Cold Winter's Night

By , Alamo, CA
Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him. The rain continued to fall in the darkness, pooling in large black puddles on the pavement. All of the store fronts were dark. The only light came from the regularly spaced streetlights that stood watch over the street below them. Hale continued to drive down the road, looking around constantly for the car that had been following him. He had lost them. Hale pulled over to the side of the road and stopped.
Hale sighed and shivered even though the heat was on full blast. He pulled his leather jacket closer around him and rubbed his hands together. The night was quiet but for the rain drumming off of the roof of his car and the sound of the windshield wipers making their regular sweep across the windshield. He picked up his cell phone off of the empty passenger seat and dialed his brother.
No one answered. Hale put the phone down slowly and tried to tell himself that his brother was just occupied and couldn’t answer. Deep down he knew that wasn’t the case. His brother never missed a call. No. They had killed his brother, and that meant that Hale was the only one left. Hale buried his face in his hands and wept. He had never been close with this brother, who was much older and never around when Hale was a boy, but still felt a close connection with him. After a few minutes Hale looked into the back seat at the briefcase he knew the terrorist group was after. He had to get it back to the embassy in London. He would have time to mourn later.
Before he could complete his thought, Hale was bathed in artificial light as a black SUV turned the corner and flashed its brights. They had finally caught up with him. Hale jammed the keys into the ignition and started the car. He thought his heart would burst out of his chest. He threw it into drive as masked men poured out of the SUV’s doors. As Hale drove away a single loud crack heralded the sound of a bullet piercing his rear window. That was too close. Hale wiped the sweat from his brow and sped up onto the highway. They would catch up with him again and he was running out of time. He drove for close to two hours after leaving Brighton, never looking back and never slowing down.
Hale looked at his gas gauge. He was close to empty and still over an hour from London. There were only a few other cars on the road but none of them were black SUV’s. He realized that this was his only chance to gas up. Hale got off at the next exit and pulled into a dilapidated servo that looked like it had seen better days. Farmland surrounded the cement slab the station sat on and weeds were growing up through cracks in the pavement. Hale turned his car off and stepped out into the brisk night air. It had stopped raining, but the clouds still shrouded the night sky in blackness.
After quickly filling up, Hale got back onto the road. Again headlights flooded his mirrors as the dark silhouette of the SUV came into view. Hale kept on going down the country road but the wolves were hot on his heels. He turned down different roads but couldn’t lose his pursuers in this wide open land.
Up ahead, Hale could make out the dim lights from a freight train running perpendicular to the road. This was his last chance to lose his pursuers once and for all. The hundreds of cars on the train would stop them in their tracks if he could time his passage right. Sweat made his hands slip on the steering wheel and Hale had to take a second to calm his nerves. Getting this briefcase into allied hands would help prevent a war between the US and Eastern Europe.
He took a deep breath and sped up. The rail crossing was getting nearer. The lights began to flash on the crossing signs as the freight train closed in. Hale floored it, but it didn’t look like he was going to get away. The terrorists were right behind him and they had begun firing at him again. Hale kept his head down and prayed for salvation. The interior of his car was filled with white light, broken glass, and the ever increasing sound of the train’s horn. He could feel the jostling of his car as it sped across the tracks and the rumble of many tons of steel and freight as they bore down upon him. Hale heard a loud noise and everything went black.
Hale had stopped. He looked up and pried his hands from the wheel. He was in a ditch on the side of the road. He looked back to see a magnificent plume of smoke and fire coming from the wreck of an SUV. The train was still moving, slowly now. He had made it. He had escaped with his life but only just. His pursuers were dead. Hale turned on the car radio and drove off into the cold winter night, shaken but otherwise unharmed.





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