(Bogle Nights by Andrew J. Müller)
It was a thick, cotton-wool, grey silence that enveloped him. The car had trundled to a halt at the bend in the road. It had been running quite smoothly and then everything had apparently switched off, the electrics, the engine, the lights, even the stereo and clock. He coasted the car to a halt in a lay-by that was probably intended - in sunnier weather - to be parking for sightseers so they could take photos of what was probably a staggering backdrop of Lakeland Fells. Today it was a backdrop of vague shadows in a thick, cold mist which had come down not long after he had left the A66 and turned up onto the mountain road.
For a moment he sat holding the steering wheel and feeling stupid. Then he snapped out of it, pulled on the handbrake and popped the bonnet of the car. He fished a torch from the glove-compartment and went around to look at the engine. Nothing looked obviously out of place, although he was no expert on cars, presumably something had gone awry somewhere deep in its innards. As he was inspecting the dipstick the light from his torch dimmed, flickered and then went out. A slate-grey coldness wafted across him. The fog seemed to absorb all sound, all light. No sound even came from the ubiquitous sheep, which were surely all around him in the mist. He slammed the bonnet lid down and sat on the car, wrapping his arms around himself and looking up and down the road. In the direction he had come from it went around a corner and then disappeared, he knew, into a deep river valley. It was at least five miles in that direction until you got to anything like civilization. So it would have to be forward. It was an awfully long way to Ambleside or Keswick he knew, but perhaps there was some small village tucked in one of these folds of land.
He retrieved his coat and a jumper from the boot and put them on. Then he started to trudge away from the car. In a matter of moments he had walked far enough so that when he turned he couldn't see it. He walked on for some while, fog in front of him, fog behind and nothing but a few metres of road in front and rocks to either side visible in any direction. Then there was a bright light from behind him.
He turned and saw the two distinctive glows of headlights approaching him from behind. Then through the thick mist the sound of an engine emerged. Relief flooded through him. He would be okay!
But as the car became visible through the fog his relief turned to concern and then fear. It was his car that was trundling towards him, swathed in a yellow glow from the halogen lamps through the thick cloud. He could see no one driving, in fact, the interior of the car was conspicuously dark.
The car was gaining speed. Then above the sounds of the cars engine he thought he could hear child-like giggling, light and tinkling but somehow sinister. The car was still gaining speed, it had started at a walking pace and was now hurtling towards him. He turned and started to run, irrationality pushing adrenalin around his blood stream. He rounded a sharp bend and saw the road twist away to the right, surely the car couldn't keep up that sort of speed on this road. He ran to where the road turned right and looked back. The car hurtled around the corner, and headed straight for him.
For a few seconds he was caught in the glow of the headlights like a startled rabbit, and then with the car only a couple of feet away he flung himself sideways to the ground. He heard the cars brakes screech on and then a metallic clang as it hit the roadside barrier. There was then a few moments of silence whilst the car was in mid-air before a serious of deafening crashes descended down the hillside with ever decreasing volume. It must have been a long way down, because the sounds continued for sometime. There was a whoomph' noise and the fog took on a red-orange tinge; the petrol tank had obviously gone up.
He picked himself up off the tarmac and looked at the raggedly broken barrier, and the long skid marks from the tires of his car. He had no idea what was happening, deep in his subconscious some race-memory fear stirred.
Silence descended once more, only the distant crackle of his burning car filtered up from deep in the valley. Then he heard it again, that light, tinkling giggle. He tried to see into the mist - tried to see what was making the noise.
Then something landed on his head and wrapped long spindly arms around his face. He tried frantically to tear it off, but it held on tight, small pointy claws digging into the skin on his forehead and cheek. It was furry, but slimy, and the long arms around his face felt scaly. Blood started to dribble from the points where the talons were digging deep into his skin. Panic took a hold once more and he started thrashing around, feeling the claws moving closer and closer to his eyes. Then his foot met soft crumbling limestone which dropped away, and with a startled scream he pitched off the hillside to follow his car down into the mist-shrouded valley.
The scream stopped suddenly and abruptly and silence fell once more - disturbed only by the light, delicate giggling and the patter of tiny feet making their way back over the hills into the misty mountain afternoon.
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