'The paramedics found it strange that before they had even arrived on the scene someone had left a bunch of flowers next to the tragic accident...'
It had been a tiring week and Laura wasn’t looking forward to the drive home. Whilst consultancy work was well rewarded, she was fed up with living out of a suitcase and could barely remember when she’d last spent seven days in her own bed.
At 5pm on Friday Laura shook hands with the finance director and thanked him and his staff for their hospitality, a false expression of gratitude given the icy reception that she had received over the past five days from all but one employee, a lanky IT technician who had taken it upon himself to interrupt her every two minutes asking if she wanted yet another cup of weak, unpleasant tea. It was pouring with rain and the winter sky was already black so she ran to her car, coat over head. She threw her bags into the boot and was just about to climb in when she realised that she had left her scarf inside. She was tempted to leave it, every minute she delayed setting off adding another minute to the time until she would be back in her flat with the bottle of chardonnay that had been chilling all week in anticipation of her return. The scarf however had been a gift from her mother and would no doubt be expected to be paraded in front of her at their next meeting, so reluctantly she ran back inside, leaving the engine running in an effort to shift some of the ice glazing the windscreen.
Within two minutes Laura was back in the car and the ice had cleared sufficiently for her to set off. Eyes heavy from too much work and not enough sleep, Laura cranked up the radio in an attempt to keep herself alert. As the DJ played an eighties classic she started to sing along, head bobbing in time to the music. She would never sing in front of an audience, the thought of karaoke mortifying, but nothing could beat belting out a cheesy song safe in the knowledge that no one could hear.
As her route snaked into the country, Laura turned her headlights to full beam. In such treacherous conditions she hated this kind of road; windy, unlit and full of potholes.
Fortunately she only had a couple of miles to go before the motorway that would carry her all the way home. The rain seemed to be getting even stronger, and Laura turned the radio up further in an effort to drown out its hammering rhythm.
Coming around a bend at considerably more than the speed limit Laura was suddenly faced with a red traffic light on a crossroads immediately in front of her. Slamming on the brakes she managed more by luck than judgement to screech to a halt parallel to the light, the lack of traffic that she subsequently noted in every direction making her wish that she hadn’t bothered.
There was a loud thud from the back of the car which she assumed was her suitcase in the boot careering forward. This assumption was however quickly proved wrong as she heard an expletive come from behind her seat, and felt a hand grab at her knee. Screaming, Laura looked up into her rear view mirror to see a shadowy figure peering at her. Her first instinct was to get out and run, however it had been at least a mile since she had last passed a house and other road users seemed to be few and far between, so she decided that running away from a would-be murderer was not the wisest idea. On the passenger seat was her handbag; a huge leather contraption which held not just keys, wallet and phone but also a spare shoes, a litre of water and a fat novel. Recalling how her boyfriend had always said how she would do herself damage lugging around that vast weight all day, she decided the best course of action was to test its to potential to do damage to someone else. Laura grabbed the bag and swung it with all her strength at the unwelcome passenger, hitting him squarely in the nose, which started bleeding all over her upholstery.
“Ouch!” squealed the would-be murderer in a frankly unfrightening manner. As he looked up, blood continuing to spill everywhere, Laura suddenly recognised him and felt her feeling of terror give way to immense anger.
“You? What the hell are you doing in my car? I could have crashed and killed us both!”
The IT guy looked somewhat pathetic as he tried to stem the flow of blood with his sleeve.
“I’m so sorry, I never meant for this to happen! I followed you out as I wanted to give you my number – and these”
He bent down and pulled out from underneath Laura’s seat the most bedraggled bunch of flowers that she had ever seen.
“It was raining so hard that when I saw you run inside I thought I’d sit in the car until you got back – to protect the flowers, you see. Then when I saw you coming back I got nervous, and for some stupid reason decided to hide. I hoped you’d go to the boot or something so that I would get a chance to sneak out without you noticing, but that never happened. I was planning on making my getaway as soon as you stopped; I never meant to scare you, I promise!”
With fury in her eyes Laura swung the bag at him again.
“You weirdo, I wouldn’t have wanted your flowers before and I certainly don’t want them now. Get out, now! Before I call the police...”
As the IT guy clambered out the car Laura pushed her foot to the floor, desperate to get to somewhere well lit and where she could compose herself. As tears flooded her eyes she saw nothing other than the road ahead, the road that would lead her to civilisation and away from the creep who had scared her half to death. By the time headlights illuminated her face and the bellowing horn filled her ears however it was too late – he may have scared her half to death, but it was the ten tonne articulated vehicle speeding towards her would take her all the way.