The idea of the Thing in the Driveway first came to Cole when he was taking out the trash on a moonless. He imagined his Thing wouldn’t be exactly in the driveway, but lurking in the forest to his right as he wheeled the forty gallon trash container to the gravel road. It was early fall and the deciduous trees that made up the bulk of the forest were denuded of leaves. All that remained were stumps and half-rotting trunks leaning against each other like drunks below a latticework of branches. He named his imaginary creature the Thing In The Driveway because that sounded better than the Thing In The Forest Near The Driveway.
Of course, it was a joke, a self-amusement created by an easily-bored mind not unlike teaching a child to identify animal shapes in cloudy skies. He knew it was a way to casually scare himself, but at the same time it allowed him to play anthropologist and speculate about the human brain and why it was so easily spooked. We were a kind of experiment of amused gods, he thought, conscious beings trying to figure themselves out.
Cole loved horror films, loved to be scared by fictional situations. Zombies, B-grade irrradiated beasts, occult reanimations, they were all good. All his siblings were same. Grasping for explanations of the group phenomenon only came up with something vaguely related to his father’s alcoholism that sent them cowering in the basement desperate and its flickering TV. It seemed they all felt relief to see people in worst situations than themselves running from any kind of monster.
No matter, popular culture vindicated his interest in fear: horror was burgeoning genre, not any more shameful than thrillers or romance, possibly less so given the box office.
But here’s the thing.
The very first time Cole saw the Thing in the Driveway, he didn’t feel he was making it up or conjuring it from his vast storehouse of mental horror scenes. From the very first time the Thing seemed to really be there—a lurking, ominous presence. It was only after he realized he was actually afraid of something that “wasn’t there” that he felt the need to take charge of it as if he was calling it forth for his amusement.