When it all came down to it, I told the assembled paramedics, I was happier this way. They asked me to continue my story through furrowed brows and practiced don’t-panic expressions. Of course I would, I said. Let’s be honest - I didn’t have anywhere else to be at the moment.
My story starts on a suburban boulevard just like any other. In fact, it’s just like yours. I had been working in the garage, power-polishing the beautiful cherry-red fenders of my immaculate PT Cruiser to a luscious, deep shine. It was my pride and joy, each aesthetic modification perfectly weighted, selected from the finest aisles of Canadian Tire.
I nursed a discontent for my job, though I would never be tempted to say it out loud and break the spell, realize the truth of my words, compel action from thought. Better for everyone that it remain calm, that I take pride in my hobbies, my attendance of the community association.
That night, I was stirred from my marital bed by strange thoughts, wishes breathed into my ear as if by a distant, ethereal lover. I had to drive, I realized, to clear my head. I did, my hands gripping the supple Napa leather of the Tweety Bird steering wheel cover, the fuzzy dice playing and replaying their silent dance of eternal companionship.
I first became aware of what was happening when I looked aside my car and saw a rabbit keeping pace with it. That’s odd, I thought, but clever of the little guy. Suddenly, I drove beneath a streetlight, illuminating the procession of terrified woodland animals following it. My stomach clenched in cold fear.
I looked up from the animals to my rear view mirrors, but all three only showed fire. Ravenous, terrifying liquid flames, rolling in languid waves across the street behind me, consuming all in its path. I pushed the gas harder, exceeding the speed limit for the first time in my life, knowing, deep within, it was essential.
That’s when I saw him.
Ringed in fire, the silhouette of what I can now reliably identify as a 1966 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser emerged. I caught the driver’s gaze in my wing mirror, but could see only a terrifying, empty whiteness I was lost within. I emerged from my torpor to see the paramedics, auditing the damages I had suffered as the PT Cruiser was destroyed around me.
“I’m sorry,” said the first paramedic, “you’ve been infected with automotive insanity.”
My wife, who had somehow been summoned in the ensuing chaos, broke into tears, weeping openly and loudly, giving way to a harsh braying as she ran out of breath and sank to her knees. I felt my hand moving to touch her shoulder, to comfort her, but it slid down her arm, onto her smartphone and opened Kijiji.