Yellow Fever

IMG_1372Photo and Fiction © Steve Lakey 2015

 

It was the sort of shabby place you automatically overlook, unless you can’t afford to. The lazy rain drifting down only added to the gloom.

I know now that something drew me to that classic MK IV Cortina. There’s not a day goes by that I wish I hadn’t passed Christie’s Used Car forecourt and just kept on walking. But when I saw that car shining like a bright yellow beacon, I just had to go for a closer look.

I remember running my hands over the warm bonnet. It was the strangest feeling – like I was touching something alive. Why it was warm, I don’t know. Other vehicles, front and rear boxed it in. Maybe they had turned the engine over for a previous punter.

“Go on, take a look inside. Feel free!” The voice, so close to my ear made me jump. It belonged to ‘James Christie’, according to his lapel badge. He had an uncanny resemblance to a young Paul Newman – complete with those clear blue eyes. I got the feeling that the shirtsleeves image was deliberate attempt to look casual. It certainly wasn’t the weather for it.

I opened the door and sat behind the wheel. James’ non-stop chatter soon became irritating. “First car, is it? You look the student type to me. No offence if you’re not, though. Of course, it’s an ideal car if you’re on a budget. I took it out myself last night. It goes like a dream…” After a couple of minutes, I had taken enough. I leaned over and closed the driver’s door shutting him out of my world, if only for a few precious moments. It closed with a reassuring thud. Goodbye!

The black leather interior looked in excellent condition, but something felt wrong. There was something strange about the air in the car – it was thick and heavy and reminded me of somewhere mysterious. A thick, sweet smell of incense. Or maybe something a little more little exotic.

I couldn’t seem to get my breath. I reached for the door handle but it wouldn’t open. Panic quickly set in. I banged on the window with my fist and shouted for James, but he wasn’t there. How I needed him now.

I was losing the struggle. My eyes were like lead and my head was spinning faster and faster. I knew I was going under. The last thing I remember was the sound of my own voice. It followed me into the void.

**

I opened my eyes, blinked twice, and then screwed them tightly shut again. I thought that if I opened them slowly everything would return to normal. But this wasn’t normality.

I was still sitting behind the wheel, but outside the light was fading, and I seemed to be surrounded by trees. What was happening? Where was I? Cautiously, I tried the door handle and thankfully it opened first time. I slowly climbed out and took a walk around. The car was parked in a clearing – hemmed in on three sides by dense woodland.

I had only walked on for a few steps when there was a sharp crack of a twig behind me. Instinctively, I turned and ducked down. I could see the outline of a man walking towards the car – I wasn’t alone! This didn’t feel good.

I quietly lowered myself to the ground and crawled up to the bonnet, eventually overcoming my fear enough to peek round the side of the car. I only saw it in outline, but the man was clearly struggling to lift a bulky object from the boot. I strained my eyes against the gloom. My God! He was lifting out the body of a woman! I choked back a scream, and pulled myself lower to the ground.

After what seemed like an age, he pulled her over his shoulder – her lifeless head and arms swaying like a rag doll. He staggered into the woods – coughing as he went. A deep rattling cough that went right down to his boots. It thankfully faded as he moved further away. Then he was lost from sight.

I didn’t wait for him to come back. I ran, blindly, in the opposite direction. Trees and bushes pulled at my arms and face, desperate to hold me back. Time and again, I broke free, to continue my desperate flight.

I never saw what brought me down. It may have been a low-lying branch or a small hole. I felt the ground rush up to meet me, and again my world turned to black.

And then I was back. Sat in the car, in the rain, and back on the forecourt – far away from that horrible scene. But that feeling of fear still gripped me tight and had me fighting for air. The door opened easily and I almost jumped out of the car. I wanted to run but James was standing there with a curious look on his face. He was probably waiting for me to say, “I’ll take it – it’s just what I’m looking for.”

I didn’t want any part of it. To think I had been attracted to this thing! I just needed to get away from there – put as much distance between me and that car as possible. Mumbling something towards James I shook my head and turned away. I half-walked, half ran to the safe haven of the street – a few steps, but a whole world away. I wanted to hide in the traffic, the smells and the noise. I knew that He was watching me all the way, his bright blue laser eyes burning two neat holes in the back of my head.

Once I had reached safety, I had to turn back for one last look. The Cortina no longer stood out. That’s when the doubts, the logical thoughts, started to creep in. Thinking it over…maybe I was just stressed out and had a panic attack. Yes, that’s it. Or too many late night horror movies…

Then I saw him. And what I heard cut through me more than those laser eyes ever could. James was slowly walking back to his office, coughing, his chest rattling right down to his highly polished shoes.

 

The photo and fiction were prompted by Word Snap Weekly, 8th March 2015, hosted by Amanda Lakey at UniqueArtChic.com

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Word Snap Weekly

 

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