Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mist Magic part 29

The story begins here. The previous week begins here.
As I approached the open gate, police lights flashed and glowed through the thick fog like pulsing alien monsters from an old science fiction movie. I had parked further up the road so the cops probably had not seen my small white car. I crept in to the driver seat and pulled the door closed without latching it. The ignition switch clicked loudly as I turned the key just far enough to unlock the steering wheel. Red brake lights flashed briefly as I pressed the pedal to shift out of park and I held my breath, listening for a sign that I had been seen. The shift clicked smoothly from reverse into neutral and the car drifted down the gravel road, a white ghost in the fog except for the gravel crunching like corn flakes under its tires.

But now there were three alien monsters ahead of me; there had been just two when I passed through the gate. When had the third cop arrived? Was he still in his car or standing by the gate? I had no choice but to drift close past the two police cars because there was no room on the road. And in the murk, it was only the police cars that told me where the road was. I heard a man speaking somewhere ahead of me and pulled my parking break to stop suddenly. The gravel bunching up under my tires sounded like a gunshot to me, but the voice wandered off into the night.

I released the hand break and the car started to roll again. Once past the police cars, I realized that I had another problem: there was no light to show me the road. From memory, I knew that there were trees to the left and a sharp drop off to the right and this whole plan was starting to seem ill-considered. How was I going to get down this hill without light? Then I heard the zing of a branch against my car and the problem was solved. The left side of the road was crowded with thick brush. All I had to do was hold my door half open and guide myself by the thickness of the brush it was hitting. Too much resistance and I would be in danger of a tree, too little and I would be in danger of the cliff.

This strategy worked for a few moments, but when I started picking up speed, another flaw in my plan came to light. With one hand on the wheel an another on the door, how was I going to use the handbrake? A steepening slope sent my car careening downward at an ever faster pace, faster than I would normally have driven even in daylight in clear weather. With the road invisible beneath me, this speed would wreck me in seconds. I was about to take a chance and use my foot brake when the fourth of those pulsing alien monsters appeared ahead of me.

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