Random Synapse Misfire, Vol. One
A light September fog was rolling in off of the Hatteras Inlet, oozing up and swallowing the few cars that waited to board the last ferry of the night from Ocracoke to Hatteras. The crew was busy prepping the boat, a noble workhorse christened as Frisco, for the midnight crossing.
There were just four vehicles waiting to emplane: a black SUV, a small and sporty red convertible, a beat to shit pickup truck of indiscriminate color, and a silver Crown Victoria. The combination of the late hour and the onset of fall had conspired to whittle down the typically heavy traffic for the crossing.
The night was clear, save for the eerie fog that had lurched up from the still surface of the dark water. There was a light breeze coming in from the East but no clouds overhead, just a bright moon accompanied by countless twinkling stars.
Boarding began at 12:01 AM, each vehicle was guided to a specific spot by the crew. Two minutes later the ferry was on its way, cutting a swath through the moonlit water as people began to exit their vehicles and walk around the deck.
A completely average-looking middle-aged couple emerged from the SUV and made their way to the upper level to get a better view of the silvery night. Out of the pickup stepped a young man wearing a Carolina Hurricanes T-shirt, a scraggly mustache fighting to take hold on his upper lip.
The convertible, top down, held two occupants. The driver was a balding man with greying temples who appeared to be in his mid to late forties. His companion was a woman maybe half his age with thick blonde hair. She was encased in a red dress that both matched the car’s color and pressed her breasts up nearly to her neck. Resting on her chest between them was a pendant, its stone a near-perfect match to her dazzling green eyes.
The young man from the truck walked past the ragtop, stealing a not-so-subtle glance at the blonde’s cleavage as he moved towards the rear of the boat. She noticed and flashed him a coy smile, which caused his face to get hot and flushed. He scurried on his way as her companion prattled on about a real estate deal that he was about to close.
Watching all of this in silence was the driver of the large sedan, a bearded man in his mid-thirties. He sat, bathed in the faint green glow of the instrument panel, puffing on an electronic cigarette as the kid stumbled past on his way towards the rear of the boat. He exhaled a plume of vapor as he turned his head to look out at the dark water, wholly unaware of the crewman standing by his door.
“Sir, there’s no smoking on board.”
The man turned in his seat, startled by the unexpected sound. The crewman pointed to the ecig and shook his head.
“It’s electronic, vapor,” the man in the car said.
“No tobacco use is permitted by law on board any ferry that is in service in the state of North Carolina,” the crewman replied.
The man in the car cracked a small, sardonic grin.
“And you don’t find that just a little ironic?”
The crewman said nothing, though he looked at the man disapprovingly. It was the sort of look that a mother would give a child on the verge of a tantrum.
“Okay, okay,” the man said, holding his left hand up in a gesture of acquiescence as he laid the device on the seat next to him with his right.
The crewman turned to walk away, yelling something indistinct to the young man from the pickup truck.
The bearded man reached to open his door and exit his car when a blinding flash filled the air. The arrival of the brilliant flare seemed to slow time down to a crawl, or at least his perception of it. He saw the crewman who had just reprimanded him, his body inundated by what looked like white fire. Blazing tendrils grew out of the mass, licking wildly at the air around him, seeming to search for another body to assail.
The crewman lurched towards the sedan, reaching a hand out in a desperate attempt to gain some type of relief. Inside, the bearded man crawled away, his ass dragging across the front bench seat until his back slammed into the passenger door. The stricken man pressed his forehead against the window gently, barely making contact with the glass. As he raised his eyes to look inside, the lights in the instrument panel began to flicker. The radio, which had been off, turned on, its volume fluctuating up and down wildly as it scanned through the AM band.
The crewman had not opened his mouth but the words had been there clear as day. They had come through the speakers in the car, cutting through the radio static. The hazard lights began flashing, the horn blaring between flickers. The bearded man noticed that there were small streams of light, the same light that permeated the crewman, creeping through the air vent to the left of the steering wheel. They were growing, spreading like ivy across the dashboard. That scared him, but not as much as what he saw when he looked back outside.
The crewman’s eyes were vibrating, jiggling like small sacks of Jell-O that were pulsing with an electric current. The blood vessels in his face and neck were lit up like Christmas lights, his blood seeming to glow an intense and dazzling white.
The static was interrupted again, though not by a cry for help. A piercing scream erupted from the car’s speakers, blowing them out one by one. The bearded man curled up, cowering against the passenger door with his hands pressed tightly against his ears. The coils of light inched closer and closer, frying the radio head unit as they crept past. As they crossed the midpoint of the dash they began to graze at the soles of his shoes, filling the cab with the odor of burned rubber.
“Hey, we need help out here!”
It was the kid from the truck.
The crewman whipped around, turning to face the source of the voice. As he did so, the electric roots receded from the dash of the car, retreating into the vents and out of sight.
“You okay man?” the kid asked, seemingly oblivious to the astonishing situation that was unfolding before him.
The crewman—or whatever force was controlling his body—threw his arms out to his side, his head tilting up towards the stars. A moment later he fell to his knees and unleashed a scream that seemed to come from every direction as it filled the air. The blonde in the convertible covered her ears as she buried her face in her escort’s chest.
Just as his howl reached its peak, the crewman’s eyes bulged and burst, beams of energy exploding outward from the newly emptied sockets, striking the young man in his torso and shooting him up into the air. He reached a height of approximately 50 feet, at which time his body swelled and exploded with a loud and sickening pop. Sparks and entrails rained down in a grotesque mockery of a Fourth of July celebration.
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Random Synapse Misfire, Vol. Two
“What the hell?”
Carol turned, concerned at his tone. “What’s wrong?”
“That old truck’s gone.”