"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

"In the Triceratops Car"

Submitted by Thomas F. Johnson

"So, what kinda music do ya like sport?" she said to me on the road. It didn't feel like a time for listening to music. But then again, it didn't feel like a time at all; on that empty road with some strange woman in some novelty car with no roof at over a hundred-and-ten miles per hour.

I should've known not to get in the car. Hell, in any right mind I wouldn't have. But, this is what happens when you're sleep deprived from "overtime" at the call center and you've been waiting for that bus four hours ago under the grey fall skies and see a car stop for you; with classic rock playin in the background sometimes your brain does stupid things. Sometimes it makes your brain do stupid things.

"Oh, you're a real cut-up, a real card,"  she said as she took out a playing card from her sleeve and handed it to me. "My card sir," she said. Was it from her sleeve or was it her wrist? I couldn't tell. I looked at it. It was a seven of clubs. It read an address for a building that I knew for a fact had been demolished three years ago.

It was a jack of hearts. It read a large amount of professions; all service jobs; all in "quotes." It was a Knight of Cups. The words looked like they were swimming across the page as the thing wriggled and writhed across my vision. It was a Twenty Three of Forks. I never got her name before the card disappeared.

"And your name sport?" she asked me, grinning. Her teeth were perfect. A little off though. They shone like something in the lights of the sunset. Was it silver? Was it metal?  She looked like a female Tom Waits in a carnie barker's outfit, with those fucking metal(?) teeth and those lanky-loose limbs.

"Ha ha, you're a looker, a real looker kiddo," she said looking at me. She cranked up the radio. It was a badly distorted, warbling version of Journey's "Separate Ways." Played very loudly. I could hear the speakers rattling in the car.

What the fuck was this car anyway. It was this state-fair lookin novelty thing, in the shape of a triceratops. It was green and faded by the sun, the fiberglass making up its bulk looking worn.

She drummed on its side with the fingers of one hand while swerving wildly on the wheel with the other. "Now then you salty sailor, I gotta BONE to pick with you." She said grinning with those glinting teeth at me, emphasis on the word bone for no particular reason. "You see champ, there's an old friend o yours, who owes me something, a deal, a bit o' tit-for-tat, and I need a helping 'hand' from you"

"FUCK, what has he gotten himself into this time" I thought to myself. Key word being "thought" there. I said nothing. I just stared for a moment into her face; with the biggest most insincere grin I could muster. I couldn't look into her eyes. That wide-brimmed carnival-barker's hat she wore never showed her eyes beneath the shadows.

"So, what you gotta do lil' man, tell me THAT THING, and I'll let you out of my little automotivicle," she said, laughing at the end of her sentence. I looked to the door, it was not locked, nor was it unlocked. There was no handle at all on it. I probably couldn't get out on my own without turning into a hamburger smear on the black tar asphalt, not at this speed at any rate. And did the radio get louder when I looked around.

"That thing?" I asked. I heard a crunch. It was a bat, impaled upon the triceratops' horn, screaming its tiny little head off.

"Sure pally, friendo, the thing; the place; the special little treasure where he said I could catch him if I found him. Well, "could's" a mighty strong word. WILL is more like it." I could feel the oil in her words as she loosely gesticulates, one hand still on the wheel. She grabbed under the dash and plucked something out. It was the bat, raw and dripping.

She popped it right into her mouth. "Well parson, it's a question, a riddle if you will. 'Where did I lose love at the same time that I found it,' that's the grist of the jib" She sprayed flecks of gore and grue as she talked, still taking bites out of the freshly-dead bat. She leaned over me, gaze boring into me.

"So, I rolled the BONES, and they managed to throw me a BONE." She took one last bite and brushed her hand; hot like a sweaty summer's night, on my thigh; still bloody with bat carcass. "Now then ya maccaroon, whatzit gonna be?"

"I'm not sure what to think," I said, lying only partially.

My thoughts at that moment mainly consisted of me internally screaming. He had come into quite a bit of money lately, better furniture, better booze, started gettin better sleep, quit his job sayin he was "Set for life," He talked to me once, about him leavin' this crumb-bum city for greener pastures.

He seemed like he didn't want to go though, but like something meant he had to. For a sec when he was talking about possible places where he could go, I'd thought for a moment maybe I'd want to go with him...

What the fuck was I thinking about that at a time like this for?! She was certainly getting a kick out of it, letting out another one of her laughs.

"I don't know anything about what he said, if that's what you want to know," I responded

"Oh, I don't wanna know what he knows. I wanna know about what you feel. Cuz it seems like you and him have got a matter of feeeling about it. Y'knowhutImean Vern?"

'Yeah, but you see, you can't force a feelin'." I stared into the shadow beneath her hat where her eyes presumably were, trying to maintain a face of stone "And right about now, I ain't feelin it."

She clucked her tongue and turned a dial on the radio. It was now playing Bon Jovi's Livin On A Prayer. On the same speaker as Journey, at the same time, at an even more god-awful frequency if that was possible. Was it me, or was it hotter in that car now? Or was it the sweat on those ratty velveteen seats.

She brushed her hand across my thigh, pressing down in a way that unsettled me. "Friendo, pally, Joe-bob, kid, that's the funny thing about feelings. They're not a moment-by-moment thing. It's not just a feeling, it's more than a feeling, y' get it?" She laughed, and brushed her hand against my thigh a bit harder, a little closer to "home." It felt like a threat. "Speaking of which!"

She clicked the knob on the radio again. This time it was Journey's More Than A Feeling added to the cacophony. I felt physically ill, like I was gonna puke.

"Don't you remember? Don't you remember the moment o' love? Or maybe you just wanna forget?" She dragged her tongue across my cheek and laughed again. "Ya gotta feeeeeeeel it, feeeeeeeeeel it in yer gut sonny-jim. Or maybe y do, in some... other places." She bit a little on my cheek. Dear god the heat in the car. She took her hand and grabbed between my legs. The accelleration on the car sped up. I felt even sicker.

I don't remember why I thought it would do any good. I sat up and tried to punch, useless as it may have been in the cramped car. And she just... split open.

Before it hit even. It just, split open, and let my hand in. It looked like burnt marshmallow. Smelled like it too. She just looked at me and smiled a fuck-you schadenfreuden-licking smile. I could hear the car's engine screaming as it went faster, though barely over the din of 80s pop-rock played badly. I was going to vomit.

God, oh god, she was coming apart at the seams, joints on her body splitting open to reveal that horrible fucking slime, that horrible fucking stench. They oozed over towards me, groping at me, arm joints wrapped around me caressing and rasping, her leg straddling me, her tongue lolling out of her mouth around my face, one barely-attached hand still at the wheel and one barrel-attached foot still at the pedal. I could feel hot; acrid smoke coming out of all sides of the car.

"Now look what you've done mac! I've gone all to pieces!" she said, laughing manically as we drove onwards; beyond darkness; beyond any road I'd even been on. The sickness was welling up like a thousand fists jackhammering through my too-tight throat for freedom. I think I saw a glimpse of her eyes as she broke down, beneath the smoke, but for the love of god I cannot describe the horror I saw.

"Alright, alright!" I didn't know where the words were coming from as I screamed. "It was when we were sixteen, at the abandoned Howl Valley rest stop. We were talking, we'd snuck a few beers, started, turned into touching, then kissing and then, we started taking , then, oh god. We never talked about it, we never remembered it, I never remembered it, I didn't want to remember it, I ain't no faggo-"

I vomited right out the window. I got some on my shirt. It was bright pink. And; like that; the smoke stopped; the music went to a ringing silence, and her parts reeled slowly; sickly in like a tape measurer.

"Thank you kindly nancyboy." she said wetly as her tongue retracted into her mouth, "Sometimes like a glass of gasoline, y' know that? Ya gotta suck it down, or spit it out!" She laughed at her own joke uproariously. I said nothing. I was just sitting there in shock, "Well, he'll get it later boyo. Sure he will"

We screeched to a hault. I'd been so occupied with the moment at hand that I did not notice that the sun had set, and the moon shone its pale face above the clouds. And there, in front of me, was the Howl Valley rest stop.

I felt a hard jagged push from behind me, pushing me through (Not merely out of you understand, but literally through) the door, and there it was I saw him. Hamming away at those walls we had been within that night with a sledgehammer, as though he could destroy the walls like the walls of fate. He looked at me. He looked at the car, that grotesque little novelty triceratops car that awaited him. There were tears in his eyes.

Out of the car came the sound of the woman's voice. "It's your turn on the wheel, so come on down MY FAITHFUL FRIEND!" Her lips did not move as she said this, but her arm stretched out long to grab him. He did not struggle, he only wept. I could faintly see him mouth the words "We could have been-"

The car door shut, and it sped off just like a bullet, covered in black smoke. And I never saw either of them again.