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Liam Wood

United States

Writer, musician, reader, sailor.

Message to Readers

I'm new here, so I'll take anything you give me! Thanks.

Klepto-Mobile

June 16, 2015

Stealing magic cars sounded like fun.  It wasn’t.

Stu leapt into a silver convertible, pressing the ignition button.  The cars were all modern, and all magical.  At least two of them had tried to melt his eyebrows in creative ways.  Stu had never seen such an angry llama.

Stu held the key fob close to the dashboard and tried the button again.  Nothing.  He had found the key near the garage door, so it had to fit something.  If it didn't... well, he couldn’t survive many more acid-spitting llamas.  He was lucky, however, that none of these ‘alarms’ had alarmed anyone but him.  He—

The convertible screamed.

The voice was too human— it was chilling, or disgusting, or just awkward.  Stu kicked open the door.  Convertibles were for slicked-back losers anyway.  This garage was too big to waste time stealing a car he didn’t like.

The convertible kept screaming as Stu squeezed himself into a coupe.  The doors blocked out a little noise, but he could feel the scream through his seat.  He searched for an ignition button, but this car had a key slot instead.  The fob wouldn’t work here.

The fob had a panic button.  If he pressed it, the matching car would sound its alarm— but he hadn’t discovered it until after he’d met the Security Llama.  Somehow, he didn’t think a magic car would react well to panic.  He left the button alone.

Stealing cars that could kill him, with a key that didn't work.  Whatever had forced him into this job— debt, depression, deep-dish pizza— could go meet a car alarm.

He grabbed the handle to leave the coupe.  Locked.  Great.  But the unlock button— all buttons— had disappeared.  So had the gas pedal.  Well, he wasn’t stealing this car.

The coupe lurched forward.  Too right he wasn’t stealing it— it was stealing him.  It began accelerating.  No buttons, no pedals, no car-tailored kryptonite to use.  The coupe smashed into a column as it turned.  This was a good time for panic.

Stu pressed the button.  The car stopped.

The world seemed dead for a moment as Stu peeled himself off the dashboard.  He couldn’t feel the convertible’s screaming.  Actually, none of the alarms in the garage were active.

That was an odd panic button; it only stopped the panic.  Stu pushed open the door— it was unlocked— and stood to examine the garage.  Nothing.  All the cars were still.

NO THEY WERE NOT.  Stu clamped his hands over his ears as the convertible gave a bloodcurdling scream louder than before.  The coupe smashed into a wall.  The llama bellowed.

This was panic.  He whirled to the next car.

Plastic.

Pink.

Two feet tall.

What was a toddler’s play cruiser, with stickers for radio and headlights, doing here?

It looked unmagical.  It didn’t need a key.  It had a plastic gearshift and a fake clutch, and Stu loved a stickshift.  He had to try.  He perched on the back of the seat, worming his feet toward the pedals.  Resting a toe on the clutch for security, he turned the plastic key.

How did a car this plastic make a sound that full?  It was choking on its own horsepower.  He slammed into first gear, inches from stalling as he pushed for second.  The car jumped forward, almost throwing him off.  This was it.  This was his car.

His shifts were tiny, but he could find the sweet spot for any stickshift, even this plastic beast.  The sticker speedometer said 12 mph.  Stu was at least three times that.  For stealing, scary fast was good fast.

Something caught his eye.  His mirror stickers showed the galloping llama keeping pace— no, gaining on him.  This llama had as much dedication as Stu.

Llamas in mirror are closer than they appear.  Stu glanced back.  Only ten feet away—well within acid-spitting range.  Ahead, the garage doors loomed, closed.  The llama would overtake him before he reached them.  In the mirror, its neck undulated unnaturally.

Prepare for spit.

Stu stomped on the brakes.  Exercising traction they couldn’t possess, the plastic tires scraped to a stop.  Stu ducked.

He had never achieved inner peace before, and might never again, but as hooves passed inches by his ear, it seemed possible.

Stu gunned the engine as the llama landed.  Acid flowed like dragonfire from the llama’s belly, striking the doors and melting a path.  The llama and Stu shot through.  Pirouetting on its hind hooves, the llama aimed at him.  He released the bucking gearshift long enough to hit the panic button.

The llama froze, impossibly off-balance.  The plastic mutant, unaffected, thundered through its legs and down the driveway.  Ahead, the driveway turned—

The steering locked.  The wheels skidded.  The throaty roar became an unhealthy whine.  Wrestling with the gearshift, Stu accidentally snapped it.  What was happening?  The pedals were plastic.  The engine was electric.  The brakes didn’t exist, and Stu coasted at 30 mph.

What a lovely fountain ahead.  Pity if someone were to impale themselves on Poseidon’s trident.

Stu extricated himself from the car, crouching on the seat.

This

might

hurt.

The car shattered on impact.  Stu jumped on impact.  Poseidon frowned on impact.  Stu considered apologizing on the way by, but before he could, he hit a swimming pool.

“Excuse you,” said a barechested man once Stu surfaced.  With his curly blonde hair, the man looked like the kind of llama that spit acid.

Stu pulled himself from the pool.  “You saw all that?”  His shoes were weeping.

“I thought you’d push the Piglet faster.”  Something in the man’s old South accent allowed him to own all those cars.  “Probably wise you didn’t.”

In the shallow end of the pool, a pink bumper floundered.  “Why did it stop?”

The man waved a key fob like Stu’s.  “Shuts down all the magic soon as I press it.  You needed shuttin’ down.”  He stood.  “Do you know why I hired you?”

“Laughs?”

“Almost.  Magicking a car is no fun without a way to test it.  I’m impressed with your work— I’d like to keep you here full-time.  If you want, go back and steal another one.  This time, I’ll make it spectacular.”

Stu turned toward the garage.  “Sir, you own a crazy world.”

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1 Comment
  • Jenneth LeeD

    I read this one to my brothers (hard thing to do when you're dyslexic) and struggled to get the story out without breaking up into uncontrollable laughter. I enjoyed this story way too much!


    over 2 years ago