Elle rinsed her coffee mug under the small stream of lukewarm water and placed it in the strainer. She glanced around the house once more, turned the timer for the lights on, and checked her reflection in the mirror to ensure her ears were tucked in the headband she wore. With a quick glance at her watch, she smiled for the first time that morning. She always smiled when she knew that she’d see Blake Christianson soon. Her days revolved around mooning over her boss, and hoped to one day work up the courage to ask him out. She’d envisioned their first date more times than she cared to think about. Today… Today would be the day she asked him out!
Eleanor Smith grabbed her key ring out of the porcelain dish that rested beside her front door and left the house to go to work. More out of habit than any real need, she locked both locks on her front door, and walked over toward her pride and joy. The green pick-up truck that her father had custom built for her to ensure she’d never require assistance for all of her gardening needs. She missed him more and more each day, even though her shrink swore that time would heal her grieving heart. Elle shrugged off the wave of melancholy that always came with thoughts of her deceased father. He wouldn’t want her to live her life in a permanent mourning state.
As she slid behind the wheel of her green machine that ran on nothing but electricity and recycled oils, she renewed her vow. Today she would ask out her boss of five years, and nothing would stand in her way. She deserved to know if she’d tortured herself endlessly with thought of him, or if he had thoughts of her beyond work as well. She glanced at her face in the rearview mirror and saw a pair of mocking green eyes staring back. Elle prayed for courage as she put the truck in drive and headed out of her horseshoe drive away to the back roads of coastal North Carolina.
Though the freeway would take off about twenty minutes to her drive, she preferred the rural roads due to her complete hatred of traffic and other drivers who had to get to the same red-light at least three seconds before the person that had been in front of them. At that time of the morning, she had to pass the occasional piece of farming equipment but in five years hadn’t had to experience one moment of road rage. Just thinking of tractors and plows made her check the mirror once more. Just to prove her wrong stood a bright and shining example of mankind’s worst road worthy vehicles. The giant black ominous SUV took up the entire lane as it edged closer to back of her truck.
“Go around,” she said and made no attempt to move even one digit above the posted speed limit. If they wanted to drive sixty-five instead of forty-five they should have driven on the freeway like everyone else. Elle took a few deep breaths to keep her annoyance at bay.
Instead of going around the SUV bore down on her with a persistence that surprised her. The vehicle kept an even pace with her truck for a few miles. Elle tried to tell herself that perhaps their speedometer had broken and they were using her vehicle to tell the speed limit. The lame thought did little to appease her sense of caution. The SUV edged closer, she could no longer see the front if it in her mirrors. She kept her truck at a steady speed. She glanced around to her surrounds and saw nothing but dense forest. It dawned on her that she should have pulled off earlier when there were still side roads.
The SUV had pulled back; Elle released a sigh of relief. She laughed more out of a nervous reaction than any humor in the situation. She allowed herself to be wound up because a dark car had followed her on a road that few traveled on. What a neurotic fool she was!
Then she heard spinning tired and the roar of an engine. Her eyes flew to the rear view mirror just in time to see the SUV bursting toward her like a locomotive going full steam ahead. She jerked the wheel and tried to move the truck out of the crazed SUV’s way, but only succeeded in causing the other vehicle to hit the back corner of her beautiful green truck. The sound of metal caving against a stronger force filled her ears as her forehead smacked against the steering wheel she tried desperately to hold on to. The truck spun when she slammed on her brakes. The out of control, surreal feeling took hold of her and she fought hard to stop the wayward truck. What was going on? Why did that truck hit her?
Adrenaline rushed through her veins. Her heart thumped against her ribcage and threatened to burst from her chest as her panic rose. When the truck finally came to a stop she could smell the scent of burning rubber from the squealing tires. With a quick glance around she realized that her truck rested in the middle of the road, the dotted yellow line against the black pavement all but running through the center, with her truck sideways. She looked down to where the SUV had hit her.
Once again it came toward her at a speed that terrified her. She tried to undo her seatbelt, her fingers shook and she couldn’t seem to undo the belt. With a cry of frustration and panic she pulled at it and slid the chest strap over her head. Her plan had been to scoot through the lap belt, but time had worked against her. The SUV rammed into the stopped truck and Elle’s head hit the driver side window with a force so strong that it broke the tempered glass. The tired dragged against the asphalt until it finally gave and rolled onto the side. Elle heard the SUV back up and she did what she could to prepare for a second impact. All her movements seemed to play in slow motion.
The SUV hit once more and pain exploded as Elle’s body flung between the door and dash like a limp ragdoll. She tried to clear her thoughts enough to focus but couldn’t, her eyes fluttered closed despite her efforts otherwise. She would not die like some random statistic! Her breath began to slow as her pain faded. Elle struggled to remain conscious because she feared that she’d never regain it if she didn’t. Someone out there tried to kill her. If she gave up, they’d succeed. This couldn’t be happening. Her body reacted in ways that defied all of her motivations. Though she could still feel the dull pain throughout her entire body, it felt more like an annoyance than the wreck inducing injuries she’d just experienced. Her heartbeat scared her most of all. She couldn’t feel it. If she’d of been able to take a deep breath, she would have panicked, but her breath had all but stopped as well.
Could she be dead, and her brain not know it yet? The foul stench of cigarette smoke drifted toward her and brought a wave of nausea from her stomach. Well, she doubted she could throw up while dead, so something still worked in her battered and bruised body. Out of nowhere fingers grabbed her face an forced her head to the right. She’d never heard anyone enter the truck. She didn’t even know what position the truck rested on.
“Damn, dead,” a raspy voice uttered.
I’m not dead! I’m not! Her voice screamed inside her head, but she never uttered a sound. She heard the tale tell sound of a lighter being flicked and prayed he wouldn’t kill her by doing something stupid like lighting the truck on fire. A horn blasted from a distance and the presence in the truck with her disappeared. She had never heard him enter, she’d never heard him leave. She couldn’t explain any of it.
_Sleep now child, help is on it’s way._
I don’t want to die, she cried out, though again just in her mind.
_No further harm will come to you._
For some reason the voice comforted her, she let go and drifted toward the welcoming darkness.