's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Red Head Handy Man "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

You are driving through the desert.

The sun is sinking slowly beneath the horizon, coloring the sky a luminous orange.

You are thankful that it is spring, and that Arizona is still cool in the twilight. Your car's air conditioner recently stopped working, just one of the many problems on a long list of your car's ailments.

The most recent problem is a worrying grinding sound that emanates from the underside of your car whenever you drive too fast, a problem that manifested only when you were too far out of town to turn back.

You have left your home in Flagstaff to visit your parents in Lake Havasu. You hope that your car will last that long.

You have attempted to stave off any catastrophic failure by driving extremely slowly, but at this rate it will take you an entire other day to reach your destination.

As you slowly drive, you come across a crude sign erected by the side of the road, about knee-height, with sloppily hand-painted black lettering.

It reads:


You drive slowly away from the sign. At first you are confused, but slowly the words form together coherently in your head.

"Redhead handyman".

Presumably some nearby town has a mechanic who decided to advertise to drivers in need of repair. You might advise him to spend a bit more on advertising in the future, however. The bizarre and poorly made sign caught you rather off guard.

You resolve to continue driving and look for this redheaded handyman in the next town you encounter.

Soon after you resolve this, however, your car slowly sputters to a stop and dies. You smack the steering wheel and curse. This does nothing to fix your car.

You get out of your car and look around. There is no sign of civilization in sight. Just rocks and dirt.

Squinting into the sun, you see someone standing in the distance, silhouetted against the orange sky and blurred by heat distortion. You shout to them, hoping they can help you.

They slowly begin to approach.

You continue to shout to them, hoping they can hear you, about your situation and your need for car repair.

They continue to approach, not speaking back to you.

The heat distortion remains localized around them as they get closer.

You begin to realize that the air is not hot enough for heat distortion to happen.

As they get closer, you begin to smell burnt rubber.

You are unable to see the approaching figure clearly even as they get even closer. The distortion around them blurs their body and makes them indistinct.

Their body is black. Their head is bright red.

You run.

You pivot on your heel and take off into the desert. You do not think of where you will run to. All you know is that you need to run away. You know that nothing good can happen if you stay.

You look over your shoulder as you run. The thing is standing in front of your car, motionless. You continue running anyway.

You hear an audible sizzling from somewhere ahead of you.

An oily black hand slides out from the surface of a rock and reaches for your head, the arm attached to it stretching as though boneless.

You duck and fall to the ground. The arm curves around and continues reaching for you as you struggle to get up.

You finally get back on your feet and flee. You can still hear and smell the arm behind you.

The sizzling intensifies.

More hands begin reaching out of the rocks that surround you as you run, flexing their fingers grotesquely as they reach for you. Numerous times you trip and stumble on the uneven sandy landscape, only narrowly avoiding the hands.

One of them grasps onto your pant leg. A portion of the cloth burns away in an instant. You kick the hand away. The toe of your shoe melts. You feel the incredible heat near your foot and scream in pain.

You continue running as the sun fully sets and the first stars begin to come out, even after the hands stop appearing. You run through the desert for what feels like an eternity, not wanting to take any chances on the hands catching up to you.

Eventually, you run into a small town, and you finally run out of breath.

A concerned passerby notices you collapsed in the middle of the road, and takes you to see a doctor.

He examines you and determines you to be healthy. You decide not to speak to the doctor about the hands.

You find a mechanic in town and attempt to direct him to where your car was left. When he asks you why you abandoned your car and ran across the desert, you answer as truthfully as you can. The mechanic looks at you funny, but money is money.

As the mechanic drives off to fix your car, you manage to persuade some befuddled member of the local police department to search for the mysterious many-handed figure with you.

You look around the desert near where your car is broken down for the better part of an hour and find nothing, save for some black handprints scorched into several large rocks.