Thursday, 18 May 2017

Ch 8 Part 2 Caution, Speed Bumps Ahead

As usual, there is adult language ahead, and this is a first draft, so expect some errors.

Feel free to comment below.  Hope you enjoy the second part of chapter 8!

Dimitri had Indian features and his dark complexion contrasted with the whites of his eyes and teeth in the dim light. His face was long and thin with a shock of dark hair that looked like it hadn’t been combed for days.

Dimitri rubbed at the blood on the side of his face where he’d been raked by the woman and wiped it off on the front of his jacket. “Crazy bitch,” he said over the roar of the wind coming in through his broken window.

Dimitri’s eyes flicked up to the rear-view mirror and he swore. Stirling twisted in his seat, his curiously overcoming the waves of nauseating pain that were radiating up into his abdomen.
A car was running up the shoulder of the road and rapidly closing the distance between them. He couldn’t see any detail behind the glare of the headlights, but it didn’t take a genius to guess that it was the Cadillac he’d seen in the parking lot.

Dimitri shifted down into third and jammed his foot on the gas, the little car picked up speed and Dimitri cut hard across into the left lane. Cars wove crazily as they swerved to avoid them.

Stirling saw a half-grin on Dimitri’s face and slid his box of notebooks between his feet.

The wind coming through the shattered driver’s side window came in at hurricane force as Dimitri shifted into fourth, the needle on the speedometer rising past the hundred kilometre mark. Dimitri’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel as the car behind them continued to gain.

Stirling didn’t know how this Dimitri was planning on outrunning the blonde woman. Madame Rag was in a car that had been built to deliver whatever the driver wanted, whether it be a top of the line sound system or the horsepower to run down the peasants when they got uppity. Airbags aside, when she caught them, the sheer power and weight of metal of the Caddy would flatten them like a slug under a brick.

The eight-lane intersection of Lougheed Highway and Boundary Road was rapidly approaching. Dimitri’s eyes constantly flicked from the road ahead to his mirrors. Stirling cast a look in his own mirror in time to see the blunt grill of Rag’s car disappear under the hatchback window behind them. They were out of time, Stirling grabbed for the passenger handle bolted to the ceiling and braced for impact. It didn’t come.

Dimitri jammed the wheel hard over to the right, somehow managing to maintain control on the wet road as they cut across the inside two lanes of traffic and sped right onto Boundary. Stirling could hear him cackling as they came centimetres away from death.

The crunch of metal on metal was startlingly close as Madame Rag’s pursuing Cadillac swerved after them, forcing an old Dodge Neon onto the shoulder and down a steep ditch.

If Dimitri thought he could pull off the move and get away unscathed, the next few moments proved him wrong. In an effort to avoid a white pickup truck in the turning lane, he’d had taken the corner too wide. As they turned onto Boundary Road, the front wheel clipped the centre median and launched the car’s left front end into the air. Stirling felt the impact in his chest as his belt tightened around his chest and the world tilted around him.

For a heart-stopping second, they were on two wheels. Stirling looked on, not even having time to be properly afraid as the wet road whizzed past outside his window like the Devil’s own personal bench grinder. Time slowed as the car teetered before it finally righted itself and slammed back onto the median. Dimitri gave a whoop and swerved off the barrier. He downshifted into third and the little car gamely sped away with all the haste its four-cylinder engine could muster.

Rag hadn’t been able to turn as tightly as the little Honda because as Stirling turned to Dimitri, he caught sight of the familiar blue Cadillac dodging in the lanes of oncoming traffic to the left of them. The same median that had nearly launched them into oblivion seconds before, now protected them, a barrier between them and their pursuer.

The sound of Caddy’s engine roared through Dimitri’s broken window, and Stirling watched in disbelief as it accelerated through oncoming traffic, playing chicken as it went, and, for the most part, winning.

The median ahead thinned to a three-foot strip and the Caddilac took advantage by steered sharply to the right and up onto the barrier. The big car hit with an ear-splitting bang and lurched over with the shriek of tires and a shower of sparks. Horns blared in protest as Madame Rag reoriented herself in the lane behind them and gave chase.

Dimitri began a steady mantra of swear words as Madame Rag resumed her dogged pursuit. They screamed through traffic, their small size allowing them to slip through tight spots much easier time than Rag’s whale of a car. Rag countered by using her car as a battering ram, nudging past vehicles, or simply ramming into those too slow to get out of her way.

Dimitri jacked the wheel over hard left, pulled the e-brake and skidded onto First Avenue and up the on-ramp to the Trans-Canada Highway, The Cadillac devoured the pavement not fifty meters behind them.

“What the fuck are you doing!?” Stirling yelled over the rush of the wind, “she’ll destroy us on a straightaway!”

Dimitri eyed him sideways and smiled a manic grin showing a row of gleaming white teeth. Sure enough, the slim lead they’d scraped together on Boundary began rapidly narrowing as Madame Rag’s dented Cadillac charged onto the highway after them. The blunt, grinning, grill grew close in the mirrors. Dimitri wove around slower cars, using all three lanes to evade the pursuing Caddy, but it was a losing proposition. Rag wouldn’t be shaken. She had speed and acceleration on her side.

Ahead, two cars in the slow and HOV lanes were moving at roughly the same speed. Dimitri was forced to stop weaving for critical seconds to thread the needle between them. He put his foot down hard on the gas, but the little car was already giving all it had. The Cadillac’s bumper hit them hard as they passed between the two cars. Stirling’s head bounced off his headrest and his seatbelt locked tight around his chest. Dimitri cleared the two cars and swerved left to avoid the next hit, cutting off the car in the HOV lane as he did so.

The blue car began pulling along side. If she was able to nudge their back wheel, she could put them into a spin, and that would be it. At the speed they were going, they wouldn’t need body bags, they’d need a warehouse palette of sandwich bags.

Dimitri yelled something unintelligible over the roaring wind, and Stirling experienced a sudden moment of vertigo. The little car suddenly screamed with new power and they shot ahead. Stirling was slammed back in his seat, this time not from the impact of Madame Rag’s Cadillac, but from the acceleration. Dimitri whooped in excitement as the car screamed ahead.

Stirling wasn’t exactly sure what was happening, but he happily joined in Dimitri’s celebration by letting loose with a whoop of his own. He rolled down his window and waved a middle finger at the car receding behind them. For the first time since getting in the car, Stirling felt that they might actually have a chance to shake Madame Rag.

The little subcompact maintained the pace for nearly ten seconds, the gap between them rapidly widening, when without warning the engine began to miss and stutter. White steam filled the window in the hatch behind them. Their acceleration dropped off and Stirling stared at the descending needle on the gauge like a man trapped on a sinking submarine.

“Shit!” Dimitri swore, pounding on the steering wheel. The car surged and bucked as they continued down the highway. Stirling checked behind them. Past the cloud of steam, the unmistakable headlights of Madame Rag’s battered Cadillac were approaching fast. Their speed quickly dropped below a hundred, the engine shuddering under the hood. At this speed, the Cadillac wouldn’t ram them, it would flatten them like a steamroller.

Dimitri shifted down, his eyes flicking between the road ahead and the rear-view mirror.

“Faster! Must go faster!” shouted Stirling, pointing at the onrushing car behind them.

The off-ramp to Hastings Street was sliding past and nearly behind them when Dimitri yanked on the emergency brake and swerved right at the last moment. The Cadillac scored a glancing blow on their bumper pushing them perilously close to the metal divider that separated the offramp from the highway. The already mangled driver’s door scraped past the corrugated metal divider, nearly ripping it off as they shuddered past. Dimitri screamed as the barrier loomed in his broken window and tortured metal screamed less than a foot away from his shoulder.

The rear end of the car impacted the steel post and rebounded away, throwing them both around like the crew of the original Star Trek. Air bags deployed explosively from above the driver-side windows with a noise like the paper bag of the gods being popped.

Defying all of Stirling’s expectations, Dimitri somehow avoided oncoming traffic and the car swerved drunkenly onto the off-ramp. The driver’s door dangled by only a shred of metal and threw up a shower of sparks as they made their escape.

The Cadillac tried to follow but Dimitri’s timing had been perfect. Sparks flew off the Caddy’s door as Madame Rag swerved back onto the highway, the metal divider defeating her attempts to pursue them. She continued down the highway propelled by the weight of cars coming up behind her. There wouldn’t be an opportunity for her to turn the car around again until she crossed the Second Narrows Bridge into North Van.

Dimitri limped the little car up the long off-ramp and turned right onto Hastings, steam pluming out of the exhaust pipe. He parked in the lot of a McDonald's and mercifully silenced the terminally sputtering engine.

They both took in a deep breath in the sudden silence and Dimitri turned to look at Stirling. He held out his hand.

“It’s Stirling, right?”

Stirling didn’t shake his hand, he was too busy looking at the sheared-off threaded rod from a highway divider sticking out of Dimitri’s left shoulder.

Stirling pointed at the protruding bit of metal and, nonplussed, Dimitri turned to look to where he was pointing. He gave the length of metal an experimental poke. It didn’t budge.


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