When I was living in Bristol, south-west England for a while in the 1980s I often used to walk home very late at night. One time, I was on my way down Fishponds Road, a long avenue made up of stores and town houses. As it was the early hours of a weekday morning, no one was around, and there were very few cars passing by.

As usual, I was enjoying the walk, which provided comparative solitude in a busy city. But then a car came along that I didn’t like the look of. It exuded a balefulness, an all pervading evil. When it came alongside me, it slowed down to a crawl and started shadowing me, which was unnerving to say the least.

The car was an American muscle machine. I didn’t take in what the model was. But it was clear the car was in need of repair. The front fender was hanging off on one side, there were dents in the hood and trunk, and one of the headlamps was out. Plus there was a lot of rust on the vehicle. You couldn’t see inside as it had blacked out windows.

Then, without warning, the car suddenly took off down the road. Naturally, I breathed a sigh of relief as I’d begun to wonder whether I was going to be attacked in some way. But my relief was short lived. The car was back within two minutes – and was hurtling along on the wrong side of the road. Whoever was in it was clearly unafraid of breaking the law.

I was beginning to get nervous. I didn’t have any weapons on me. No knife or anything that might have doubled as a weapon.

Just as I was looking around for escape routes, the vehicle shot off again, and like before, returned within minutes. This time it shadowed me even closer.

The worst of it was, no one was around at all. It was a little uncanny. You’d have expected someone to appear, but the whole area had become silent – except for the deep, guttural rumble of the ominous car.

A few seconds later, the car edged even closer to me. Just as I was about to break into a run, the driver’s window was wound down…. But no one’s head appeared. So I stepped tentatively forward to get a closer look and there was no one in the driver’s seat – or even in the rest of the car! It was totally empty.

I stood dumbfounded. Was this a remotely controlled car? Was it some kind of sick joke?

Before I could think any further, the car growled into gear and fired off into the night. This time it didn’t return.

When I got home, I poured myself a stiff drink. The whole event was inexplicable. What concerned me most was why I was targeted. Who was behind this weird driver-less vehicle?

The following day, I met up with Earl Marlowe, my voodoo mentor, originally from Trinidad, who I featured in my Voodoo Spellbook. He was also staying in Bristol at the time. I told Earl all about the previous night’s incident.

“You’re lucky to be alive,” he said. “That car was a ghost car controlled by zobops. I didn’t know they were operating in Britain.”

Earl explained that zobops are members of a secret voodoo society in Haiti that roam the countryside or city streets looking for victims to satisfy their inhuman hungers.

“They shapeshifters,” Earl went on, “werewolves that in their human form specialize in very dark, atavistic magic. They drive big black cars, and sometimes they send out their vehicles without drivers.”

“You mean the cars are radio controlled?”

“No,” he replied. “They control the cars with dark sorcery and their minds.”

“What do you think they wanted with me?” I asked.

“They’ve had word we are in town,” he answered. “They’d see us as competition – voodoos on their patch and they won’t tolerate that.”

“Who exactly are they?”

“At a guess, I’d say it is Kitty Jameson and her cartel of zobops,” he said. “They’re workers of evil and control all the underground voodoo activity in this city. Most local voodooists won’t even have heard of Kitty, such is her power.”

Earl lit a cigar, puffed on it for a moment or so, then added: “One thing is certain, Kitty would be looking to push us out of town. That car was a warning… a dire warning.”

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