by Eric J. Krause
I'd had the car a few weeks before I dug in and gave it a deep examination. There was a rattle in the trunk that drove me nuts. The previous owner warned me about it, and assured me his mechanic said it was nothing to worry about. I'd tried to ignore it, but the harder I tried, the more it bothered me.
The problem was it didn't happen every time. On some trips it'd go all day without so much as a tink. My hopes would rise, thinking I was finally rid of the cursed noise, but mere blocks from home, it would clatter around, reminding me of its presence. And, of course, other times it wouldn't shut up the entire time I drove.
I'm not a car guy. Hell, I'm lucky I don't screw up trips to the gas station. But if the mechanic wasn't worried about the rattle, it probably wasn't a car problem. Not really. A bit of exploring could lead even a car knowledge idiot like me to it.
I opened the trunk and lifted the panel that formed the floorboard and covered the spare tire. It couldn't be coming from the spare itself, since both the previous owner and the mechanic would've figured that out. Just to make sure, I put my weight on the bumper and bounced a bit. Nope. No rattle.
I unscrewed the spare and lifted it out. Something down there had to hold the answer. Maybe the previous owner hadn't bothered to give it much of a look. And the mechanic likely just checked to make sure the car was safe, not what actually caused the mysterious noise.
Nothing looked out of the ordinary, or at least from what I considered ordinary to be. I ran my hand around the sides of the spare tire well, and bingo! Some sort of latch. It was hidden so secretively that I still couldn't see it even when I knew where to look.
I opened the tiny door, expecting a ball bearing or loose nut or something to fall out, but that wasn't it. Instead, a shimmering cloud of silver vapor floated out. I stepped back, not sure if it was toxic or not. It hovered above the bumper for a second, then solidified.
I gasped. It was a tiny, green-skinned man, no bigger than a silver dollar. It looked up at me, its eyes glowing neon pink. "Thanks," it said, its voice raspy and squeaky all at once. "They trapped me in there so I couldn't feed on the engine, wires, or fluids. And we gremlins need plenty to eat." With that, he leapt off the bumper and bounced up into the exhaust pipe, never to be seen again.
And that, my friends, is why my car is such a piece of shit.