“Holy shit,” policeman Mike said. I would have mirrored his words if I had any breath. Toni’s eyes flicked between us, surprise not hidden in her brow. “What’s happening?” the policeman said through an imagined strict frown, but my eyes too busy pleading at Toni for some well place words. I turned back to the man at the window, watched as he backed away with hushed conversation to his colleague coming around the car, his hand reaching down, instinct touching on the top of his baton. I thought about revving the engine, speeding off down the track, but realised before my feet could react, I’d switched off the ignition.
I turned to Toni’s high grin, her left hand dabbing at her face, looking down at the sticky red on her finger.
“A box fell from a shelf,” she said. “Lady here wanted to drive. Always a bad idea,” she added with a shake of her head and a smirk down in my direction. I lowered my eyebrows to the officer, his face in a knowing grin at my apologetic shrug of my shoulders as he let his hand away from the baton.
“Looks nasty. Someone should have a look at that,” came the voice of the policewoman as she came into view.
“It’s fine,” Toni replied, smiling back. The woman still screwed up her face, squinting at the blood with her fingers hooked under the arm holes of her stab vest. Finally she turned to her colleague.
“We should go if you’ve had enough of a look?” she said, raising her brow.
“Nice to meet you,” Mike said with a new distance in his voice and turned away. “Get that looked at,” he said twisting round to Toni as he slid into the driver’s seat and his colleague joined him on the other side, the engine jumping to life shortly after.
A sudden bang on the back door turned our eyes through the centre and to the stranger on her knees, her hand slapping on the thin metal in Toni’s shadow. I twisted around, my face full of alarm, first to Toni, but she was already away from between the seats, taking great strides to the stranger whose head had turned around in alarm. Spinning back, I watched for the police car, making sure they’d gone, but I saw their car rock to a halt, Officer Mike’s face set stern as he stared towards the back of the van.
I turned the key in the ignition, waved to the officers and pulled away from the lay-by, not waiting for their reaction. Watching in the mirror, I expected blue lights to flash, expected the car to turn and the chase to begin. I saw his door open, the car roll forward. I slowed, watching his eyes not following us, instead fixed into the distance as the car jabbed to a stop for a second time, but not by his hand. I slowed, stopping the spin of our wheels, not listening despite the scuffling in the back, the muted argument with no voices, my concentration on where the police man was walking.
Switching my view to the other mirror, I jabbed my foot back on the accelerator as I watched the bush moving into the road, realising it wasn’t the foliage advancing with bared teeth towards the poor man who didn’t understand what he was looking at.
Pinned in my seat, something heavy fell in the back and rolled, thudding against the metal panels with each snap left and right of the wheel. I pushed the accelerator hard as I wound around the country road, taking every bend, every junction to make sure I put as much distance as I could from the terror. Toni didn’t rejoin me and I drove, my need to know what was happening in the back growing as the quiet shouted out. It was only as we entered a sleepy village I felt my right foot lighten and the van slow, coasting to a stop as the road widened.
For a moment I let my breath settle, finding no danger as I scoured though the windows, soon discovering I’d park outside a church with a steeple rising high in to the blue winter sky. Movement caught my eyes and I sat up straight, ready to push the accelerator again, but I watched his walk, a man in a long black coat, a black shirt with a white collar that reminded me of my childhood. It took several seconds with my eyes on the priest before I could let my beat slow, before I could be confident as he slowly drifted between the headstones, he wasn’t someone who should be buried deep.
I stood, climbing out of the seat, turning to Toni on the floor with her back resting against the doors. I couldn’t quite make it out the details or her expression, my body casting a long shadow. Reaching high to the ceiling, I flicked on the light above and gasped for air as I saw the stranger’s head held to Toni’s chest, a look of terror in Toni’s eyes as they stared back. The stranger hadn’t moved, hadn’t struggled while I’d watched.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.