The radio isn’t working.
This isn’t the first time. This road trip is hell. Figuratively. I know I’m not actually in Hell. It doesn’t matter how much the scenery might resemble what I imagine Hell could look like. I know, because I’m not dead. Not yet.
But if a road trip could kill you, this would be it. I glance at barren fields and leafless trees jutting all over outside my car window. Everything here looks dead. It’s looked dead for the past few days. “Whose idea was this trip?” I vent. Everybody is quiet. They know I don’t really need an answer.
“Whose effing idea?” Jamie eventually choruses just to annoy the feck out of me.
“Yes, whose idea?” Arnie chuckles.
“Shut it. I’m not in the mood, you weirdos. Anyone notice how much the scenery looks like what Hell might?” I ask just to get the ball rolling.
“Yeah man, it sure does.” Arnie agrees as Jamie nods, not noticing that I can’t see him from where I’m sitting.
“Not quite what we planned, eh?”
Suddenly, the car lurches forward and comes to a sharp stop, the stench of gasoline filling my nostrils. Out of the corner of my eye I see something peculiar. It makes my heart jump up my throat in fear. I hear Arnie gasp from the seat behind me. Without warning, Jamie screams. The window beside him cracks open from some outside force and blood spurts everywhere. I’m splattered. I rub the blood from my eyes, glancing around. “What the fuck?”
Arnie lets a scream rip as he looks at Jamie from the other seat. A masked clown bearing a large and bloodied dagger is standing over the back seat of the car. Jamie sits clutching his hands at a huge gash in his throat. The cut is so deep he can’t even scream. Instead, he emits some kind of gurgling noises as the blood gushes out of his throat.
Arnie is beside himself with fear. He screams at me to start the car and move but shock has gripped me and I don’t move.
The clown discards his knife and takes a small shotgun from inside his pocket. He aims it first at Arnie, then at me and shoots. One bullet for each of us. Within seconds we lie there dead.
I never really believed all that shit about souls. But it’s true damnit.
I push the car into gear and speed away from the scene where we just died. We’d planned this road trip for years, fuck it. Somehow the car with our three bodies in it leaves the scene and lurches forward fast, a ghost of itself. As we speed on the scenery changes from the Hellish orange and red caked mud and barren trees to luscious greenery all around. We can smell the scent of blooming flowers. Pretty soon we have left that murdering asshole of a clown far behind. But Jamie still had a gash in his throat. Arnie and I still had bullet holes in our heads. “What the fuck is going on?”
In mere moments Hell became Heaven. And suddenly, the radio began to work.
Over the speakers, we heard some random guy issue a warning. “All person’s travelling on Highway Five, beware. There have been reports of criminal activity on that Highway. Don’t give lifts to strangers and watch out for some guy dressed as a clown.” Too little too late.
We ring in, let them know we already met the damn clown and now we’re dead. “That’s right, Highway Five.”
As we drive onwards, we hear Police sirens approaching the scene we have just left. I put the car in park and pull over. If we looked really hard, we could see the physical car we had left behind with our bloodied corpses sitting quietly inside.
The clown isn’t there anymore. The man behind the mask had stuffed his gun and dagger inside the car, along with his clown mask, when he heard the police sirens. As quickly as he could, he made the scene look as though the crime had been committed in the car by us. In the meantime, the now not so clown like man stood innocently by, in his dark wash jeans and black T-shirt. The inside of the car had taken most of the blood spill, so he didn’t have to worry about that. He shouted at the police car as it pulled up, waving nonchalantly as though he hadn’t just snuffed three men. He pretended to be in shock at the site of our mangled bodies. “Looks like some dude snuffed himself and his two friends,” he called out as the Police carefully and slowly staggered out of their car, guns at the ready.
“Hands in the air!” one of the policemen called out.
The ex-clown obliged him, holding up his hands in plain view. “I was just riding by,” he said, gesturing at the motorcycle parked a little way off. “That’s when I saw this,” he nodded at the car. “I stopped to see if they needed any help, that’s when I saw the blood.”
“Name?” Asked one of the cops.
“Okay man. Just stand over there while we inspect the car.” As he spoke, they edged closer to the crime scene, poking a flashlight through the windows. They clearly saw the bullet holes and the slit throat. Upon closer inspection they noticed the weapons and the reason they were there in the first place: the clown mask.
“Shit.” Cop One said to Cop Two. “Looks like we found the Clown Killer.”
“Wonder why he did himself after he was done?”
“Dunno man, better call for back up.”
“You, Harold. Was it like this when you came?”
“Yeah man, didn’t touch a damn thing.” Harold replied, trying to refrain from grinning. There would be time enough to kill again another day. Anyway, he had more masks at home – clowns, dogs, aliens, werewolves, bloody corpses, everything really. It was his thing.
“Okay well we’ll need to take a statement, but after that you’ll be free to go.”
“Thanks man,” Harold mumbled, feigning fear and disgust. “Do you think this is him? The guy they keep talking ’bout?”
“Yeah, we do, man. But which one of them, that’s the question. And why did he off himself as well?”
“Yeah, well maybe he felt remorse, you know?” Harold suggested.
The police men smirked at his inept answer, enjoying his lack of knowledge. Witnesses always thought that there was some humanity in the crimes they stumbled upon. The truth is there never is. But the policemen weren’t too bright either, this time round. They took his statement and his details and let the Clown Murderer walk.
Meanwhile, as we watch the scene unfold, we are left with only one option. We leave our mangled bodies behind us, letting them take the blame for the man who murdered us and is walking free. I drive the ghost car with our three ghost corpses, one of which is now wrongly a suspect, and drive onward through the beautiful green. The orange Hell behind us slowly fades until we can’t see it anymore. And we continue our road trip, driving onward. This bit wasn’t planned, but Heaven is better than Hell.