Short Story: The Thing in the Car Wash
It was such a nice day that I decided to get my car washed.
Radio turned up and with a smile on my face, I pulled into my favorite car wash.
“Hi, can I get the number two, please?” I asked the attendant, handing her my card.
“Yes, sir,” she said. She scanned my card and handed it back. “Here you go. Have a great day!”
I pulled up, joining the short line, and flipped through the radio stations trying to find a song I liked.
When it was my turn, I put the car in neutral, took my hands off the wheel, and leaned back to enjoy the few minutes of watching the moving parts brush up against my car to scrub it clean.
About halfway through the car wash I saw a figure standing behind one of the spinning brushes.
I didn’t pay him much attention, assuming it was a maintenance guy.
As I passed, however, what I saw sent chills up my spine.
It wasn’t necessarily a guy I saw, but some creature that looked similar to a man. It was tall and lanky.
We stared at each other as I passed.
After my car was washed, I ran back into the main office to find out if it was just some guy in a costume or something.
“Excuse me,” I started. “When I was going through the wash, I saw someone wearing a costume. It was really creepy and I’m not sure if you guys know that he’s in there.”
The woman behind the desk looked at me quizzically, unsure if I was being serious or not.
Staying professional, she picked up the phone and called the manager to come to the front.
A large man approached and asked, “Is everything alright, sir?”
I explained what I saw, and he said he’d go look.
A few minutes later he returned and said he didn’t see anyone in there. He also stated that due to insurance reasons, he couldn’t bring me back there to show me, but that he would keep an eye out in case someone was playing a joke.
Feeling like I had done all that I could, I thanked both of them and left.
Over the next week, I largely forgot about it, but when I needed to get my car washed again, it came back to me.
I felt as if I was being silly, so I waved it off the best I could, paid, and got back in line to get my car washed again.
As I passed the place where I had seen the person before, I was relieved when he wasn’t there again.
I immediately tensed up when I looked away from where he had been originally, and casually looked at the other side. There he was there staring at me again.
I didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t doing anything, just standing there staring at me, but I felt that it was a cruel joke to be hiding in there scaring people as they went through the car wash.
Afterwards, I went back into the office and once again told them what I saw. The manager was a little more irritated this time around but went to check anyways. He returned with the same report as before.
“Sir, I’m not sure what you’re see in there,” he said. “But there is no one in there, I promise.”
“I know what I saw,” I explained, exasperated.
“Sir, how about I comp your next car wash and if I’m here, I’ll ride with you if you’d like to see what’s going on,” he suggested.
‘That was actually a great idea’, I thought.
“Yes, sir. That would be great,” I said. “Thank you.”
Over the next week, every time I drove past the car wash, I took a moment to see if there was anybody sitting around the building wearing the costume.
I never saw anyone. Part of me just wanted to move on and even go to a different place, but the curious part of me needed to know who that was. It would also be nice if others didn’t think I was crazy.
I decided to give it one more chance, so the next time I came, the manager stayed true to his word and rode with me through the car wash.
‘Of course,’ I thought as we finished the car wash with no sighting.
When we went through, I had pointed out where I had seen the man standing, but he was nowhere in sight as we rode through.
As far as the manager was concerned, he had done his part.
I was at a loss for words. I apologized for wasting the manager’s time and left.
‘Maybe I’m seeing things,’ I thought as I drove home. ‘But why then am I only seeing him in the car wash?’
Frustrated, I decided that the next time my car needed to get washed, I was going to go somewhere else.
It was a couple of weeks before I was able to get to a car wash again and true to my intent, I went to another location.
I don’t know why, but even though I was at a different place, I felt that I was going to see that guy again.
As I went through, my eyes darted from side to side, expecting the man to pop out from behind each piece of equipment.
Not seeing him, I let out a sigh of relief each time I passed one of the brushes.
I hollered when I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw it was behind my car and had started climbing onto the trunk.
It was at this moment that I realized it wasn’t a man in a costume, but some creature that just looked partially like a man.
I quickly pushed the button to lock my doors, even though they were already locked.
The creature scampered onto the roof and I could hear the clank every time he moved.
I wanted to jump out of the car, but fear kept me inside. I knew I would just have to wait until I was out of the car wash to escape.
The creature seemed to stay on my roof the rest of ride through the wash. As I reached the end, I looked through the rear-view mirror to see if the creature jumped off, but if it did, I didn’t see it.
As soon as the car was out of the wash, I pulled over to the side and jumped out to see if I could see where it went.
It wasn’t on the roof of my car and when I spun around, looking for where it could have gone, there was no trace of it.
People around me looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. I barely paid attention to them though. I was at my wits end with these car washes.
It was at that moment that I wasn’t going to use a car wash anymore. I apparently was the only one seeing the creature and I was thinking I might be losing my mind.
Over the course of the rest of the summer, I washed my car at home and though it took a little more time, I didn’t see the creature again.
By the time it had gotten too cold to wash my car at all, I had all but forgotten about it. I chalked it up to having just been stressed at the time, though I don’t know what exactly I was stressed about.
Over time, as I drove past the car wash where I had seen the creature, I only gave it passing glance.
The following summer I decided that I would give the car washes another chance. I didn’t want to go to either of the ones that he had ‘seen’ the creature, but fortunately, there was no shortage of car washes in town.
‘Third times a charm,’ I thought as I paid the attendant and got in line.
The hairs on my arms rose as I started to go through the car wash, but I ignored it.
‘I’m being ridiculous,’ I thought, trying to calm myself down.
I took deep breaths as the car moved forward. I even closed my eyes.
I knew I was being silly, but even though it had been a year, the same fears rose in me again. I decided when I got home, I would go back to washing my own car again.
The sound of scratching on the roof made me open my eyes. I wished I hadn’t.
Sitting on the hood of my car staring at me was the creature.
I screamed, threw my car in drive and slammed on the gas.
My car lurched forward, going over the guiding wheels and making the whole car rattle.
It was at this time that I learned that car washes were not made to be driven through.
The creature screeched as I screamed, and the car joined in with its own sounds of pain as I drove over every obstacle in my way.
Fortunately, by the time I reached the end, the car in front of me had finished and seeing me coming, squealed out of the way.
Almost as if going through an invisible wall, as soon as I passed the outer doors of the car wash, the creature vanished.
No smoke, no fade. One second it was there screeching at me, the next it was gone, and the only sound was me still screaming.
I slammed on the brakes as a couple of employees came running.
I can’t even describe the looks on their faces. As far as they knew, a car had come barreling out of the car wash with the driver screaming.
Before they reached me, I regained my bearings and not wanting to have to explain, I quickly drove off.
They all became smaller as I drove away.
“That’s it,” I said out loud. “No more car washes.”
When I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine. My hands were shaking.
It was a good couple of hours before I was finally able to relax.
‘No phone call,’ I thought. ‘So at least nothing at the car wash was damaged and no one was looking for me.’
Out of sheer nervousness, I looked out my window half expecting the police to be pulling up.
They weren’t, but I did notice that my car still had suds on it, so with maybe another hour left of light, I went out to rinse off my car.
As I was rinsing, I thought I picked up some motion in the backseat. Cautiously, I peeked in.
It was empty.
Seeing the creature was making me paranoid.
I had only seen the creature at the car wash, and only four times. What concerned me was that each time, it had gotten closer and more aggressive.
The last two times I saw it, it had actually jumped onto my car.
I couldn’t understand why it would just vanish when I left the car wash, or why I was the only one that was seeing it.
After I rinsed off my car, I wiped it down and then went back inside to pour myself another drink. I had worked myself up again.
Something caught my eye outside the kitchen window as I put my wine glass in the sink. It was dark outside now, and with the inside light on, I couldn’t see outside very well.
I flipped off the inside light and strained to see if anything out of the ordinary was out there.
Around the bushes, I could have sworn there was something there, but I couldn’t be sure.
‘Enough is enough,’ I thought as I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.
I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling.
The wine was helping me doze off, but the image of the creature on my hood woke me back up every time I got close to sleep.
Finally, exhaustion took over and I could feel myself drift off.
And then I heard a scratching sound.
I didn’t want to open my eyes, but I knew I had to investigate.
I slowly opened my eyes to peek.
My scream was cut short as the creature, who had been crawling on my ceiling, dropped on top of me.
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Published on September 14, 2020 06:05 • Tags: original-story, short-story
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