's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Charred Newt

I know what I saw and it wasn't because of the dark. I mean, it was a dark night, sure, but not really enough to make me change my mind. And don't tell me it was too foggy either: I clearly remember driving through a thin mist at best, the kind that drapes pretty much every road around here once Autumn kicks in.

I become a pretty careful driver whenever I feel I'm starting to get tired and wispy-eyed, especially if I'm in the countryside; that was the main reason why I had not overtaken the coach yet, even though it was moving at a barely acceptable pace. After a couple of miles trailing behind it my initial frustration had been lulled in a sort of comradery, a weird tinge of affection for its red taillights. I was therefore particularly annoyed when I saw a pair of headlights rapidly coming towards us in my rear-view mirror; even reflected, the white light was a sharp sting right through my comfort zone. Seeing beyond it wasn't easy but it seemed to belong to a bigger car, a SUV or something like it. Great, I thought, Probably the kind of jerk who believes they own the road. Not an idea I was going to challenge that night, didn't feel at all like competing; the sooner I saw that muscle display disappear into the distance, the better. The light kept getting brighter and brighter: whoever it was, they had fog-lights on, on a night that really didn't call for them.

What I did not see was any sign of the SUV slowing down. No signaling arrows either, no moving on the other side of the road. Are they going for a last-minute surpass? I asked myself, my confusion blossoming into fear. They saw us, right? They can't not have seen us. Is the driver asleep? Oh God is he asleep? My thoughts were racing, it felt like the shape of the approaching car was filling the rear-view mirror more and more and, at the same time, everything was slowing down. Could I move fast enough to dodge it? Would I survive if the answer was "no"?

I launched myself on the turning wheel, swerving right with the whole weight of my body and of my panic. The car jerked violently to the side as the SUV plummeted upon me: in the blink of an eye I was sure I was seeing double, as all of a sudden there were eight lights shining from the crashing mass. It brushed the side of my vehicle, but not in the devastating collision I had feared so much; I was able to retain the control on the wheel and hit the brakes before my speed could land me out of the road, in the reed-chocked ditch by the side. The air smelled of burned tire.

With trembling hands, I steered back into the lane. You may not believe me, now, but my lights were working fine and what they showed left me too astounded to do anything but stare. At a dozen of meters from me, brought there by the force of the collision, there was no pile-up: a massive fight was taking place instead. The SUV -well, what I had mistaken for an SUV at least- had leapt on the back of the bus and was firmly grasping onto it with its eight legs, each big as a tree trunk and black as the surrounding night. They contrasted sharply with the rest of the body and its metallic grey shade, a chassislike the dozen I see everyday on the road, like any other you could find at a car sale, . The legs seemed to disappear just below the passenger's side: was it a whole creature? Was it wearing the hollowed-out husk of a normal car, like a hermit crab would? Couldn't tell, not with the desperate shaking of its prey underneath. Yeah, the "bus" wasn't a bus either: in the combined glow of my humble lightbulbs and the "spider"'s eight blazing headlights -eyes, maybe?- its body was segmented and writhing, tinged with a deep iridescence that no paintjob could ever have matched. As it arched to fight the grip of the other creature, I saw many stubby and skittering legs lining its underbelly in frantic ways; the wheels looked fake by comparison, vestigial and fused to the outer exoskeleton. Even the windows were nothing more than dark markings on each segment. Its taillights still shone weakly, leaving behind a faint red trail as the creature thrashed in the fight. The noise was everywhere, a mix of screeching metal and thumping blows on the asphalt, though somehow it felt as it was not as loud as it would have been, you know, had real cars been involved.

The bus-thing gave up trying to shake off its foe and started coiling up, closing upon itself in a manner similar to a giant pillbug, but the spider darted along its curved back and reached the thing's head faster than it could be protected. It beamed its eight intense lights right into its prey's grill: the bus screeched and twisted madly; I caught a glimpse of something like a round head, small compared to the rest of the creature, dashing out from beneath its chromed carapace and snapping at the air with stout and powerful-looking metallic mandibles, trying to get a hold of its assailant. But the fight was over: the spider dodged the biting head and rammed straight into the bus-thing's underbelly. I guess it must have had teeth of its own and some kind of venom, because the wild trashing of the other creature rapidly trickled down to jerky spasms, then shivers, then nothing.

The sudden silence pressed on my ears like a cotton-wrapped clamp. I was drenched in cold sweat that I was too terrified to notice and there was no one else on the road but me and the spider. It seemed to have noticed too: its eerily familiar shape was still on the body of its prey, partially obscured by the halo of its eyes. I had barely the time to think that I could never outrun that thing, then the eight lights got closer and brighter, blinding like eight little suns and absolutely unbearable. I shut my eyes, maybe even cried out a bit as a sharp sting run through my temples; in the darkness I heard the sound of eight legs scuttering away and something heavy being dragged on the asphalt, fainter and fainter. When my vision came back and stopped being filled with wobbly spots, the road was empty. I drove home as fast as I could. I didn't feel tired anymore, you can imagine. The car was pretty much fine, even though there were some bumps and two deep scratches where the spider had hit it in its charge. I was fine too, I guess. But so many things make me uneasy now, so many little thoughts I cannot chase away. Like, have you noticed how many copters have been flying lately?