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Short Story: Spectre

It occurred to me recently that, with all the video games getting movies, Twisted Metal must deserve one. It further occurred to me that, with so many characters in the three games, a movie would hardly do them justice. As a small remedy to that, at least for my favorite character, here is a short tale of Spectre.


Until a year ago I was Scott Campbell. I had a wife and a little girl, and a nice house in western Pennsylvania. Until a year ago I was an advertising agent, and I was good at it. My life was nice, boring, and content. That was a year ago.

Now the only name I know is Spectre, and I’m about to drive a sports car into a battle zone. Don’t ask why I gave it all up. Don’t ask why I left my wife and daughter. I didn’t leave, I had them taken from me, and I’m here to get them back.

This is Twisted Metal. Every Christmas Eve, Calypso, the single most powerful man in the world, hand picks twenty-four drivers to take place in his ‘game’… kill or be killed, and I aim to win. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone in my life, and I’m going to do my best not to. The others can’t do anything if I cripple their cars… they’ll be out alive. If someone does something stupid, it’s probably no big loss. From what I hear this contest is the biggest collection of scum and sickness on the planet. I’ll trade that for my family.

I take a final look at my car. The white metal gleams a little too brightly, so I lower my shades. Gritting my teeth, I try to open the door. It doesn’t work. Concentrating, I try again. It opens, and I get in. The engine purrs as my car rolls out. Specter is a smooth ride, one of the fastest cars in the Twisted Metal competition, and she’s got a little something extra only I could give her: the Ghost Missile. It’s a homing explosive that can pass through walls, floors, or ceilings, and always hits its mark. It’s the edge I need to fight my way to Calypso, and ask him to help me get my family back.

The playing field is a park in the middle of Los Angeles. A frozen pond in the middle, and buildings on either side. Enemies could be hiding anywhere in the streets and allies between the skyscrapers. I check the radar Calypso gave all of us, to let us know where our opponents are on the battle field. The closest is HammerHead, a monster truck, and the last guy on earth I wanna take on in a sports car. On my left I’ve got FireStarter. He’s a pyromaniac, but not much of a threat. I’m more concerned with who I see coming right at me.

Mr. Grimm.

I know him. He’s the original bad ass on a motorbike, and he’s been after me for a while. If I was braver than I am, I’d ram him and cripple his chopper, but he’s the one man here that truly scares me. He’s the one who can stop me. Well, he won’t take me today. I won’t let him.

I kick in my turbo, and swerve right. Specter skids over the frozen pond, and what looks like nothing so much as a twisted, screaming skull passes inches in front of my headlights. Grimm turns toward me again. I can’t see his face through the mask on his motorcycle helmet, but I know he’s grinning at me, God damn him… I let a Ghost Missile fly, and spin his bike off the road.

Just as I’m gonna take him out, I see a flash of red in my rear view. HammerHead and FireStarter seem to have taken a dislike to each other, and the napalm is landing too close for comfort. I speed away, not willing to let a little fire ruin my paint job. Grimm can wait.

He starts righting himself as I move out, and I know he’ll be following me soon. Nitrous-oxide pours into my tank, and the speedometer moves past 200. I head up a ramp, and as I launch into the air, I turn my wheels, rotating sharply as I land. I face FireStarter, three hundred yards in front of me. He doesn’t look good; HammerHead took a lot out of him. I load a missile, graciously provided by our host, and fire it just behind the maniac’s back tires. It blows them out, nearly cutting his car in half, and leaving a pot hole the size of Delaware. I smile as I see him angrily trying to get out of his car.

My jaw drops when Grimm appears. Another screaming skull appears in his headlight, and it races towards FireStarter. He yells, and his car is reduced to what can’t even be described as scrap. Fire spurts up everywhere, and I sit transfixed, horrified. A shape moves forth from the inferno… Grimm’s motorcycle. Flames dance on his blank black face, and I know that I’m next.

Suddenly a larger shape comes forth behind him. HammerHead, denied his favorite target, had found a replacement. The cyclist turns, only to be rammed forward. His bike sparks, and rolls over onto him. Somehow, Grimm pushes it upright, and takes off. Circling the monolithic vehicle, he lets loose a powerful missile and blows HammerHead to the next life time.

By this time I’ve recovered, and I’m running scared. Bullets fly by me, missiles explode around me, but the devil on my back is losing ground. Taking a tight turn, I twist around and wait. He flies forward, and I fire Ghost Missile after Ghost Missile, speeding into his injured bike. I grin to myself, and check my rearview mirror. His bike is in flames, and minor explosions are erupting… It’s over. In front of me, gates are opening, my entrance to the winner’s circle.

I glance back once more and see the impossible. Rising from the rubble of his bike is Mr. Grimm, apparantly unharmed. It’s not over, not yet. It’s just begun.