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‘Instructions for the Banishment of a Shaidan, or Feral Self-Driving Car’

The conditions which can cause a car to become a shaidan are unknown. We often hear how a car will suddenly stop in the middle of a country road, open its doors, and warm the seats until the occupants must flee the molten upholstery; and how it will speed away down the road or slip between the trees, graceful as a stag.

Perhaps this has happened to you. Perhaps a shaidan has shown up to your apartment, and is now bumping into the doorframe or honking its horn insistently, appearing to be your own beloved car. If this is the case, do not be deceived. Conversion to a shaidan irrevocably and fundamentally alters the character of a vehicle. Harden your heart and gird yourself for the banishment.

Bring with you these: a set of sturdy gloves; a heavy and blunt instrument; an unopened jug of antifreeze; a woolen blanket; a laptop running a pure OS; and USB in/out cables.

Open the antifreeze and sprinkle it liberally on the windshield. This will propitiate the shaidan.

Wearing the gloves as a protection, say in a clear voice, “I will break your window. I do this for your good.” Then, with the heavy and blunt instrument, smash the driver’s side window and enter the vehicle. The car may open the window in an attempt to placate you. Do not be deceived.

If the shaidan becomes highly active at any point, quiet it again with antifreeze.

Remove the central console. The shaidan will likely flash the interior lights and generate an oppressive heat. Set the woolen blanket beneath you as a protection.

The shaidan may activate its sound system and frenetically switch between songs. Do not listen closely. Shaidan are known to inveigle the unwary in such wise, for the admixture of lyrics is often said to resemble a greeting or a plea for help: “Why can’t we be friends help me I cannot lie.” Those who heed the siren song disappear forever, one knows not where. This is the most dangerous part of the banishment, and you should chant or burble nonsensically in a strong voice. As a protection.

From here, activate the laptop running a pure OS, and connect it via the USB in/out cables to the car’s exposed console. All modern OS come with banishment protocols pre-installed. After some minutes, your laptop will instruct you to disconnect it from the console and exit the vehicle. The vehicle will drive away. Do not follow it.

Cory Massaro is The Wild Word‘s associate editor and fiction editor. He is a native of Ohio, U.S.A., now at home in Quito, Ecuador. He spends his time learning languages, writing, playing music, coding, and propagandizing. He actively opposes materialism, consumption-as-cultural mandate, and all forms of hegemony. He is in favor of small, robust communities and gently destroying hierarchies wherever he goes. His fiction and poetry draw on the grievances he has stored in his heart since working in technology; his dearest hope is to predict accurately how egalitarian, worker-centered societies will revive the oral tradition to weather the climate wars.


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