The Last Ride

christine

Scene from the 1983 film “Christine.”

Lance and Karl Ellis and their girlfriends Brandi and Jennie had been disappointed after visiting Cross Castle near Clinton Road. No Satan worshipers, goat’s heads, or dead cats. Now they were racing north as the Jiles black pickup roared after them.

Jennie screamed hearing another shotgun blast but Lance turned the curve just in time and it missed.

“We never should have come out here, Karl.” In the backseat, Brandi hit his shoulder.

“Wait. Can’t see his headlights in the mirror. He’s gone.”

They’d sought one terror and a different one nearly killed them. Now they were safe. Then the restored 1958 Plymouth Fury lunged forward.

“Slow down. We’re okay.” Jennie put her hand on Lance’s shoulder.

“It’s not me. The car’s doing it by itself.”

“Knock if off.” Karl was laughing nervously.

Then the radio came on and the analog tuner cycled across the dial picking out different stations, “Hello…kidz…I…am…Christine.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps image and location and use them as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Clinton Road, West Milford, New Jersey which according to the description, has a “strange reputation.” I started with Wikipedia but decided not to use it since there is so much else on the web about this stretch of highway.

There’s a ton of info at Weird NJ about the Ghost Boy and Cross Castle, but I also found an interesting article about the Jiles Jones Phantom pick-up truck. I used the latter two legends in my wee tale.

Then, just for fun, I added a small element from Stephen King’s 1983 novel Christine.

Rather than me writing lengthy descriptions of all of this, click the links I’ve provided to learn more.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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38 thoughts on “The Last Ride

    • I’ve never read “Christine” nor seen the movie, but I used to read a lot of King as well back then. After a while, his novels all begin to read the same.

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  1. Tense storytelling. I like how you’ve woven in some of the legends of Clinton Road along with other elements of horror, adding your own twist. Your characters are in for it!

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  2. There were several 70s horror films that used this trope, I recall. The Car, Duel, and a couple others as well. Perhaps now that self-driving cars are becoming a reality we’ll see more stories like this. My favorite King story about evil anthropomorphic machines has got to be The Mangler.

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    • As I recall, “Duel” was a 1971 made-for-TV movie starring Dennis Weaver about the driver of an 18-wheeler relentlessly pursuing Weaver’s car across the desert. We never see the driver of the truck, amplifying the man vs. machine theme. On the Wikipedia page for the novel “Christine” is a list of other “haunted car” related stories, but they missed my grandson’s favorite, “The Haunted Car,” a Goosebumps novel heavily adapting “Christine” by R.L. Stine.

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  3. Most cool. I saw the flaming car and immediately thought about Christine. I enjoyed the way you worked that in. Clinton Road is scary enough without Stephen King’s creations jumping in. Did they end up seeing The Walking Dude?

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    • That would actually be hard while they’re inside her since if she crashes, she damages or destroys herself as well. Of course in Stephen King’s novel, the car was “self healing”.

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      • If you mean carbon monoxide poisoning, the car would have to figure out a way to divert the exhaust system into the car’s interior. As I recall from the book’s synopsis, it killed mainly by running people over. Still, given this is the supernatural, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. But then how does the car get rid of the bodies?

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      • I suppose she could park herself in a public place and make sure the doors were unlocked. People would find the bodies and remove them, then probably the police would impound the car. From there, she could do anything she wanted.

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      • Stephen King wrote that book thirty-five years ago. I doubt I could improve upon it, although as some of the others have said, there are a ton of strange legends about Clinton Road and they’re just begging to be written about.

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  4. Well done, James.
    I haven’t read the book not seen the movie (I’m a chicken and don’t do horror movies) and I liked your take.
    Methinks most of us went this route this week!

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