THE DRIVE

The twilight was dancing on top of the hills, beyond were the lights of the city, and home. But to get there was another hour’s drive along these twisting roads, and Donna was feeling the effects of having driven nearly 120 miles already. There was no motorway café where she could have pulled off the road and had a coffee before the last part of the journey, and home. She decided against using the motorway, found it tedious, and, if the truth be told, she nearly nodded off at the wheel a couple of times. So this time she decided to take the ordinary roads, with her new sat nav gadget, it would be no problem, just tap in her destination, using the ‘Avoid motorways’ part, and follow the instructions.

Road light were few, maybe an odd house here and there and one light, trees either side were tall and foreboding, casting long dark shadows in the fading evening light. There were many twists and turns, which coupled with her tiring, made driving a chore. As she hit a bit of a straight road there was a dazzling light from behind, something was catching up, fast. “Bloody ell” Donna shouted, at no one in particular, she couldn’t see in front of her because of the light behind, so she slowed down. The other vehicle slowed down, for at this point Donna couldn’t tell what it was, car? Van? Lorry? The bit of straight road came to an end and it was back to the twists and turns as before, only this time Donna had company. The vehicle was getting closer, so close at times their bumpers touched, and it was scaring Donna.

“Mobile” she suddenly remembered, in her bag.
“Damn” as Donna realised that her mobile phone was indeed in her bag, but her bag was in the boot, put there for safety, and, until now, forgotten about. The vehicle behind was still close, too close, as Donna could now feel the sweat trickling down her back. Her fingers hurt, as she had been gripping the steering wheel extra hard, although she hadn’t noticed too much at the time. Then without warning the car, yes it was a car, a red sporty one at that, swerved out and raced past Donna, causing her to slam on her brakes and wait for the inevitable crash. But it never happened; the sports car disappeared around a bend and into thin air. Donna slowed down then came to a stop, wound down the window meaning to take in some fresh air, even if the air was now getting cold. But she remembered she was on a mainly unlit road so pulled off before coming to a halt.

Her breathing was erratic as she warily stepped out of her car and made her way to the boot, with the intention of retrieving her bag, and mobile phone. She lifted the boot, grabbed the bag and moved quickly back to the driving seat. She fumbled about inside her bag for the phone, looked through her list of contacts and found Tricia. Donna pressed the connect button only to see the screen go blank, dead battery. She began to weep, and tremble, was it fear, or all of a sudden the night air was too cold. She pulled back onto the road and took a steady pace to continue her journey, looking in her mirror, only to see darkness. But that comforted her that no one was behind, but something was in front, a car, a red sporty one. It was smashed up against a tree, steam and smoke coming from the bonnet, glass strewn across the road, blood trickling down the door.

Donna slowed, but did not stop, as she passed the wreckage she couldn’t see the driver, she couldn’t see anyone. One front headlight and the backlight were somehow still on, and as the car started to drift out of sight Donna was wracked with both fear and doubts as to what she should do. She pulled over and got out of her car and started to walk back, very slowly. She picked up a large tree branch that lay at the side of the road that was for her protection, protection from what she didn’t know. “Why doesn’t anyone come by?” she thought to herself, but there was nothing, and no one but this wreck of a car. As Donna approached the car, her eyes scanning all around her for any movement, the coldness of the night air got to her, but still she carried on. At last she was within touching distance of the vehicle, but still could not see a driver. But donna could hear a car, not behind, but in front, and as she dashed back to the road she saw her own car disappearing into the distance, and something Donna hadn’t noticed up to that point, a trail of blood from the crashed car to her own.

Stranded no protection from the elements, no protection from anything and still steam and smoke streaming from the crashed car. Donna started to look in the car for a coat, jumper, anything, and nothing at all. She went round the back thinking the boot may be loose and with that some sort of cover inside, coat anything. As if someone had heard her cries the boot was loose and inside was a cardigan, the type with a wrap round belt and a pocket at either side. Not a young woman’s clothes Donna mused, but welcome none the less, and unmarked. Donna herself was bordering on her late 20’s and the ever nearer 30’s but still regarded herself as a lot younger. There was nothing for it, she had to walk, waiting for a knight in shining armour to come along, was not an option. Into the dark she ventured, every step sounded as though she had workmen’s steel toe capped boots on, boots yes, but fashion boots. Her pace was brisk so as to keep her warm, and move her nearer to home. Nothing came either way, nothing she could wave at, draw attention too, nothing and no one. She thought she heard noises, but there was nothing for company, only the trees, and the natural life that called the trees their home.

She rounded a corner and her heart lifted, for in the distance, not too far away was the bright city lights, and the place called home, which had seemed a million miles away not long ago. Then her spirits lifted again as she saw a solitary roadside light, right next to a country cottage, not only that but the cottage had a room light on. She quickened her pace, dashed across the road and knocked on the front door. No reply, she knocked again, nothing, no slight movement of the curtains, nothing. “Just my luck” she thought, so she ventured round the side to see if there was another entrance. Before Donna could get very far she was brought to an abrupt halt, for there, parked in the gloom, but just visible, was a car, her car.  No she hadn’t noticed it when she crossed the road, she hadn’t even noticed the gravel driveway, but this was her car alright. As quietly as she could she crept up to the vehicle to see if the keys were still in the ignition and if so she would jump back in her car and drive off.

Whoever had drove away from the crash scene, now had the sense of mind to remove the car keys this time. One more try on the front door, someone must be in, her car was there, hers that was driven off from a crash scene from what seemed like an hour ago. Bang bang bang, she hammered with her fist, the noise seemed to echo for miles around. Bang bang bang, hurting her hand this time, then looking towards the upstairs of the cottage. And there at the window a face, splattered in blood, hair stuck to the face, which was pallid, and was also a woman’s face. Donna drew back staring at the upstairs window, but the face had gone. Instead Donna found herself face to face with a wreck of a body at the opening front door, a body that looked as if it would collapse at any minute, and did do just that. Donna cautiously moved forward, trembling, not of the cold, that had almost been forgotten, but fear.
The heap on the floor didn’t move, but a line of blood was trickling from it, but Donna couldn’t determine from where on the body the blood originated, she was no medic. Donna bent down and tried to hear if there was any breathing, there was but it was faint. She got up and looked around the room, why hasn’t anyone been by for ages except this wreck of a woman, and looked for a phone.

She was cursing her decision not to take the motorway, when the body moved, in fact the body stood up and there before Donna was a tall woman, who, before the crash, looked like she had been elegantly, dressed but was now a mess of dirt, sweat and blood. The body moved forward, stumbling and finally falling into another heap before reaching Donna. The line of blood continued to where the body now lay, again quite motionless. Donna was about to dial 999 when it came to her to get her car keys and drive away from this place, where she had no reason to hang about other than this poor wreck lying before her and all the human race deciding to abandon this road to Donna herself. 9….9….9

“Which service do you require?” someone said “Police and an ambulance” seemingly as an afterthought. “What’s your name?” Donna Westcliffe “What’s your location?” good question what is my location?
“I’m down the old A63 into Hull, near to Newport/Gilberdyke, that way, it’s a cottage”
“Has there been an accident, anyone injured?”
“Yes yes, why all these questions someone’s badly injured, please send someone”
“I need some detail first, are the injuries bad?”
“I would say very bad”
“You say a cottage, any name or number?”
“I don’t know just send someone”
“It’s the old main road to Hull, Newport/Gillberdyke way”
“A patrol car is on its way can you make yourself seen?”
“Ok I’ll stand outside”
“Hopefully it won’t take long” the voice rang off.

Donna saw a white tablecloth and wrapped that around her, for want of something else. Then she remembered, “My car” dashing round the end of the house she grabbed her jacket from the car, a black one and not very thick at that, but at least something else against the cold night air. With the tablecloth and the jacket along with the cardigan she had taken from the crashed car she didn’t feel too bad waiting for this patrol car. She looked inside the house, the body hadn’t moved and Donna feared the worst, but kept on looking for this car, any car really. “Doesn’t anyone use this road at night?” thinking to herself. After what seemed an eternity a shaft of light came down the road, a car, a patrol car at that. Donna frantically jumped up and down to attract the attention of the 2 police people inside the car, she couldn’t determine if they were both men or what, she was just glad to see them.

“Where’s the ambulance?” were Donna’s first words, but the policeman went into the cottage, and the police woman, as it turned out, stayed with Donna. There was a lot of mumbling into radios as Donna was lead to the police car. Before long an ambulance, more police cars, and personnel, the whole road outside the cottage was suddenly alive with activity, when only what seemed like a few moments ago not a soul had passed by all night. Donna sat in the police car, still shivering when the policeman mumbled something to his companion, ‘hospital’ was the only word Donna could work out. With that another officer, who got in the driving seat, with the police woman sat in the back, next to Donna and they were off. They were hurtling towards Hull, with the police woman asking Donna various questions. The first lot of questions were about how she felt and such, then name, age, where do you live, where had she been, all written down. The warmth from the cars heater was a welcome relief to Donna as she was able to feel her body relaxing. Before long they were at this hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, with a doctor and nurse to check her over. Nothing was found to be wrong, other than slight shock for which a hot cup of tea was prescribed.

Then it was on to the police station, Queens Gardens, for more intensive questioning at which Donna felt she was some kind of suspect to all this drama. She repeated everything, twice, driving home, then being overtaken, then finding the crashed car, getting out of her car to see about the driver only to hear her own car being driven off. Then starting to walk, and knocking on the door of the cottage after finding he own car on the gravel driveway. The woman at the door, who then collapsed, all this being recorded, and written down by two men in suits, probably detectives Donna thought. All track of time had been lost, all Donna wanted was to get home and her car back. That was not possible at the moment, she was told, so how would she get home? What seemed to be begrudging she was offered a lift in a police car, back to her flat. Donna had the frame of mind to retrieve her bag and a bit more stuff from her car when she spotted it on the drive, which included the keys to her flat. She wearily unlocked her door but was suddenly startled by the bell, the bell to her bedside alarm had just gone off.

She looked at the clock, shafts of sunlight were breaking through the curtains, she was confused, there in the parking space was her car. What was she doing on the bed, still immaculately dressed, everything intact? Putting on her coat she went down to see her car, perfect, just as it was last night as she had driven home down a long dark twisting road, come home into her flat and fell asleep on the bed. “Last time I drive down that road when I’m tired” she mused. She got undressed, showered, had a light breakfast and got ready for work. It had been one hell of a dream, or nightmare, she had had thought Donna, and gave a little laugh of relief to herself.
It was a beautiful sunny, warm, sunny morning, as she went over to her car and was just about to climb in when this other car came round the corner.

A sporty car, a red one at that, and driven by what looked like a tall elegant, well dressed woman. It passed Donna and sped off, disappearing into the distance.
Donna froze.

 

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