The Monstrous Hook-Headed Man
a short story.
Thomas and Sandra were trying to have sex in the backseat of Sandra’s mom’s Ford Pinto, but there wasn’t a lot of space and the floor was littered with empty water bottles that crackled when stepped on. The evening was uncomfortably warm and, while the two teenagers made out, the radio played a slow song from the 50s.
“How does this feel?” asked Thomas, kissing Sandra’s neck.
“Ack!” she said. “The door handle is digging into my ribs!”
He helped her adjust her position, then leaned down to seductively remove her sneaker.
“Owww! I think I pulled my back!” he cried. As the pain went up his spine, he slipped and fell. The empty water bottles on the floor let out a loud CRUNCH.
Sandra groaned and pulled out a cigarette. “This is impossible,” she said, lighting it.
“Aren’t you supposed to wait until after to smoke?” Thomas asked. “That’s how they do it in the movies.”
“Unless both of us immediately get a lot more flexible, there isn’t going to be an after.”
The song on the radio cut out, replaced by three loud beeps, then an announcement.
“This is an alert for all residents of Geary County. A man has escaped from Geary County Prison. He’s traveling on foot and considered to be extremely dangerous. Please remain inside your homes and lock all doors. If you see anyone suspicious, do not approach them! I repeat, do not approach them! The man is 6 feet tall and has a hook for a head.”
The old timey music resumed playing.
“Wait,” said Sandra. “Did that radio guy just say the escaped prisoner has a hook for a head? How is that anatomically possible?”
“I don’t know, but it sounds terrifying! We should go home. After we have sex.”
Sandra played with her cigarette. “Is the hook attached to the top of his head? Or maybe his head is a sort of fleshy hook with eyes and a mouth? That would be really weird. If he’s six feet tall, is that with or without the hook? I’m having a hard time picturing this.”
“My uncle knew a man who had a peg leg.”
“That is not the same thing and you know it.”
Suddenly a scraping sound came from the back of the car. Thomas gasped, covering his mouth with his hands. Sandra stared at him, eyes wide.
The scraping worked its way around to the side of the car.
“Did you lock the doors?” Thomas whispered.
The door handle began to jiggle. Sandra lunged across the tiny space, slamming the lock into place. She peered out the window, staring into the darkness of the night, afraid of what might look back at her. But all she saw was the outline of poplars, set against the starry sky.
After a moment of silence, the scraping started again, moving toward the front of the car.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” Thomas said.
“How do you think he’s doing that?” asked Sandra. “Do you think maybe the hook is growing out the side of his head? But then he’d have to be leaning way down to scrape the car with it.”
“Can you get into the front seat from here?”
“Not without getting out of the car.”
A loud cracking came from the left front end of the car. The night grew a little darker.
“Did he just take out the headlight? OMG, my mom is going to kill me,” said Sandra.
“She can’t kill you if we’re both already dead! Hurry, try pushing the front passenger seat down, so we can squeeze through.”
“You’re going to get stuck.”
“No, I’m not! This is going to work.”
“You’re definitely going to get stuck.”
Thomas ignored her, managing to push the seat forward enough to create a tiny gap. He dove through head first, only to find himself trapped at the halfway point. His legs flailed uselessly.
Outside, something scrambled up the side of the car.
“He’s on the roof!” said Sandra. “Maybe I can run out really fast and get in the front.”
“He’ll kill you!”
“Not if I’m really, really fast.”
“I’ve seen you play soccer at recess. You aren’t that fast.”
“Maybe I wasn’t adequately inspired.”
A loud bang came from above as the tip of a hook pierced through the roof of the car, narrowly missing Thomas’s head. Thomas and Sandra both screamed and Thomas began flailing even harder, trying to push himself through to the backseat.
“I guess that eliminates the fleshy hook head theory,” said Sandra.
“WE ARE GOING TO DIE!”
The hook disappeared, then came crashing through the roof again, coming within inches of Thomas’s head.
“Thomas!” said Sandra. “Next time the hook comes through, grab it! Grab it and don’t let go!”
Thomas looked sick, but nodded his head. “Okay.”
The hook disappeared. Thomas and Sandra anxiously watched the roof, waiting. Then, there it was again, crashing through. Thomas sprang into action, gripping with both hands.
“Do you have it?!” Sandra asked.
She unlocked the door and ran outside, slamming it behind her. Thomas was alone. Sweat began rolling down his face as he struggled to retain his hold on the hook. The man on the roof was ridiculously strong. He made a strange, growling sound.
“What is taking so long!” Thomas gasped.
Was Sandra dead? He started imagining all kinds of gruesome things as he wrestled to hold onto the hook.
Then the front driver’s side door flew open and Sandra jumped inside.
“Here we go!” she said, starting the engine.
As the car pulled forward, Thomas finally let go of the hook. Something tumbled across the top of the roof, then thudded onto the ground behind them as the two teenagers drove away.
They didn’t speak. A few miles later, once it seemed safe, Sandra pulled over to the side of the road and helped Thomas get himself unstuck from between the car seats.
It wasn’t until he was comfortably tucked into the passenger seat that he asked, “What took so long? When you were outside the car?”
“I wanted to know what a man with a hook for a head looked like.”
“We could have died and you stopped to look?”
Thomas crossed his arms. Sandra gave his knee a little pat before starting the car up again. She steered them safely along dark, country roads as the music on the radio continued to play.
“Well,” Thomas finally asked, “what did he look like?”
“It’s funny. We must have misheard the guy on the radio. I feel kind of silly about it. He didn’t have a hook head at all. It was just a dumb hook hand. You know, like in the urban legend?”
“Really? He didn’t have a hook head?”
Thomas looked out into the darkness of the night, imagining all the possible monsters that might be lurking there, waiting to devour any innocent happening to wander past.
“Well, that’s disappointing.”