The truck driver couldn’t understand why people watched horror films. He also didn’t get why the self-driving truck took an odd route through the Southie projects. The place was dangerous and full of potholes. Not being able to drive was fine, but not being able to change the movies on the screen in front of the passenger seat was true Hell.
The guy who hired him paid triple for him just to sit and not touch anything. Weird guy. All these super-rich guys were twisted in some way. All of them control freaks. For the last 6 hours, the truck driver suffered through a collage of foreign horror films, a lot of them speaking in languages that he couldn’t understand. Most of it is just sacrifices and chanting. Without all the gore, it would just be some shitty art film one of the kids at the state college could have made.
The truck driver wished technology had stopped at radio. Everything was moving too fast except for this truck that always drove three miles below the speed limit. All this new tech did more harm than good, the phone being an extra eye, machines stealing jobs, it was a type of sorcery that had spread like a virus.
He felt like a ghost sitting in the passenger seat. It felt like a kind of death to not be driving but still be in a truck, and all these stupid horror movie shorts had him feeling depressed and thinking about life. Why couldn’t this rich asshole just have put on Everyone Loves Raymond instead of this Egyptian art-horror nonsense?
But Mark, the truck driver, wasn’t as stupid as he figured the rich guy thought he was. The drive probably wasn’t about a drive at all. The truck was going to an undisclosed location, but Mark figured it was some psychological study for the tech guy to see if working men can just sit still while horrific scenes in a strange language played over and over again. Monitoring him to see how long till he cracked.
He looked out into the dreary, run-down neighborhood and wondered if this was part of the experiment. Pump him full of horrific images and rituals and then have him drive through the Boston ghetto. He shook his head at the screen, showing an old wizard-looking man naked and terrified, while hooded figures drew symbols on him.
“Ah, what the hell, man,” Mark yelped at the screen. Figuring the tech guy could hear him, he added, “Y’all some sick bastards, but I’ll just turn away. I figured it out. You paid me well for your study. I can handle it. I sat through that Billie Eilish movie nonsense for my daughter, so I can sit through this bullshit. Money is going to her, so keep playing…”
The small flat screen on the window went blank and the truck slowed down. It spooked Mark, feeling like these self-driving trucks had a soul of their own, but the driver thought they were kind of like the high IQ dumbass college kids—brilliant but missing the basic knowledge a seasoned truck driver like him would have.
The tiny street the truck turned on was darker than the others. The traffic lights were out. The driver assumed the neighborhood was either too poor to keep them on or kids had thrown rocks at them, busting them out for fun. He could only see a few feet in front. There were some needles and trash on the street, but as the truck slowed down, he spotted some weird symbols that he recognized from previous art-horror movies.
The truck inched forward almost like it was trying to read the writing, until parking on top of the graffiti.
“What the fucking hell?” the truck driver pleaded. “You silicon stupid mother fuckers, are you kidding me!”
The driver hoped this was just a malfunction. The tech just shit the bed like he always figured it would. But something inside him, something that had evolved millions of years ago, said he needed to be scared and needed to protect himself.
Fear gripped him. Tech doesn’t malfunction anymore. It really doesn’t. This wasn’t a study at all. This was something else and then a worse thought came to him—this had to be a robbery— no other reason to stop in this shithole that is the South Boston projects than to stage a perfect robbery.
The driver kept his eyes peered through the window, expecting to see shadows coming out of walls. He was defenseless and he was nearing fifty-five, but no one came. Only darkness.
The screen turned back on and Mark jumped up as far his seatbelt would let him and screamed, “Oh Jesus!” as chills ran up his hairy arms.
Static buzzed before switching back to the naked wizard with the symbols. The voices echoed from the darkened hoods, chanting something that Mark thought was maybe Aramaic or some other arcane language that sounded as old as time.
Relief flooded his blood. This was some sadistic study by the tech guy and he had to admit, it was working. He was fucking scared. He was relieved that he wasn’t getting robbed but fear still gripped his body.
Whatever they were doing was working and he said, “Okay, I am scared. Alright, you can stop your study and have this car drive me to the nearest airport. I am done!”
But the ritual played on, the dark shadows of the hooded ones lifted knives and the wizard begged, not in words but in teary whimpers. They stabbed him in unison, repeating a chant in words that made Mark’s ears ring. Like the dying wizard, his breath stopped, and he heard a loud click in the back of the truck.
The blood dripped from the wizard’s body and the chant grew louder. Mark shook his head and said, “Fuck this, I’m out. Keep your fucking money!”
Mark reached hard for the door handle but it didn’t open harder. He lunged again for the driver’s door but it was stuck and he screamed, “Open the door! Open the fucking door!” Neither opened, but the connecting door to what was in the back of the truck began to slide open.
“That’s the wrong door! Not the attachment door’! The fucking car doors!” he ordered the cameras, even though he didn’t know where they even were.
The car doors stayed closed while the attachment door opened up all way. He hoped to see the back door open too but inside there was nothing but dirt and darkness. The dirt smelled putrid yet holy, like an old decrepit church containing something ancient, something made of spirit and dust. Something sinister.
Mark was done with these sick rich fucks experiment, prank, or maybe even a fetish. It wouldn’t shock him if that techie was jerking off while he was trapped in the car.
“I’m not going into that nasty ass dirt!” Mark screamed at the screen, lifting his leg up and kicking as hard as he could at the passenger window.
Pain shot up his old bum knee. The glass window didn’t even move. He felt a chill that wasn’t fear but the back-truck door lifting up. The wind blew the dirt to his face and he coughed. The smell was horrid but whatever was there was long past death.
He used to watch the show Fear Factor and figured this had to be a show for the rich tech guy. All he had to do was walk past the dirt and that would win the game. That would give him his freedom and maybe an early retirement. He could take a trip with his daughter—he could do anything as long as it wasn’t on another truck.
The first step forward was the toughest. The pain in his leg was worse than he thought. He could move it, though and could be feeling better probably from a six-pack instead of seeing a doctor. He was able to walk at least. He figured at least the dirt would be easy on his leg.
He tapped his good foot on the dirt and it was hard. It was rotting and felt like a coffin made of decaying tree roots. A shower and a beer would be Mark’s salvation after all this. He lifted his leg to make a dash but he couldn’t move.
Something that surpasses the high school science he learned was keeping him from moving until the invisible force pulled him toward it.
His heartbeat spoke to him so hard it struck his bowels like metal hooks.
The dirt or whatever was inside it was pulling him by his life force, and that included all of his organs and blood.
Maybe he had a soul and the dirt was calling it. Whatever he carried inside himself the dirt desired and needed it. An ancient hunger awakened inside of him called back to the dirt.
The dirt loosened and large holes appeared like an anthill ready to bring food to its Queen. The dirt siphoned down like a tornado to suck out the insides of Mark’s body. He screamed and convulsed as his stomach popped open and his organs and blood swam in cylinder-swirls to the center of the dirt.
The dirt gave way to a bandaged creature that observed Mark’s last moments with envy in his eyes. A large dusty bandaged hand lifted up into the air, letting the South Boston winds roll through its fingers before ripping out both of Mark’s fear filled eyes. Life was in him and all around him again, and death was the gift the mummy was ready to give.