The roaring of the engine was deafening. Why wouldn’t it just come on, already?… Lyn thought with the agitation of someone who has accepted that their end was near and was impatient to get it over with already. If you had asked Lyn ten months ago if she believed in the supernatural, she would have laughed in your face. But now, cowering in the dark recesses of a grimy garage, Lyn believed. More than that, she feared.
As a female auto mechanic in a small backwards town outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, Lyn had been fighting for survival all her life. Having only her pride and stubbornness to make it no matter the cost, Lyn scraped out a living fixing timing belts, wiper blades and headlights for six years before she was able to convince those hicks in town that she was worth a damn. Now, despite her gender, Lyn was the most sought after mechanic in three counties, allowing her to finally move into a decent shop with a full garage about half a mile south of town.
The trouble started that first day in the new shop, two months ago. While Lyn was aware of the rumors that her new shop now sat on the buried entrance of an old coal mine that had collapsed and killed four men in the late 1800s, she had given little thought to it at the time. Admittedly though, Lyn couldn’t help but sense a definite oddness to the place. For instance, there were certain cold spots in the garage that, no matter the temperature outside, never warmed above 42 degrees. Papers and small items, a socket wrench, a box of drop cloths, would suddenly go missing and then mysteriously appear days later in the cars of customers. Lyn had already been through two mechanics, the last of which swore he was approached by the ghost of an old man with a miner’s helmet and was scared so thoroughly he had picked up and left town.
Her feet firmly planted in the “I believe what I see” camp, Lyn was slow to admit that what was happening in her garage may be the work of something not of this world. That belief system had been blown out of the water tonight, however.
After a particularly grueling day, Lyn was closing up shop late and just as she was preparing to lock up she heard a loud crash in the garage. Unable to see clearly into the dimly lit garage from where she stood in her office, Lyn sighed and decided she’d better go investigate. “Probably just that dumb cat from the alley… stupid thing always wandering in here and getting trapped when the guys close up,” Lyn grumbled to herself. She needed a beer.
Grabbing a flashlight from her desk drawer (the garage had been experiencing weird blackouts all week) Lyn headed into the garage.
Immediately upon entering the garage Lyn knew something was wrong. While she couldn’t see anything out of place thanks to the lights being out (again), Lyn’s sense of hearing was unfettered and she could very clearly hear a running engine. Which was odd since the garage was empty. Usually, Lyn would have two, sometimes as many as four cars in the garage any given night, but she had made sure to clear out the place tonight since she planned on taking a few days of a much needed vacation starting tomorrow. Wondering if perhaps a car had been left on the lift on some slim chance, Lyn cast the weak beam of her flashlight up to one and then the second lift- both were, as she knew they would be, empty. At that moment a gust of freezing air hit the back of her neck, causing goose bumps to instantly appear. “Ok, I’m outta here,” she said, disappointed at how scared she sounded.
As Lyn lowered the light from the lifts, it flashed across something moving and she quickly cast the full force of the torch back in that direction. Screaming towards her (how had she not heard it???) was a motor flying through the air and aimed directly at her head. Able to dive out of the destructive mass of metal’s path, Lyn crawled on her hands and knees towards the door leading back to the office. Just as she reached for the knob, Lyn didn’t have time to process the glint of metal she saw out of the corner of her eye before a jolt of searing pain shot through her wrist. Withdrawing the hurt appendage, Lyn used the flashlight to see what had caused such dizzying agony and saw that her wrist was already swelling and purple- it had been badly broken by something heavy. Clutching her wrist to her chest, Lyn swept the garage floor and just as she began to search the space where the phantom motor had disappeared, a large wrench came sailing through the darkness and knocked the flashlight from her hand with incredible force. Lyn heard the bulb’s glass shatter a millisecond before the garage was pitched into complete darkness.
She heard the motor again. It was getting closer. Scooting backwards towards the garage wall, Lyn used her one good hand to probe the darkness for anything she could use to defend herself. Feeling a long cool cylindrical piece of metal beneath her fingertips, Lyn snatched the object up and mouthed a silent prayer of gratitude for the tire iron. It wasn’t going to do much good, especially with only one working hand, but Lyn didn’t care, she had something at least. Continuing her trek across the garage floor, Lyn wedged herself in a corner behind a workbench.
A wicked laugh pierced the silent garage. The dry rot tenor of the maniacal heckle sent shivers down Lyn’s spine, she knew instinctively no human lips were capable of producing such a terrible sound. It was coming for her. The approaching sound of the motor and the ghosts’ demented laughter combined to produce such a frenzied cacophony of sound, Lyn thought her eardrums would explode.
And still she waited. “Come on!” she finally screamed. “Come on you coward! What’s the matter? Can’t finish off an injured girl? Come on!” Lyn was beginning to feel sanity recede behind the waves of fear and pain that crashed through her, crest after crest; she didn’t care. The motor was so close now she could feel the vibration of its whirling mechanical guts on the delicate hairs of her neck and face. Closing her eyes, she waited for the inevitable.
“Give me your best shot!” She screamed above the noise and then promptly passed out.
“Whatever did happened to that mechanic gal, the one who went and opened up her own shop on 54th street? That place used to be a bustlin’ with activity, look at it now,” Clive said before spitting into the dirt. His companion, Bobby, looked up from the hangnail he was picking at and stared at the abandoned mechanic’s garage down the street.
“Don’t reckon I know,” Bobby said and then went back to fidgeting with his hangnail.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Don’t you just hate cliffhangers? Ha, sorry just had to do it. So this story is the product of one word: psychomotor. Isn’t that word fantastic? I was introduced to the word today at work, apparently it is a medical term and has something to do with physical therapy and, inevitably, I will have to look it up in order to not sound like a complete dingus at work tomorrow, but upon introduction the word instantly enthralled me. I envisioned this crazy, possessed engine, a mass of hot metal with demonic red eyes going on a killing spree or at the very least make a very large mess. Aren’t words fun, kids?
TWO: The theme of basing an entire story on one word is in dedication to my good friend Hollyn who also hails from West Virginia. Hollyn has set a goal to write about one word she hears each day. Come one Hollyn, I know you can do it! The name Lyn is also an adaptation from the name HolLYN. Love ya, girl… now get writing!
Love & Squirrels.