Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dark was the night

She stood upright, shocked at the sight of her hands. She couldn’t reconcile herself to the crimson shade that painted it that sinister hue. She never thought she’d see blood on her hands (pun intended). And she always thought blood was red, not this wicked shade of crimson. Wicked. Because that’s what it was. That’s what SHE was. She was wicked.

After all, what had that man done? She wasn’t even sure whether she’d have any supporters in a court of law. The man had simply taken her along a different route because there was too much traffic on the main road and her flight to Glasgow was in less than ninety minutes. Sure, it was a dark road and sure, there weren’t too many other people – or cars – on the road, though it was only seven in the evening. But he didn’t LOOK evil – and she usually had a feeling about people just by looking at their faces. No, really, she did. And most of the time, she was right. She was used to trusting her instincts, and her instincts didn’t wave a red flag when this mild-mannered old taxi driver came along. But then again, she hadn’t intended to let him take a side road either. It was just that she was desperate to make the flight on time, and he seemed a decent enough bloke….

She’d hailed the taxi to the airport after a long day at work. Work had been worse than usual that day – four meetings and two reports to hand in on a day when she could have used the extra time. Why, just yesterday she hardly had anything to do and left an hour ahead of her usual five o’clock clockout. Trust life to have its way of telling us that it is the master – and not the other way around. Anyway, her boss insisted that she complete all those tasks, so complete them she did, all the while her mind thinking of that flight she just had to make. She hated making these decisions – work or love. Love or work. Why couldn’t she just BE? Why didn’t she just let herself be, was more like it, she reminded herself. She’d chosen this life. She wanted to have her cake and eat it too. She wanted both work and love.

There was a crazy traffic jam on the way to the airport. Her mind was exhausted with the day’s work as it is, so when the driver said he could take her to the airport on time if he took another route, she just nodded tiredly. The road there was so crowded that she never expected this ‘alternate’ route to be so devoid of inhabitants of any sort. She closed her eyes as he took the next available turn off the main road, her mind already in Glasgow.

It was fine for the first ten minutes. They certainly were speeding along now, compared to the inching that they were doing just a few minutes earlier on the main road. She opened her eyes and realised that the road, surprisingly, was dark. It was the middle of the city, not far from the main highway, and it was dark. She didn’t understand it. She didn’t know, of course, that it was a new route the authorities had only recently commissioned to ease the traffic on the main road, and they were just about putting the finishing touches on it. It hadn’t been announced in the newspapers yet, but the road was open. Or at any rate, the driver knew it could be used. The one thing that remained to be done was to make sure the road-lamps were working.

As the car putt-putt-putted to a stop all of a sudden, her heart started beating loudly. She knew something was wrong. The driver gave a sigh and turned to her apologetically. Something was wrong with the car, he said. She responded irritatedly, already worried for herself – she knew ‘something was wrong’. Could it be fixed in five minutes? Because that’s all the spare time she had if she was going to make the flight. He said he’d have to see what the matter was. He switched the ignition off and on a couple of times, but nothing happened. By now, she was freaking out inwardly. She was alone, and the road was dark, and this had to happen. She almost laughed at herself. How could she have been such a fool? Was her life more important or getting to Glasgow? She swore that she would never ever let this happen again – as it is, she wasn’t the sort that let her guard down. Just this one time. But, as she told herself again, once is all it takes. Didn’t her mother tell her that all the time? Her parents. What would they do if anything happened to her?

The driver got out now and went to the boot. This was like some dumb horror flick she’d seen recently. What if there was someone in the boot? How would she have known? Aaaaaaaghhhh. She couldn’t believe what was happening to her. She had her phone in her hands. She started calling her best friend, knowing that was probably a smart thing to do at the moment. She also quickly looked around for something that could be used as a weapon. Nothing seemed to present itself, except her bag, and she wasn’t carrying anything that could be used for self-protection anyway. She’d read enough stories to know that the next step would help her situation, if she could do it on time. She reached over to the front and pressed the auto-lock button for the doors and windows.

The driver heard the click of course. He came round, and peered into her window. God, NOW he looked evil. She should have been more alert. He started shouting, but she couldn’t hear and didn’t want to hear what he was saying. She was beyond listening. Then he started getting angry, and tried punching the windows to get through. She heard a slight crack. He wasn’t tiny, even if she thought he’d had a mild-mannered face. Mild indeed. He succeeded on his second attempt. His fist went right through the window, tinged with that crimson shade she knew so well by now. She dropped the phone, her friend’s screams audible from the floor.

Before he could reach in and grab her or open the door, she picked up a broken shard of glass and brandished it in front of her. Then, in the blink of an eye, she thrust it into his face as he looked inside and began to speak. As he leaned back out, she picked up and threw another pointed sliver at him like a dagger, with the force that she’d gained from her year of kickboxing. Kickboxing wouldn’t help her now, as she was firmly ensconced in the car, but the practice could. And she made full use of whatever strength she had.

He fell, and then lay motionless. She got out of the car, looked at him, and then her hands.


Suddenly, she saw a bright light coming towards her. She recognized it as coming from a pair of headlights. As the car approached, she waved it down. It stopped, naturally, because it was such a narrow road that the taxi and the body that eerily lay by it took up the entire width of it. A young man got out, a concerned look on his face. When he saw the body, with the glass weapon protruding like Excalibur from its stone, he looked at her, then bent down, took the taxi driver’s wrist in his hand, then put his ear to the taxi driver’s chest and listened for a heartbeat.

Pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket, he slowly removed the glass pieces, and then quickly stemmed the gush of blood with his handkerchief. The man still lay motionless. She couldn’t see and she didn’t know yet, but ever so slightly, he was breathing. Her ‘saviour’, as she mentally began referring to him, then asked her to help him lift the man into his car’s back seat. She wordlessly did this and then got in beside him in front.

In two minutes they reached the main road again, and they pulled in to a hospital. Her mysterious angel got the man into the emergency ward, where she was informed that he was still alive. Her thrust, powerful as it was, had not been right into his heart, and the glass dagger, as she now called it, was not as big as she thought it was. Her fear had just magnified it in her head. Her saviour walked towards her. She explained the whole thing to him, and he quite seriously said that she could have killed him, but her lack of experience (‘lack of experience’. She smiled to herself. For the first time in her life, she was glad she did not have the ‘experience’ needed of something. She remembered the numerous jobs that she’s been rejected for because of this same ‘lack of experience’) – her lack of experience had uncannily saved her from becoming a murderer. And luckily for her, he was a doctor himself – if it was just anyone who’d come to help her, they might have thought the driver was dead as well.

She sat down gingerly, letting it all seep into her head. She could have been a murderer. A murderer. She could have been put into jail for life. She looked up at her saviour gratefully, her eyes misting over.

Then she went to a nearby phone and calmly dialed Glasgow. She’d had enough of this long-distance relationship.

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