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Spoofs & Satire

The Backseat Killer

A maniac is chasing an innocent woman. She gets home and runs to her house, just as the pursuing car screeches in to the driveway. How will it end?

It’s become a TMN Halloween tradition to give a well-known horror story to our writers, and ask them to complete it with a blood-curdling ending all their own. Here is our 2007 edition, the innocent story of a woman driving home, pursued by a manic driver who may or may not have news of an axe-wielding murderer in her back seat.
 

The Beginning

Doris lived out in the country. Late one evening, after a night in town with friends, she got in her car and started home. Because it was so late, and she had to get up early the next morning, she decided to take a shortcut home, along a little-traveled highway.

For a few miles, hers was the only car on the road. Then she noticed a pair of headlights in her rearview mirror. As she continued driving, she noticed the headlights were getting closer and closer, until the other car was almost touching her bumper. The other car began honking and flashing its brights. Scared, Doris sped up. The other car did so too, then changed lanes and started to pass her, but then suddenly braked and swerved behind her bumper, where the driver began honking again.

Doris’s house was off the next exit. She waited until the last second, then jerked the wheel, making the exit and trying to lose the other car. But the other driver was still there, and followed her all the way home, continuing to honk and flash its lights. With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…
 

The End by Sarah Hepola

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…

…yelled out the window, in a Southern twang, “Hey y’all got ciggies?”

Two cherubic children were screaming in the back seat. Holding hands. Shielding their eyes. Holding teddy bears. Sucking their thumbs. Somehow they did all these things, while still letting the brand-names on their clothes show.

“Britney Spears?” said Doris, unbelieving. In high school, Doris had done a drill team routine to “Slave 4 U.” “What are you doing here?”

“Y’all got ciggies?” asked Britney, getting out of the car and coming close enough that Doris could smell the rotten cabbage stink on her breath. Britney was wearing a dress that somehow exposed her shaved vagina, her ass dimples, and the cavernous hole in her soul.

Maybe it was the monotone in which she spoke. Maybe it was the beetle crawling out of her ear.Doris looked around her. She was the only one there. Her heart was hammering, and Doris thought about running, but Britney Spears had been her idol. In seventh grade, Doris learned all the dance steps to “Baby One More Time” and performed them at a talent show, where she came in second only to an exchange student from Bangkok, who played Rachmaninoff on the xylophone.

“I have to tell you something,” Doris began, hand fluttering to her chest. “I love your music.”

There was a squishing sound as Britney moved toward her, like a foot in mud. Something was wrong. This wasn’t the Britney Spears Doris had known and loved as a child. Maybe it was the monotone in which she spoke. Maybe it was the beetle crawling out of her ear.

“Y’all know that movie Back to the Future?” asked Britney, inching closer. She didn’t look at Doris, but almost through her. “Do you think that’s real? Time, travel, space?”

The doors of Doris’s car locked behind her. She turned and yanked on the front door, but it wouldn’t budge. Doris slapped her hand against the window, hard, because that seemed like a good idea somehow, and her hand stung and reddened. “Britney Spears, I love you, please don’t kill me!” she howled.

The last thing Doris heard was the sickening pop of Britney Spears biting into her brain. Later, Britney Spears lit up a fattie, bought ciggies at the store, and was photographed shopping barefoot near Rodeo Drive.



The End by Anthony Doerr

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…

…shambled across the yard and climbed her porch stairs. He looked maybe 90 years old, in wingtips and a ragged suit, and eyed her with suspicion. Doris—portly, dressed in beige sackcloth, fond of ponies—picked up the jack o’ lantern beside her doormat. “Hey! Mister! Don’t come closer!”

“Long as a day without bread,” the old man was muttering. “Low as a snake’s belt buckle.”

He kept on, tottering straight for her, so Doris pitched the pumpkin. The old man should have crumpled; instead the big gourd sailed right through—right through!—his chest and Doris crossed her arms in front of her face as the codger continued on through her, passing through her arms and then her entire body and on through the front door of the house. His Buick sat on the lawn with its door open and the engine running and its chime sounding over and over out into the night.

This was a problem. Doris held her hands against her face; her nose was there, her chin, her molars. It all felt real.

The trees loomed around her house. The Buick chimed. My ponies, thought Doris, my friends, why the fuck do I live in the country?

In days to come the old man wandered the rooms of Doris’s house and drove on mysterious errands at incredibly high speeds in his Buick and three separate times he passed right through Doris while she stood in the kitchen, leaving her cold and damp and strangely titillated.

And so the weeks went by: Big old Doris with her pudgy knees and nine or ten coffee cakes stashed in the cupboards. She had her questions: Could the Buick, too, drive through walls? And if the man’s hands and body passed through material objects, why didn’t his feet sink through the floorboards? Why didn’t he eat? And why did she have the urge every once in a while to envelop the geezer in a bear hug and take a bite out of him?

Sure, her ghost was 90, and insubstantial, but he gave her dubious looks, and spoke in those striking similes.The old man and the ghost Buick came and went as they pleased, the man occasionally peering at Doris’ big body disinterestedly, as if looking through her, or watching someone else in her place, watching her undress, murmuring ridiculous and old-fashioned similes: “You’re dry as a London newspaper,” or “Heavy as a boarding house dumpling, aren’t you?”

“What did you say?” she’d shout, but the man didn’t listen, didn’t attend, and sometimes Doris would swing a saucepan right through the surface of his head, or pitch boiling water at him from a coffee mug. He never flinched.

Doris lived another year, eating scones by the fistful and sneaking in McMuffins around 10 a.m. and fewer and fewer “friends” invited her to town, and she grew bigger and bigger and became accustomed to living with the old ghost who’d sit on her toilet and she’d come and sit right down on top of him and take a dump right through his diaphanous lap.

She lost her job, stopped driving anywhere except bakery outlets. Sure, her ghost was 90, and insubstantial, but he gave her dubious looks, and spoke in those striking similes (“tender as the inside of an eyelid”; “horny as a camel’s knee”) and puttered around outside the bathroom while she showered, keeping her a kind of company. It was love of the permanently unconsummated kind; she felt badly for him, trapped as he was in his inconsequentiality, but she also envied him his purposefulness, his freedom from the slavery of appetite, and the way he drove his Buick so outrageously fast.

Until the day that Doris could take it no more: no friends, no job, a steadily expanding waistline and no end in sight, no ponies, and no prospect of ever getting any, and so she flung herself off the roof in the hopes of consummation, the old man standing on the gable beside her and the wind did not move a single one of his hairs. “Fly like a cloud,” the old man said, as he watched her go, “like a thought, like a bullet, like a feather, like a dream.”



The End by Clay Risen

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…

…said, “Wow. Well. Awkward!” as he was getting out of his car. There was something not right about him: camouflage pants, faux-hawk, and a popped collar on his polo, over which he wore a “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt. Doris stood, confused, and still a little scared.

“I guess you thought I was following you home,” he said, walking up to her. She noticed he was wearing a yellow rubber wristband on his left arm. They shook hands. The wristband said “namaste.”

“Me, honking, driving all over the place, flashing my lights, you, like ‘Ohmygodhescomingtokillme!’” As he spoke, his hands flew in erratic circles in front of his face. “Ex-squeeze me—that’s my phone,” he said, leering at her. “I set it on vibrate.” He unclipped his MotoRazr from its holster and flipped it open with an operatic swipe. “Yellow!”

It started to rain, small drops. One landed on Doris’s nose. The guy kept talking, oblivious to her, the driveway, the cars, the rain. “Oh no she dih-ent!”

She turned to go inside.

“Management consulting… Bluetooth… Cabo…”He cleared his throat. “Look, I gotta call you back. I’m in the middle of something. Audi five kay!” Turning to Doris, he said, “Now, where were we, sugar-tits? Oh, right, so like, there I am, gabbing away with Donnie, and, he’s telling me about his bachelor party in Vegas, and I’m laughing so hard I can’t steer straight, and I keep hitting the high beams, and the horn, and suddenly I end up in your driveway! I mean, what a cliché!”

Then Doris realized what had bothered her about him. She had never met a real douchebag before. Oh sure, she’d heard tales of them as a child, and even seen a sketch about them on Saturday Night Live. Which made her think… Was this just a douchebag, or somebody doing an SNL impression? If so, that would make him an even more terrifying, bigger douchebag than she’d originally feared.

He yabbered on, something about how, this one time, he almost got a stripper to come home with him. “Bottle service… Late Night Shots…”

If I just walk away quietly, maybe he won’t notice, thought Doris.

Once safely inside, she peeked through the lace doily that hung over her front door window. He was still there. “Management consulting… Bluetooth… Cabo…”

The next morning was the first day of school, and Doris had a room full of third graders to corral. Unfortunately, when she walked out the door at 6:30, she also had a douchebag blocking her driveway.

He was standing in the same spot, looking a little haggard. Still mumbling. “Bolivian marching powder… state school? Ewww… body shots…”

Doris put her bag in the car. “Excuse me, could you please leave? I have to get to work.”

He didn’t answer. “Tony Robbins… And can you believe I’m still single?…”

She tried pushing him, lightly, then harder, but he stayed rooted, eyes fixed, like a broken toy. Then it hit her. “OK, people! Last call! Don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”

“Woo!” he shouted, turning to her. “I am so wasted! Hey, whaddya say we go back to my place. I’ve got a bar full of Absolut, we can do some late night shots of our own!” he said as he got in his car.

“OK, baby,” Doris said. “I’ll follow you, big boy.”

“All-righty then!” He pulled out and drove toward the highway.

She waited a few minutes, then drove the other way. “Wow,” she said. “What a douchebag.”



The End by Kevin Guilfoile

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…

…yelled, “Wait! Miss! Wait!” He was running from his car at a full sprint, practically gliding over the gravel drive. “I just wanted to tell you that your infant car seat has been recalled! When improperly installed this particular brand of seat can cause serious damage or death even in a minor accident. Please go to the manufacturer’s website for more information on how to obtain a free metal latch that will permanently repair the flaw. Recalled units should not be returned to the retailer.”

Struck dumb and still frightened from the chase, Doris nodded her thanks and the man returned to his Volvo wagon and sped away.

The next day while buying salty snacks at the grocery store, Doris recounted the harrowing story to a checkout clerk, whose nametag read BETTY. When Doris finished, Betty’s hands were shaking. “Was this on route 41?”

“Why, yes,” Doris said.

“Between Lafayette Road and Hampton Boulevard?”

“How did you know?”

“It was on that very stretch of road, five years ago last night, that an official with the Consumer Products Safety Commission was ironically killed when his Volvo was rear-ended by an old Ford Pinto.”

A shiver crept up Doris’s spine.

It was 10 years ago today that Betty, a Giant Eagle checkout clerk who frequently used the word ironic when she really meant coincidental, was killed.That afternoon while playing cards, Doris told the story again to the members of her Bridge club, this time adding the information provided by the sales clerk.

Lois, her partner, suddenly went white in the face and asked, “Was this checkout clerk named Betty?”

“Why yes!”

“Over at the Giant Eagle?”

“Yes!”

“Lane 7?”

“Yes!”

Lois said, “It was 10 years ago today that Betty, a Giant Eagle checkout clerk who frequently used the word ironic when she really meant coincidental, was killed in that very lane of the store when a plastic bag spontaneously combusted and took flight, catching on her hairnet and either incinerating her or smothering her. There was not enough of her body left to tell which happened first.”

Eloise, who was playing to Doris’s west, said, “That’s not true, Lois.”

Lois nodded somberly. “Yes, it is.”

Doris said, “No it isn’t, Lois. That girl’s name was Velma. And you bludgeoned her to death with a hammer over expired peanut butter coupons. And the anniversary isn’t until next week.”

“Really?”

“Sure. Betty’s no ghost. We do water aerobics on Tuesdays.”

Everyone laughed and went back to their cards and Lois quietly put the hammer back in her purse.

For one more week.



The End by Matthew Baldwin

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car…

Afraid to glance over her shoulder, Doris ran full-bore to her front door. She heard the engine of the second vehicle die, a car door open.

The tip of Doris’s house key tic-tic-ticed around the doorknob as she desperately sought the keyhole. Suddenly, wracked by a spasm of fear, the keys tumbled from her hand and landed on the doormat.

Behind her, footsteps approached. She knew now that escape was impossible. A hand grasped her on the shoulder, and, as if in a thrall, Doris slowly turned around to face her assailant.

She like left entirely without like even saying goodbye or anything.“Oh like hi!” said her friend Melissa. “I was going to my house but I thought I’d just you know stop here real quick and fill you in on all the drama. So like after you and I left Palmer’s tonight Janet and Carol and Robin were still there? And who walks into the bar but Carter, who you know just like broken up with Jesse last week, right? So he comes like right up to the table and starts talking to Carol, which is like bad news because you know Janet has been crushing on him since like forever? And it’s not like they do anything or anything, just you know chatting a bit, but I guess he didn’t even say hi to Janet, which to me means he must like her, right? Because why else wouldn’t he say nothing to her? But I guess Janet took it a different way because after Carter left she started being super nasty to Carol like saying she was fat and stuff, and Janet just sort of took it, because you know Janet? And I guess that just got Carol madder because she like started screaming at Janet and then had like a meltdown because she started crying and said she had to go to the bathroom but didn’t really go to the bathroom she like left entirely without like even saying goodbye or anything? Like oh my God can you even believe it?”

“How?” asked Doris. “You must have left Palmer’s just after I did—your car was behind me the nearly whole way home. How can you possibly know these things?”

“Oh, you know,” said Melissa. “Robin like called me while I was heading home and gave me the scoop? I was talking to her on my cell phone … while driving!!”



The End by Jessica Francis Kane

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car, just as the other driver…

…called out, “Doris! Wait. You said I could stay with you!”

“I did?” Doris couldn’t see the other driver, but she recognized her mother’s voice. “But I didn’t know you were coming.”

“If you ever checked your messages, you would have.”

Doris always checked her messages, but was accustomed to her mother misunderstanding her.

“Do you have any baggage?” Doris asked.

“Of course,” her mother said, but then drifted into the house carrying nothing.

Doris settled her in the blue room. The room had only a small blue vase to give it this name, but Doris had picked up from her mother, among other things, the habit of naming rooms for colors.

“Thank you for the flowers,” her mother said.

Doris had picked up from her mother, among other things, the habit of naming rooms for colors.There were none in the vase. Doris was very tired and thought maybe she’d had too much wine. She rubbed her eyes and hoped things would be clearer in the morning.

“Mom, I have to leave early, but let’s spend the afternoon together. Things will be easier.”

“Maybe,” her mother said.

Doris fell asleep that night happy that her mother had come to visit. When she woke in the morning, she ran to the blue room but found the bed smooth and empty. Feeling a little queasy, she made a pot of coffee and called home. Her mother answered.

“Doris! What a coincidence,” she said. “Last night I bought you a nice blue bedspread!”

Doris didn’t know what to say.

“Don’t you want it?” her mother asked. “For your blue room?”

Knowing she would never be able to express enough excitement about the bedspread to make her mother happy, Doris told her she already had one. Then she walked to the blue room, picked up the blue vase, and threw it in the garbage.

“What was that?” her mother asked.

“Nothing,” Doris said. “Just a bad connection.”



The End by Eric Feezell

With the other car still in pursuit, Doris pulled into the driveway, yanked her keys out of the ignition, and jumped out of the car…

Her first instinct was to run. Ruuun, Doris. Ruuuuuuun! But then she had a second instinct, which was to turn around and see who this bozo was. Not surprisingly, it was Stan Melewski, the mail clerk from her offices at Inteletron. He had a thing for Doris and sometimes frequented the bar she and her more friendly co-workers went to on Friday nights. The guy was a total douche bag.

“Jesus Christ, Stan! What the fuck?!” Doris now realized she was shaking with fear. Last time Stan followed her home, he’d loitered in her driveway and forced her to make small talk for damn near a half an hour. What would it be this time? Forty-five minutes?

“Uh, hi, Doris.” Stan’s voice was nasally, with a kind of robotic inflection that made you want to mutilate yourself. Doris antipathized him, but never could summon the cold courage to tell him to go blow a goat. She knew one day she would snap—it was inevitable given Stan’s propensity for annoyance. But she fought the ever-building urge and made an effort to be civil.

“What is it, Stan?”

“You, uh, you left your purse on the bar at Wally’s Place.” He held up the item in question, a maroon number with shiny silver buckles that sparkled in the headlights of Stan’s 1988 Nissan Sentra. “I tried to catch you on the way to your car, but you’d already taken off.”

Sweet Christ, she had opened the floodgates! She had to cut him off.“Stan! You must be crazier than a shithouse rat driving after me like that!” Doris took the opportunity to lay into him, more for fun than anything else. “I thought you were some psychotic murderer trying to chase me down or drive me off the road into a ditch and rape me. You can’t go around doing shit like that. It is not cool, OK?”

She could tell Stan felt bad about it, and suddenly regretted her invective.

“I know,” he clamored. “I just figured, you know, it’s got your license and stuff. Could be a pretty bad ticket if you got pulled over…”

Now Doris felt horrible. It actually had been a thoughtful, albeit misguided, gesture on Stan’s part.

“Okay,” Doris acquiesced. “Thanks, Stan. Very considerate of you.” He handed her the bag and took a step back, averting his glance shyly, as puppy love often compels one to do.

“You know,” Stan began, “there’s some—”

Sweet Christ, she had opened the floodgates! She had to cut him off.

“Good night, Stan. I’m tired. I’m going to bed now.” Doris turned and began toward the porch. As an afterthought, she turned back around toward Stan. “Thanks again,” she managed with sincerity, then turned and shut the door.

“There’s some dude in the backseat of your car with a meat cleaver,” Stan muttered inaudibly as he climbed angrily into his car and slammed the door.
 

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers