Hot Cars just got Steamier

Revisiting a Classic

Here, I will be giving my first glimpse into life in a world without internal combustion engines.  For the assignment, I have chosen to edit the cover of Stephen King’s ChristineChristine tells the story of a young man who becomes possessed by the evil spirit of a car that he restores.  In addition to the book cover, I have also changed the story to contain the theme I picked for the question of the week: What would life be like if the internal combustion engine was never invented?

Everything with a Name has a Soul

No, it couldn’t be. Maybe he had forgotten where he parked; maybe the mangled mess of red-painted steel and chrome in front of him belonged to someone else.  This was the first time Arnie had taken his beloved Christina out of the garage since completing the restoration.  He had straightened every single dent in the ‘fifty-eight Fury’s body, polished every inch of the chrome bumpers and trim, and replaced the two rusted-out exhaust stacks that protruded from the fenders on either side of the hood.  This couldn’t be his Christina.  Every piece of glass, the windows, lights, and gauge cluster, were shattered; shards of glass covered the ground around the vehicle and the ruined interior.  The leather seats, the ones he had reupholstered white with red piping not a week ago, were gashed and filleted open like the carcasses of slaughtered animals. The open hood revealed the worst damage however. the steam manifold had been crushed, likely by Christina’s own tire-iron that lay next to the bludgeoned piping.  Pieces of the oil injection system had been yanked free from the steam block, their contents spilling over the exhaust piping, giving off a strong burnt odor.  Yes, those stacks had been brand new, but the scratches and dents in the chrome ruined their appearance.

Arnie knew who did this to his Christina.  The boys from school that he always picked on had to have done this.  Arnie had pulled his knife on one of them two days earlier for not handing over his lunch.  In the recent weeks those dorks had starting resisting Arnie’s demands: refusing to do his homework, not getting out of his way in the hallway, not keeping their mouths shut when Arnie told them to.  Arnie had seen them at the ball game earlier and noticed that they left after he had shoved his girlfriend, Leigh, who was one of the dork’s cousins.  Arnie walked over to the payphone by the ticket box and slid a quarter into the slot.

“Hi, I need a tow over to Darnell’s Auto-body.  Yeah, from the ball-field.  Thanks.”

Arnie laid the keys to the garage stall on his bench and walked over to the front of the car. Helpless Christine, parked on her four slit-tires, shrouded in her kicked-in door panels gaped back at him with that open hood.  He would have to spend weeks repairing her; the initial restoration lasted three months, and he was going to be redoing most of the mechanical work he had done before, as well as purchasing many new parts for the steam block and coal injection system.  While waiting for the tow truck he had realized that the boys at the ball-park had jammed a screw-driver into the coal-lump grinder and filled the boiler assembly with corrosive soda; the entire system would have to be replaced if he ever intended it to burn again.  Arnie sat on his old wooden stool and buried his face in his hands.

“If I had known that the way I treated Leigh and those dorks made them this upset, I would never have bullied them so much,” he said.  “I never thought I was wrong, but now I see, and my beautiful Christine had to pay for it. Damn it!”  Arnie looked up; he thought he saw a wisp of smoke rising from the stack on the passenger-side of the car.  He walked around and opened the trunk.  Coal nuggets were plinking into the grinder, being pummeled into fine dust and blown into the boiler.  Heat emanated from the boiler; the dust burned, and water steamed inside. Where had the soda gone?  Where was the screw-driver that had been lodged in the tines of the grinder?  How was the boiler firing?  The impossibility of it all billowed around him as thick smoke began rising from the two stacks.  Arnie rushed around to the front of the car again, heart throbbing, palms sweating.  A grin spread slowly across Arnie’s face, mirroring the smile-like bend in Christina’s grill.

“Show me,” said Arnie. The fenders popped and glazed over as the metal straightened itself and the blemishes in the paint disappeared. Thousands of glass shards flew back into their positions and fused together to form whole windows once again. Steam pipes expanded to their former sizes, and oil lines swung back to their installed places, where they ceased leaking.  After the noise of bending metal subsided, Christina had finished, her body as beautiful as before, and the energy of her soul overwhelming Arnie’s senses.  “Together, we will do great things,” Arnie said, but he was not sure if those were his words or Christina’s.

So you have Heard of Christine, Meet Christina


How it all Came to Be

I recorded a video tutorial on how to create this book cover.  My tutorial post has the video embedded.  The video can also viewed on YouTube.

Hot Cars just got Steamier (Tutorial)

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