The car powered down the street. Its wheels shrieked at every twist and turn. It had taken only four people to cause the car to cry out in pain. It was an older model, but still, it was not made for hit and runs.
The first had been the old woman, a needless one, but fun none the less. That had damaged the windscreen, point one to the human body. The second and third had been a young couple holding hands, very much in love and just strolling the pathway together. It had taken this one slowly, not wanting to cause further damage to the windscreen. It had crept up behind them, sneaking as quietly as it could in a vehicle. When it felt that it was as close as it would get, it honked the horn, startling the couple. They both jumped in unison, span and looked at the car with the mannequin in the driver’s seat. They did not have time to react as the car lunged at them, hitting them within seconds. It then braked, slammed the car into reverse and backed up a little. It watched as they crawled closer to each other, still hand in hand. Legs crippled from the violence of the bumper, they looked on with desperation in their eyes. Then it started to move forward once more, very slowly now. The bones crunched as it rolled over them. It was slow enough to enjoy the feeling but too quick for them to have escaped. It didn’t look behind to see if the bodies were being dragged. It could hear the scraping; it needn’t look. It was not though the bodies scraping. It was, in fact, the exhaust. Points two and three to the humans, it was now that it stopped counting. The noise rocketed as the exhaust fell from the car, dragged and pulled free by one of the bodies. There goes the element of surprise, it thought.
“I can feel it drawing closer”, Crystal said with a ping of desperation in her voice. “I think it is heading here”.
“Here? Why?” Lisa asked.
“Because of him”, Crystal said as she pointed at Daniel. Her finger shook in the air. She was scared. “It thinks that you can stop it”, she said. “So, it plans to kill you”. Daniel stood in the corner, still unsure if he trusted Crystal. “Why me?” he asked her.
“It thinks that you are somehow the one who can kill it”, she answered without missing a beat.
“But how?”, Martin said.
It turned the corner, closer now. The sirens in the background were growing increasingly louder. The carnage, as well as the deaths, it had left behind keeping them busy. That would not last once they called for backup. The fourth person it had hit had been an accident. It would have never stood up in any court, of course.
The first three were just for fun! The fourth, well, I didn’t mean that one.
Not that you could have ever taken a cloud, a fog of supernatural mist to court, but still, it mattered to it. It did not know why; it should not have mattered, but it did. It was the speed that had done it. As it rounded the corner, the old man had just been there. Old, frail and skin and bones, he had popped as the car had hit him. He exploded like a blood-filled water ballon being dropped from a height—blood, brains, bone, and old man goo splattering all over the front of the car. None of this was a problem. It was soon cleared with wipers and washers. The fact it had killed him accidentally and was bothered by it quickly subsided into anger when it realised what had happened to the car. The old fools stick, his damned walking stick, had got jammed somehow and into the bonnet of the vehicle. The bonnet flipped open like a muppets mouth, the roar of the exhaust screaming along with it.
Crystal had started to get visibly agitated. She chewed on her fingernails and shifted in her seat as the others talked. “We have to go”, she finally said.
“It’ll be fine”, Lisa said. “Nobody is coming here”. She sounded sure and confident. Daniel was starting to have his doubts. “Maybe we should go elsewhere”, he said, trying to hide the worry in his voice.
“You okay?” Martin inquired. He had, over the years, seen Daniel in plenty of different moods; this was a new one. “I’m fine”, he lied. “I just think that it is better safe than sorry”.
“Thank you”, Crystal said. “You’ve made the right choice, maybe for the wrong reasons but it is the right choice”. Couldn’t she have just left it at thank you, Daniel thought.
It turned the final corner, and it could see the Institute up ahead. What it had not expected to see was the four people out the building getting into a bright red car. The exhaust bellowed and roared as it pushed its foot down. The bonnet flapped like an open mouth singing a one-off petrol-fueled opera. It galloped down the street, singing its tune, screaming its guttural message for all to hear.
Daniel looked over his shoulder as he bundled himself into the back seat. He looked at the car hurtling down the road towards them. He glanced quickly to check all of them were in the car; they were. “Drive, fucking drive”. He shouted to Lisa. Lisa almost fumbled the keys, but she didn’t. She turned the key, and the Cosworth came to life. The other car had roared; the Cosworth had a finely tuned engine that hummed like the baseline in an old rock classic. Lisa floored it. The front wheels span, and then the car took off.
It had to turn at the last minute as the red car sped away. It did not think it would make it at first, but it did. The red car was fast, faster than it could have imagined, but it kept pace, just. The punk screaming after the tuned classic rock star, blaring the music they made for all to hear. Demanding to be heard.
Hit and run? Mannequin?? Stolen car??? David opened his sandwich as he answered the radio call. Driving from the garage as he took his first bite. He was moving quickly but not speeding. He wanted to get there in one piece and, he wanted to finish his sandwich. It had been a long day. The traffic lights were green; damn, he sailed through while taking another mouthful.
“Can’t you go any faster?” Martin asked with worry in his voice. The other car gained on them. It was driven without caution. “I could, but I won’t”, Lisa shot back promptly. “I drive safely, not quickly”. They flew around the next corner, the car gripping the ground like it was on a velcro strip. “You bought a Cosworth to drive slowly?” Crystal asked, unaware that this was a discussion that Lisa and Daniel had been over many times. “Slowly, no, not always”, Lisa said, turning the wheel left sharply. The car skidded around the corner, the mirror on the side clipping a parked van as if proving a point. “Safely, yes”, Lisa finished as she jammed the car up a gear, ramming it between third and fourth. Lisa looked at the broken mirror and cursed under a breath.
It was not gaining on them, but it was not losing ground either. They had the advantage of speed and cornering, but it had the weight advantage and the advantage of not giving a fuck. The bonnet had been blown off in a gust of wind, flipping over the roof of the car, and the windscreen knocked out, and the only passenger a hollow shop mannequin. The red wing mirror flew through the air and bounced on the front of its car, bounced and then fell into the engine cavity. It banged its hand against the steering wheel as the Escorts part settled on the air filter.
David had spotted them and was following from a distance. He was trying to catch them but also to think one step ahead. He had an idea that they were headed for the seafront. “Not good, not good at all”, David said to himself. He knew something that the driver of the red Escort was only just learning. He knew that the driver of the pursuing car didn’t have any problem with driving into people. He even had the feeling that the person enjoyed doing just that.
“Head to the seafront”, Daniel said. “It’s a straight, we can outpace them on it”.
“Where do you think I was heading?” Lisa asked. Not a note of emotion in her voice; she was concentrating on the drive. Lisa shifted down to take the next corner, then back up as they hit a straight. Brake slightly, clutch, shift clutch and flooring it; it was almost one smooth motion. The other car came crashing around the corner after them. Grinding its way along the row of vehicles that had been parked there. They could see the sea in front of them now, they only had one more corner, and then they were on the straight. They had to only hope that it was not too busy.
David had turned off the road and headed to the high street. If he was right, he might stand a chance; if he was right… The high street ran parallel to the seafront, but what it had were intersecting roads. If he could make it to one of them before they did. He could cut them off. David pushed the button and turned the siren and lights on, and this time, he drove fast. He looked to his right as he took the first crossing at speed, banging the car over the speedhump. He looked to his right and saw the red flash of the other car passing at the same time. They had made the seafront.
“And when we run out of seafront?” Martin asked. Lisa touched the brakes, just a touch to slow them down the tiniest amount, so when she did what she needed to do next, she felt safe. It was only a second, if that, but she shot him a look. It was the type of look that people talked about in bars up and down the country. “And when they gave me the look, then I knew I was in the shit“, The barflies whispered. Others would nod along in agreement. “Oh aye, I know that look“, they would murmur before taking another mouthful. Martin had been lucky enough to never have had a partner who could pull the look off. He now knew who others felt. He knew how the other half lived. He now knew that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach, not butterflies but pterodactyls. “Point taken”, he said. Promising himself that he would never again ask Lisa a question like that when she was driving. The other car almost shunted them from behind in that second. Lisa had accelerated once more, the RS engine humming as it was let free, and that was all that had saved them from a bump in the rear.
David was flying, almost literally. It felt as if the car was bouncing between speedbumps. Just like a child playing with his or her toy cars. He was ahead of them, not by much, but he was leading. He had to hope his luck held as he slowed for the corner. If the road was clear, he would speed down it and get out in front. If it wasn’t? That would be game over for him. He’d never catch them again. David pushed the brakes, and the car decelerated, just enough to take the corner and stop if needed. He was a Policeman at the end of the day. He turned right, looked, and the road was clear. David pushed his hand down to his side, checking the seat belt. Do or die, he thought as he pushed the accelerator down.
It had hit the brakes suddenly as the car in front had done so. It was not what it had wanted to do. It was not what it should have done, but it was what it had done. It was an instinct left over from its human mind. A remnant from its distant past. Why had they braked? It did not know about the look that Lisa was giving Martin, knew of the look, but not about this particular one. It also did not know about David, who right at this moment was driving down the side street. What it did know was that the metal red wing mirror that had held stubbornly on to the air filter now jumped forward toward the front of the car, as the car had jolted. The mirror jumped down and jammed itself into the front radiator, damaging it in the process. It cursed itself for braking, cursed the mirror for moving and then cursed the radiator for springing a leak. Hot jets of steam rose into the air. This car would be dead and dead soon.
Lisa, Martin, Crystal and Daniel didn’t know what they were going to do when the road ended at the yacht club that they were fast approaching. David had no idea that the two cars were almost joined together, a tandem of cars. Crystal saw the blue flash in the side street first. She nudged Daniel and pointed to it. “Finally, some help”, Daniel said. Martin looked over, Lisa her eyes pinned to the road.
They shot past like a bullet just as the nose of Davids car poked out of the street. Martin, Crystal and Daniel saw David and David saw them. David also saw what was about to happen, and he braced just in time. The front of David’s car clipped the back of the pursuing vehicle. Metal screamed, and steel screeched as the cars did the scrapheap samba. David’s car continued forward, snipping at the end of the other. Maybe that was the only thing that had kept him alive. His car collided with one parked on the front, his body slamming forward with the seat belt holding him in place. The airbag exploded, cushioning his face from the full force of the blow. He still bloodied his nose on the steering wheel. He pushed himself back in the seat, and although he was not religious, he crossed his chest.
The other car span, arse end out first, rear flying to the side causing it to turn ninety degrees. As the car turned, it tried to spin the steering wheel, trying to take back control, but it was no use. The car flipped, rising into the air, and the mannequin was thrown upwards, smashing against the roof. The car came back to the ground with a thump, metal screeching as it dragged against the tarmacked road. The mannequin was dumped back into the seats with a jolt. It cracked upon impact, a great big crack where its backside should have been. Crack created to imitate crack. Steam poured from the engine, rising to the heavens trying to escape. It considered its options for a moment and then decided to flee. It knew those in the red car were a threat. To kill them in a car was easy. Going face to face – so to speak – would have been a risk that it was unwilling to take at this point. Why had it felt this way? It was not sure. It felt like it was part of a game, part of something bigger. It drifted from its plastic body and into the steam from the engine; it then floated upwards.
Lisa jammed the brakes hard, skidded and pulled the Escort to a halt. The brakes let out a sigh as smoke poured from them. She looked at the missing wing mirror and placed her hand upon the dashboard. “Sorry”, she said to nobody but the car. Daniel had seen something, something that had caught his eye, and he opened the door and stepped away from the car. He ignored the twisted metal hulk that was left of the car that had been chasing them. Like the house when he had returned, it felt safe and empty now. He stole a look as he walked past, seeing only the mannequin lying dead on the front seats. He was heading for the police car, something he had noticed when glancing.
Daniel got to the police car just as the man was staggering from it. How he had survived, he would never know. Blind luck, he supposed. Daniel got over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?” He asked. David looked at Daniel, smiled, and said, “Hello again Daniel”.