Idioms in a horror story
A horror story
A MAN who is driving from the capital city to his hometown decides not to take the highway as he wants to enjoy the varied scenery along the old road.
When he reaches the hills, his car breaks down. Thinking that the nearest town is too far away to reach on foot, he stands on the road shoulder to try to get a lift from a kind soul.
Three minutes later, he sees a boxy red car coming towards him. Its driver is burning rubber and does not stop the vehicle. He stamps his foot impatiently.
All at once, the clouds darken and it rains buckets. As dusk falls, the growing darkness invests the wind and rain with new horrors for the hapless man.
A rusty navy blue jalopy is now coming towards him. It slows to a crawl and stops next to him. He opens the back door, jumps in, and leans forward to thank his saviour – but there is no one at the wheel.
Although the car is driverless and its engine is not running, it somehow starts to move again. The man, who is scared out of his wits, looks at the road ahead and sees a bend. Then the unexpected happens. Just before the car hits the curve, a hairy hand appears through the window and slowly turns the steering wheel anticlockwise. The car easily negotiates the curve, much to the relief of its sole occupant.
Looking as pale as death, the man watches unblinkingly as the hand appears several times at the critical moment to prevent the car from plunging into a ravine.
Shivering more from fright than from the cold, the man presses his hands together and starts to pray: “Dear God, I’ve sinned all my life. I drink heavily, I cheat at gambling, and I betray my friends. If you spare me, I promise never to –”
And then he sees a blaze of bright lights a short distance away. Heart racing, he wrenches the door open, scrambles out, and runs for dear life towards the lights. “This is a townlet,” he says softly to himself.
He is out of breath when he stumbles into a coffee shop, where he orders a cup of beverage to ease his nervousness. After finishing his drink, he decides to relate his horrible ordeal to the coffee shop proprietor.
As he is telling his story, two thickset men wearing leather jackets and peaked caps trudge into the coffee shop. The taller one nudges the other in the ribs and says, “See that man over there whose clothes are all wet? I’m going to knock the stuffing out of him!”
“Why? What did he do?”
Cap in hand and fury in his eyes, the gargantuan fellow cries, “That’s the chucklehead who got into our car while we were pushing it!”
(i) To cease functioning.
(ii) To become distressed. (The little girl broke down in tears when her dog died.)
(iii) To demolish or destroy (physically or figuratively). (The rescue team broke the door down. / The community leader’s speech broke down the villagers’ opposition to the new plan.)
(iv) To separate into constituent parts. (He insisted that the contractor break down the bill into the separate charges for building materials and labour.)
On/by foot: Walking or running rather than travelling in a vehicle.
Burn rubber: To drive very fast.
All at once: Suddenly.
Rain buckets: To rain heavily.
Scared/frightened out of one’s wit: To be terrified.
(As) pale as death: Pale in the face, from fear or illness.
For dear/one’s life: Desperately, so as to escape death.
Out of breath: Breathing with difficulty.
Knock/take the stuffing out of:
(i) To administer a severe beating to.
(ii) To weaken. (Her recent bout of flu seems to have knocked all the stuffing out of her.)
Extract from The Star
By OH TEIK THEAM