I could see the highway when the black pickup smashed into us. The day was bright and full, the sun had just broken over the trees and cars were streaming into the highway. We could have been free.
Cassidy’s car had the power and the speed, but the pickup had more. We were caught, I knew it the moment the truck hit us. The sedan shuddered as the tires rose a bit and dropped back on the pavement at such a high speed. I ran through every scenerio I could, but all of them ended with us crashing.
“Put on your seat belts,” I yelled.
Natalie reached up and grabbed the shoulder harness and yanked it across her body before helping Cassidy with hers. Cassidy’s face was knotted with concentration. I could see her eyes in the rearveiw mirror, darting and paniced as she glanced at the truck speeding up to hit us again.
I turned to look back when the pickup hit us again.
The frame of the trunk of the sedan gave way and crumpled. The force caused the car to surge forward and then the world turned upside down.
Time did not stop. Time skipped, like a needle on a record. Pounding and thrashing and wrenching and spinning. Force was applied in every direction as I held onto the fabric of the seat and felt it tear under my grip.
Then we were rocking. Back and forth. One final boom and we fell over, falling just a little further down and over. And over. And over. And another slam and we stopped. Dirt and darkness were to my left. Sky and light to my right.
I felt for my seatbelt. The tight plastic feeling material held me tight, cutting into my chest. I fingered the release button and then fell. The image of me sliding down the seat like a beer on a bar made me laugh for a second until I hit the door and shattered the glass with my elbow. More pain.
I let myself be for a moment. The pain had pushed me out of myself, back to a calm place where I could think. But why would I need to think?
I could not remember. Maybe I should see what was happening outside...
I stood up, putting my hand in the mud and broken glass. It did not hurt. Nothing really hurt. Maybe my ankle, but that was just a sprain. I just needed to stay off it for a day or two.
I stood up on the door of the car turned on its side, my back hunched over because the car was small and I was big. That was funny, too.
I wonder if I’m in shock. No, I thought, how would I get shocked? There’s no light sockets in a car.
I reached up and pulled on the door handle. It would not move. I pulled again, but nothing.
Ah, the door was locked.
I pulled at the little knob and the lock slid over to red. I pulled the handle again and the door came loose. I pushed up and the door opened.
I used the seats to push myself up and held the door open above me until I could set it where it would stay open on its hinges. I boosted myself up and out of the car, bracing on the tree it was leaning against.
Then my hand, wet with blood and mud, slipped and I fell again down the hood of the car and onto the grass and mud.
I looked up and saw a hawk flying high above, arcing a slow circle from the trees around the embankment, over the road and back to the trees where it disappeared.
The road. Something about the road...
I felt tired and the grass and mud was cold but comfortable. My eyes were heavy and I thought about a nap. I had not taken a nap in the grass in forever...
Then there was thunder.
No, not thunder. And engine.
“Goddamn, think he’s still alive?” Someone said.
“He’s breathin. Get him in the truck. Momma can fix him up.”
Hands gripped under my arms and lifted me up. I moved and cried out. The hands dropped me.
I scurried away, gripping grass and mud in my hand. My left hand screamed at me with pain and I looked at the red blood covering it. I screamed again and looked back at who had grabbed me.
Hoodie stood there, hands up and limping toward me. He did not have the red hoodie on anymore, but it was him. He limped toward me another step.
“Hold on, there, bud,” he said, “You’re hurt. Let’s help you out. We’re just gonna get you and them girls out of the car and then take you-”
I hit him in the face as hard as I could with right hand. A quick jab with no real power behind it, but enough force to feel his nose crack and bust my knuckle.
“Son of a bitch,” he screamed, holding back blood from his nose.
I heard a laugh from behind me, but before I could turn the back of my head exploded and I could feel myself falling again.