Carla bobbed her head to the beats of Pet by A Perfect Circle, her body thrumming with heavy guitar and drums. Her whole body swayed in the seat of her boyfriend’s car as the rhythm flowed beneath her skin, tapping her boot clad feet on the floor. They had just come back from a concert and late night drinking with some of Carla’s friends who shared alcohol with them. Now they were nestled in Jude’s Mercedes on their way back to the hotel so they could sleep off their buzzes before they had to return to their respective worlds. Carla was simply enjoying her current situation.
Jude was loaded; she had lucked out in that department. He’d fallen hard for her at their school. Everything from her black tattered hoodies and fishnet stockings to her spandex mini-dresses with the plastic garters was something he wanted. Her pale skin and bottle black hair made her stand out among the pretty blondes his parents had wanted for him and her heavily pierced tongue, brow, and lip just basically tossed the middle finger to the general public. She had horrified Jude’s well-to-do parents and was responsible for the labret that he now had in his lip. She was a total freak and he was her devoted slave. While he got to feel her up whenever he wanted and she got to get whatever she wanted on his bank. She was seventeen and set until Jude grew tired of her and she doubted that would happen anytime soon. Her dad would hate her for doing a little gold digging, but it wasn’t like he was getting her what she wanted.
“Hey babe?” he said turning the radio down.”Whatcha wanna do now?”
She looked at him, absentmindedly playing with the barbell in her tongue. “It’s like three in the morning. Let’s go somewhere and play.”
“Hotel’s not too far. We can head back to the hotel.”
Carla bit her lip, her eyes playful. “Nah! I wanna do it somewhere fun! Somewhere we can get caught!”
“Who’s gonna catch us at three in the damn morning?”
“Awe, yeah,” she groaned. “Then let’s go to the park and christen the backseat!”
“Anything you want, babe.”
Damn right anything I want, she thought and turned the music backup.
The Mercedes sped on the black top road doing eighty in a sixty with no other cars to slow them down. They didn’t expect any to be on the road that late either. Three in the morning meant people were getting those last few precious hours of sleep before real life rained down on them and they had to muck off to work. Nobody but “dumb kids” like them were out and about doing drugs and messing around. No such thing as too late or too early, just a bunch of old fools who wanted everyone to be just as dead inside as they were. Carla reclined the seat back as the song changed and the melodious voice of Sharon den Adel resonated from the speakers. The Howling blew in heavy and she felt the weight of Jude’s hand on her thigh. His fingers toyed with her torn stockings before sliding under the frills of her skirt as they entered the short tunnel.
“We ain’t even there yet, Ju!” she said popping his hand.
“Just trying to get you warmed up.”
“I don’t need to warm up. Who took whose virginity?” she teased.
“Ha-ha-ha, real low, Carla.”
Though Jude’s eyes were on the road, he was concentrating more on their banter than on his surroundings. He didn’t notice until the last minute that the florescent lights overhead were going out until he was suddenly in pitch black with only the headlights going. He quickly switched the on the brights and slowed down the car while Carla turned down the music.
“What the hell happened?”
“Meh, power outage probably,” he said casually. “Emergency lights oughta kick in in a minute.”
Just as he said so, red dim lights lit up the darkness and dyed everything crimson. Both of them blew out a sigh of relief. Jude picked up speed again, pushing the car to get out of the tunnel as soon as possible. Carla figured it was just her nerves but this tunnel was stretching out a little longer than she remembered it being.
“We should’ve been outta here by now,” Jude murmured confirming her fears.
Carla swallowed trying to sooth the nerves that had twisted up in her stomach and she fiddled with the fringe of her slip. Jude turned the music back up in order to get some of that calm back. The symphonic metal took some of the edge off and both of the teens visibly relaxed. Jude leaned back against the seat allowing one of his hands to slide off the wheel and rest on top of his girlfriend’s hand. Carla glanced at his hand in surprised and rolled her eyes. She gave in and intertwined their fingers. Whatever made him feel secure, she guessed. Though she wouldn’t admit, even to herself, that holding his hand was soothing for her as well.
They both jumped and the car swerved hard before straightening out. Carla was deafened by the sudden sound of Jude’s screaming. His eyes were locked on the giant form that had attached itself to the window shield. Carla couldn’t even scream, her voice caught somewhere low in her throat. Her eyes widened as her mind was forced to comprehend just what she was seeing on their windshield. Teeth were the most prominent thing, teeth rowed and jagged like the garfish her daddy caught off the Neches in their old hometown. These rows of teeth were set into too wide mouth surrounded by a head that was a hive of bulbous cancerous growths and shifted and moved. Its skin, god, its skin was like worn tanned leather pressed against the shatter proof glass and it was like there just wasn’t enough of it to stretch across the twisted mangled thing that was its body. Carla still couldn’t scream, even as this…this thing did! It shrieked loud forcing her to cover her ears but she couldn’t look away from it. Her body rocked as the car began to jerk and Jude’s foot became lead on the accelerator. She still couldn’t scream. The too tight skin began to pull back showing more and more of the sharp angle of its skull and fierceness of its garfish teeth until they looked like long razors. From its mouth dripped dark brown saliva onto the glass in splattering drips. Carla felt something warm hit the side of her face and even through the swerving of the car her body managed to seize up. Her head turned to the driver seat not sure what she would see but terrified curiosity forcing her to look.
Jude was pinned back against the seat by some invisible force, his eyes becoming bulbous blobs in his skull. His skin was drawing itself back until it was barely stretched over his form and cracks and splits began to squirt blood over the dashboard, seats, and her. He was still screaming even though she still couldn’t. The thing beat at the glass, the brown liquid now covering the driver side of the windshield. Jude’s eyes suddenly burst all over the wheel. The vitreous humour leaked from the sockets and down his cheeks. He fell limply to the side onto Carla’s lap and the weight of his body finally clawed the scream from her throat.
The car finally lost control and spun in the tunnel. The creature had long since abandoned them and Carla tried to brace for the impact. In a screeching array of metal and leather, the Mercedes smashed into the tunnel wall and Carla’s head connected hard with the window. The metal door folded into her thin body crushing her insides. The car flipped and her crumpled body was ejected from the torn off door. She lay in broken heap on the black top pavement blood welling from her eyes, mouth, and nose. Somewhere in the confusion, she’d bitten her barbell off. Her vision was framed by black cloudiness but she could see those garfish teeth over her face. Careful how ya grab ‘em, her dad said in her memories. They can chew yer damn skin off if ya let ‘em! The mouth opened wide but she didn’t feel fear, or pain, or calm. She felt nothing when the teeth came down and the last thing she saw was salivating tongue and a dark cavern.
Police had blocked off the tunnel with the telltale yellow tape Some of them were trying to catch their breathes from having their breakfast escape them while others were lighting cigarette after cigarette. This was easily the worst car crash they’d ever seen. Neither occupant had been strapped in, underage drinking was evident, neither of them had any real identification and if they did, it was lost in the twisted metal and broken glass. The boy’s eyes had somehow come out of their sockets and his skin halfway torn from his body, but the girl…
No one’s resolve was strong enough to look at her any longer than it took to cover her. The girl lay at the mouth of the tunnel, fifteen feet from the actually crash. Her face had been ripped of most likely from the asphalt, her body was shattered and they were surprised that she wasn’t decapitated. Her stomach was sliced open probably by the flimsy door when she was thrown. They could reason out her injuries all day. They had to; otherwise the gruesomeness of it would overwhelm them. They could theorize a cause for every cut scrape and bruised piece of flesh. But none of them, none of them, could explain why the back of each of their skills appeared to be broken open and their brain was cleanly scraped out from their skulls. Some of them wondered if they had been strapped in would it have been as bad.