Shuddersome Shorts

Tales of Suspense and Terror


The first of four brief little musings -- variations on a theme. Namely: a ring that grants the user one very special wish.
And this week, one Roger Samuels, jiltted and bitter, decides to use the little trinket for a very special murder...


The Ring Quartet:
"Highway Homicide"

By "Terrible" Talbot Pratt

Roger Samuels shifted in the front seat of his Duster and eagerly scanned the highway ahead. He was parked on an off-ramp leading to the frantic Trans-Canada. His eyes were shot with red, as much from tears as from drink. Once more he passionately rubbed the ruby ring between his fingers and cursed.

Damn! What a hell of a night, he thought. A man works his butt off trying to support his family and what does he get for it? Shafted by his wife and best friend, that’s what! And with the kids in the house yet! It’s enough to make a guy sick! Hear me, Hugh? Sick!

Slowly his frown transformed into a ghastly grin.

Well, this is one guy who won’t take it, you hear? This time I’ll show you what I think of lousy, two-timing “friends”! You may impress Darlene with your fancy words and fat pay checks, but I'm going to make you pay the ultimate.

He held the ruby ring up to the light.

Best move I ever made, going to Mexico. That little Mexican guy said the ring was magic. Magic, he said! Of course Darlene thought it was a put-on for the tourists. But, what the hell, we said. It’s a souvenir. We didn’t even bother to take it out of the glove compartment when we got it home. But now…

He took a long draught from a bottle at his side,

…now I know differently. I can sense it. I was meant to have this ring -- to get even. “Body Exchange”. That was what he called it. Just hold the ring, and say the name, and presto chango!, “body exchange“. But, be warned, he had said. It only lasts a few hours. Then it’s back you go. Unless…

This time Roger laughed out loud.

….unless one of the bodies should perish. That was how he put it. Unless one of the bodies should perish. Well, Hugh, tonight you are definitely going to perish. Or I’m going to perish with you inside. I’m going to make it a big pile-up, Hugh. You’re going to spread from here to Vancouver. And, then…then, I’m going to make sure Darlene’s next little encounter with “you” has a few surprises.

Fiercely, he shifted gears and revved the engine. The highway was swollen with traffic. But, unfortunately, all the cars were small, flimsy vehicles. The sort of cars Darlene had always despised. The sort of cars he had always preferred. But, at the moment, he had to agree with her. Big was better. So patiently he waited. A Volkswagon, a Honda. Where were all the eighteen-wheelers when you needed them?

Then, he saw it. At first in the distance. Then closer, closer. A great thundering pick-up with huge bloated wheels and a raised chassis. Midnight black to match billowing clouds of smoke which rose from behind like the tail of a comet. This was it. This was the one. Like some massive chariot sent from hell. This was the escort to vengeance.

For a brief instance, he felt a slight pang of regret.

Not for Hugh, of course. But for the beautiful black juggernaut. It seemed a shame to destroy such a lovely creature with the lowly carcass of his Duster. But sometimes sacrifices had to be made.

Again he shifted gears and floored the accelerator. The tires screamed, then found traction, and catapulted him into the path of the great black pick-up. Slamming on the brakes in the middle of the highway, he held up the ring and shouted in a voice wavering with hysteria, “Hugh!!!”

There was a numbing chill. It was accomplished instantly. And Roger’s final thought as he ran headlong into the braked Duster in the middle of the highway was deceptively peaceful.

“Still trying to impress her, eh, Hugh?”

The End

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