's 2016 Horror Write-off:

High Jack

Submitted by Charred Newt

It's a windy night. They say there's a storm coming and it's not hard to believe it. I can see the wind comb the fields surrounding the road in the cone of my car's headlights. The wheat looks stiff and thirsty; it's been a dry summer, but something may change if the clouds over my head were to stop running. On the horizon some of them glow sporadically, a promise of thunders and rain.

I'll be home before they can reach me. The road is sort of narrow and speeding up would be risky, but it's a nice and steady pace. Sometimes you just want to go home and can't be bothered with the city traffic. I could set a clock on the time it takes me to follow this route. Even though the wind tonight is strong enough to make the car tilt ever so slightly, every now and then, it's okay. I'm not in a hurry, I must have just two or three miles left to go.

The radio sputters to life, breaking my concentration a little. Huh, weird; I thought I had turned it off already. There's not much to listen to anyway, the storm is screwing with the radio waves. It's just a mess of broken static, all grating noise and orphaned notes. I press the power button but nothing changes. That bad? I try again; no matter what, the scratching only seems to get louder. I can feel it buzzing trough my teeth and eardrums like a lost, angry hornet. Trying not to think about the small insidious headache that's growing right behind my eyes, I start playing with the volume's dial: it turns effortlessly under my touch and doesn't make one bit of a difference. Maybe it'll help me stay sane during this last stretch, but it's still gonna be a long two miles.

I twist it absentmindedly one more time.

And, all of a sudden, the car explodes with noise. The blast punches me on the ear and all I can feel is the cold glass of the car window pressed against my right cheek; that and the insane roaring that's filling the world.


It's saying words but it's not a voice. It's a grinding of metal and concrete, a crackling of electricity straight through my brain; it's what nails would sound like if they decided to speak. My ears are whistling like I had just heard a plane taking off. God, that could have busted my eardrums! I bring my hands to the sides of my head: there's no blood, none than I can feel at least.

It comes back.


Either it has toned it down or my hearing is already half gone. Can't really tell if the buzzing is inside or outside my brain. Or what this speaker is talking about.

"Have I...?" My voice comes out in a whisper, or so it seems over the sizzling sound; it's only now starting to leave my ears. It's not an easy question, right now. Have I ever... No, I don't think so, I would remember. But my head is stuffed with grey scratching and static. Oh, there's something else, something I should be doing-

Shit. Shitshitshitshit nobody is driving!

I lunge forward to grasp it before the car can careen right into a ditch. But it's wrong, it's all wrong: we're still going straight as an arrow and the wheel refuses to steer under my hands. It doesn't budge, not even an inch; it may as well be one solid molded piece, like a detail in an oversized toy car. I try turning it again and my palms slide as if they were touching oil, but the attrition is still scalding.


I get no time to make sense of this words: there's a sudden void under my right foot and the car jerks forwards like a beast stung by a bee! My teeth rattle violently when my nape hits the headrest; no doubts left, whatever is that is in the car with me is flooring the gas pedal. "Hey!" I cry out "HEY!!". I act fast, more on instinct than on thought: the other foot lands firmly on the breaks and I press with all the weight I can gather. The engine roars like I've never heard before. Am I accomplishing anything? Anything at all?! Outside I can see little beyond the reach of the headlights, little besides the rows of grain passing by faster and faster. The whole car is starting to shake.

"Just- just stop that! Please!" I don't know what I'm talking to, don't even know why. There's no response.  I squirm under the unresponsive wheel, trying to reach the gas pedal and maybe, just maybe pry it up. My fingertips claw the air uselessly: I can barely brush the metal; can't tell if it's because I'm sweating bullets or if the engine is about to catch fire, but the cabin is feeling more and more like an oven. One last stretch: my arm cries out in pain and I finally touch the pedal. Not only is it firmly stuck, it's burning hot! I spring back, leaving behind what feels like a good chunk of my hand's skin.

The vents are pumping in scorching air, maybe in an effort to keep the motor from bursting. My clothes stick to my chest, the safety belt scraping at the skin right down the middle.


This one, this car. My car is blue. "No! Wait! What crash?!" My eyes dart across the road in front of me. Are those headlights in the distance?


My own lights shine brighter for an instant, then peter out and die; they may have exploded or melted, it's impossible to tell with all this noise. Nothing seems out of reach for the voice erupting from my radio. Right now we're almost invisible. A stray bullet in the night. I could hope for the other vehicle to see the shape of this crazed death-machine and maybe, just maybe dodge it with perfect reflexes. But still, what would be of me after that?

We're past 50 mph. On a road like this it's more than enough to make the car shake madly, swaying more and more at every bump. I slam on the breaks again more on an instinct than anything. The speed gauge's hand is going slower, isn't it? The only thing I know for sure is that every new rattle reverberates painfully along my already-stiff leg... I think I recognize this tract. There's a nasty curve coming up, a 90-degrees turn that tonight will bring me right on the red car's path. I'm going to trust the voice on that detail.

Though it's clear I'd end up breaking my neck and probably everything else at this speed, I go for the door's handle. There's a ditch on both sides of the road, maybe if I fell out exactly the right way the reeds would soften the impact. But it won't work: the handle clacks aimlessly. I try again, I have to try again, and still nothing happens. One last effort. I charge the door with my shoulder, with my whole body, hitting it squarely in the center with a low thud. The small car rocks and sways even more under the blow but I'm still trapped inside. I could try the windows... no, the mechanism is busted. I have nothing to shatter them and if I did I doubt I'd get out in time without gutting myself on the broken glass.

It doesn't seem to take notice of my efforts.


"Look, I'm sure things don't have to go like this, I'm sure there's another way..." I whisper, mostly to myself. Nothing else in this car has ears to listen. I press my forehead against the window, taking in what little coolness is left in the glass: I cannot see the other car's headlights anymore, but I cannot hope for it to be simply gone. More likely that they've been busted too. The lightnings still within the clouds barely brighten up the horizon. If the night was clear, would I see the red blinking light of a transmission tower in the distance? Have I brushed past something like... this every time I've taken this road? Or maybe even every road in the area, depending on the reach of this thing.

But I won't get an answer now. Time's running out, one way or another.

We're almost at the curve. On a night like this in a tract like this any sane driver would slow down; my car doesn't seem to know this.

Maybe I can hope for a bit of water on the bottom.

I brace and slam against the side of the car with every ounce of strength left in my body, hard enough to hear a crack somewhere in the door or my bones, impossible to tell. My entire left side is numb.

The car shakes. It tilts, dancing with two wheels up in the air against the impact and the centrifugal pull. I can barely see the dark shape of the other vehicle as it plunges upon us, scraping violently against the part of the rear that's still precariously on the road.

We fly. Bright plumes of flame in a color I can't register wound the night behind us.

"THAT'S NOT RIGHT." The words get lost within the deafening crash as my car lands in the ditch. The safety belt squeezes the air out of my lungs. Even with the eyes closed I still see blinding flashes blinking all around. But we've stopped moving. I'm here. I... I made it!

As my head gets clearer in a slow and painful way, I realize I'm upside down, hanging by the belt. I manage to unbuckle it and lay down on the roof: I touch it gently, but it's enough to make pain shoot through my shoulders. My left foot feels as if there was a boulder tied to it and the numbness is being replaced by burning all over. But my arms move. My legs move.

I crawl through the crumbled glass, clawing at the reeds on the bottom of the ditch to get away from the car. There's barely an inch of muddy water. It's cool. It's soothing. I embrace as much as I can.

There's a sound rising behind me. It tingles up my spine; I try getting further away but my limbs are giving up the struggle. Standing is not an option, even trying to sit makes the world wobble all around me. I turn to the sound: the car is lying against the side of the ditch, upturned, with steam coming out of the hood like between the teeth of a dragon. It's coming from the cabin. From the radio. But this time it's a real voice, a human voice, I'm sure of that, it's clearer than anything I've ever heard from any radio.

It's screaming.

The metal around the smashed windows starts melting in a lip-like shape, the world surrounding me bubbles up and I finally lose consciousness.


The paramedics woke me up. Somebody had seen what they thought was an explosion in the distance and came to investigate, it seems. I had been out for some time, but the ambulance arrived before I was in serious life danger.

Not to say I wasn't beat up. They started talking to me right away to make sure I would stay conscious, but at first I could barely understand a word: their voices sounded muffled like through a static distortion. They told me I had a broken collarbone, a possible concussion, probably a couple cracked ribs, and that there was something wrong with my foot that would require an x-ray. The broken glass had also done a number on my hands, but nothing too severe compared to the rest.

I asked about the other car, but I was told mine was the only vehicle found on the scene. As they wheeled me on the ambulance with the stretcher I had a better glimpse of the road: near the point my car had gone right off the lane, the asphalt was scorched in a large jagged stain, black against the dusty grey all around. There was little to no debris that I could see, only what looked like the aftermath of a very clean bonfire.

I won't be able to drive for a while, of course. My car is gone for good, and with my injuries it's safer to stay clear from the driver's seat for at least a handful of month. It's fine, though: truth to be told, I'd rather not get on any kind of car even as a passenger. Not now, not ever if I can help it.

While I was being driven to the hospital in the ambulance, you see, I heard something coming from one of the paramedics' walkie-talkie. Nobody else seemed to notice it, strangely enough; to me, it sounded even clearer than any of the human voices talking around the stretcher.