The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Wedding Car
by Alyson Faye
The villagers and hikers dubbed it ‘The Wedding Car’ though no one could remember whose wedding it had been, or the exact year or why it still lay abandoned in Mile End Woods. It had sat there rusting and rotting for decades.
The local kids snogged on the back seat for dares, and the dog walkers shooed their pets away from the wrecked bumpers.
No one wanted to admit to the sense of despair emanating from the dumped vehicle nor the itchy buzz that grated their skin if they stood too near.
Josie’s strident voice cut through the thick canopy. ‘Here we are, guys. Gather round.’
Her little group of bespectacled and tweed-dressed followers, representing The Milstead Village Historical Society, budged up, standing shoulder to shoulder, as though preparing for an attack. Something primeval began to stir in their bones – an ancient long-dormant alarm.
‘The story goes that back in 1950 something, a local couple, under-age, were planning to elope under cover of darkness. They knew the bride’s father would never give his permission. He was known to be a boozer and a bully. Rumour has it he came after the loved-up couple, but with a shotgun.’
Josie, staring past her group, caught glimpses of shadows flitting through the trees. Puzzled she called out, ‘Hey, you there? Come over and join us.’
No one answered.
A chill breeze ruffled the air and the history group snuggled deeper into their fleeces.
‘The young couple ran out of petrol right here, and whilst the bridegroom hid his bride in the boot, he then faced up to his father-in-law. Whatever happened that night, no one in town ever saw the couple again and soon shotgun toting Papa topped himself.’ Josie beamed around. ‘But who knows for sure, huh?’
‘What if she’s still in the boot?’ muttered one lady to her friend. They shuffled backwards in unison.
The car creaked and moaned in the wind, and the rest of the group began to edge away, eyeing the louring sky, all except for Josie, who was determined to remain upbeat. She’d been after the Chair of the society, so a gust of wind wasn’t going to put her off.
Then, to her shock, the windscreen wipers wheezed across the spider -webbed glass. Just once.
‘That’s it, time to head home,’ an elderly gent said, and the History Society began walking as fast as they could, on the trail to the village.
Only Josie stayed behind. ‘It’s only the wind or or . . .’ she yelled after them. ‘Quitters.’
She heard footsteps rustling through the dead leaves. ‘So you’ve changed your mind?’ Turning she saw a line of disturbed leaf beds but nobody there. Instead she smelled cigar smoke and whiskey. She heard the crack of a shotgun being cocked. Instinctively Josie ducked down behind the rear of the car. She heard more footsteps, heavy breathing, then the driver’s door cranked open, and someone heavy moved around inside. Peeking over the boot’s edge she saw- mice droppings, chewed-up leather interiors, mouldy cushions, a broken CD case but no person.
Words bubbled on her lips, but caution silenced her. Make no sound, her head told her. Hide, hide.
The boot was open a sliver. Josie swung her right leg over the bumper, and slid inside, smelling oil and piss. She pulled the boot down, till there was just a crack of the coming twilight between her and total darkness.
She heard stumbling footsteps walking around, leaves rustling, a bulky shadow blocked out the light – then, to her horror, the boot clicked down, shut – the metallic noise stealing that last precious sliver of light.
Josie lay, in a foetal position, crying silently. She lost track of how long she stayed like that, but after hearing nothing except her own heart thudding for some time, she banged on the boot lid with her fists.
‘Help! Anyone out there?’ Sweat poured off her.
The darkness outside in the wood pressed closer as though in witness and the darkness, trapped inside the wedding car, snaked around its prisoner, feeding on her, taunting her and keeping her oh so safe.
Fiction © Copyright Alyson Faye
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Alyson Faye:
The Lost Girl & Spindleshanks
The Lost Girl
A nailed-up door. An inheritance which comes with a ghost. A missing girl. A fifty-year-old mystery. Parapsychologist Berkley Osgood is hired to investigate. What he uncovers reveals secrets the living want to hide and the dead will never forgive.
Adam is having nightmares about a skeletal shadow figure, who he calls Spindleshanks. Soon his whole class are sharing the same nightmare. Adam’s dad, Rob, knows that Spindleshanks can’t be real. But is he? One terrible night Rob has to face his son’s nightmare creature and fight for his son’s life. What would you sacrifice to have your child back safe?
“A decent two-for-one. Alyson Faye brings the engaging and eerie in equal measure.” CC Adams – horror / dark fiction author