Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pylon - From Chapter 1

Her foot was braced to the floor where the brake would have been, and she realised that through the metal she could feel the vibration of Alex pumping the brakes, but with no effect. The road turned slightly, but the car slid on straight ahead, across the lane, narrowly missing the bumper of the car in front. They were heading inexorably towards an overpass held up by a pylon in the median strip. She felt herself leaning forward, as if willing the car on just a little bit to miss it. Shock ran through her, like a physical jolt. Hitting the pylon wasn’t the problem. Not hitting it would put them over the median strip and into the oncoming cars. With a sense of inevitability the car glided gracefully by the pylon. The front of the car lifted on the bump. She was aware of the quiet, the look of surprise and concentration on Alex’s face. She could see him thinking through his options, gripping the wheel in frustration.

The moments before the crash seemed to unfold so methodically, so peacefully, that Alex was bewildered he didn’t register the noise and jolt of the impact. He found himself sitting there, spun around and back to the pole, watching the tail lights of the car that had hit them wobble for a few metres and stop. He was aware of his voice in his head, thinking that the pole hit the back of the car. He looked back to see Liam’s seat enfolded in the door, which was wrapped around the pole. His breathing stopped. That could have been Liam, that could have been Liam. He was startled when a car to the left crossed his eye line, swerving to avoid the car in front sticking out into the lane.

He saw a man jump, almost tumble out of the stopped car ahead. The man righted himself, and stared frozen for a moment. He saw the man start forward, stop, run back to the car and reach inside, talking to someone. A shaky hand passed out a mobile phone. It seemed to slip through the man’s hands. He leaned down, and still half-crouched was pushing at the buttons. The man was yelling into the phone. Alex couldn’t hear it, he could only hear the sound of his breathing and the blood beating. Even the music sounded distant and tinny.

His hands were still gripping tight to the wheel. He heard a voice that almost sounded like his, saying ‘We made it. We made it.’ He could see the bonnet, his door. From nowhere someone rapped against the window. Even the glass in his window was unbroken. He could barely hear the shout. ‘Are you alright?’ He grasped the wheel harder and stared ahead. The man’s face was distorted with shouting. ‘Are you alright?’

He looked across at Zoe, wanting her reassurance that it was ok. He reached over to her. She looked too far away, but his hand slammed into her before it seemed halfway there. She was warm, wet with blood. ‘Zoe? Are you ok? Zoe?’ She didn’t seem to hear him.

No comments: