Headlights were speeding towards them, looming out of the fog like the eyes of a huge monster. Yellow and unblinking, mesmerising, fixing their prey with a paralysing stare as the beast roared in anger, coming from nowhere out of the night.
The car swerved, wheels locked on February ice as Mark leaned across from the passenger seat and instinctively tried to grab the steering wheel from Jenny’s rigid grip. But it was too late. Much too late. The hedges were towering giants on either side of the country lane and there was nowhere else to go.
And in the fraction of a second before impact, Mark looked up and saw the lorry driver’s face with crystal clarity, frozen in a mask of absolute terror as the night exploded in a chaos of glass and fire.
Awake or asleep? Alive or dead?
Images changing, blurring, reforming. Flick to the next one. No – too far. Back. Back!
Can’t. Gone too far. Can’t wake up! Help me!
The pain was gone in seconds, sliding away from him like a blanket discarded in sleep. Only he wasn’t in bed – was he? Was this all just an elaborate dream? A nightmare of fire and twisted metal?
No, it was too real. He could feel nothing, yet there was an overwhelming stench of petrol and the angry crackle of flames.
No direction. Only a sense of urgency. Something important he has to do.
What is it? Where am I?
No time to think. Got to go. Find Jenny.
Mark sat up slowly. There was wet grass underneath him – he’d obviously been thrown some distance from the crash. Across the field the car was entwined with the lorry in an obscene embrace; a lover’s kiss of death.
He got to his feet as the lorry’s engine exploded a rocket of glass and metal up into the night sky. The noise was deafening.
The whole of the nearside of the car was mangled beyond recognition, embedded in the wheel arch of the lorry. Mark went round to the driver’s side and wrenched the door open, not feeling the flames licking at his hands. Jenny was slumped over the steering wheel, blood on her face and her blonde hair already singed. Mark unclasped the seatbelt.
Hands underneath her shoulders, he dragged the girl out, barely pausing to glance at the body next to her in the passenger seat. Or rather what was left of the body. Then he lifted his wife gently in his arms – not stopping to wonder that he couldn’t feel the weight of her – and carried her away from the wreckage. She was still breathing.
Mark put her down on the grass by the gate.
It’s done. Time to go. No place here any more.
I love you, Jenny.
In the distance, there was the wail of a siren.