It’s a fast and furious week with so much going on here! (Manos interview, Canoe Cops, etc.) But here’s the BIGGEST news…
To celebrate, I’m posting the 2nd FREE installment of the Canoe Cops vs. the Mummy saga. If you’ve pledged $2 or more (per month) on Patreon, you already have access to this chapter and the next one as well. And there’s plenty more to come!
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And now, without further ado, we move from the prelude into Chapter 1 of our story…
THE INCIDENT ON THE CAUSEWAY
“The Thing in the Truck”
BUD COSTELLO – Truck Driver
I’m tellin’ ya, boss, it was not our fault.
“Ya gotta listen to Bud, boss. It coulda happened to anybody.”
Would you get away from the phone! He can’t listen to both of us at once.
“But I’m just tryin’ to tell him what happened.”
I can tell him what happened. You’re only going to foul things up, like you always do.
“But I’m tellin’ him, it wasn’t my fault!”
Lou’s right, boss. It wasn’t his fault, and it definitely wasn’t mine.
Well, yes… I was driving at the time… But if you’ll just listen… Like Lou said, it coulda happened to anybody.
“Anybody! There was this girl, see…”
Shut up, Lou. Let me tell this, before it gets all tangled.
So anyway, boss, the drive from New York to Chicago went without a hitch. We hit a little patch of rain around South Bend, but nothing we couldn’t handle—
Yes, we can handle quite a lot, for your information, thank you very much!
Well, if you didn’t think we could deal with a job like this, I don’t know why you hired us.
“There’s a labor shortage right now.”
Shut up, Lou. Yes, I know there’s a labor shortage right now, boss, but I’m telling you, we had no problem all the way from Brooklyn through Chicago.
Yes, I realize we were supposed to take the truck all the way to Minneapolis. But I’m trying to tell you what happened.
We were up in Wisconsin, heading toward Mukwanago—see?—driving the back roads, taking it nice and easy, just like you told us, avoiding any trouble. And it’s late, getting near midnight, because we got caught in Chicago traffic.
Yeah, the traffic in Chicago is always bad.
“It’s pretty dark in Wisconsin in the middle of the night, too.”
Shut up, Lou. He knows it’s dark at night.
Anyway, it’s pretty late, and we’re thinking, Lou and me, that maybe we should find a place to pull over and get some coffee before—you know—pushing on through to the end.
Yes, I know we never made it to the end. You don’t have to rub it in.
“It wasn’t our fault! There was this girl, see…”
Shut up about the girl. Let me tell this my own way.
No, it’s not that kind of girl, boss. See, Lou? I knew you’d mess this up. Just keep quiet and let me explain what happened.
So, we’re driving and we decide to check the map and find a place to stop. Well, of course Lou can’t find the map, because it’s not in the glove compartment, like it should be…
Then Lou remembers that he was checking it earlier, when we were in Chicago, and maybe he stashed it under his seat.
“That’s the first time we almost crashed.”
He’s exaggerating, boss. We didn’t nearly crash. Lou just had a hard time checking under his seat. It was all perfectly safe. Nothing unusual happened—
“Tell him about the girl.”
I’m getting to it! I’m getting to it!
No, boss, there was no girl in the cab with us.
“She was in the back, with the… the… other guy.”
Will you shut up and let me tell this story how it happened!
Anyway, boss… Are you still listening? So, it turns out the map wasn’t under Lou’s seat…
“And we didn’t almost crash because my foot got caught on the accelerator pedal, because I was crawlin’ around tryin’ to look for it.”
Yes, that didn’t happen.
Then Lou remembers, maybe he stashed the map behind his seat, after he used it.
“Just so I’d have it handy, y’ know?”
So, he’s looking behind his seat, and we hit a bump—
“That’s where we almost didn’t crash again.”
—We hit a bump, and Lou’s head gets caught between the seat and back wall of the cab, right next to the window into the rear compartment.
“And that’s when I heard the singin’!”
No, he didn’t say singing, boss; he heard some kind of a weird noise from the back.
“It was singin’.”
It was a weird noise—like maybe one of those big boxes had broken loose, or something.
We were gonna stop and check, but we’re in the middle of Wisconsin, and the road isn’t very good, and there’s no place to pull over.
So, we decide we’ll just push on to the next town—a place called Phantom Lake—because by now Lou’s got his head unstuck and found the map, which was in the glove compartment the whole time, after all.
“I’m not a very good searcher.”
You’re not very good at anything.
No, boss, I wasn’t talking to you.
So, we’re in the middle of nowhere, driving toward Phantom Lake, and the noise in the back just keeps getting louder and louder.
“It was singin’, I tell ya. The girl in the back was singin’!”
It wasn’t singing, and there was no girl! It was a regular, thrumming sound—
“Like a chant, then. With hoodoo drums, and—”
No, not like a chant. Like something had come loose and was bumping up against the sidewall of the rear compartment.
“With a good beat you could dance to.”
Will you shut up?
No, boss. He’s just letting his imagination run away with him. Like he always does.
So, this thumping is getting really loud, see? But there’s still no place to pull over, ’cause there’s a causeway up ahead, and past that, the road that leads into the town of Phantom Lake.
And I figure we can wait to stop until we get into town, because we need some coffee anyway, and maybe some gas for the last leg of the trip.
But, just in case, I ask Lou to slide open the window panel in the rear wall of the cab, and see if he can see what’s making all that racket in back. So he opens the panel…
“And that’s when I saw the girl!”
No, boss, I didn’t see her.
“It was a girl, I’m tellin’ ya! And she was all dressed up like she was goin’ to a costume party. She had a gold tiara with a snake on her head, and a golden necklace, and this flimsy nightgown-kinda thing, and…”
No, I didn’t see any of that, boss—but there was someone in the back, all right.
Because next thing I know, this arm comes stabbing through the window and tries to grab me!
“It wasn’t the girl’s arm; it was another arm, all covered in bandages, like an accident victim or… Or a mummy! It was the mummy’s hand!”
And Lou screams, and the arm’s grabbing me, and I’m twisting the wheel and trying to keep control…
But we’re on the causeway now, and the road’s not very wide…
“An’ that’s when we really do crash. Bud drives the truck right off the causeway. He didn’t mean to but… Zoom! Right off!”
No, I didn’t drive the truck off the causeway, that mummy—I mean, that maniac in the back made it impossible for me to control the truck, and that’s why it went off the causeway. It couldn’t be helped!
And before I know it—SPLASH!—the truck hits the water, and I black out. That’s the last thing I remember.
“I pulled him out. I opened the door, pulled both of us out, and swam to shore. An’ the water was freezin’, even though it’s the middle of summer. Lakes in Wisconsin sure are cold!”
Yeah, I guess Lou must have pulled me out, because next thing I know, I’m lying on the side of the causeway, soaking wet, watching the back end of the truck disappear into Phantom Lake.
Boss, I’m telling you, there was nothing we could do.
“At least, I saved your life. … Hey, Bud… I saved your life!”
Thanks, Lou. I really appreciate it. Just let me finish talking to the boss, here.
So, that’s how we wound up in the police station here in Phantom Lake, using their pay phone.
No, I didn’t want to call collect, but all our change was in the cab of the truck.
“And now it’s on the bottom of Phantom Lake.”
What do you mean, what really happened?
It all went down just like I told you!
The only thing I can figure is that somebody must have stowed away in the back of the truck when we were gassing up in Chicago.
No, I don’t know how anybody could have gotten in; the back compartment was locked—I checked it myself.
“They was ghosts, I tell you—walkin’ ghosts! They was mummies!”
You’ve got mummies on the brain! That’s the last time I let you read those horror comics while I’m driving!
No, not you, boss, I’m takin’ to Lou.
No, not now. Now I’m talking to you, boss.
No, I’m not feeding you a line of bull!
I’m telling you the truth—the whole truth. I swear to God.
“Bud’s right! It’s all true! Even the part about the half-naked lady and the mummy!”
Will you shut up about all that! Are you trying to get us into trouble here? We’re already in enough trouble, without you helping.
Anyway, boss, that’s all there is to it.
The truck’s in the lake—
“That little Egyptian guy ain’t gonna be too happy.”
—And that Egyptian guy’s boxes and luggage with it. All at the bottom of the lake.
What do you mean “And your jobs as well”? Are you saying that you’re firing us?
“Fired? That ain’t fair!”
Lou’s right! That’s not fair at all! We told you at the start that it wasn’t our fault!
And all you’ve got to do to prove it is to drag that truck up out of the bottom of Phantom Lake. That’ll show that there was a maniac in the back, and it was all his fault.
No, the police haven’t found any sign of the guy—’cause he’s at the bottom of the lake with the truck.
What do you mean the police told you they don’t think there was another guy?
All you’ve gotta do to back up my story is drag the truck out of the lake. How much can that cost? Our jobs have to be worth more than that.
What do you mean “insurance doesn’t cover acts of stupidity”?
All you’ve gotta do…
A cold day in where…?
Well, how do you like that? He hung up!
“You know that warm place the boss was talkin’ about just now, that he said we should go?”
Yeah. What about it?
“How far is that from Wisconsin?”
NEXT: The Mummy’s Ring