Copyright G.P. Burdon 2013
The tarmac flew beneath the wheels, the white lines flashing by in a blur, the tyres screaming as the woman tore around tight corners, the trees along the side of the road becoming one long wall of green as each tree blended into the one before it, again and again. The baby was crying. She was strapped into her baby-seat, crying loudly, screaming, sobbing, choking on her tears, but still the woman raced. She needed to get far away. Disappear forever. That was her plan
Vanessa always wanted to be a mother, but she never thought it would be like this. She could already hear the sirens getting louder. They were most likely racing along somewhere behind her, chasing, pursuing, coming for her and the girl. The real mother would want her back. Vanessa knew this. But she didn't care. She was hers now, and no one would take her away.
I am her mother now.
Vanessa had waited all morning outside the service station, waiting for the perfect moment. It finally came when a young mother, no older than 20, had filled her car with fuel and run inside to pay, leaving her infant child alone in the car, keys still in the ignition. Vanessa took the car; and the baby as well.
The stolen car drifted sideways as she went around a particularly sharp corner, the wheels screeching in protest, Vanessa struggling to hold the car steady. She straightened the car as the curve in the road ended and sped up as she approached the beginning of an incline. The car flew over the top of the hill, Vanessa's teeth clenched and her knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.
She looked in the rear-view mirror and nearly choked on her horror. There, she could see two flashing pairs of red and blue lights, hot in pursuit, coming over the top of the hill behind her. The baby screamed and cried, but Vanessa swallowed her fear, stopped her eyes from darting between the road and the mirror and focussed only on going faster and getting away from the police.
She turned into a corner, feeling the g-forces pulling her in one direction while she forced the car to go in the other. She crossed over into the oncoming lane, taking the corner wide, losing sight of the police in the mirror for a moment. She looked back to the road, just as a truck sounded its horn, the deep bass almost deafening to hear so close. Vanessa's entire field of vision was commanded by the oncoming truck's grill. Her heart stopped in her chest and her eyes widened and, for a fraction of a second, the world seemed to pause.
Then the truck collided with the front left side of the stolen car, flipping it as the force of the impact knocked the insignificant beetle out of the monolith's way. The world was spinning as the stolen car, and Vanessa within, rolled down the road, flipping over and over, glass shattering, showering down on her, cutting her face and arms. Her head whiplashed from side to side as each impact rocked her in another direction, her seatbelt the only thing preventing her from being thrown around the inside of the car like a ragdoll.
Finally, they came to a stop. The world was still, but there was a loud ringing sound coming from all around. Vanessa could smell something burning, that acrid smell of burnt steel and rubber. Smoke was coming from somewhere. She was disoriented, dazed, bleeding, certain that she had numerous broken ribs, her head and neck feeling as though they were crushed and her right arm hung limp at her side. There was something else. The baby wasn't crying anymore.
Gasping for breath through the pain in her chest, blinking away the blood that was running into her eyes, she struggled to turn in her seat. The sirens were getting louder, but she was deaf to them. She could see the baby, still in her seat. As what she was seeing registered in her dazed and confused mind, she felt a ball of hot lead sink into her stomach. She opened her mouth and screamed, a horrible, animalistic cry, sounding somewhere between anguish and complete, utter, horror. After half-a-dozen miscarriages and her husband abandoning her, this was too much to bear.
I only wanted to be a mother!
She managed to struggle out of the car. She staggered a few feet away and turned back to look at the wreck. There was a small fire burning under the hood, the rest of the car unrecognisable. Vanessa fell to her knees and screamed again. She heard the sirens getting louder and louder and turned to face the sound. As she turned, the first squad car came racing around the corner and all she could see was the surprised faces of the two officers inside as the vehicle crashed into her.
She gasped as the front bumper suddenly became a stretch of road before her. She was driving, there were sirens screaming somewhere behind her and a baby was crying in the backseat. Confusion washed over her and she nearly lost control of the vehicle, the car wobbling violently as it careened around a corner.
"What?" Vanessa said aloud, looking around, her eyes wide. The baby screamed louder and louder. Vanessa didn't know what had happened, but she was still in the car, being chased by the police.
I must have had some sort of delirious fantasy, some sort of nightmarish dream while still awake. It had all felt so real, though; even the pain.
Behind her, the police were getting closer. She pushed the accelerator to the floor and sped away, newly determined to get away with the baby. She sped along the stretch of road, leaving the police in her wake, tearing around corners and dodging traffic, all like she thought she had already done. But she forced the confusion from her mind, because now was not the time to figure out what had just happened. First, she had to get away.
As she came to a hill in the road, she suddenly had a bad feeling. This is exactly how it had happened in my dream. Every corner, every cry from the baby, everything. The car flew down the other side of the hill and Vanessa saw a corner fast approaching. The corner she died on. The corner she lost yet another child on. Please, God, no!
She slowed down and took the corner with control, staying in the one lane. She looked in the mirror and saw the police lights vanish behind the tree line. She looked back to the road, just as a truck appeared in the oncoming lane. The wind screamed between the two vehicles, and Vanessa screamed as she felt the car being buffeted by the force of the passing truck. The baby shrieked louder, tears and snot streaming down the poor child's face.
Finally, the truck passed and Vanessa regained control. Panting heavily, she looked over her shoulder at the retreating back of the truck. She laughed out loud, hysterically, as the truck vanished around the corner. She turned back to the road ahead of her, relieved to be alive. Then two police vehicles screeched to a stop ahead of her, blocking the road. It was too late to stop. She panicked and swerved at the last second. She flew off the road and into the trees, trunks flying by on either side of the vehicle. As she screamed, she saw a very large trunk getting larger right in front of her.
The car crashed into it with amazing force. The front crumpled like wrapping paper under the strength of impact and Vanessa suddenly felt herself flying forward, her seatbelt having torn from the force of her body continuing forward after the car had already stopped. She felt herself go through the windscreen; felt the glass rip into her face and neck, felt her body splay across the folded hood of the car. Then there was only darkness.
When she opened her eyes, Vanessa could hear people yelling to each other somewhere. She could smell steel burning, see smoke rising around her. The baby was silent again. Vanessa moaned pitifully, struggling to move, but found she could only twitch. The world was unfocussed, but it slowly became clearer. Beside her, she could see a small, blood soaked body. She felt tears run down her face, mingling with her blood. Some small corner of her mind registered the fact that the car beneath her body was getting hotter, but all of her attention was on that small figure beside her. She let the tears fall silently down her cheeks. Then, as the car exploded, all she could see was the fire as it consumed her and her body was racked with blistering pain.
Suddenly, the flames were gone and a stretch of road was in front of her, her hands clenched on a steering wheel. Vanessa shouted in surprise, grabbing at herself with one hand, sure that she was still on fire and needed to put out the flames. But there were none; she was fine and the baby was still screaming behind her.
Panic gripped her. She didn't know what was happening, but she knew she couldn't risk killing the baby again, if she even had to begin with. She didn't know if she was crazy or hallucinating or seeing the future or what, but she was done. Vanessa couldn't see the baby die again. She put her foot over the brake and began to slow down. She brought the car to a stop on the side of the narrow road and stepped out of the vehicle as the police pulled up behind the stolen car.
"I give up!" she screamed, holding her hands up over her head and waving them to show she was no threat. As the officers climbed out of their own vehicles, Vanessa got down on her knees, shouting, "I give up! Arrest me! Save the girl!"
"Stay where you are and lie face down on the ground," one of the officers yelled at her, pulling out his sidearm. Vanessa did as she was told, still urging them to just arrest her and take the baby away. A few minutes later, Vanessa was placed in handcuffs; one of the officers was standing with her beside his squad car while his partner was over at the car getting the girl. The officers were all staring at Vanessa strangely, confused because she was laughing hysterically, feeling mad with relief.
I did it! I saved the baby! She's safe, now. I saved her! So Vanessa laughed and laughed and laughed. Laughed as she saw the officer gently lift the baby out of the car and step back out a foot onto the road.
But her laughter died in her throat as she heard the truck. Her eyes went wide as she saw it come around the corner. None of the officers saw it; they were all staring at Vanessa, distracted by her maniacal laughter. The truck braked hard, but it was never going to stop in time. The officer holding the baby turned at the sound of the noise, but never had the chance to move. The truck hit him with full force, and he went under the wheels, still holding the girl.
"Nooooooooo!" Vanessa screamed. She ran forward. The truck lost control and swerved towards her. Once again, the grill filled her vision and she felt the impact crush her. And just like before, she suddenly was driving again, the road stretched before her, her body perfectly fine, the baby still crying in the back seat.
A thousand times now, she has gone through this. She has tried to save the girl, only to watch her die. She has tried a thousand ways to save her, and seen her die a thousand ways. Each time, Vanessa dies shortly after, only having enough time to see what she had done. She doesn't know what is happening to her. She doesn't know if this is real or if it is a dream. She doesn't know if she can save the baby, or if she is doomed to die over and over for eternity.
I think I'm in Hell, that I'm being punished for killing the baby, I don't know. But I do know that I keep driving. Every time, I keep driving. I keep seeing her die. I keep dying. I keep driving.
And this road is endless.