Couped by Lori R. Lopez

Couped by Lori R. Lopez
Couped by Lori R. Lopez

The dark coupe prowled like a jaguar.  Tinted windows concealed the driver, who only brought the car out at night to hunt.  During the day the coupe hunched dormant in a garage.  They were a team . . . a throbbing, growling, killing machine.

Most of the time they picked off random stragglers.  This evening was special.  A glorious flock of children roamed sidewalks and lanes, many of them unchaperoned.

A smile glinted in the rear-view mirror.  The Creeper’s tongue swept lips and chin.  Pallid facial tissue quivered with eagerness, anticipating the spoils.  Red eyes shifted from the mirror to a side window.  There.

Wet embarrassing noises erupted as if out of a deep cistern.  The gurgling subsided when the entity resumed its disguise:  an unremarkable identity named Sebastian Munn, bearded and chubby.  The creature grinned and chortled at the thought of the treats it would rake in like free candy on Halloween.  How ideal for a predator, this foolish tradition.  Kids were even more vulnerable than walking to and from school.

The vehicle matched pace with two figures — adolescents in horror garb, mimicking monsters, shuffling along a patch with no houses.  If they knew they were being targeted for prey, the punks would run screaming.  Delicious.  The Creeper’s tongue thrashed excitedly.  Then retracted as Sebastian Munn donned composure like a cloak to hide behind.

The car braked next to a curb, window lowering.  “Hey, kids!”

They halted, uncertain, zombified faces turning.

The driver’s door unlatched.  A pudgy form climbed out and straightened on an empty street.  “I’m lost.  Trying to find a party I was invited to.  I live in another city.  Could you point me the right direction?”  Sebastian had practiced the earnest tone, the nervous squeak that put people off-guard.

Faux monsters peered at him, deeming the masquerader harmless.  Normality was his costume.

“Sure.”  One of the kids smiled.  “Where you going?”

So trusting and innocent.  Children were the sweetest.

“Hastings Avenue.”

“It’s that way.”  The kid aimed a forefinger.

“I drove around and around.  I couldn’t find it.”

“That’s a cool car you got.”  The second boy ogled Sebastian’s black Matador.

“It’s a classic.  They don’t make these anymore.”

“She’s a beauty!”

“I’ll give you a ride if you show me to the address.”

The lads conferred.  The second boy marched over.  Sebastian scurried to open the passenger door.  “I have room for you both.”

“Come on, Sammy!”

Reluctant, the first boy crossed.  He crawled inside a skimpy backseat, while the first kid sat in front.  “This won’t take long, will it?  I don’t have permission to ride with strangers.”

“Not long at all.”  Sliding in, doors secured, the beast dropped the act and revealed itself.  The car’s interior transformed too, physically coalescing to serve as the beast’s abdominal cavity, absorbing fresh meat while The Creeper squealed with pleasure, tongue swinging avidly.  Once its feasting concluded, the monster humanized and drove a shiny red sports coupe home.

No, they didn’t make ’em like this anymore.

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