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Fixing Ol' Ornery
by: myself

The old car had stopped working 7 years ago. The jeep was somewhat famous in town; nobody had been able to fix it. Ever. The owner, Sean Huidey, charged four bucks to any engineer or mechanic eager to try their hand at the contest. The first person to repair the car got $1000. And, of course, Ol' Ornery herself. Because the only way to claim the prize was to fix Ol' Ornery and drive her out of the abandoned wilderness Mr. Huidey called his backyard.

Jeff was the latest victim, er, sucker. I mean, the latest visitor. He had been feeling pretty confident, with his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, and his long past as a car lover. He was feeling pretty confident, that is, until he heard about the last guy. This dude wasn't heard from for almost three weeks after his attempt, until he was seen running butt-naked with a pack of wolves by the local hunter. Jeff wasn't from town, so he didn't have a friend to bring down. It used to be a grand spectacle, trying to fix that car, but the townsfolk had gotten bored with it after everyone failed. So nobody would go down to watch, not even Sean.

Jeff was ready. He walked from the motel down the dirt road to Mr. Huidey's front door. He forked over his four dollars, and they made the quarter mile trip to Ol' Ornery's resting place.

First, Jeff climbed into the car. He stroked the seats, muttering under his breath. Jeff had loved cars, every single kind, since he was 3. He leaned forward and took the keys out of his pocket. He messed with the ignition, but all he heard was a sound he hadn't heard before. It sounded kind of like the car was laughing. He tried a few more times, and the laughing changed into a choking sound. The problem was either just a lack of gas, which was far fetched, or something else under the hood.

As he was opening the hood, Jeff noticed that there was nothing to hold it up. The supports had probably fallen out. He spent almost 10 minutes looking for them around the car, under the car, in the backseat. Maybe they'd been stolen. So he carefully propped the hood open with a branched stick that had fallen out of one of the trees nearby. The stick was more than two inches thick, and still a bit green in the middle. When he pressed down on the hood, the stick barely bent at all. It should be more than sturdy enough, as long as it stayed balanced. He placed it close to the joint, where it pushed the hood open the widest.

Then he began to work. He checked belts, replacing a few as he went, but he couldn't find where that weird noise was coming from. He dipped into the oil, but came up dry. No, wait. There was a tiny bit of oil at the bottom. Just to make sure, Jeff snipped a line to see if it was dry. Suddenly, Jeff's face was splattered in oil. And just as suddenly, the soakage stopped and left a bewildered Jeff wondering where all that oil came from.

He ignored all the liquids from then on, and started concentrating on the engine itself. It seemed to be in good shape. That's odd. And even weirder, the battery still has a huge charge left in it...

Careful not to touch it, Jeff hovered over the exposed battery terminals, eyeing it and wondering why nobody had noticed the 7-year-old charge. Suddenly, Jeff heard a crack. And then that weird noise…

Jeff awoke in a white room, with a white lady and red flowers next to his bed. His head was hurting something awful, but even worse was his face. It was burnt, burnt badly, and he could hardly open his mouth to ask what happened.

“Just relax Hon. You were found by Sean Huidey’s back door, with your face all burnt and your head bleeding. Mr. Huidey says last time he saw you, you were looking at that nasty old jeep. Is that true?”

“Yeah, but how’d I get-”

“Well, we looked around, and there were definitely some burn spots on the ground. But we can’t figure out how it happened.”

“There was a stick, and oil, and the battery! I used a stick to hold the hood, a real big stick, but I got oil on my face. So much oil.” Jeff sat up a little. “And the battery had huge power, real big power, and the stick broke and my face caught fire and-”

The nurse pushed him back down gently, and said, “Hon, there was no stick. We know, we looked for something that could have bashed your head like that. And that car was dry, no oil or battery. It’s more than seven years old, Hon!”

The nurse smiled gently and left to get the doctor because the patient’s heart rate was going up too much. “You just be a dear, and keep calm. Keep calm and try to rest.” The nurse thought pityingly, that nasty ol’ Ornery had taken another victim.

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