Scouts, 1918

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They should have left it behind.

The auto was captured from the Germans when we pushed through the lines and seized hold of a supply depot.

I’m not sure where the Germans had gotten their hands on an English automobile, but I expressed my opinion that the vehicle should have been left alone.

A captain of the motorized scouts, however, disagreed. He arranged to have the damned thing dragged back to our own lines. Once there, he and his mechanics went over the machine to make sure it was in good running order. There were, the mechanics discovered, some modifications, but no one was exactly sure why they were done. Or, for that matter, how they were done.

In the end, the captain decided too much time had been wasted, and so he ordered a team of men to climb into the vehicle and take it for a test drive.

The men did so willingly, and soon they came back, laughing and cheering.

The auto, they declared, was the fastest they had ever been in.

After that statement, the captain was unbearable. He strode around with his chest out, and at every opportunity, he expressed how wise he was to bring the vehicle back.

On the following morning, one of the mechanics was cleaning out the interior when he discovered a small iron box bolted to the rear floor. He cleaned the grease off it and saw the word “Teufel” written in German. When the captain was informed of it, he laughed and shook his head.

A short time later, a party of four scouts piled into the vehicle.

One of the men in the back couldn’t quite get his feet comfortable, and he complained about the box. Finally, just to shut the man up, a mechanic handed him a wrench. While the other scouts ridiculed him for his sensitivities, the scout with the wrench swore at them and worked the box free.

Darkness sprang up around the vehicle, and a stinking, sulfurous cloud hung in the air.

It was gone within a heartbeat and the men and auto with it.

There wasn’t any sign they had ever existed.

As the stench slowly dissipated, I walked away.

The Germans, it seemed, had trapped a devil in the auto, and the scout had set it free.

It’s a pity it hadn’t been the captain.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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