If it had been just me I would have been willing to believe that the whole ride was just some sort of nightmarish hallucination. But it wasn’t just me. Alyson and Mitra stepped into the taxi with me. And they both remember the exact same thing.
It was last Saturday. We were at the birthday party of one of Alyson’s high school friends. Mitra, Alyson’s little sister, tagged along just because she happened to be in town. I think she mostly came along because she knew some of the guys that would be around.
The party went into the early morning hours. A few minutes after 2am I called the taxi. The agent told us a car would arrive within less than ten minutes.
Standing at the side of the road the first raindrops hit our heads. Alyson fled under my coat with a squeaking noise and Mitra, an honest third wheel, looked on with a confusion of disgust, jealousy and amusement.
We saw the taxi moving around the corner. It seemed unusually slow but else the car looked alright. We flagged the car down, squeezed on the back seat and told the driver the address to our apartment. Without a word he began driving.
The first minutes seemed normal. There was a certain tension in the air, something that kept us from talking among each other. I figured the driver was just tired and uninterested in idle and repetitive conversation – still his silence and his stiff focus on driving made my hands turn cold.
He kept driving slowly. But worse was that his tiredness seemed to impact his reaction time – every curve was taken just a moment too late. Each time his hands lingered on the steering wheel for a moment longer than they should have.
The car came to a halt at a red light. His brake was a bit too late and too harsh. At least we didn’t drive into the crossing. I realized that I had no idea where we were.
I, sitting right behind the driver and with Alyson to my right, knocked on the thin plastic wall that separated him from us.
“Hey,” I said. “Are you okay?”
“Sir, are you okay?”
“Maybe deaf,” whispered Alyson. She giggled.
Mitra just shrugged.
I knocked harder and finally he moved. It was a jerking motion, as if my knock had startled him. Still he did not turn around.
“Hey,” I said. “Are you sure you can drive?”
His reaction was nearly inaudible. A faint groaning noise that I took as a yes.
Alyson giggled. Mitra gestured towards the door.
“Sir,” I said. “I think we are good here. We will stay here, thank you. How much is it.”
The red light turned orange. The motor howled loudly and the car started moving.
“Hey! We want to get out!”
It was as if he didn’t hear me. The car kept accelerating. Within a few seconds we were at least going twice the speed limit. Alyson, Mitra and I were screaming. My fists were pounding against the plastic. He ignored us.
The car didn’t slow down even once. Despite all the curves seemingly taken far too late, despite the narrow roads and the traffic, the car didn’t slow down even once.
I tried to push my hand through the payment hole. The plastic cut into my arm and I kept pushing forward but my arm got stuck in a painful position.
“Stop!” I screamed. “Why don’t you stop?!”
Within less than five minutes we were out of town. I hadn’t realized that we were so near to the outskirts already. It was as if he had planned it all along, to bring us outside town, probably to rob or at least blackmail us.
Mitra was the one creative enough to pull her phone out. She called the emergency number but somehow her phone didn’t get connection. With my phone we had more luck – the connection was there. I heard the dial tone. Then there was just white noise.
I screamed our plight into the phone, hoping that someone would hear us. All the while the car, if anything, kept going faster and faster.
Houses I didn’t know flew past. Finally they gave way to a sparse forest. Still at high speed we turned off the street onto a dirt pathway without a sign. The tires were screeching; we were thrown from one side to the other on the back seat; at one point the car even felt as if it would topple over at any moment. The driver stayed perfectly calm. We couldn’t see his face but he seemed perfectly composed.
The dirt pathway went on and on. The speed decreased slightly. We passed parked cars, some with their doors open. Some had smashed windows. The trees to both sides of the pathway stood closer and closer; barely any light seemed to pass between them.
Then the clearing opened up. A wide clearing with cars parked at several spots. Cars – and people standing between them. People that began to run towards us.
The taxi brushed against another parked taxi; the brakes screeched. The car slid sidewards, turned nearly 180° and then came to a sudden halt.
The people ran towards us. Alyson was the one that pressed the door locks down.
We were screaming and staring at the running figures.
I screamed “Fucking drive.” Only then I looked at him again. Saw that the driver had turned around. Saw that there was no face except for a horizontal red cleft where his eyes should have been. The cleft seemed to be opening further.
A figure slammed against Mitra’s door. She screamed. Alyson screamed. I screamed.
The driver began hammering against the plastic that separated us and him.
A figure appeared at my window. He – if I can call it that – pulled the door handle and luckily failed. Despite his lack of a face he seemed angry. His whole body seemed to teem with rage.
Another figure jumped on the roof. The driver’s fists pounded harder and harder.
The cleft of the figure outside my window widened. Black stumps showed. With his hands still on the door handle he leaned backwards. His arms arms were shaking. With a loud metallic sound he flew backwards and to the ground. The door handle was still in his hands but not anymore attached to the car.
The plastic in front of me cracked. The driver kept punching against it. I saw black pieces falling off his equally black hands.
There were at least twenty of them. Maybe thirty. More seemed to be coming out from between the trees.
A figure jumped against the front window. Another bodychecked the passenger door next to Mitra. A figure at the back of the car pressed her cleft onto the back window while her hands pounded against the glass.
A piece of plastic flew against my face. The car jerked slightly forward. Alyson screamed louder. His completely black hand had pushed through the plastic and was grabbing for Alyson’s face.
It was just a reflex. With all these things around, all I wanted was to get him off Alyson. I grabbed the cold black arm and twisted it. A loud crack. The driver’s second hand slammed against the plastic.
A figure to my left started punching my window with the broken door handle.
I pushed the arm forward, back towards the driver. His red cleft shivered, then was pressed together. His hand twitched and bent to try and grab my hand.
Some hard object hit the front window. I pushed his arm harder. Black pieces got stuck on the broken plastic but his arm moved. It moved backwards and pushed his body away from us. The motor roared.
Within just a moment the car started moving. The driver seemed more furious, his second hand hitting ever harder against the plastic. The glass to my left was broken. A few fingers were pushed through the hole; they were grabbing towards me. Something jumped on the back of the car.
The taxi slowly accelerated. It was as if his leg was stuck on the gas and my pushing pushed his foot down slightly.
More figures rammed against the sides of the car. The hole in the window to my left widened, nearly the whole hand came through.
I pushed harder against the arm. With a ripping sound his arm moved further back to his side of the plastic. His hand grabbed mine and I grabbed his. His cleft stretched larger and widened again; his second hand tried to push through the hole.
The car sped up. Another figure jumped on the hood and swung backwards to hit the front window with a stone. Just when his arm swung forward he slipped and only scratched the glass.
The driver made a huffing noise. His hand clawed into mine; I felt his nails digging deep in my flesh but I held his arm in place.
The car accelerated further, nearly towards the pathway where we had come from. Some of the figures to our sides stumbled, the others fell behind.
There was nothing I could have done to stop the crash.
The car went onto the path. The figure on the hood was grasping to all sides to stay on the car. The driver’s second hand cracked another part of the plastic. Mitra screamed and Alyson ducked down.
The taxi hit the tree with considerable speed. The figure on the hood of the car hissed loudly. A black goo splashed over the front window. My head was thrown against the plastic.
“Out!” screamed Mitra.
She pushed the door open and Alyson was right behind her. The pain was horrible. I was disoriented, I didn’t remember why I needed to hurry. My vision was partially gone.
“Get out!” shouted a female voice. Somehow I managed to open the door. Someone pulled me outside.
“Come on! Come on!” said a voice.
They pulled me forward.
We passed another car.
Somehow my feet began to move.
I heard something running towards us.
“This one!” shouted a female voice.
I saw Alyson open the door to another car. The car’s windows were all smashed.
“We have to run,” I said.
Mitra pushed me on the back seat and climbed in after me. Alyson was in the front.
The footsteps behind us grew louder.
The motor stalled. Alyson cursed. It stalled a second time.
Something moved in the forest to our right.
I heard the motor jump on.
Mitra screamed “Hurry!”
The car hit something, then rolled over something.
I turned towards the back window. Two figures were running after the car. I saw the driver climbing out of the taxi. His cleft was wide open.
The last thing I remember is a high-pitched noise.
I woke up to the sound of sirens. I was lying and something held me down. There was a man’s back right above my head and the ground was swinging.
Mitra came with me to the hospital. Alyson was held at the station.
The car in which we escaped, and its driver, had been missing for several months. Alyson said the police didn’t take her report very seriously, still they sent two cars to look for the forest. Somehow the description Alyson gave was not enough.
Alyson later came to the hospital. They said that we would be investigated for stealing a car and that the police would ask me questions about my head wound.
The police never questioned me. They called Alyson and Mitra for another round of questioning while I was still at the hospital.
I was released two days ago. That same day there was a small article on the front page of our local newspaper.
“Police officers still missing.”
The story in that article is very different. Two officers examining a drug ring disappeared in one of the large local forests. Neither they nor their car was found.
As said, I would be more than willing to believe this was all just some hallucination. But Alyson and Mitra remember the exact same thing.