Headlights

Headlights flashed in the rear view mirror. “Go around, jack ass,” Prue muttered. She depressed the accelerator anyway, but didn’t go more than five miles over the posted speed limit. It was one thing to go speeding around in her own home town, where she knew the roads and the cops’ favorite hang outs, but she was a long way from home and wasn’t entirely sure where she was going.

Prue really hated driving at night. A lot of her friends preferred it, saying there wasn’t as much traffic and that it felt absolutely wonderful to let the top down and enjoy the night wind. That was all well and good, but Prue liked being able to see where she was going, and that tended to be difficult in the dark. So she avoided night drives as much as possible. Tonight and the night before, it was unavoidable. If she wanted to make it to California in time for her grandfather’s funeral the next day, who’d died a week beforehand, she didn’t have the time to waste on hotels. The family had postponed it for as long as they could so she could finish her finals. Missing it now would be disrespectful, and she still had several hundred miles to go.

The headlights backed off, and Prue sighed in relief. Now that they weren’t blinding her, she noticed the lights had a bluish glow around the edges. The car was a large black shape behind them. It was probably a new SUV or something, the driver’s elevated height giving him and elevated sense of ownership of the road. Prue really hated people like that.

Pretty soon, the lights shrank back to a safer distance. She let up on the accelerator. No sense in making herself a target for any cops lying in wait. Her out-of-state license plates already made it tempting to pull her over.

She divided her attention between the road and her rear view, but after a few minutes, the headlights stayed at a proper distance. Prue smiled, and reached to turn the radio on. At that time of night, she could probably get some good alternative music. She found a song she liked, and twisted the knob sharply to the right, cranking the volume.

As soon as her hand returned to the steering wheel, there were the headlights, accelerating faster than should have been possible. The beams blazed furiously in the mirror, lighting the inside of her car. They were right on her bumper.

“What the hell!” Prue snapped. She clamped down on her startled reaction and pushed the accelerator. “Get off me!”

But the other driver didn’t hear, not that Prue expected him to. With an outraged huff, she turned on her blinker and moved over, perhaps more quickly than was safe. The other car jumped lanes almost simultaneously. Her heart racing, Prue swerved back to her original lane, but the other just swerved along with her. Her own car jerked forward, as the other bumped her.

She yelped and stomped on the gas, all worry of getting caught speeding gone. In fact, a cop or two would be a welcome sight right about now. Prue reached for her cell phone, but realized with a start that she was shaking. Her trembling fingers knocked it out of reach.

The lights flashed in her mirror and Prue pushed the accelerator all the way to the floor. The engine snarled and her car shot forward, the needle jumping further than she’d ever seen it go. And still, the lights stayed in her mirror.

Prue gripped the steering wheel with both hands, the knuckles going white. The only thing she could do was try to out run the other driver, but as the needle pushed one hundred, it wobbled uncertainly. The headlights stayed with her, and she doubted her car could handle this for much longer.

A sign flashed by, advertising some fast food restaurant at the next exit. That meant she was coming up on a town, a break from the barren desert. She shot down the exit ramp.

She slowed, just enough to make the turn without rolling. Her tires squealed a protest, but she stayed on the road, so did the other car. It stayed with her, practically on her bumper. Prue accelerated again, as quickly as she could toward the town, the other accelerating with her.

A couple miles down that road, Prue started seeing signs of civilization. Dull flickering street lamps stood at the edge of the road, and old abandoned buildings crumbled further away. She couldn’t find the restaurant, nor did she pass anyone going the other direction. It was just her and her pursuer.

A couple more miles later, and she passed a school. A few large houses came after that, and the road narrowed, putting her in a residential area. She didn’t slow down, and neither did the other car.

A scrape and a crack forced a yelp out of her as she took out the side mirror of a vehicle parked too far out at the curb. For a second she saw it in her own mirror, dangling from the side of the car, holding on by just a wire. And then she lost control. Tires jumped the curb and she collided with a fire hydrant. Precious water gushed in a sudden geyser, but her car didn’t stop there. She continued for another twenty feet across somebody’s front yard and finally came to a stop at a large cactus. The hood popped open with the force of the impact and smoke billowed from the engine. Prue’s head slammed against the steering wheel, and then she was still.

The headlights rolled to a stop. An engine rumbled unseen, as lights in the houses snapped on. The headlights dimmed and faded. They were gone by the time the residents came out to investigate.