Winter Rain, part 52

Keely and I look back up the road, toward the village. Sure enough, there’s a car idling on the shoulder, about a hundred yards back. And I can just make out a second, behind it.

Well, at least they aren’t professionals.

“Friends of yours?” I ask Keely. She turns back to me, mouth slightly open. No words come out as she slowly shakes her head.

“Don’t ever lie to me again,” I say. I don’t wait for her response. I turn to Brennan as I reach for my seatbelt.

“Lose ‘em.”

“It’s going to be tough, out here,” he replies. “Too open.”

“Yeah, I know. But we can’t lead them to Torrin’s. Imagine the welcome we’d get if we did that.

“Keely, are there any places around here that would work?”

“Ummmm . . . I don’t think so? Ummm, no. There aren’t a lot of roads we can take . . . .”

“Fuck.” I turn to Brennan. “Any ideas?”

He looks at me for a moment, expressionless, then shifts the car into gear and floors both pedals. The engine revs, quickly louder and higher. He looks at me and smiles coldly, then turns back to the road, and we launch as he releases the brake. Dust and stones skitter down the shoulder and road behind us, and we’re gone. I crane around and watch—our pursuers are slow off the mark, but they’re reacting quicker than I thought they would. Definitely not professionals, though—they don’t care if we know.

“Keely—where are we going?”

“Ummm . . . “

“Towards a town, someplace we might lose them. Preferably without losing the whole day.”

“Ummm, ummm . . . left! up ahead, about a mile. It’s narrow, and winds a bit, but it’ll get us over to toward Pallas. You might lose ‘em there.”

Brennan shifts into fifth and we fly down the road at a reckless speed.

I glance behind us. “Shit—I don’t think they’re falling behind, any more. In fact, I think the nearer one’s gaining.”

Brennan responds with more acceleration, and I lose sight of them as we slip round a curve, and down a small rise. Out the side window, the landscape blurs to grey and green, only snapping into sharp focus as I blink.

“Not far now,” Keely says. “Just over that rise.”

“How far over?” Brennan asks.

“Um . . . .”

How far over?

“I don’t know. A hundred yards, maybe?”

We crest the rise and I see the narrow little road off to the left. It’s empty, and the intersection is clear.

“Brennan, shouldn’t you slow down, you’re gonna miss the—shiiiiiittttt!

He pulls the wheel hard left at way too much speed and yanks up on the parking brake and the tail of the car swings around violently, screeching rubber and smoke, before he drops the brake and floors it again. We barely avoid the ditch, as we rocket into the narrow strip of road, a cloud of stones and rubber vapour spraying thickly down our old route.

“Holy shit!” I exhale, giggling with shock, my heart pounding in my chest like a bass drum. I gasp in another couple of breaths. “I always knew you were crazy, man, but, fuuuck!”

His eyes don’t leave the road, but he cracks a smile.

I crane around again to check for our friends as we head up another rise. They haven’t reached the turn yet, but with the cloud of smoke and dust, there’s no way they miss it. Still, a lead’s a lead, and a few more tricks like that, we might actually lose them.

We float over the top of the hill and—

Keely yells, “Watch out!” I’m thrown forward as our tires re-contact and we screech to a halt.

“Brennan,” I growl, as I spin back, “what the fuu—


A flock of sheep are spread out across and down the road. The nearest one looks up, chewing casually on something green. He belches at us and turns to pretend we aren’t here.

There isn’t a shepherd in sight.