The Wrecker Man
The twin yellow lines
glowed with intensity as they reflected light from the high-beams of the black station
wagon. Janice sat behind the wheel
navigating the vehicle along the winding, mountain road as Darius sat in the
passenger’s seat staring out into the inky woods which passed by in a blur.
“We’re officially in the fucking sticks.” Darius mumbled from the passenger seat, his eyes never wavering away from looking beyond the window.
Janice glanced over to her right after Darius broke the silence that seemed to last for far too long. Darius had his back to her but she could make out some of his scowl from the reflection in the passenger window.
“We should almost be at the end of this road according to the map. From there we can hit the interstate and fly right on up into Warwick.” Janice spoke timidly as she knew Darius was getting uneasy.
They were an official couple for five years now and already had a tradition of going up to New York State in October to take in a weekend of camping. Janice had an uncle that left her father a cabin when he passed away from stomach cancer at the age of thirty-five. His death shocked the family and her father never wanted anything to do with that cabin as it brought back too many tearful memories from when he and his brother were younger.
When October came around Janice would take the key off the hook that was screwed into the wall right by the kitchen light switch and head on up to the cabin for a weekend getaway. She never told anyone she was going, nor did she think anyone would give a shit anyway.
“None of this looks familiar; I think we’re fucking lost.” Speaking, Darius finally turned to look at Janice.
“How can you tell? It is pitch black out there and it has been over a year since we have been up this way. We aren’t lost.”
Truth be told, Janice knew they were lost.
“Look at you so high and mighty! I can tell by your voice you know we’re lost. We have been on this road for over twenty minutes; I don’t remember any of this from our past trips.”
“Oh, so you are saying you would remember all of this from last year Darius? Are you fucking kidding me?”
Adjusting himself in the passenger seat Darius turned to face Janice, the seatbelt making a light zipping sound as it brushed up against his nylon windbreaker.
He was about to snap back at Janice when he saw how beautiful her face was, the soft blue dashboard lights bringing out the softness in her skin and the playful sparkle in her eyes.
“Ok. If we are lost so be it. I don’t want to get into an argument with you. This is our weekend.”
Darius reached over and placed his hand on Janice’s thigh; giving it a gentle squeeze.
Janice smiled and looked over to Darius; locking eyes. She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. She gave him one more smile then looked back to the road.
“Oh shit!” Janice screamed and slammed on the breaks. Darius’ seat belt locked pinning him to his seat as the car’s tires shrieked against pavement.
The black station wagon fishtailed and skidded to a stop within an inch of the girl standing in the middle of the road, both feet on the yellow lines.
Thin, wispy smoke from the burning tire rubber passed through the headlight beams creating undulating shadows moving across the girl’s face. To Janice she looked like a ghost, standing right in front of them completely motionless; eyes staring straight ahead at nothing in particular.
“Jesus Christ!” Darius spoke out loudly as he clumsily fingered his seatbelt latch to unlock it.
The mechanism clicked and Darius threw it off his chest, opening the passenger door all in one motion.
“Darius!” Janice reached over to grab him before he could get out of the car but she was too slow.
Darius had been known to have a short temper and Janice did not want any trouble with this crazy girl standing in the middle of the road.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Darius yelled to the girl as he rounded the front of the car.
Darius stopped suddenly as he saw the girl was wearing a dirty, tattered dress that may have been a pale blue at one time, but now it was impossible to tell.
The dirty dress hung down to the girl’s ankles and danced on the slight October breeze, dried leaves and grass being pulled off of it as if the night wanted to claim them. But what made Darius stop so suddenly was the blood pooling at her bare feet.
Janice flung open her door and hesitantly ran to the front of the car. “Oh my God…”
Janice also stopped suddenly, bringing a hand to her mouth as she took in a disbelieving gasp.
Looking over the hood of the car Janice and Darius looked at each other then back to the girl who still stood completely motionless. She then blinked her eyes once and tried to speak but it came out as nothing more than a whisper; inaudible over the idling engine.
“Are you ok?”
Janice took a step towards the girl but froze when her head whipped around in Janice’s direction.
“Whoah!” Darius yelled out as he extended his hand in a gesture to calm the girl down.
Janice looked at the girl and felt troubled by her appearance. “I’m not going to hurt you. Are you ok, do you need help? We can take you to a hospital if you are hurt.”
The girl just looked at Janice as if she were in complete shock. Being this close to the girl Janice could see that her eyes seemed to be plastered open and the smell of blood hung in the air, redolent and unsavory.
“I don’t know about this Janice!” Darius spoke loud enough to be heard over the idling car and the now intensifying wind. “This is fucked up, something is wrong here. What happened to her? We are in the middle of nowhere! Where did she come from? How did she get here?”
“She is obviously hurt Darius, just look at her!” Janice started to regain her composure. “We can’t just leave her here.”
“Let’s just get her to the side of the road and drive a bit further down. Maybe there is a gas station or something and we can call for help.” Darius spoke nervously.
“We can’t do that, we have to take her with us.”
Janice averted her attention back from the way they had come; a thick fog was rolling in swallowing the road and the tree line on both sides. The wind picked up even more intensity, however the fog seemed undisturbed as it slowly slithered its way towards them.
Darius was about to shout once again at the girl but he turned his gaze in the direction they had come also once he saw the capricious look on Janice’s face. “What the fuck is that?”
“I…I don’t know. It looks like fog but not like any fog I have ever seen before.” As Janice spoke she tried to rub a fresh batch of goose bumps away.
Darius was still watching the fog roll in. “Me either. Come on, let’s get the girl into the car and get out of here.”
“Oh fuck, Darius!” Janice spoke in a panic, her eyes focused to the front of the car where a pool of blood coated the road and where a mysterious girl once stood.
“Forget it! I don’t like this one bit Janice, let’s just get in the car and get out of here.”
Simultaneously they ran back into the car and slammed their doors shut.
Darius was shaking his head in disbelief. “Where did she go?”
Janice was trying to regain her composure a bit as she looked over to Darius. “I have no idea she was standing right there. I saw her…I saw her vanish.”
“What the hell are you talking about, you saw her vanish? She ran away?” There was something about the girl he did not like, something that made the hairs on his arms stand up as if an electrical current was coursing through his body.
When he looked back the way they had come and saw the fog, his first impulse was to get the hell out of there. There was something not right about the fog as well. It was thick yes, but it did not move like fog should. The wind was strong, yet it had no effect on it.
“No, she didn’t run away. She vanished. I saw her disappear Darius.” Janice spoke with true fear in her voice, her eyes starting to glass over with raw emotion.
“You know, under different circumstances I wouldn’t believe you but …well let’s get the fuck out of here ok?”
Janice felt a bit better that Darius was scared as well, deep down it made her feel as if she weren’t really crazy. Darius was right, this was some weird shit going on and all she wanted to do at this point was haul ass out of there and leave it all behind.
Janice put her foot on the brake, pushed in the button on the shifter to put the car in drive but the car stalled out.
“No! It didn’t stall did it?” Darius could not believe it.
Janice turned the key in the ignition but not a sound came from the engine. “You have to be kidding me!”
She tried over and over but the car refused to start.
Janice gave up trying as she noticed a flickering of light in the rear-view mirror. It was very faint but it undulated as if it were a beacon pleading for her attention. Sitting in the passenger seat Darius noticed it as well and he spun around in his seat to look out the back window.
Within the thick fog that was seemingly swallowing the road and nearby tree line a yellow light throbbed. The light was as bizarre as the rest of the events that were unfolding and they both did not like it one bit.
The two of them sat in the car and quickly stole glances at one another then back the way they had come trying to comprehend what was actually going on. “Darius, I’m scared.” Janice spoke timidly while her eyes remained glued to the now unmoving fog. “What is that light?”
Darius looked puzzled as he studied the fog and the light coming from within. “I’m not sure. It almost looks like a light from a police car or…tow truck…maybe?”
As if on cue a gleaming red tow truck emerged from the fog coming to a stop with its chrome bumper directly at the fog’s edge. The truck sat there with its lone bubble light sitting atop the roof casting off the yellow radiance, its engine’s fine-tuned rumble sounding like a hungry beast.
Both Darius and Janice tried to make out who was driving, however between the fog and the crazy luminescence of the yellow light all they could see was the silhouette of a dark figure behind the wheel. Just then the truck began to creep forward.
The first impulse for Janice was to open her door and run although she was not quite sure why. An inner voice told her if she stayed in the car she would die; she believed it to her core.
“We have to get out of here!” Janice shouted as she pried at the latch on the door. There was no click, no feeling of the inner mechanism releasing, the door remained shut.
“Calm down! I agree this does not seem right but I don’t think there is a reason to lose our cool and panic!” Darius spoke in a tone where he did not even convince himself of what he was trying to portray to Janice.
“The fucking door isn’t opening Darius! It’s not locked, but its not fucking opening!”
“It has to be locked, unlock the doors! Mine isn’t opening either!” Darius was unsure of where his sudden dread went over the top but he had never wanted to get out of a car with more urgency then he did at that moment. “Unlock the fucking doors Janice!!”
“I already told you, they aren’t locked! They just aren’t opening!” Janice was now prying at the latch as she threw her shoulder into the door trying to get it open.
“Enough of this shit, do you have anything in here I can use to break the window, a screwdriver, a flashlight; anything?” Darius spoke in a panic as he nearly pulled the door off of the glove compartment. He clumsily fumbled through the storage space tossing out the car manual, registration and insurance card in the process.
The sound of a door squeaking stopped them from their actions. It was then that they noticed the deep rumble of the tow truck’s engine was much louder. They both slowly turned around to look behind them, their jaws dropped when they noticed the truck was within inches of their car, its driver’s door yawning open.
“Oh shit. Oh shit, where is he?” Janice’s lower lip began to quiver, her eyes glazing over in a fresh wave of tears.
“This is ridiculous! He probably thinks we are stuck here and wants to help. We are simply making each other fucking crazy Janice.” Within his head Darius was screaming at himself. Janice wasn’t stupid and neither was he. He knew they were in trouble but was merely trying to sugar coat it.
Trembling like mad, Janice turned back around in her seat. “I’m going to try to start it again!”
She turned the key in the ignition with no response. “God dammit, why won’t you just start?” She began to pummel the steering wheel with clenched fists. “Start motherfucker!”
Looking on, Darius began to reach over to try and calm Janice down when a figure appeared outside the back window illuminated in red from the taillights.
“Oh my God…” Darius spoke as his body tensed up with trepidation.
It was then he tried to break the passenger door window with his fist.
“Darius what are you doing?” Janice yelled as she was still trying to start the car. She then looked out the back window and let out a shrill scream that reminded Darius of a train whistle.
With each blow Darius dealt out, a fresh spatter of blood appeared on the window. He was lashing out with all his strength but the window held strong.
“It’s not fucking breaking!” Darius now shifted his body so his feet were in a better position to start kicking at the window.
Janice watched him in a delirious horror as to her it looked like he was peddling an invisible bicycle, his sneakers making a sickly squealing sound as they slipped when making contact with the blood on the glass.
“Look at him Janice, just look at him! He’s not right! He’s not fucking right!”
“Holy shit, did you see his eyes? Did you see his fucking eyes Darius?"
The man leaned over and pressed his face against the back window. Janice screamed, as the man’s face was a visage pulled directly out of her worst nightmares. She screamed again when he looked directly at her and smiled, teeth which resembled black licorice nibs gleaming within the red glow of the taillights.
There was a gut-wrenching thump, cracks raced in every direction across the rear window as the man pounded his fist again and again. On the fourth attempt the window imploded showering the inside of the car as if buckets of crushed ice had just overturned into the back seat.
Darius turned completely around and began to pummel the man with clenched fists as he began to slither his way into the car; each blow feeling like he was striking a brick wall. One particular fist connected solid with the man’s jaw, unhinging it so it the lower part of his face hung like a crooked picture on a wall.
“The door still won’t open Darius!” Janice screamed as her bladder let go, the instant warmth almost comforting.
“What the…motherfu…” Darius’ words were cut off as a hefty wrench struck him squarely in the center of his forehead.
The sickening crunch of shattering bone shook Janice from her frenzied tirade of trying to escape and she vomited onto the steering wheel.
When she looked over to Darius she saw the man yank the wrench free, chunks of bone and brain which hung from elastic strands of gore clung to the end of the shiny tool.
The man put the wrench back in the sheath clipped onto his belt and grimaced as he locked eyes with Janice. Janice remained still, frozen in complete terror.
When Janice first felt the man’s ice cold hands on her face she felt strangely refreshed. He then began to twist as if he were closing off a water spigot, the first tendon that snapped brought tears to Janice’s eyes and she passed out before her head was removed.
“So what do you say, want to go check it out this weekend or what?” Mark was always looking for something interesting to do and when he found this story online he was more than curious. So he shared what he had read with Vince.
The article was titled The Wrecker Man of Northern ‘Jersey. It went on about how a gas station owner named Harry Robart and his daughter Gabby were casualties of a hit and run on a winding mountain road in 1944.
Harry had come across a stranded driver who had driven off the road, the car partially getting stuck in a ditch. He hooked up a tow line to the rear bumper of the car and was operating the winch when the driver stepped on the gas.
The car flew out of the ditch in reverse and slammed into Harry, crushing his midsection between the two vehicles. Gabby was in the front seat, the impact caused her head to crash into the dash knocking her unconscious.
The man got out of the car to find Harry’s body doubled over and leaning on the trunk of his car, a river of crimson snaking its way out of his open mouth. He was dead.
Just about to get back in his car and leave the scene, he noticed Gabby in the oversized mirror which hung on the passenger door of the wrecker. She was starting to regain consciousness and spotted the man in the mirror.
She watched in the mirror as the man slowly approached and withdrew something from the back pocket of his pants. He opened the door and asked Gabby if she was alright. As she shook her head to reassure the man she would be ok the switchblade clicked open and he thrust it into her stomach.
The latter section of the article listed eyewitness accounts of seeing the apparitions of Harry and his daughter along with missing locals and tourists last seen in the general area, a local legend being born in the form of “The Wrecker Man”.
“Really? Come on, what kind of night would that be, looking for some dead guy and his dead daughter?” Vince was less than thrilled with the idea.
“Think about it! We can get Cynthia and Vicky to come along; we will be in the middle of nowhere. They will probably be scared…the possibilities are endless!” Mark’s enthusiasm had swayed Vince enough.
“Ok bro, let’s do this! What’s the worst that could happen…”