1 Washer/Dryer/Presser Combo was just the thing he needed. His recently ex-wife had taken the dryer a few days ago, but left him the washer, knowing full well he didn’t care for it, so he took care of the problem the best way he knew how: money.
He thumped on the gate with his fist once more. He heard something rattle on the other side. “I can hear you over there, McConnell? Open up!”
The rattling stopped, but nobody responded. At this point, Jules pulled out his phone. “Hello, police? Oh, hey, Jim, it’s Jules Reilly. Fine, thanks. Look, I’m over at McConnell’s junkyard. He’s supposed to be open, but his gate is still locked.”
In response to the officer on the other end, he looked around the side of the wall.
“Yes. His vehicle’s here, though considering how many times he’s been locked up for drunkenness, that’s not really surprising. But somebody has to be here, I keep hearing noises, but he’s not responding. You mind sending someone over here to see what’s up? Yes, I’ll be here, I’m not lugging this damn washer back to my house. What? Yes, I replaced it with a TriStar 3-in-1. Yes, very nice, works like a charm. Oh, I definitely recommend it, though how much do you make in a month? It’s all right, I won’t tell anyone. Mmm…yes, you may need to set aside…three paychecks for it? Yes, all of them. Yes, it does get clothes that clean. Would I lie? Anyway, can you send somebody here to get the hermit out of his shell, please? I have an opening next week to prepare for in North Lake. Yes, yes, finally got them to give in and allow me to buy up that old carpet store to refurbish, but I can you tell you all about that later. Ok, Jim, have a good day.”
Jules hung up, and sighed. He really hated Jim Wilson, the town’s only detective, but Jules had to at least pretend to be nice to him, since having the law on your side was never a bad thing.
About fifteen minutes later, a squad car pulled up, and Larry Bedlow got out. Jules didn’t know Larry too well, as Larry was new to the force, and seemed to be one of those people that tried so hard to be serious and conscientious that he overcompensated and ended up looking like an idiot most of the time. Even now, while trying to look official, he caught his toe on the gravel driveway that led up to the main gate and stumbled, correcting himself, but looking as if he knew how goofy the misstep looked. “Hello, Mr. Reilly. McConnell not opening his gate, eh?”
“Yes. I don’t know what he’s gotten into now, but my guess is a large delivery of scotch.”
“One moment.” Larry reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. “We had a key made last time he slept it off at the station, just in case something like this happened again. But, um, don’t tell anybody…he doesn’t know about it, and we’re not technically supposed to have this.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Jules smiled, his mind racing as he thought about how he could put this new knowledge to his advantage, coming to the conclusion that keeping it to himself might prove the most useful…for now. “But if you could hurry it up, please? I am a busy man.”
“Sure, sure. One second.”
Larry jammed the key in the lock, and after a few, awkward seconds of working with the lock, he managed to pop it open, and slid the giant metal door open.
Both of them looked beyond the gate, at first blinking, in growing shock. Then, Larry fumbled at his radio.
“Dispatch, we, uh…we’re going to need some help down here at the McConnell Lot. It’s, uh…it’s pretty bad.”
* * * * * *
Jake woke to the sounds of a truck beeping. He looked over at the time and saw it was closing in on 10:00.
Rats, it was a weekend and he had slept in. Getting up for school at 7:00 was a bear, but 10:00 when he could be watching TV, eating cereal, and picking out a Nintendo game to play? Not good.
He could hear his sister Lily already had the TV on, but it was the beeping outside that was the biggest draw. Blearily, he shuffled downstairs and into the kitchen, getting a bowl of Apple Jacks before going into the family room.
The TV was on, but Lily wasn’t in there. Weird. Why start streaming Captain Marvel and then leave? “Lily? Where are you?”
He heard footsteps, and instead of just answering him, Lily came in from the side entrance near the garage, and grabbed his hand. “You’re missing it! Come on!”
Dragging him reluctantly to the side door (he was always surprised how someone that much smaller than him, and a year younger, could still be that strong), Jake looked out and saw what all the fuss was about.
He nearly dropped his Apple Jacks.
The ‘97 Corolla had picked up many nicknames over the years: The CrampMobile, Old Smelly, 200,000+, When Are We Getting a New Car, and so on. But their father said as long as the car still worked, they were going to keep using it, though his definition of ‘still working’ came with caveats…the shocks had gone bad once (that had been an interesting week to be in the backseat), the thing burned oil by the gallon, and there was no USB to charge the Switch or play music without an auxiliary jack, and the one they had was frayed and had to be held in to work.
It was also supposed to get a new nickname: Jake’s Car, as once he got his license, it’d be his to drive, and along with it the admiration of his friends who were still licenseless. But apparently, it was not to be. His dad had been coming home from work on Thursday when a car skidded into the side of him, knocking him into the bridge wall leading over the water. He didn’t have any injuries, thankfully, but the car had been in the shop, and Jake had been praying that this, finally, might be the straw that broke the old, noise-making camel’s back.
His prayers had been answered.
A tow truck was backing a lovely, pristine, and by all accounts, new vehicle into the driveway: a black sedan, likely with enough updates to be a proper part of this century.
Jake’s hands involuntarily began to shake with glee.
Despite his joy, his dad, standing in the driveway and shaking the driver’s hand as the pulled the switch to lower it down into place, seemed a lot less enthusiastic, but when he saw the kids at the side door window, he waved and gave more of a smile, and gestured that he’d be right in.
It was a few minutes before their dad came in, and told them the story of how this all happened. Jake heard it a bit like this…
“I know we all loved that old car….blah blah blah…totaled…blah blah used car dealer next door…blah blah blah reasonable price, doesn’t have all the bells and blah blah blah…blah blah frogs and castles blah blah blah…make do with less until it is paid off. But, we at least we have a vehicle now.”
He was sure he misheard when he heard frogs and castles, but the general gist of “We have a new car” was all he really cared about. He couldn’t wait to sit in it and see all the new features. It was almost, quite literally, like having Christmas in July, even though it was still June and summer vacation was a week away.
Lily pretended to look a little down, but Jake knew she didn’t like the old car any more than he did…either that, or was she really good about lying to him about her disgust. “What happened to the old car?”
“Probably on its way to McConnell’s right now for scrap…it doesn’t have any resale value.” Just as he finished saying it, his pocket buzzed. Dad pulled out his phone. “Hello? Oh, hey. What? Oh. Huh. Well, I can’t say I knew him well, but sorry to hear that. Guess there’s nothing anyone can do right now. All right, well, thanks for letting me know.” He hung up. “Dealership calling. Can’t move the car right now because something big happened at McConnell’s last night…police are all over. Sounds like he might have died or something. News travels fast on an island, eh, kids?”
Jake and Lily looked at each other. Old Man McConnell, dead? How could that happen, especially without a cross or silver bullets being involved?
“Well, enough bad news…hey, Jake, if you want to take the car for a spin later, let me know, I’ll be up in my office. And Lily, if you want to take the car for a spin later…no.”
Lily rolled her eyes. She should have had her learner’s permit by now, but she flunked the test…even with it being open book. Turned out she had an old edition that had some local rule changes that screwed her up, and while she had the basics right, it was enough wrong answers to keep her from being street legal, and Dad had said, no permit, no drive.
This did not stop Jake from giving her a “Haw-haw!” sort of look.
When Dad finally left the room, Jake went to go get in the car, when Lily grabbed his arm again…much harder this time. “Hey! What’s the deal?”
“What?” Lily brushed her long hair out of her face with her free hand. “You’d rather sit in the car all day then see what happened to Old Man McConnell?”
Lily rolled her eyes again. “We have all weekend to check it out…but if the police are there, we only get one chance to see something we never get to see!”
“Lily, I don’t want to see a dead body.”
“Come on! With the movies we watch?”
“Those are fake.”
Lily grinned an evil, evil grin. “So…you’re saying you’re scared?”
Jake had always been a fan of horror movies, and when he was younger, he loved to scare Lily with them. Trouble is, as they grew up, he still liked them…but Lily started to love them. She was not what anyone would consider a Goth, but Jake was afraid that maybe he’d given his sister a weird sense of taste. In her room, she had three posters: Captain Marvel, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Street Trash, a really low-budget flick from the 80s they had found one night in their dad’s movie collection and watched on a whim. They were scared of liquor stores for a month. And yet, there it was, a poster of a guy melting into a toilet, staring right at him when he entered the room.
It was frightening, yet awe-inspiring at the same time. Of course, he had no right to complain, with his many anime posters, Return of the Living Dead Tarman figurine, and that skinwalker bust he picked up from Nathan’s general store the other week…she just had more obscure tastes than he did.
But she had him. If she was willing to go, so was he…as much as they would say openly they couldn’t stand each other, neither could say no if it was to be afraid of something.
“All right, fine. Guess I’ll have to get my bike…”
* * * * * *
The police had set a blockade around the junkyard, but it wasn’t particularly big, and other than directing traffic, they didn’t seem interested in shoving anyone away. Not that there was a big crowd…the junkyard sat at the end of their neighborhood, and despite the death of the town’s most infamous hermit, most people had probably decided a Saturday was too good a day to waste on gawking.
Jack and Lily, though, on their bikes, looked on from about forty feet away, as a stretcher finally came out from the gate, covered in a white sheet. Two EMTs struggled as they attempted to push it into the back of the ambulance. The body underneath did not appear to be properly shaped, but for the life of them, Jack and Lily couldn’t figure out why.
Finally, coming out of the gate were two men…one wore an overcoat like he was trying to look like a detective in a 1970s cop show, despite the oppressive June heat and humidity, and the other was a younger cop in uniform. Both nearly slammed into the washing machine that had been left at the gate.
“Suicide? SUICIDE?!? You’re going to tell me the coroner thinks that was suicide?”
The younger cop shrugged as the detective pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Jack and Lily giggled; they knew a recent ordinance banned all smoking on the island, but the detective apparently didn’t care. They even saw the younger cop wince, knowing the rule as well. “Well, sir, I checked the videotapes…he only had them on the outside, but nobody approached the gates at all until Mr. Reilly came this morning. Quite literally, he was the only one that went in there. There’s no other explanation.”
“So, what? He decides he can’t take it as the owner of a junkyard anymore, decides to end it all, and throws himself chest first onto an old sawblade in his yard? Not exactly the most elegant suicide in the world.”
“Well, we all know he wasn’t well-liked, but he never really got into fights with anyone. Nobody has a motive, anyway…”
The detective took a gigantic puff on the cigarette, burning it almost halfway to ash. “And explain to me, Larry, explain to me…how exactly does a man go leaping through the air to land on said saw blade, when his arms and legs were already…”
“SIR! Please, I’ve haven’t been here that long. I don’t want to be reminded of it. And that’s not quite true…we still haven’t found his right arm, so we’re not quite sure if that was gone…before or after.”
“Lovely. Did you think you’d see something like this when you graduated the Academy, Lawrence?”
“No, but I didn’t think my first job would be out here, either.”
“You have a lot of enemies, Lawrence?”
“No, not that I know of.”
“Check again, especially with your faculty. You might be surprised. Anyway, let’s close it up. Nothing left to see here, anyway. Come check out here maybe every hour or so to keep away looky-loos…not that there’s anyone here that would care.”
“But, sir, maybe we shouldn’t talk about this out here.” Lawrence looked over at Jake and Lily, smiling weakly and waving. The detective turned to see them as well, also waving, but not giving a smile. “Hey, kids! Come to see a dead body? Well, it’s not as much fun as it sounds. Run off to school and get a good job so you won’t have to.”
“Sir, it’s Saturday.”
“I KNOW IT’S SATURDAY!”
As the detective continued to rail out against the world in general, Lily leaned over her bike to Jake. “Well, looks like the fun is over. Let’s go.”
While Lily turned her bike to go, Jake watched for a moment longer. Something about the conversation had struck him as strange.
If it wasn’t suicide, somebody had to do it. But nobody came in, and nobody left, according to the cameras.
“Jake? You coming, or did you want to see if we can get a ride in the ambulance?”
“No…” Jake watched the detective continue to blow-up, railing against the department, against his luck, and against life in general.
* * * * * *
As Jake had explained, once they had gotten out of earshot of Detective Wilson (whose name they finally learned between more ranting), his plan had nothing to do with sneaking in and getting into trouble. No, his was to see if he could do what the cops couldn’t (or didn’t feel like) doing…catching who really did it. Sure, maybe he wouldn’t be able to drive the new car all that much, but if he caught a criminal red-handed, it’d be even better than having a car. He might even make it in the newspaper.
Lily had been onboard for the idea immediately, because it was dangerous in all the right ways, but she also remained skeptical on his ‘quest for glory’ idea. “You really think a murderer is going to come back to the scene of the crime?”
“No, Lily…no one went in and no one came out. I’ll bet whoever did it is still in there, waiting for the right time to leave. Probably been hiding in there for days, and the police haven’t even considered it.”
“So, you want to wait until the person comes out, and then, what, hit them with a brick?”
Jake had pulled out his phone. “You know where Mom put that portable battery charger, right?”
“What do you take me for? Of course I do!”
So, after a stop home to dig around in the “Items That Were Taken Away Due to Misbehavior” drawer (a drawer that was surprisingly more full these days than when they were little kids) to get the charger, as well as a selfie stick (a remnant form Mom’s days in college that she preferred to forget), they had back to the junkyard. They knew full well there were cameras that were probably watching them, but considering they were trying to help the police instead of break the law, they didn’t worry too much; in fact, maybe the footage would let them know who to thank at some point!
Moving to the back of the lot, maybe about 20 feet from what would be a lovely view of the lake if it weren’t for a beat-up old dock with a leaky rowboat attached to it, they put their plan into action. Hitting the record button on the phone, then holding the selfie stick by the very end, they lifted it to the top of the brick wall and pushed it between the razor wire, hoping that the view would be a good one of the area below.
If there was anyone hiding in there, they wouldn’t be hiding for long, and nestled among the razors at the top of the fence the camera would be safe, too.
They then went home until well after they should have been asleep. Sneaking out after everyone in the house was asleep wasn’t a regular thing for them, but for Lily especially it wasn’t unheard of. Neither had been caught…yet…but Dad was already suspicious because he had noticed Jake hadn’t been on his phone most of the day, which definitely was unheard of.
Taking their bikes, they It had been a long wait to return to the junkyard that night. As Detective Wilson had pointed out, nobody was there, just the street barriers and the tape stretched across the door, which was shut.
The area was deathly quiet; even other houses, some distance away down the street, were silent and dark, and no traffic came down the street. Being as quiet as they could be themselves, they parked their bikes under a tree near a street lamp and snuck through the trees and grass until they got back to where the selfie stick still hung from the wall.
There was a little bit of disappointment as they saw the stick had twisted a little and may not have been at the best angle to capture footage. With the portable charger keeping it going and Jake having turned down the quality, there was still plenty of footage recorded and even about 20% battery left to skip through it.
The view before the stick had twisted was great, showing a wide swath of the junkyard back area, a wide open space that, if anyone was hiding, they would have to come into view at some point. They sat in the grass and watched.
For a very long time, nothing happened. While they could speed up the footage, it was at least 10 minutes before something finally came into frame. The picture was blocky and fuzzy from the compression, but after slowing it down, it looked like…
Lily squinted. “A hubcap?”
“Must have come loose from a pile.”
“But if it’s been stacked there awhile…”
They looked at each other. It wasn’t exactly proof, but chances were it didn’t just slip on its own. Could have been a rat, or raccoon, but something shifted it off of its pile.
They watched some more. Something else rolled in from the other side, and Jake slowed the footage again.
“Is that a barrel?”
Jake shook his head. “Maybe, but one of those construction road barrels. It’s too wobbly-looking to be wood or metal.”
With the footage slowed back down, the sound came back on, and there was something else noticeable in the background.
“That’s a lot clanging, isn’t it, Lily? Even for a junkyard?”
“An empty junkyard? Definitely.”
And then, they came into frame.
At first, it looked like three people in bad robot Halloween costumes, but as they twisted and turned, they both gasped…people couldn’t be that thin, or full of holes, and still be alive. One’s torso was made entirely from an old weathervane, used to hold up its water hose arms. The other crouched down, more animal-like, built from sharper bits of metal and debris. Another had a unicycle wheel for a foot, and used one long arm to propel itself forward and back.
“It’s…it’s things made out of junkyard parts.” Jake stared wide-eyed at Lily. “How are they walking around?”
“Jake…they’re not just walking.”
He turned back to the video, where the creatures removed something from a pile. Two of them, Wheelie and Sharpie, removed something from a pile that had been hidden there. It looked like a pile of plastic tubing and cardboard, along with a saw blade and what looked like old kitchenware. The third creature, Weathervane, appeared to be on lookout, but then turned to the other two. Its mouth appeared to be made of an old drill, and it whirred briefly, like it was talking. The others nodded, with Sharpie grinding its bladed teeth in apparent glee.
Weathervane wandered out of sight, only to slowly return some time later with a large object…a washing machine.
“That’s the one that was at the front gate earlier.”
They watched as the creatures took the washing machine and tipped it, taking the rubber tubing and stretching it out sticking it onto the washing machine as if they were arms and legs. Weathervane then leaned in, sparks flying as it…drilled? Welded? Anyway, it did something, and the tubing fused to the washing machine.
This went on like this, for probably about an hour or so, building another one of themselves, but bigger…if the washer was its body, it would likely stand well over ten feet tall.
A head made from a cardboard box, flaps cut and colored to make eyes.
A bicycle spoke for its left hand, where a saw blade was attached.
A set of old tinker toys to make a right hand, and a knife placed into it.
The feet, one a skateboard, the other the head of a carpet shampooer.
And then, they brought the final, devastating piece…
Inside the head, they placed an old Speak & Spell.
After a moment, the giant rose, creaking and grinding, and then, over the tinny phone speaker, came a chilling reply…
“PARTS. P…A…R…T…S…REVENGE. R…E…V…”
And then, it left the screen. As it did so, the others looked on in what could only described…despite their lack of ability to show emotion…awe.
Then, Sharpie clicked its head to the side, looking up at the wall. It seemed to stare right into the camera. It came closer, peering directly into it, then swiped. The picture then swiveled abruptly, and pointed at a corner of the wall.
Lily gripped Jake’s arm. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
About 30 seconds or so later, the picture began to slide, coming over the top of the wall, down to where video images of Jake and Lily took it before shutting off the video.
They looked at each other, gulping in unison.
“It…it probably left by the time we grabbed it.”
Jake nodded. “Sure, sure. It clearly didn’t see us coming to collect our camera after witnessing it make a giant version of themselves and surely isn’t waiting in the dark for us right now, ready to do to us what it did to Old Man McConnell.”
They looked at the blind corner they had come around, which led back to the street, where their bikes were parked under the street lamp…with a whole bunch of darkness and trees between them. There was only the sound of the lake slapping the shoreline.
“You go first.”
“Ladies go first.”
“That’s for emergencies!”
“You don’t think this is an emergency?”
Lily sighed. “Hold my hand, and we’ll run together on three.”
Despite wanting to complain about it being weird and uncool, Jake knew it wasn’t the time to argue. He, too, sighed and took her hand. “One…tw…”
Before he could finish, Lily yanked him along, driving through the darkness towards their bikes.
In the dark, what they had just seen was both intensely real and unreal at the same time, both making them feel stupid and motivated at the same time. Whatever was going on, it wasn’t following them. It was off doing something else, or wasn’t what they…
Ten feet from their bikes, a loud drilling sound came from behind him.
They ran faster than they ever thought possible.
Lily hopped on her bike, taking off, while Jake was only a second behind. It was in that extra second that Weathervane struck, grabbing hold of his leg.
Jake screamed as he could feel the cold metal on his ankle, pulling him from the bike. He could hear Lily, some distance away, yelling his name, as Weathervane brought its face close to his, the drill spinning in anticipation as it drew closer to his eye.
Something clinked off of its head, and flashed briefly. The drill stopped and it looked up, confused. In that moment, Jake scrambled out of its grip and felt the object that had hit it under his hand, having fallen to the road…a phone. Lily’s phone. He scooped it up as he grabbed his bike. By now, Weathervane was recovering what senses a pile of garbage had, and tried to lunge at him again, but Jake held the bike like a shield between him and the monster, blocking its swipes, until more projectiles came. Lily was grabbing chunks of concrete and rocks and throwing them.
She’d never tried out for the softball team, but considering her accuracy, Jake told himself that if they got out of here alive, she should consider it.
A nice, large piece caught Weathervane right under what should have been its chin, and even though it likely couldn’t feel pain, the force threw it off balance and it toppled onto its back. Jake swung his bike back to the road and hopped on, pedaling as fast as he could. He waited to see if the metal claws would wrap themselves around his leg again, but after nothing happened for a few seconds, he chanced a look back.
Weathervane was being helped up by Sharpie, and as Wheelie came up behind them, all three seemed to stare daggers at them, despite having no eyes.
Lily, trying to keep moving as fast as she could without leaving Jake behind, called back, “We need to tell somebody! They’ve got to be stopped!”
Jake didn’t answer. He just nodded, mostly to himself, and kept pedaling.
* * * * * *
“And there’s three of them?”
“Yes, and they built a fourth!”
“Mm-hmm.” Detective Wilson, sitting behind his desk, covered with old magazines, a computer that was way too old and bulky to fit right properly on it, and more coffee rings than should frankly have existed, put his head in his hands and gave an audible groan. “You kids do realize that this is Saturday night and you should be bothering your parents with this stuff, right?”
“It’s true! We have footage! We have them doing it!” Jake held up Lily’s phone. “And it’s all right here!”
He placed the phone down on the desk, where slivers of the plastic casing crumbled off. Detective Wilson flipped it over, noting the cracked and dented screen. He clicked the power button a few times, at which point the screen flickered, then turned an unhealthy combination of green and white.
“Yes, I see. I’m assuming this also had the names of the JFK conspiracy, the missing Watergate minutes, and the original ending of It’s a Wonderful Life on it, right?”
Jake and Lily both gave him confused looks.
“Geez, you kids have the internet. Use it to look up something other than YouTube for once.”
Lily shook her head. “Look, I know my phone is broken, but you have to believe us! These things are out of the junkyard, and who knows what they’re up to! You have to stop them before they hurt somebody!”
Detective Wilson hefted the phone for a minute, then put it back on the desk and slid it over to Lily. “Can’t run an investigation on a broken phone and some hearsay. Though I will admit, it’d make a good story, kids. And makes more sense than this suicide thing everyone else is saying. But the day I believe in walking junk piles is the day I jump into the lake off the Lakota Bridge.”
Though still seeming sarcastic, Jake noticed the detective looking at them with…pity? Sorrow? Apology? If only the phone hadn’t been so beat up when Lily threw it at Weathervane, it may have gone differently.
The detective sighed, grabbing his coat and standing. “Come on, get your bikes, I’ll give you two a ride home. You’re not in trouble or anything, but unless you have very understanding parents, I should probably call them before you show up in their driveway in an unmarked police car.”
* * * * * *
Not far from the junkyard, Lester Humphreys was both thankful the job was done and wishing he was 20 years younger and 100 pounds lighter as the refrigerator went to the curb with a clunk. Even with the dolly cart to wheel it out, his back was screaming at him. But it was time. The refrigerator was from the Carter administration, a relic from when he was a teenager, but it had gone with him through moving out of his parents’ house, through the apartment when he dropped out of college, to the house he shared with three other guys when he went back into college to get a useful degree, to colonial he now lived in alone. He never thought family was all that important, but his love of video games (and how good he still was at them, even in his mid-fifties) filled that gap just fine. Waddling back to the front door, he went into the kitchen, where his new Amana, stainless steel with an ice cube dispenser, digital display, and who knows how many other gadgets up its sleeve, waited for him to view it in all its glory. He smiled, retrieved his third bag of Cheetos for the night, poured himself a tall glass of filtered refrigerator water, and sat down at his TV for some online shooting madness.
His squad racked up twenty fine kills (and subsequent teabaggings) when there was a loud knock on his front door. Well, maybe not so much a knock as the sound of something loud clanging against it.
Whipping off his headphones, he got up and looked out the front room window. He didn’t see anyone, but something was very odd.
His old refrigerator was gone off the curb. Occasionally garbage pickers would nab something they could salvage for cheap, but that old thing? Who would want that?
There was another thud at the front door. Still no sign of anybody that he could see, but then again, the front stoop was difficult to see from here. He went over to the door and opened it.
His old fridge had been moved right onto his welcome rug.
He sighed. Damn neighborhood kids, messing with stuff. It wasn’t the first time he’d had pranks pulled on him, especially involving food, but moving furniture that weighed almost as much as he did was a first.
“All right, who’s out there? Very funny, now you can haul this old piece of junk back out to the curb where I…”
He was cut off as the cord for the fridge leapt up and wrapped itself around his neck. In shock he fell over, and as the cord tightened, he watched in fear as his fridge “hopped” its way closer to him, the freezer door opening and shutting like an angry mouth.
It hopped past him, towards the kitchen, and though he could barely breathe, he tried to call for help. All he could manage was a gag, though, as the fridge pulled him along the floor, towards the kitchen, though to what end he did not know.
* * * * * *
Lily and Jake sat in silence as Detective Wilson drove them home. In the back of the car, the door didn’t have handles on the inside, and a metal gate separated them from driver’s seat, and there was not much to do except stew over what they had seen.
“Jake, we have to do something.”
“I know, but there’s not exactly a whole lot we can do here! And what should we do, exactly? They’re made of metal. I don’t think a gun would work on them.”
“Where are we going to get a bazooka? On this island? At this time of night?”
“Fine, you can be funny about this all you want, but there’s got to be a way to stop them.” Lily turned back and looked out the window as the houses went by. “Between you and me, we’ve watched enough horror movies. They have to have a weakness.”
The radio in the front buzzed to life. “Detective Wilson, sir?”
Detective Wilson sighed and grabbed the microphone. “Larry, you’re supposed to say, ‘Unit 5, come in, Unit 5, respond.’”
“But you’re the only one other than me on duty, sir.”
“You can still be professional. This is Unit 5, responding, over.”
“I was just driving down the 1700 block of Powhatan Drive, sir. We have a report of disturbing sounds at 1774, by a neighbor, and I’ve arrived at the scene. It’s…it’s interesting, sir.”
“I’ll be there in a moment, I just…” Wilson checked his GPS. “Damn, it’s way closer.” He turned to Jake and Lily. “Will your parents mind if we make a quick stop at a potential crime scene before I take you home? It should only be a few minutes, because I’ll make Larry do all the work.”
* * * * * *
“And this is where I found him.”
“Little hard to miss, eh, Larry?”
“I wouldn’t joke, sir. A man has just died.”
“It’s called gallows humor, Larry. It’s what morticians use to get through the fact that they handle corpses all day.”
“I prefer romantic comedies, sir.”
“I’m sure you do. But you’re telling me that you can’t find anything funny about a guy pushing 400 bills having been done in by a refrigerator falling on him?”
What could be seen of Lester Humphreys were his arms and legs, splayed out on either side of his brand new Amana refrigerator, which now lay on top of him at an angle that could only be described as ‘fatal.’ More could be seen of the refrigerator’s contents, which spilled out this way and that all over the floor. Detective Wilson had never seen so many bags of Totino’s Pizza Rolls.
“Can we do anything about the water dispenser?”
“You could probably reach it to turn it off, sir, but that’d be tampering with evidence.”
“It’s tampering with me being able to stand up on this tile. But my question is, why would somebody hook up a water line and fill a brand new refrigerator full of food…without unhooking the old one?”
They both turned to look in the cubby where it was likely the Amana had been standing. In the space, a small, antique-style refrigerator sat in that spot, the plug hooked up, and buzzing away with a rattle that suggested its time had come and gone.
Wilson thought for a moment. He looked over to where the TV was, and saw a Playstation 4 hooked up to it.
“Excuse me a moment, Larry. I have to check something.”
* * * * * *
Jake and Lily sat in the car, Jake flicking the back of the car seat, Lily picking at the lining by where a door handle ought to have been, when the detective flew out of the front door of the house, and opened their door.
“Do either of you have a cable for that phone to hook it up to something? I have an idea, but I haven’t used a game console since the days of the Super Nintendo.”
Lily reached into her pocket and pulled out the cable and the backup battery. “What do you need?”
“I need you to see if the memory card on that phone still works…and to promise me you won’t look in the kitchen.”
A few minutes later, and everyone, including Larry, watched on as Parts came to life on Lester Humphrey’s big screen TV, as Lily played the video from her (mostly) useless phone.
Jake felt his heart lift. “So, what do we do now?”
Wilson pulled out his own phone. “Now we contact the rest of the police force and get them to put together something to fight back.” He put his phone on speaker, dialing the police chief.
“Hello, Brian Olquist speaking.”
“Hello, Chief. We have an emergency. We have to get everyone to the station. There’s…” He paused for a moment. “A riot that started near the junkyard. We’ll need to initiate lockdown and…”
“One second, Jim. Honey, can you turn down the old TV? I can barely hear the phone. Honey? What is…”
There was the sound of a door smashing open, and screams of terror as Chief Brian Olquist encountered something on the other end of the phone that was blaring the theme from “Happy Days” at top volume. Then, the screams ended, while the music continued.
Wilson hung up the phone. “Ok, maybe we might be on our own.” Ignoring his own advice, he looked into the kitchen, where the old refrigerator still stood, buzzing away unmerrily to itself. “And we should probably get out of here quickly. Something else is going on here besides your little junkyard monsters, and I don’t like the look of that refrigerator.”
As if in response, there was a grinding noise, and though it might have just been a trick of the eyes, the little refrigerator seemed to turn towards them, ever so slightly.
Jake gulped, but then something crossed his mind. “Hey, you think Nathan at the general store might know something? I mean, he sells weird, folklore stuff all the time. Maybe he could give us an idea. I mean, the big monster was shouting about revenge and all…what kind of revenge might that be?”
Lily frowned. “Speaking of which…where is that thing now?”
* * * * * *
Jules Reilly loved Saturday nights. It was when “Reilly Fine Dining” did its best, and he loved shaking hands with as many people as he could…at least those who could afford to eat there. Tonight the mayor of Lakota City had come from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, and he knew it would be a good idea to rub elbows with her. Maybe if he played his cards right, it could mean the right legislation could open up a whole new frontier beyond the tri-county area…maybe even statewide.
The thought made him salivate even more than the steaks were doing to his customers. He wiped his mouth neatly with a handkerchief before he sat down to greet her.
“Hello, Mayor. And may I say, that’s a lovely dress you have on.”
“Yes, it’s a loaner until I get the one I planned on wearing back from the cleaners.” The mayor took a bite of salad. “Incident during a coal mine opening. Never stand too close to the entrance, even for a photo op. And what may I do for you?”
“Nothing, nothing! I’m just here to enjoy the company of the people.”
“Yes, I say that, too, usually when I’m looking for something. Let me guess, you want to grow beyond the tri-county area, and you could use my help in landing some valuable friends in higher places, is that it?”
“I can see why you got into politics, madame Mayor.”
“You do? I thought I got into it for the free steaks.” She gave him a very pointed look.
“I…see. Very well. It’s a pleasure to have spoken with you, and may you have a…”
That was when the screaming began. It took a moment before most of the restaurant noticed it, but when they finally did, their attention was drawn to the front wall, which consisted entirely of plate glass. One of the valet drivers was at the far end of the parking lot, backing up and screaming at something that appeared to be coming down the street. He began hurriedly digging through keys on the valet hook, and finding one, seemed like he was going to drive off in somebody’s car…until a car veered off the road and smashed him into him.
The top of the car looked sheared off, a clean cut. Where the driver was, nobody could see.
Gasps and shrieks came from the patrons as they watched on in horror as something roughly 10 feet tall came stomping around the corner. It appeared to be a robot of some kind, built out of all kinds of junkyard parts.
Voices started to chime in. “What is that thing?”
“Who’s running it? They ought to be arrested!”
“Whatever it is, it looks like it belongs in a scrap heap!”
Everyone else just pulled out their phones and started recording. All except one.
Jules Reilly recognized that washer that made up its chest. And chances are whatever was going on, it was going to come back and haunt him in a big way.
No one was going to ruin this night for him. Not in front of the Mayor.
Jules pushed his way out into the parking lot, approaching the hulking creation as it stomped its foot down on the sliced car, smashing it flat into the ground. “NOW LOOK HERE, YOU!”
The creature heard him and stopped, glowering at him with its frowning expression. It held its knife tightly, and its buzzsaw hand twitched a few times.
“Look, you’ve already endangered enough people! Especially on my property! Leave now, and nobody has to get hurt!” Then, sure enough people had heard him, he spoke more quietly. “I don’t know if that’s remote control, or there’s somebody inside there, but I promise you $500 if you dump that washing machine in the lake. No questions asked. Got it?”
Parts looked at him for a moment. Then, the buzzsaw on its hand came to life.
* * * * * *
Nathan’s general store was open 24/7, but the owner was usually only there nights and weekends. In his late sixties, Nathan Whitetail, a wrinkled but generally pleasant fellow of Ojibwe descent, was always ready with a story, a recommendation of the latest comics, or willing to share a beer with anyone (18 and older, of course) that would sit and look out over the lake with him.
Thankfully, he was there when Detective Wilson, Jake and Lily pulled up. He came out the front door, with its jangly bell ringing, and came down the wooden steps to greet them. “Hi there, Jim! Good to see you, but, uh, shouldn’t you drop off the delinquents before we get something to drink?” He then took a closer look at the children. “Oh, hi Jake, Lily. Getting into trouble with the law, now, are we?”
Wilson shook his head. “No, no, Nathan, it’s about something more. We need to know some of the history of the island. Ancient legends and things.”
Nathan blinked at him. “So, you came to find the only Indian on the island to ask if he knows something about ancient legends?”
Wilson waved his hand around the shop. “No, I came to find the guy who sells knickknacks he claims are ancient history and each has a story about it. Either you know, or nobody knows it.”
Jake nodded. “Yeah! You had that skinwalker I bought last week…is there anything like that?”
Nathan rubbed his chin. “There’s really not much. The place was a good fishing spot, but it wasn’t reputed to be haunted or anything like that.” He went over to an antique Coke refrigerator, the kind built like a freezer, and got drinks out for everybody. “You go to the mainland, there you get your stories about spooks, goblins, skinwalkers, wendigos…here, it was just a place to fish and dump off your canoe when it got too many holes in it.”
Lily popped open her Coke, but stopped before she put it to her lips. “Wait, what? What was that last part about the canoe?”
“Oh, yeah, people dropped off their old junk up here all the time. Big woods in the northern part of the island, easy to leave stuff and it’d either fall apart, get eaten by the wildlife, or just vanish into the underbrush. Then, of course, back in the 80s they tore it all out and put in the subdivision. I think that Old Man McConnell owns the spot where it all used to happen.”
Lucy slapped her head. “Oh, my God. Of course! That’s why it wants revenge!”
The Coke fridge made a rattling sound, and Nathan hit it with the palm of his hand. It quieted down. “What wants revenge?”
“This town was built on an ancient Indian junkyard! And don’t you get it? Nobody respects their old stuff! It’s all just junk, and they throw it out! It wants revenge on the people who’ve abandoned it so carelessly!”
Everyone looked at Lily like she had been drinking from the collection of bottles Nathan kept behind the counter.
“What? It makes sense, doesn’t it?”
Jake smiled. “Well, yeah, but it still sounds funny when you put it that way.”
Nathan looked at Wilson. “You sure these kids don’t need to be put away for something? Just overnight, until they sober up.” The Coke fridge rattled again, and Nathan slapped it again until it stopped.
Wilson shook his head. “I’ve seen it, too. As crazy as it all sounds, it’s real.”
“Well, maybe all you need is just a prayer or two, and it should send the creatures back to rest. You’ll have to give me a minute to remember, it’s all part of the oral history stuff I did growing up…” Nathan started reciting something in Ojibwe, slowly and with great thought behind it, when the fridge acted up again. He groaned, and went to give it another smack.
To his great surprise, the lid opened up of its own accord. Thrown off balance, he fell face first into it.
As the lid came up and down on him, like a demonic maw, he screamed until even his leather boots were slurped inside, before the lid slammed down completely, locking itself.
Jake, Lily, and Wilson all stared at the refrigerator, until the wheeled frame turned toward them, the smiling Santa on the top holding the glass beaming at them.
Then, the machine lid opened, but briefly, and a monstrous belch came out.
They hurried outside and back to the police car. They all jumped in, barely closing the doors before peeling out onto the road, the sounds of a roaring Coke fridge fading away behind them.
Jake gulped down a few breaths. “No prayers, no help…we are just going to have to get out of town.”
Lily wiped her eyes. “But we can’t let what happened to Nathan happen to everyone else! We have to evacuate!”
But as Wilson drove them through the neighborhood, they could see people fleeing from their homes, their old, unloved and broken appliances coming for them. In the window of one home, they saw a woman dressed in a sports bra fighting with a blender that was somehow attacking her with a bag of weight loss powder.
Wilson checked his GPS. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can do for them ourselves. I got nobody waiting for me at home, so the best I can do is get you to your parents and hope they are OK. We’re going to have to go through midtown, so fingers crossed that we can make it.”
More chaos erupted as old water heaters chased people down the street, rusted lawnmowers ran without gas to run over their former masters, and the less said about bicycles with broken spokes, the better. They eventually reached a place with fewer houses and more quaint shop fronts.
Wilson slammed on the brakes.
“I think we’ve found out what happened to your friend.”
In the middle of a large intersection, the thing that they knew as Parts stood, face raised to the sky, arms up in triumph. It seemed bigger than it had been, but it may be because it was standing now, surrounded by much smaller creatures. Sharpie, Wheelie, and Weathervane sat underneath it, oblivious to all but their…well, god might have been going too far, but something close to it.
It was Lily that noticed it first, though.
“What’s that in his washing machine?”
They looked closer, and saw, sticking out of the open door, a foot, with a very expensive shoe, spinning lazily around.
Wilson squinted. “Call me crazy, but I think Jules Reilly wears those.”
“But isn’t he a really tall guy? He couldn’t possibly fit…in…”
They all looked at each other, and frowned deeply.
“Can we get past them?”
Wilson sighed. “I don’t think so. So…I think we have to go with Plan B. Do you know how to get home from here?”
Jake looked around. “Yeah, of course. We bike here all the time.”
Wilson got out of the car, cautious that none of the things in the center of the road noticed him yet, and went to the trunk of the car, unhooking the bikes from where he had tied them down. Once they were loose and on the street, he opened up the back doors. “Get on them, and wait for my signal.”
Jake and Lily did so. Lily tried her best not to look at Parts and his brigade. “What’s the signal?”
“You’ll know.” Wilson gave them a weak smile, hopped back into the police car, and floored it, aiming straight for Weathervane.
Weathervane whirred its drill mouth slightly before the car plowed into him, scattering the bits around the intersection. The other three watched the car as it swerved, gathering itself up again, and drove off.
Wheelie and Sharpie jumped onto Parts’ back as it stomped off after Wilson, its bloodstained sawblade spinning and knife raised.
Lily and Jake watched the car as it disappeared around a corner, the creatures in hot pursuit.
“You think he’ll be OK, Jake?”
“I hope so, but…” He looked behind them, where a man lay on the ground, a SodaStream machine firing carbon dioxide directly into his mouth. “I think we need to make sure Mom and Dad are OK, too.”
* * * * * *
They pulled up to the house. There was a light on the family room, but other than that the house appeared quiet.
Looking at each other, Jake and Lily pulled their bikes up to the side of the house and parked them next to the new car. They checked the side door.
They opened the door, looking around cautiously.
The light in the front room was on, but it appeared that there had been a struggle. The floor lamp had been knocked over, and the couch moved to block the opposite doorway, and the TV showed a blank, blue screen.
They turned toward the kitchen, and that was when the old, corded power drill fell from the ceiling, wrapping itself around Lily’s neck.
It lifted itself toward her face, the bit whirring as it closed in on her scalp, but she grabbed hold of the handle and pulled it back.
Jake grabbed the cord on her neck, and started unraveling it, and between the two of them they got it free.
Scrambling away as they threw it to the floor, it crawled after them, continuing to whir at high speed.
A shadow came from the kitchen, and in one swift move, a figure dropped a bucket on top of it. It buzzed and whirred, but it mostly rattled uselessly against its metal prison.
The figure, on the other hand, disheveled and bleeding from his forehead, grunted and smiled at Jake and Lily.
“Dad!” They both ran over and helped him up. He stumbled, unsteadily, grabbing the wound on his head.
“It’s OK, I’ll live…I think. But that old toaster of ours jumped at me and knocked me for a loop. What about you two? Are you hurt?”
Jake shook his head. “We’re fine, really. What about Mom?”
Dad stomped on the bucket, which the drill reacted to with more inept struggling. “This thing got her in the leg. Lucky she isn’t bleeding out, but she can’t walk right. She was in the kitchen with me.”
“Is that the kids, honey? Are they all right? ARE THEY ALL RIGHT?”
“YES! But we need to get you out of here!”
Lily and Jake held open the side door as Dad helped Mom limp to the back seat of their new car. They all piled in. Dad put his foot on the brake to press the starter button when he swooned. His head hit the steering wheel, making the horn honk.
Jake put his hand on his Dad’s shoulder. “You OK?”
“I think…I think that hit to the head may have been worse than I thought.” He handed the keys to Jake. “You should drive. Get us out of here.”
After a moment or two getting Dad in the back seat with Mom, both holding each other’s hands and reassuring the other all would be OK, Lily got in the passenger seat as Jake turned on the car.
It made a wonderful sound as it did. The digital display, the climate control, the SiriusXM subscription…all things he would have to wait on enjoying until they got out of this place.
He knew where the bridge was, and they had to hurry if they were going to get there. Who knows how many people were already on it, slowing things down?
* * * * * *
Things were quiet at Mickelstein’s Used Cars, surprisingly. The lights were out, and very little wandered the glassed in halls, human or junk. Other than the occasional passing traffic, no one had any reason to be concerned.
Until a brand new black sedan drove by, heading towards the only bridge out of town.
One shape then stirred, its smashed wheel wall and bent tire squeaking as it pulled itself, almost like an injured puppy, out of the lot and into the road, watching the shape go off into another neighborhood and disappear.
Its headlights came on, and the motor turned with a sound like a growl.
If a ’97 Corolla could glare, this one definitely tried.
* * * * * *
The bridge was only a few hundred feet away. Jake was proud of himself for keeping on the road as well as he had, even though he wished his parents were awake to see it. They had both passed out in the backseat, both snoring loudly.
“You think we should wake them, Jake? I thought you shouldn’t sleep if you have a concussion.”
“If you can wake them up, then go ahead. But I’ve never been able to get them moving when they are snoring like that.”
The sign for the bridge was up ahead. By habit, Jake hit the turn signal as they approached, despite no one being near.
That did make him a little uneasy. Why was nobody here? Surely they weren’t the only ones who made it and were trying to get off the island.
He made the turn onto the bridge, and he saw why.
The two-mile bridge which extended to the mainland was littered with cars, tossed onto their sides, their hulls ripped open by what Jake assumed was a large sawblade. No person could be seen anywhere…not hiding, not hitchhiking, not stumbling their way to freedom.
Jake drove a little ways further onto the bridge, and saw another reason.
Further down the way, there seemed to be something moving, but it wasn’t a person. A wall of discarded junk had either formed or had been placed across the roadway. A number of cars appeared to have backed up and tried to escape, only to be overtaken by a fridge here, a used weed whipper there…there was no telling how thick the wall was, but it was clear that the plan was to not let anyone escape.
For the first time, Lily began to breathe hard in panic. “They’re not going to let us leave.”
Jake put the car into reverse, when, suddenly, there was a bright beam of light that shone into the car. They both turned to look.
Behind them, a vehicle on a dented wheel revved its engine menacingly, its headlights pouring light into the car.
“Jake, is that…is that…”
As if in answer, the car behind them honked. It was not the most frightening honk, as a ’97 Corolla was not capable of something deep and bowel-shaking, but it was enough.
Lily, already buckled, held on tight as Jake slammed on the accelerator.
The car flew backwards, the Corolla almost backing up as they nearly hit it.
Jake looked at Lily. “Um, sorry. I didn’t mean to reverse.” He threw the car into drive and floored the accelerator again.
The wall of junk waved at them, sensing a new victim. Lily braced for impact…
Then jolted to the side as Jake pulled the car to the left, towards a vehicle that had been overturned, twisted at an angle.
The new sedan ramped up onto the car, and instead of blasting through the wall, Jake drove it mostly over the top, running over the blockade and down it again. It sloped down at a gentle enough angle that when they hit the bridge again, only a few sparks came from the car scraping.
Lily laughed. “Jake, that was amazing!”
“I’d do it again if we weren’t in the middle of…”
There was a horrible scrunching noise, and they turned to look behind them once more.
The Corolla had the same idea. As beaten as it was, it didn’t land quite as gracefully, but continued to chase them, gaining on them despite the low 0-60 power of the several decade-old machine.
The mainland was nowhere near close enough yet. There was no sign of anyone on the other side of the bridge, and Jake could only imagine being a stunt driver for so long.
He still kept the accelerator down, pushing the car to 80…90…100…
The wheel was starting to slide around a little in his hands at this speed. If they crashed, they would be done for.
The Corolla, somehow, kept gaining, the V6 engine giving it all, to murder those who had abandoned it at the car lot.
And then, they saw it, coming, too.
It ran so quickly. Parts, carrying the two remaining of its faithful servants, was chasing them as well, coming up behind the little Corolla, buzzsaw raised high.
There was no sign of Detective Wilson’s car.
“Just keep going, Jake! We have to try!”
Jake saw the dash read 110, and looked over to see the sign that read, “You are now leaving Lakota City! We hope you had a wonderful time!”
Wasn’t this where Dad got run into the siding, coming the other way?
It was a long shot, but they were running out of options.
Jake crossed the median into the oncoming lane.
“It’s OK, Lily. I have an idea.”
With the high beams on, he looked ahead, even as he accelerated. It would be coming up any moment…
There. The protective barrier on the side of the bridge. Busted up. Damaged. Probably very dangerous to hit again.
Jake swerved over and hit the brakes, hard.
The Corolla sped up behind, not expecting the hard swerve and slow down. It came alongside.
Jake took one last, long look at the car. He had fond memories of it, riding to friends’ houses, going to school and the store. It was like a part of the family, in many ways.
He quietly wished it well, before he swung the wheel over, and sideswiped it into the barrier.
The barrier gave way, and the Corolla plunged down, into the darkness of the lake, where it bobbed for a second or two before dropping out of sight.
The relief was short-lived, as the slowed vehicle was suddenly pulled from behind, the wheels finding no purchase as the back end was lifted into the air.
The twelve-foot tall being behind them still held its knife and had its buzzsaw spinning, but Sharpie had jammed his fingers into their back bumped, and with Parts’ leverage they held the car and pulled it closer and closer to certain doom.
With rear-wheel drive, the car couldn’t do anything to pull away from their grip. They only watched with fear as the knife-wielding monster lifted it, ready to drive it over and over again through the windows.
A siren sounded. Jake and Lily looked up at Parts, but didn’t see where anyone had put a siren on him.
And then Parts twisted to one side as an unmarked car slammed into it from behind. The vehicle, dinged and cut to ribbons, continued to press into Parts as Detective Wilson, bleeding heavily and limping, jumped out, pulling out a gun and firing it into Parts.
The creature dropped the sedan, at which point Jake peeled away. They watched in the rearview mirror, unwilling to turn and watch, as Sharpie hopped off and ran towards Wilson. With one final blast of his handgun, the detective tumbled backwards over the bridge and vanished into the water below.
They saw Sharpie and Parts set their eyes on them again, and begin chase, the car still unable to make up distance between them, no matter how fast they went.
This time, though, the mainland was in sight. Only a few hundred more feet or so, and they would be among civilization…or, at least, what civilization existed just on the other side. Jake tried to remember what else besides the gas station and the liquor store sat over there.
Lily looked back. “Jake…”
“I know, I know. I’m going as…”
“No, it’s Parts. He stopped.”
And he had. Parts, with Wheelie still swinging from his shoulders, had stopped maybe 100 feet or so behind. Sharpie, on the other hand, had not, and was still in hot pursuit. But Parts seemed to be reaching for him, and then, it spoke once more.
They reached the end of the bridge, and Jake turned the corner, before he, too, noticed something.
Parts hadn’t been speaking to them.
He slowed the car, and pulled to a stop. Lily got out first, and they went back to the end of the bridge.
Sharpie lay in a heap, having tripped on the road, but the further he crawled, the more the bits that made him up began to fall off. Though it did not likely feel pain, it still fought and struggled, even as it fell apart piece by piece, to reach them, the sheer hatred and anger forcing it forward.
They stayed a healthy distance away, but it was Lily that said it first.
“They can’t leave the island. Whatever keeps them alive, it’s there.”
They looked in the distance down the bridge, and though Parts remained in place, its unchanging expression still one of anger, its stance suggested a sort of sadness as well.
All that remained of Sharpie was one arm, a shoulder, and a connection to its head. And then, it slumped, all movement ending, and its sharpened claws rolled towards them, unliving once more.
Jake and Lily looked at the pieces, kicking them away before getting back in the car.
* * * * * *
It was an interesting end to the summer in Lakota City. The small, but fairly robust little island town became a legend in less than a day. All the inhabitants vanished into seemingly thin air overnight, including the Mayor and several key members of the local council.
Well, not all the inhabitants. Patrolman Larry Bedlow was found in a canoe, with his uniform in tatters, floating in the lake the next morning. He claimed he was leaving a crime scene when he was forced to divert to the marina due to, in his words, “an enraged gang of motorcycles.” When asked what gang did it, he simply laughed, and said he was planning to go into teaching.
A family also escaped, and the two children, Jake and Lily, were interviewed at the hospital where their parents were recuperating from serious but not life-threatening injuries. They said the whole town had gone crazy, and other than that, they didn’t give out much information about what they had experienced. They just recommended that no one go to the island anytime soon, because there might be a biohazard leak or something, like in a zombie movie.
They did mention that there was a chance a Detective Jim Wilson may still be alive, but as of now a search of the lake has turned up no body.
So far investigations of Lakota City have been brief, but the place appears to have become completely deserted, the streets filled with garbage and other debris. There have been reports of some salvage crew vanishing, and so for the time being, the island has been made restricted to mainland visitation.
However, there is word that occasionally, something can be seen walking around by the patrol boats that go by. Something larger than a person…something with long, dangling arms…
Something armed with many, many sharp things.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
🔔 More stories from author: Corban GroshekPublisher's Notes: N/A Author's Notes: N/A
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