by Scott Cole
The crashed car undid itself. Twisted metal unfolded, jagged edges smoothed, bent lines straightened. Patches of rust effervesced into the air and disappeared.
I reached for the driver’s side door handle, now shiny-new, and pulled. I sank down into the bucket seat, which seemed to somehow sit lower than the pavement beneath the tires.
The woman in the passenger seat was some sort of punk-jock hybrid. Black smears under her eyes. Multi-colored pigtails hanging at a dozen angles. Shoulder pads. Elbow pads. Safety pin in her lip. A torn jersey, oversized, with the number 99 on it. Yellow lipstick that seemed to glow, reflecting some unknown light source.
Upon closer inspection, I realized the smears on her cheeks were actually a pair of very detailed line drawings of tiny cars. Hot rods. Maybe tattooed there.
“Drive,” she said.
The spider web cracks in the windshield erased themselves, and I could see the surf racing toward us. From between the buildings, a wave of purple-gray water rushed in our direction, foaming pink along the edges like a chemical spill.
A kid on a dirt bike was wheelie-riding the crest of it, waving a severed, cherry-colored tentacle in the air above his head. His body language was telling us to go. Go now.
The car was already running. I popped it into reverse & checked the rearview on instinct. A pair of chimps sat nervously in the back seat, trapped in place by harnesses, cages with sensors wrapped around their heads. They were clearly distressed, but remained silent. I hadn’t noticed them until now. They locked eyes with my reflection.
“Drive! Drive! Drive!” the kid screamed.
I hit the gas, and spun the car backwards in an arc, then slammed on the brakes, moved the needle back to D, and gunned it. In the mirror, I spotted the kid between the chimps’ heads, pedaling furiously on the water. He dropped his front wheel and tossed the tentacle at us. It helicoptered through the air, landed on the trunk, and stuck there.
The water behind us seemed to grow taller as the buildings receded in the distance. Ahead, I spotted a bridge. I knew if I could just make it there before the water reached us, everything would be fine.
“Drive! Drive! Drive!” my punk-jock companion yelled, slapping her palms on the dashboard with each word. The chimps started panting, showing their panic.
I gripped the steering wheel as hard as I could and stood on the gas pedal. We raced toward the bridge, hitting the entrance just a moment later. The car bucked as we began climbing the span, and the purple wave behind us crashed around the foot of it, bleeding into the river beneath us.
The woman beside me screamed, excited, but the chimps in the back looked no more relaxed. The kid on the bike had disappeared. I was pretty sure he drowned. The tentacle on the trunk was wagging in the wind like a tail.
And then, as we reached the middle point of the bridge, it gave out. The center of the structure just ahead of us crumbled and fell into the water below. We launched off one ragged end, into the air, and hung there, floating like some cartoon bad guy before recognizing the existence of gravity.
We’re still hanging here, floating like a metal cloud between the two broken stubs of a formerly functional bridge. But the chimps no longer seem concerned.
Scott Cole has written numerous words, which have appeared in places like Bizarro Central, Weirdyear, Flashes In The Dark, and MicroHorror, not to mention countless emails. He also makes pictures, which have been featured in magazines and on people’s walls. He lives in Philadelphia, where he likes to listen to strange music and drink coffee.
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