As usual, I was just getting warmed up at the latest Lemon Tree Writers meeting when the ten minute flash fiction excercise was over for another day. Been busy with work stuff since then so my scribbly notes have sat in the spare room awaiting my attention. I had sat down this evening with the intention of doing some more work on my planned Christmas story – “Christmas Night of the Living Dead” but it wasn’t happening so I dug out my notes from Saturday instead.
‘Quick, get out of the car,’ I said.
Yvette gave me a look of panic. Her hands were clutched tight to her chest. She looked like a frightened little girl with her woollen hat pulled down over her ears and her big coat buttoned up against the cold. She opened her mouth to say something.
‘No time to argue,’ I told her. ‘We won’t get another chance.’
For a moment there was only the sound of the engine idling and the distant sound of sirens.
She sighed and her breath came out in little cloud of steam as it met the frigid air. She reached for the door handle.
‘Good luck,’ she said and stepped out into the street.
I nodded at her, feeling in my heart that, whatever happened, I was never going to see her again. The door thunked shut and my stomach tightened. I stamped my foot down on the accelerator pedal and the car lurched back into life just as the Police cruisers swam into view in the rear-view mirror like black and white sharks. Yvette was already gone. I prayed to God that she was safely away, scrambling up some side street and making her away towards one of the Network’s safe houses. If she could lie low for a while there was a slim chance that she might be able to get out of the city sooner or later and join a cell somewhere else. I realised that the odds of that happening would increase with every minute I was able to keep the pursuit going. I was going to have to be a rabbit for the hounds to chase.
I was surprised that we’d lasted as long as we had. The battered old Fiat was much slower than the Police cars with their turbocharged engines but their armour plated bodies made them heavy and sluggish as they charged through the narrow streets. Their flashing red and blue lights splashed off passing buildings as they drew closer again.
There was a crunch as I shifted gears clumsily to take another series of sharp turns and the lights disappeared for a few seconds allowing me to pull ahead once more.
I risked a look over my shoulder to see if they were still following and didn’t see the kid playing in the street until it was almost too late.
I yanked the steering wheel hard to the left and both feet shot onto the brakes. My weight slid around in my seat. The kid never moved an inch. He was rooted to the tarmac with fear as I hurtled towards him.
The smell of burning tyres filled my nose as the Fiat skidded into a lamp post and stopped, steam spewing from its ruptured radiator. The airbag farted into belated life after the immediate danger had passed.
I batted the airbag away and wrenched the door open. The kid was still standing there. Our eyes met for a few seconds. He looked at me and then at the Police cars rapidly approaching behind me. He couldn’t have been any more than eight or nine with the permanently hungry look of so many inner-city kids. Doors sprang open, disgorging armed Policemen into the street, guns already drawn.
The kid did the smart thing and got the hell out of there. I watched him go. He was out of sight down an alleyway in six long steps.
‘Stop there. Hands above your head.’
Six steps to the alley.
I thought about Yvette and how much she meant to me and tensed my muscles ready to run.
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