Concept Art Writing Prompt: Dawn of the Spider-Legged Volkswagens

If you're driving through Wolf Creek, Oregon, you might happen upon these sculptures that are part car and part robotic spider. Do they inspire nightmarish visions of monstrous vehicles, or robotic animals longing to roam free? See if you can come up with a story based on these strange statues.

Redditor sup299 happened upon these spider cars and posted them online, although it turns out they're not unique to Oregon. (You can also check out the Shitty_Watercolour and Michael Bay versions of these creatures.) Come up with your own story inspired by the spider cars, and we'll add them to this post.

My spider cars are generally pretty harmless, but that doesn't mean they'll let you ride them:

Kel squeezed her breaks as she rounded the corner, kicking her right leg over the bar and letting her sneaker drag for the last few feet of the ride. The fence rattled a bit as she leaned her bike alongside it, the barbed wire glinting fiercely in the sunlight. She dragged the wriggling bag of fist-sized crickets from her basket, and held them up above her head as she honked, goose-like, into the air.

She heard Freddy's ragged breathing before she saw him, racing around the corner, the spiky tires on his bicycle scattering pebbles out of the way. In a year or two, he'd be ready to graduate from a full-sized bike and he'd have no trouble keeping up with her. Freddy didn't bother to prop up his bike, just letting it fall to the road as he dashed toward her. He'd climbed halfway up the fence before he leaned back and asked her, "Are they here yet?"

Kel pointed with her free hand. "Out there. See them?" Between the scrubby pines emerged a pair of old VW Beetles, each scrambling forward on eight spidery legs. Her heart thudded audibly when she recognized the taller of the two as Old Yellower. She wrapped a bandana around her hand before following Freddy a few steps up the fence. She honked louder and Freddy joined her with a few sharp beeps.

Old Yellower pushed her bumper against the fence, nearly forcing the two of them off. "Wait a second, wait a second," Kel murmured as Freddy shrieked with laughter. Kel handed one of the massive crickets to Freddy and picked one out for herself. "Hold it flat, like this," she said, displaying the cricket in the palm of her hand. "You don't want her to snap your fingers." Kel shoved his hand through the fence and giggled as Old Yellower opened her hood and gently slipped the bug into her mouth. Freddy caressed her nose as Kel did the same for the second car.

"Was she really yours?" Freddy asked. He couldn't imagine a time when cars had just been cars, before they had been taken and replaced by sentient beings that fed on biomass and traveled without wheels of their own accord.

Kel nodded. "She was my first car." She'd saved three years for that little Bug, and she'd hardly had it six months before the Great Uplifting had stolen Old Yellower away. "My only car, I guess."

Freddy's eyes widened. "Does she ever let you ride her?"

Kel shrugged. "It's not like she takes me anywhere." The last time Kel had tried to man the wheel, Old Yellower had thrown her and broken her arm.

Freddy plucked another beetle from the bag. "When I get older, I'm going to find a car and break it."

Kel arched an eyebrow. "Are you now?"

Freddy nodded. "Taisha says if you can find a really old one, it'll let you steer."

Kel tossed a cricket over the fence and watched the other car chase it as its prey tried to fly off, weighed down by its unnatural mass. When she was Freddy's age, she'd read books about wild stallions and bucking broncos. Nowadays, every kid wanted to a saddle up in vinyl seats and toss the reins over a twitching, fighting steering wheel.

Not_too_Xavi notes that spider cars are a great way to attract attention:

The word got out. The word always gets out. Doc imagined James Earl Jones in a newsboy cap and suspenders telling him "People will come, Ray" and smiled. The Doc's name wasn't Ray, but people would come. Surely so, now that the puff piece by Anderson Cooper had aired on 60 Minutes. He couldn't believe it, Anderson-fucking-Cooper interviewing him about some shit-ass inventions he did in a fugue 10 years ago.

"Are you a hermit?" Cooper had smugly inquired.

"Of course not," the Doc had replied with a smile. The reporter's condescension made him bristle. Let's see him invent the rubber timing belt, then sell the patent for a ridiculous profit and not have to dodge the leeches and hangers on that come with obscene money.

"I'm not a hermit at all, I just like my privacy."

"Right," Cooper smiled. "You like your privacy so much you invented 20 foot tall Volkswagen Beetles with spider legs?"

The Doc laughed. "When you say it like that," he paused, still chuckling, "it does sound a bit crazy." In his memory, Anderson Cooper edging away slightly made the hit to his public reputation worth it.

"Listen," the Doc soothed, "if I was a hermit, paranoid about the outside world getting in and building 2 spider cars to protect me, wouldn't I have made them dangerous?"

"Are you saying they're not? Dangerous, that is."

The screen flickered and the Doc leaned forward. He had made this part of the tape himself, splicing together security footage and the voiceover of the interview. When he pressed play again, the image wobbled as if someone was messing with the tracking on an old VCR. His own voice spoke out to him.

"Well, Dangerous is relative, you see?"

The screen showed a dark field, lit by a hazy green undertone. He had installed night vision cameras around the property to pick up where the daytime cameras couldn't keep working. Plus he had been displeased with the results of the deer cameras that only took photos when their sensor detected movement.

"The bugs, as you say, although technically they'd be car-achnids..." The doc laughed at his own joke and saw the greenish image shake. On the screen their spindly legs rose and fell as they passed directly over the camera and entered the frame from the top.

"The bugs are big and strong, and hungry. But they're slow too."

Two headlights made pinpricks of white easing slowly up the driveway. The camera shifted, an edit the Doc was proud of, and showed the car advancing directly towards the camera. There, just on the edge of the frame were the bugs.

"They're slow and if you can't feel them coming then you have bigger problems than dealing with my inventions."

The tire popped as it always did at the same spot in the road in the same spot in the video. For a moment, like always, the Doc would feel a tinge of remorse at what was going to happen next. Then, he remembered the "No Trespassing" sign and smiled.

"You see, for something to be dangerous, it actually has to be a threat. These things are harmless, nothing threatening at all."

The people who had climbed out of the car inspected the tire. When the first jolt of the ground reached them, they held each other to steady themselves and laughed uneasily. Because the Doc knew where the bugs would enter, he kept half of his attention there. He always enjoyed it when the first boy would see the bugs and scream in a silent mask of terror tinted green, his eyes reflecting the white as pinpricks.

"They don't even have webs. They're metal beings, they can't manufacture it themselves."

He chuckled at that blatant lie. The kids were back in the car, eyes wide as they saw the braided metal line descend from the tailpipe and loop itself around and under the car. There in the greenish dark, the Doc fully appreciated what was going to happen as the two bugs wedged their front legs under the car on wither side and set about rolling it over and over, encasing it in the wire cocoon.

"Nothing to worry about at all."

They lifted the wrapped car in tandem and sunk their bumper fangs into each end. The Doc had to imagine the shriek of metal as they pulled in opposite directions. The car split in half and one of the kids split with it, pulled apart by the rending sections. The others screamed, silently again. He imagined the sound dropping in intensity as another scream was cut off by a second bite from the bumper fangs, cleaving the kids head in two.

"Just big dumb metal things Anderson, a lark that I gave some spark."

The final kid scrambled out of the half of the car held by the other bug. He stood looking up at the undercarriage, awe and terror filling his eyes. The third hindleg crushed him before he even saw it descending.

The Doc clicked off the tv. Oh yes, he thought. "People will come."

Smeagol92055 sees something out of the corner of the eye. Is this one even fiction?

Once, when driving home from a rave, I spotted an enormous, 18-wheeler-sized spider on the freeway, scurrying up the other side of traffic. I decided not to say anything about it, so as not to freak out my buddy Moe, in the seat beside me. About three minutes later, Moe turned to me and said, "Man, was I the only one who just saw that spider a minute ago?"

Pants were shat.

ShirtBloke wonders why it's these particular cars that have gone all menacing:

"Do you remember the sixties?"

"Sure, I had a great time in the sixties."

"You did acid? Right?"

"Sure. I did it with you a couple of times."

"I don't remember that. Is that true?"

"We did it at your old place next to the river. You getting the flashbacks again?"

"Maybe. Can you see a couple of Volkswagens with spider legs over there in that field?"

"I can see one very rusty Volkswagen and one similar Karmann Ghia. No spider legs on either though. Great name for an automobile that - Car Man Gear."

"It's not that, it's Karma. I once killed a Volkswagen Beetle. I'd spent all my money on it and it broke down twice on the way home from buying it. A week later I pushed it off a cliff into a river. It's my Karma catching up with me."

"What goes around comes around?"

"Do you remember the sixties?"

KBather's spider-bots were a happy accident, but one that's growing and changing:

"They're not beetles though are they?"
"What?"
"Look at the legs. They're spiders. Obviously."
"I was just trying to be funny. You know – VW Beetle, because they're half car and half insect."
"More like a third car, really."
Davis rolled his blue eyes and sighed; a familiar response to his younger sister's annoying habit of never laughing at his witty observations.
Molly was a genius though, and despite being a typical pre-pubescent girl in some ways, she was more like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking in many more. Underneath her freckles and pigtails was a brain that defied expectations. She purposely wore pink dresses and shirts with unicorns and rainbows on them to surprise people. She loved being the smartest person in the world, even more than she loved her hippy parents on the commune. Molly figured that she was either adopted, or a freak of nature; more a product of a daring genetic experiment than two unschooled hicks from the American backwoods.
"Here will do," ordered Molly in her usual fashion.
Davis stopped peddling his rusty bike by the side of the only road to their sprawling farm complex and scratched his scrawny legs. Molly hopped out of the large basket on the front.
"They've stopped."
"Of course they have Davis. They're hungry."
Davis took off his NY Mets baseball cap and ran his hand through his messy hair, looking around the silent brown and greens of their environment. "But there's nothing here. They've eaten all the cows," he said. "What else can we give them? Everyone at home already hates you for taking away most of their food."
"That won't be a problem for much longer Davis."
Davis squinted and looked into her sister's eyes, oblivious to the harsh calculations being made behind them.
"I don't know why you made them like animals anyway. You should've just left them as sculptures or something," moaned Davis.
"It was an accident. Sort of. A happy accident," replied Molly with a feint yet crooked smile.
The so-called accident that created the pair of automobile monstrosities was a success in Molly's eyes. After experimenting with toy cars and parts from a dishwasher, she found she was able to create life with parts of abandoned military hardware from the recently destroyed army bunker just outside of town. Finding two abandoned Volkswagens in Mr. Harris' field, her and Davis dragged the struts of a fallen water tower, for the arachnids' appendages.
As the two mechanical monsters lumbered towards the siblings, Davis noticed they were increasing their speed.
"Weird."
"What is?" Molly asked with a knowing grin.
"Usually they stop when they see us. I thought they were scared of us."
Davis looked behind him, awaiting Molly's response, but she was at the bike, taking something from the basket.
"They're changing, Davis," Molly said as she walked towards him, carrying something heavy behind her.
Davis turned to look at the moving beasts. "Huh. Cool."
"Indeed," replied Molly as she put her hand on her brother's shoulder and raised the greasy wrench as high as she could.
"Cool." Molly brought down the grey weapon on to her brother's skull three times, with increasing force. Davis collapsed, face first in to the bitumen, as his blood mingled with the grass.
Molly took a few steps back as the cars paused.
"Lunch time," she said, fully aware that her creations couldn't understand her. "See you tomorrow."

allium immortalizes the cars in verse:

Die Spinnewagen

Wolfsburg sits in Saxony,
Just as pretty as can be.
Prior Bundesliga champs,
cheerful people, bright street-lamps.

But zehn meilen ost of town
Buried many meters down
Writhe enchantments that still last
although seven decades passed.

Thirty-nine, Der Krieg does roam.
Forty-five, it comes back home.
Yankee planes and Russian steel
Soon will bring the Reich to heel.

On a chilly April day,
Ahnenerbe work to lay
Spells on the assembly line
Dating from Arachne's crime.

Their goal (if they gain their whims)
Venomed cars on gangrel limbs
Tasked to leap on foreign tanks,
Slave them to the Wehrmacht ranks.

Vivification is nigh.
But then bombers fill the sky.
Nazi chanting, rite, and hex
Come to naught against Torpex.

Amis come to town and see
Bomb-slain, burnt-out factory.
Drag the dead car-things away
Tomb them in the Wald to stay.

There they bide for unseen dawn.
Engines wait, but key is gone.
Let their graves hold, free from men
Lest wolf spiders walk again.

ChrisWhiteWrites notes that the creatures' biggest problem would be peak oil:

Legs

They came, disguised as the planet's dominant species. We burrow our way deep beneath the earth, raiding the captured energy of the sun. Burning again what had died more than three hundred million years ago. Poisioning our skies with the black breath of dead dinosaurs compressed into oil, into coal. They came, hunting for resources. The resources we had already half consumed. More and more deeply we drank at the wells, straining tar from sandbanks to satisfy our thirst, pumping tainted water into our aquifers beneath our feet. Unknowing powering the traffic jam of an invader's fleet.

The oil was running out, the tar sands long evaporated. Arctic drills chewing through permafrost in search of their nourishment. They would leave us drained, stranded on this rock while they pillaged the stars. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Bio-oil was our biggest mistake.

ChrisWhiteWrites

In Mel Chow's the spider cars are far less fascinating than the mysterious Bicycle Repairman:

If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever.

Since young, people had always told Leman Russ this. What people didn't tell him though, was that more often than not, they always came back different. Like the pet dog he let loose into the woods when he was five. It came back a year later. With rabies. And bit him. Many times.

Or the girlfriend, who after years of screwing like mink and little else, decided that enough was enough and went back to her family in China. She came back too. Just one hour ago, Leman saw her in a seedy bar in a questionable part of the city, doing the Gangnam Style clad in nothing but strips of kimchi and a metal pole.

Every time, Leman had ran. And so when Leman had gotten over drinking pints of gin and staring at the great and terrible marvel that was the kimchi, he now finds himself on the freeway, trundling off into who-knows-where on a beat up moped. No car, not for about a year, not since it broke down on him in the middle of the countryside and he walked off in a fit of frustr-

HELLO! LEMAN RUSS!

-what did that road sign read again?

YES. YOU ON THE BEAT UP MOPED.

That. That was on the billboar-

LOOK RIGHT!

So Leman looks. And he sees.

The man is in a mustache, a green jumpsuit and duckbill cap. On a bicycle, pedalling furiously, somehow able to keep up with Leman Russ.

"Don't brake!" he says. "Brake and you're dead!"

Leman can hear it now. The sound of an engine running. A car engine. But where there should be the sound of wheels grinding against tarmac, there was none. In it's place, something else.

Something sharp, something metal, crunching down on the road behind him. Lots of them. He turns to the man on the bicycle.

"Who are you? Are you a stock broker?"

No reply.

"A quantity surveyor?"

The man shakes his head.

"A church warden?"

Then Leman Russ remembers.

"You! You're the Bicycle-"

"That's me. Now hurry along. The Bicycle Repairman does not interfere in the affairs of mere mortals but this is different. The walkers have the highway. Don't stop, don't look back, and don't brak-"

"-You! But I told you to piss off then! How.."

The Bicycle Repairman smiles.

"That was a long time ago, boy. Bicycles ridden into walls have a tendency to require..extensive reconditioning. You should have waited."

Leman Russ had waited then. He had waited all of five minutes before telling the man to piss off, before walking off into who-knows-where, straight into the path of an angry rabid dog. Which bit him. Many times.

"But no matter. Look! She loves you! She's back now, and better than ever! Leman Russ, I say you're the Man-Who-Is-Loved! The Man-Whom-All-Come-Bac-"

-However all-knowing and non-interfering-in-the-affairs-of-mortals the Bicycle Repairman was, he was at that very moment distracted, and so did not see the Volkswagen pouncing at him head on, springing forward on a multitude of long, ungainly legs. Leman Russ can only watch as both Volkswagen and Bicycle Repairman fly over the edge of the highway, plunging into the ravine below.

He could have sworn he'd saw the Bicycle Repairman give him a wave and a knowing wink just before he went over.

The crunching. It was getting louder now. Coming down harder upon the highway with increased urgency, increased intensity. And the engine. Somehow its sound..

The moped starts to slow down, making weird, sputtering noises, belching white smoke. No point in trying anymore, Leman thinks.

He brakes.

The moped slowly comes to a halt.

Silence.

Leman dismounts the moped. He takes a deep breath, and turns around.

Towering fifteen feet over him, upon eight spindly metallic legs, the Type-14 Karmann Ghia looks down upon Leman Russ through baleful headlamps.

Leman Russ looks back up at it. At its weathered paintjob, rusty bumper and horribly scratched windshield. At the tacky set of furry dice he'd bought about a year ago.

He swallows, and waves.

"Hello, old friend."

jpmillsmaurer imagines a future where the neighbors wonder just who is driving those spider cars:

"It's these hoodlums," Kylie Bees said. "In their cars. I've had enough."

"Now," Dorian Bees said. The news wasn't his whole focus that morning, but he'd heard almost everything that Kylie was about to say. He could repeat it, word for word, and didn't exactly hate it, but had grown tired of it in that way that too much jam on toast, too many days in a row, can make you tired of breakfast.

"No, you listen-it's the make. I'm fine with these few-fangled ones, never mind that they were so much easier to treat when I was a girl. None of this raising them, like they're pets. But I like it. They're friendly, from what I've seen. Joshua and Peter Anderson, that nice couple down on Litmus Avenue, they have a tiny, very excitable one that greets me every time I pass. It honks like a tiny goose. It's got personality, and, if I may say-you can empathize with it."

"Can you?" Dorian said.

"Yes. You can. Of course you can. Anyways, that's not the point. The point is, these kids, they've lost something. I heard that these new ones aren't exactly official models. Some hacker or engineer with too little contact and too much time on his hands, well, he's gone and made them to look like-well, you've seen them. Horrible."

"Spiders."

"Yes! Exactly! Now, let me tell you something-the whole point behind these things was that they're supposed to make driving easier. You make friends with your car, you EMPATHIZE with it, then you won't have an accident. Not only will it steer you right, but it'll recognize other cars, and avoid them, like other people. I think that's remarkable, and intelligent, and no doubt there's been fewer accidents because of it! But here's what I'm saying-who can empathize with spiders?"

"I've no idea," Dorian said.

"Nor I. Nobody. They don't even move like the others. I've seen them, it's horrible. They move like big spiders, all fast and unnatural, like they're from a speeded up movie."

"I'm sure there's no harm."

"But I'm not talking about the harm, Dor, I'm talking about the people. I'm talking about who's inside. I see that tiny thing in the Anderson's yard, and I want to take it home with me. It's beautiful, and I can honestly call it some sort of pet. I've no shame in that. You know we'd have one if either of us could afford it. But-I see those walking disasters, and all I can think is that: who's driving them? Who can identify with something like that? Is it just this new generation? Have they gone so long without actual contact-God knows how much we raised Em on the net-that even things like this, things that are completely, utterly incomprehensible to us, are something that they can understand?" She paused, shuddering. "Do you know what the first thing I do when I see a spider is?"

"You want to kill it."

"Yes," she said. "Because they could be dangerous."

In Urban Primative's story, the spider legs make it the uncool car:

"But Daddy, I don't wanna take the Beetle today!"
"I'm sorry sugar but ever since the Feds stopped subsidizing the American infrastructure the roads are too rough to roll on. We have to take the ped car, baby. I'm sorry."
"But it's soooo uncool!"
Climate change had made hay with the region's infrastructure but nobody had been able to get anyone to vote in the tax hikes required to fix anything. The Fundies all threw up their hands and called it God's Wrath, punishment for everything from homosexuality to teaching evolution. Maya just wanted to get to her first day of Junior High in style but her Back-To-Basics family lived in an agricultural enclave and they'd not had a road smooth enough for an classic style cruiser in months.

So they swayed and bobbed on the Volkswagen's retrofitted strider legs, the eight long stilts more than up to the challenges the broken roadway presented. Still, the commune's motor pool had four wheel drives and snowcats which could have made the jounrney with less socail fallout but the Beetle was able to navigate the occasional fallen bridge or landslide the deadlocked DOT had yet to replace. Remembering his own Junior High experience he wondered how many social calamities he and his wife's lifestyle was going to inflict on young Maya as she made her way in this new American landscape.

Drabbler explains why we don't see these cars more often:

"The thing you have to remember," Dad explained, not taking his eyes off the road, "is that in the eighties, the entire auto industry was powered by cocaine, which led to a lot of really incredibly stupid decisions.

"Surprisingly, this one was actually incredibly popular for a short time. There were even shops all over the country where you could get your old car refitted. But then came the accidents and the deaths, and soon they were banned in all but a couple states.

"And that's why you only ever see cars with spider legs when we go to Grandma's."