You’ve been waiting for nearly two hours in the lounge of Tully’s Car Repair. You begin to lose patience when you remember all you gave Tully to go on was “it’s making a funny noise when I drive it” and diagnosing car trouble isn’t magic. You take a deep breath and another sip of free (read: terrible) coffee and try to relax.
A few moments later Tully’s considerable bulk squeezes through the shop door. He wipes his blackened hands on a shammy cloth as he walks, seeming to wince in slight pain every time he makes a pass over his fingers. There appear to be flecks of crimson in whatever he was working on, maybe transmission fluid or something. Shit, you think, I can’t afford transmission work right now.
Tully stops a few feet in front of you. “Found your noise-makers,” he says in a deep, gravelly voice. It is the voice of a man who took up smoking to have an excuse to stop working for ten minutes every hour, rough and tired.
“Noise-makers?” you parrot back to him, placing special emphasis on the s at the end. You didn’t expect to have multiple problems. Tully better not be trying to screw you.
“Best to just show you,” he replies, waving you on as he turns and walks back into the shop.
You stand and follow Tully into the work area. Your car sits in one of the bays with the hood up. You see soft green light bathing the underside of the hood and you can swear you hear your mother singing Rock-a-bye Baby.
“You hear that?” you ask Tully.
“Everyone hears something different when it’s goin’,” he says. He stops in front of the engine block and waves you on again. As you approach, he points to your air filter. “There’s your problems.”
You lay eyes on the air filter and are horrified to find it crawling with tiny, reptilian monsters. Their tiny bodies swarm over the filter. Occasionally they glare at you with over-sized yellow eyes and bare mouths full of needle-like teeth. You shudder violently.
“Yep. Lesser Japanese Gremlins,” Tully explains, sounding almost bored. “Common problem with the Hondas when you don’t renew the factory Wards of Protection.”
“What the hell? What are those things?”
“Oh, you know, minor servants of the Fallen One from a dead land of darkness in a time long forgot by the world of men.” He holds up his hand and you now see that the crimson you glanced earlier was blood. His fingers are covered in tiny bite marks. “Ornery little fuckers, too. That’s why we had to put the Gem of Mira, elder goddess of sleep and pacification up on the hood there,” he says, pointing to a green crystal duct-taped to the underside of your car’s hood, the source of the green light. “Gives out soft whispers that soothe the feeble minds of lesser monsters. I assume that’s what you were talking about earlier.”
Whether it’s your shock over the little demons in your engine block or your feeble mind, Tully’s implication sails over your head. “So, how does this get fixed?”
“Well, my warlock’s not in today, something about a ‘great disturbance’ or shit like that. Probably a great disturbance at the bar. Anyway, he’ll get in tomorrow to renew your Wards and cast the demons back into the foul pit from whence they came, then we can replace the air filter. Thing’s chewed to shit and ain’t gonna be no good.”
You stare at Tully and nod silently.
“Oh, and it looks like your fan belt might need to be replaced, too. Want to go ahead and do that?”
There it is, you think. You know your fan belt is just fine. Mechanics always try to make shit up to screw you out of a few extra dollars.