Transmission

📅 Published on July 23, 2020

“Transmission”

Written by Brian Martinez
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 15 minutes

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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Let me start my story by telling you something about me, the most important thing, in fact: I find things, and I fix them. That’s who I am. If you don’t know that, you don’t know me.

I’m a second-generation auto mechanic, born-and-bred. I’ve been repairing cars since before Ford Pintos were blowing up. When cars were made of steel, and Route 66 wasn’t just something for the cartoons. I’m fortunate enough to own a shop downtown, between two of those chain coffee places. It’s small, sure, but it has a reputation for saving cars so far-gone no one else will even touch ‘em. So if you live in the area, and you’ve ever been stuck with the sourest of lemons, or maybe your kid drove your minivan into the pool, we just might have crossed paths, you and I.

That reputation is what led to me getting a phone call from a guy I’d never met, saying he had something that might interest me. His name was Burt, he said, and he’d apparently just purchased a piece of property that sat unowned for the better part of twenty years. I knew of the area he was talking about, it’s out in the hills, where there isn’t much to look at. Most of the land there went to weed years ago. Acres and acres of old woods and burnt-down barns just waiting for nobody in particular to see the value in them. And, well, it seems Burt was that nobody in particular.

I honestly didn’t know what Burt’s purchase had to do with me, and told him just that, figuring he had the wrong number. But the next words out of his mouth told me he knew exactly who he was talking to.

Apparently, when old Burt started walking around his new property, digging around in the dirt, so to speak, he made an interesting discovery. So interesting, in fact, that it got me to grab my keys, hop in my truck, and drive up into the hills without so much as a pause to wash my hands.

Some things, you see, don’t wait for a man to look presentable.

* * * * * *

As I drove up into the hills to meet Burt, I started to think about my father and the rides he used to take me on to get a feel for whichever car he was working on. They always ended with a detour into those hills. ‘Nothing tests a vehicle like elevation,’ he used to say, and I have to admit, I still agree with that statement. All those long inclines, sharp turns and fast descents- not to mention the occasional slam on the brakes- really put a car through its paces.

Dad knew a thing or two about cars, even if he knew nothing about how to raise a family.

Other than maybe a slight fear of commitment, the main thing I got from my father was a passion for restoring old cars in my spare time. It’s a hobby of mine, and I do it in the garage at my house. I’m especially a sucker for rare cars, and the rarer the better. That little hobby of mine, more so than my day business, was why I ended up driving out to the middle of nowhere with dirty hands and a head full of ideas.

The road up was just as long and winding as I remembered, so much so that I almost missed the entrance for the property. It was a hidden driveway, marked with little more than a broken mailbox and a rotting signpost with an address. The private road got smaller and smaller by the minute, until I swore the trees were going to swallow me whole and spit the bones back out.

When I finally reached what could pass for a clearing, a guy with a face like a junkyard dog was waiting for me next to the newest, cleanest Ford pick-up I’d seen outside of a dealership. He introduced himself to me as Eddie, an associate of Burt. I told him I’d been expecting to meet Burt himself, but Eddie explained that Burt didn’t like to meet new people, and rarely came out in the cold weather. It was a bit raw, I had to admit, so I dropped the whole thing and let Eddie get down to the business at hand.

We left our cars behind and Eddie led me into the woods, where the walking was slow-going on account of the overgrowth of vines and dead branches. I’m not one to spook easily, but the more we walked, the creepier those woods got, until I was fairly sure Eddie was going to use that French Mastiff face of his to tear my throat out. But just when I was thinking about turning back and saying screw it to the whole thing, I caught sight of what we’d come for through the trees.

* * * * * *

The very first car I saw was a white, 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am. It was missing its door and tires, and it was buried under a layer of dead vines, but the body shape was unmistakable. Under the rust I could even see what was left of the telltale blue Firebird emblazoned across its hood.

I couldn’t believe a car like that was just sitting out in the middle of the woods, waiting for anyone to come along. As I got closer, though, I saw just how bad the condition of the car was. The insides were rotted out from rain and mold, and the floor was so eaten up by rust it was ready to fall out.

Before my brain could process the loss of such a beautiful machine, I caught sight of another car. This one was a Datsun 210 with a tree growing right through the hole where its trunk used to be. Wet leaves and newspaper filled the back seat, and the dashboard was an abandoned nest that crawled with leggy insects.

Old Burt hadn’t been pulling my leg. Those woods were a graveyard for abandoned cars. From what I could tell, about three acres of woods were absolutely littered with the corpses of old autos. Some were in pieces, most were covered in dead leaves and rust and all the other things that happen when anything is left outside for years and years, but they were there. The sight of so many classic cars in one place, virtually unknown to anyone, both excited and saddened me.

For close to an hour I walked around random piles of tires and glass to stare at rusted-out Range Rovers and Jeeps with their headlights hanging out like popped eyeballs. Finally, like I’d woken up from a spell, I asked Eddie what Burt expected from me. And that’s when he told me the strangest, most interesting offer he could have told me in that moment.

He said if I could make every, single one of those cars disappear in three day’s time, at no cost to old Burt, I could keep all of them.

The words nearly knocked me off my feet. I’d have to call in every favor to every salvage yard and tow truck operator I knew, but it was possible. Still, nearly all of the cars I’d seen were beyond repair, even for a guy like me. At most I saw some parts that could be salvaged. Maybe a few of the newer, less damaged ones could be saved. I knew a few guys in my circle who might be interested, and I figured if I played my cards right I could make a few bucks out of the deal to boot- or at least land a good trade or two. Still, there weren’t any cars that I was interested in for myself.

Until, at the edge of the property, tucked away in a spot I’d nearly overlooked, I saw it. It was as if I’d been drawn to it. Like I was meant to find it.

The car was familiar-looking, yet like nothing I’d ever seen. Cross a Chevelle Malibu Classic SE with the modern retro feel of the ‘97 Plymouth Prowler, add the large rear spoiler and flared wheel arches of a ‘99 Nissan Skyline GT-R, and you still won’t come close. It looked like something one of the big three manufacturers had made, and yet I’d never seen or heard of its like ever before. It had no logos, no hood ornament, no identification of any kind. I practically ran around to the back of it to look for a name, a logo, something to identify it, tripping over hidden rocks and broken glass to do it.

But there was nothing. Nothing to betray the make and mark of the strange car in front of me. I even asked Eddie if he knew what it was. He only shrugged, clearly wanting to wrap up our little outdoor meeting. I half-heartedly agreed. It was later than I’d realized. Between the dwindling sun and the discovery I’d made, I’d started to get a chill I couldn’t shake. I had a bad tooth I’d been neglecting, and even that was starting to hurt from the cold.

So I agreed to Burt’s deal. I shook Eddie’s hand on it and got out of there, giving one last glance at the strange car in the woods on the way out.

* * * * * *

The next day, after making more phone calls than a politician on election night, a swarm of flatbeds, wheel-lifts and salvage trucks descended on those woods. For two days they scooped out every piece of metal and glass in the place while I oversaw the operation like a choir conductor from hell, sending trucks this way and cutting crews that. They snipped and cut and tore out every dead tree standing in the way so the truck crews could do the rest. I even got in there myself with the old chainsaw when it was needed.

It was an exhausting two days, but I managed to keep my word to Burt and clear every abandoned car off his property with about an hour to spare. Some of the cars went to the junkyard, others to various garages I’d made arrangements with.

I was dead on my feet by the time I got home. I was ready for a shower and a bed, in what order I wasn’t sure. And yet a crackle of energy went through me when I saw what had been dropped off in my garage.

My mystery car. Without the shadows of the woods I could see it had been painted silver before the rust took over. It had been a fast sucker once, like a bullet to a werewolf’s chest. That had been a long time ago, and yet I sensed there was still some life in the old girl. I wanted so badly to start digging around under the hood, to see what I could find out about it, but my legs were ready to collapse and my eyes could barely focus. Intending to wake up early and hit the garage, I stumbled off to bed.

* * * * * *

You know that feeling you get when you realize someone’s been talking to you for the past minute, thinking you’ve been listening, and you only just figured it out?

That’s the feeling I woke up to.

I sat straight up like a vampire rising from his coffin. My bedroom was still dark, which meant it was the middle of the night. In my half-sleep I tried to make out the clock on my nightstand but couldn’t read the numbers, so I fumbled for my glasses and shoved them on. It was just past two in the morning: way too early, even for me. No way was I getting up, strange feeling or no.

I was about to take my glasses off and lay back down when I heard the reason I’d woken up.

Whispering.

A man was in my room, whispering in the dark.

I lunged across my bed and turned on the lamp, nearly knocking it over. I didn’t have a weapon, but if I could see the intruder I could do something about it. I spun back, back to the whispering, to see who it was, to shout at them or jump on them, whatever I had to do to save my life from the psycho in my bedroom.

But the room was empty. Just me and a pounding heart.

I was so confused, I jumped out of bed and tore around the room, making sure no one was hiding there, but I didn’t find anyone. I was alone.

Then I heard it again, and I knew: the whispers were coming from down the hall.

With bare feet I followed it, trying to make out what it was saying, but it was too low to understand. I grabbed a knife as I passed through the kitchen and held it in front of me with sweat beading on my face, despite how cold I kept the house.

I followed it to the garage. The overhead light flickered on, lighting up the strange car in my garage. In my half-sleep, half-terror I’d nearly forgotten about it. But there it was, like a bear hibernating in its cave, waiting for the end of winter. It felt alive somehow. Not dead, just asleep and dreaming.

And it was whispering.

I knew how crazy that sounded, how crazy that was, but I swallowed hard and approached the car, knife first. The blade shook in front of me. The whispering got louder the closer I got, and yet I still couldn’t understand the words it was saying. Was someone hiding inside the car? Had I inherited a homeless man when I’d had it towed to my house? If so I had to get him out of there. Get him help, sure, make sure he had a place to sleep, but he couldn’t stay in my garage, whispering through the night. No way.

With my free hand I yanked on the driver’s side door, but it didn’t open. Rusted shut. I slowly walked around to the passenger side and yanked again. This time it opened.

The whispering was louder now, louder but not clearer, like an old television tuned between channels, like a frequency not being picked up, like a…

Like a radio.

The whispers were coming from the radio. I laughed under my breath, realizing how ridiculous I’d been. But then I remembered there was no way the radio could be working. The car wasn’t turned on. If it even had a battery under the hood, it was probably little more than a square pile of rust and battery acid.

I clutched the kitchen knife tight, and with the other hand I slowly reached out to turn the volume knob. I needed to know if the whispers were coming from the radio, and if they were, I needed to know what they were saying. My temple throbbed as the whispers grew louder and louder, louder and louder, louder and-

The moment my finger touched the knob, the whispering stopped.

I felt like I was going crazy. I looked around the inside of the car, noting the strong smell of mildew and animal, with a tinge of rotten leather. Other than my own breath echoing back at me, it was silent.

No whispers. No nothing.

I went back to bed, but I barely slept.

* * * * * *

The next day was the day I usually took off from the shop, which was a relief since I woke up almost as tired as when I’d gone to bed. As I ate my breakfast, the night before still sat fresh in my mind. But the more I went over it, the more I thought it had been a bad dream, brought on by exhaustion and an imagination run wild. I had to admit the mystery car sitting in my garage had gotten my mind racing faster than a Formula 1.

I’m also the kind of guy who likes a simple explanation, something I can touch and feel and, yes, fix, so I started to think that I could have picked up some kind of rogue radio transmission from a trucker, or even a passing plane. The police scanner I owned in my younger days had certainly picked up its share of random broadcasts, and when it comes to working on junkers, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

After I’d eaten my breakfast and downed my coffee I got right to work on the car. I wanted to clear the air of whatever had happened, and I was dying to see what that baby had going on under the hood. The mystery of who the hell had made the thing was still heavy on me.

But the enigma only deepened the more I looked. Under all that rust and dirt and oil I couldn’t find one damn mark that told me who’d made the car. I almost wanted to say it was a custom build but the work was too precise, the system too well-planned out to be an after-market job.

I worked on it all day, so wrapped up in it I forgot to eat lunch. I ate dinner like a raccoon digging through a dumpster. Then I worked on it some more.

I was just crawling into bed when I heard it again. The whispering. This time I ignored it, hoping it would go away on its own. But it didn’t stop. Not until I got up, walked across my house, went into the garage, and touched the radio.

I decided right then and there not to go to the shop the next day. There was too much work to be done.

* * * * * *

I’d been working on the car for four days straight before I got it started up. Four days of stripping and cleaning and rebuilding. Four nights of whispering. I was even starting to hear it during the day, but low, barely audible, like a television playing somewhere in the house.

After I get the engine started, the first thing I did was pull my code reader down from my tool wall and hook it up to the dashboard input. I’d been pleasantly surprised to find an input on the car, even though I was fairly certain it had been built after ’96. To my shock the screen filled up with a bunch of random trouble codes I’d never seen before, then went blank. I tried to get it powered up again, but apparently the connection had completely overloaded the device.

I’d had the reader for years and it had never given me a problem. I put it down and got back to the car, deciding to stick to the old-fashioned way and get a feel for what was wrong with it.

With my foot on the gas I revved the engine good. It sounded better than I’d expected, like a beast waking up from deep sleep. But there was also something rattling around under the hood, something loose knocking around inside the carburetor, or even the manifold.

I tried a few options, opening up this and that, until I narrowed it down to something completely unexpected: the transmission.

With considerable force I managed to open up the transmission, and sure enough I found something inside. It looked like a small rock covered in old transmission fluid. How it got in there I didn’t have a clue. But I decided to clean it off and get a better look at it, in case it pointed to a bigger problem. As I walked it to the slop sink, I noticed the whispering, usually a dull static during the day, had started to grow louder. I could almost make out individual words now. But I ignored it and ran the small rock under the faucet.

That was when I discovered something I wasn’t prepared for. Not in the slightest.

The thing in my hand wasn’t a rock- it was a tooth.

A human tooth.

The whispers had grown so loud I could barely hear myself think, barely feel the disgust rising in the pit of my stomach. With the whispers practically shouting in my ear I dropped the tooth and it bounced and clattered inside the sink, coming to a rest near the drain.

The whispers grew quiet again. A dull roar tickling at the back of my skull. I stared at it, the tooth in the sink, the impossible tooth from the impossible car. I had the urge to throw it out. To get it out of my house and never see it again. But I didn’t do that. I couldn’t tell you why not.

Maybe because that meant touching it again.

Maybe something else.

* * * * * *

Feeling like I needed to give the car a rest, I decided to see if I could get my code reader working again, otherwise I’d have to run to the store and buy a new one.

I changed out the batteries and gave it a good, solid whack. A few seconds later I was happy to see the screen turn on. I thought I’d have to do a factory reset to use it again, but I was surprised to find it worked perfectly fine. Not only that, the trouble codes it had read off the car were still stored in its memory.

There were pages and pages of codes like I’d never seen in my life, more than I think are even in the tool’s programming. In fact I couldn’t find a single one of them anywhere in the manual. I figured they were probably just random numbers, but there was something strange about them, like they had a pattern.

I dusted off my old computer and typed in the problem codes, figuring if I could get a better look at them I might be able to figure out their meaning. If not I could at least print them out and show them to somebody who could.

After twenty minutes I’d barely made a dent in typing up all the codes. I gave up on the idea that I could copy them all. I pushed away from my computer and stood up, rubbing my eyes from the strain. Between the glare of the old screen and the noise in my ears, my head was killing me. It all felt so pointless. So inconsequential.

Just before I shut the computer back down, I happened to glance one last time at the screen. When I did, I noticed something that made my skin go cold.

The codes. The pattern. The numbers and letters and spaces.

They were starting to form a face.

A human face, with two eyes and a screaming-

I shut the computer down as fast as I could, then unplugged it to be safe. Then I marched to the garage and disconnected the radio, practically ripping it out of the car.

The whispers stopped.

The house was quiet.

But not for long.

* * * * * *

For three days I told myself to get rid of that car, to tow it out of my garage and dump it somewhere no one could find it. Maybe even drench it in gasoline and light a match. For three days I ignored the whispers and the doorbell and the phone calls from my shop asking when I was coming back. For three days I buried my head under the hood and worked and worked and worked.

On the forth day, when the whispers from the radio had grown louder than my own thoughts, louder but still indiscernible, still without words I could understand, I lost it. I threw my wrench at the tool wall, knocking down chisels and socket wrenches and a dozen other tools to clatter to the ground. I pounded on my ears, cursing them, willing them to go deaf and stop hearing the whispers.

But they didn’t stop hearing. And the whispers didn’t stop. I decided that if I couldn’t stop hearing them, I at least needed to know what they were saying.

I went back to the slop sink, where the tooth still sat near the edge of the drain. I’d prayed for it to slip down and wash away on its own but there it was, round and sharp and real as ever. So I picked it up, and the whispers grew louder. Clearer. But still not enough to hear. Not enough to make out what the radio was saying. To understand what it wanted from me. It was like a broken antenna, only tuning in half the frequency.

The garage was a mess. I was a mess. Rancid grease stains everywhere. A hole in my tool wall where the wrench had struck it, the ground littered with hammers and screwdrivers and…

Pliers.

Before I could talk myself out of it I grabbed the pliers from the ground, shoved it onto my mouth, got a good hold of my neglected tooth, and ripped it out. It was easier than I expected, but it still hurt, and it bled a lot. Then I pushed the tooth I’d found in the transmission into its place.

The moment I did, it was as if everything came into focus. As if the radio was inside my skull. No, as if my skull was the radio, and I was the antenna. I could hear the voice clear as day now, a man’s voice inside my head, whispering to me.

Telling me where to find the rest of him.

I told you all of this, not because I expect you to believe me, but because I’m about to walk out my door and do something I might not come back from. And if that’s the case, if I don’t return today or any other day from this thing I need to do, I want people to know why.

Because I find things. I find things and fix them. If you don’t know that, you don’t know me.

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Brian Martinez
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Brian Martinez


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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