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Maybe she should take the back roads … no, no, no! She should stick to the main roads; they wouldn’t be able to corner her as easily there, where other people might see. The wheels made a horrible screeching sound as she rounded a corner, but she maintained her break-neck speed.

They were right behind her.

She pulled the car up onto the highway, wincing every time she heard tumbling thuds coming from the trunk. “I’ve never driven this car!” she shouted. She was used to a much smaller car, when she drove a car at all. Usually she rode a bike. She came to a bend in the road and took it far too fast, making the tires squeal again in protest, and causing the whole car to fishtail alarmingly before she could straighten it out.

“Oh, please, please,” she begged. “Just let me get away from them.”

She could see them behind her, two cars and a pickup truck, sometimes gaining on her and sometimes falling back. She wasn’t sure if they had brought the guns with them, but she knew it was likely. They would be very, very motivated to keep her from getting away.

This part of the highway was deserted, but if she could stay ahead of them before the junction with the interstate, then she would be surrounded by other cars, by police, by a thousand eyes watching her. It was only a few miles.

She glanced nervously at the speedometer. She was going nearly a hundred miles an hour. I don’t know if I can do this, she thought. She wasn’t that experienced a driver. What if she wasn’t able to make the turn at the junction? That would be ironic, to have gone through so much only to die on the highway.

She could see them coming closer, vying each other for the right to be the first to catch her.

She reached the junction and slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed again, and it was harder this time to bring it back around, but she managed to steer it onto the on-ramp. I’m almost there, she told herself. They won’t try to kill me in front of all those people.

She hurtled down the interstate, coaxing even more speed out of the car. Her pursuers were still behind her, but suddenly they dropped back, and she saw the bright flashing lights of a police car approaching her in the other lane.

She skidded to a stop on the shoulder, and the smell of burning oil and rubber stung her nose. The police car stopped behind her. She threw open the door and tumbled out of it, moving toward the police car; the policeman also jumped out, leveling his gun at her.

“Stop where you are!” he bellowed. “Get down on your knees!”

She complied, hitting the ground with an exhausted thud, and burst into tears. “Help me!” she cried. “They’re following me! They’ll kill us all if they catch us!”

The policeman’s partner came and pushed her down on her stomach, pulling her arms behind her back and snapping handcuffs onto her wrists. “Stay down!” she suggested gruffly.

“Please!” she said, barely intelligible through her sobs. “Please help us!”

The two officers exchanged looks. “What do you mean ‘us’?” the woman asked. She craned her neck around and looked in the car, but it was empty. She looked back at her partner and shook her head.

The man put his gun away and approached the car. Reaching out tentatively, he opened the trunk, and stepped back quickly as the lid swung open. “Oh, my God!” he yelled, grabbing his radio and calling for back-up.

“What the hell?” the woman said in disbelief, as she saw what – or rather who – was lying in the trunk.

The man in the trunk was wearing a police uniform. He was covered in blood and duct tape, and his face was so swollen and bruised that the features were almost unrecognizable. His arms and legs were tied together behind him, and a rag had been shoved in his mouth. The officer, still speaking rapidly and urgently into his radio, leaned in and pulled the rag out, allowing the man to take a few deep, ragged breaths.

“Who are you?” the officer asked. “Who did this to you?”

The man said nothing, but only looked toward the woman who lay cuffed and crying on the ground.

Further down the interstate, two cars and a truck waited a few long moments, then carefully drove down into the ditch and onto the frontage road. Soon they were gone, back the way they had come.

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