The Accident - an extract
New Ghost Stories Case no. 282
The clouds burst just as I parked the car. It was torrential by the time I got to her door, about eight o’clock that night. She lived above a Chinese takeaway. I wasn’t dressed for the weather; I’d just taken my blazer with me. I was getting soaked.
The door gets answered by this pushy woman I’ve never seen before. I tell her I want to see Magda. She says she doesn’t want to see me.
Doesn’t want to see me! I’ve driven across the bloody county to get here. I want to see her. I want to see her now!
She slams the door and goes away. I’m standing there, getting soaked to my skin waiting for her. And that’s if she’s coming back. I don’t know that she is. I’m just waiting and waiting and getting wetter and wetter and wetter.
I bang on the door again. The people in the Chinese restaurant are starting to stare at me.
She comes back eventually and tells me Magda says it’s over. She doesn’t want to see me ever again.
And I say “Fine! I don’t want to see her either. And tell her not to call the house ever again. She can’t ever call the house.”
The woman shrugs her shoulders at me then shuts the door in my face.
I’m fuming. I get back in my car; I’m drenched head to toe. I’m so angry I can hardly drive. I stop off at a pub and try to calm myself down. I knew the place; I’d been there with my father years ago. He used to live in the area years back.
I had a drink or two and dried off in front of the fire. Talked war stories with the barman. I had to have something to eat or else I couldn’t make it through the evening. But not too much or else I wouldn’t be able to eat Rebecca’s dinner back at home.
But the weather just gets worse and worse. I didn’t want to drive in that downpour. I had a few more drinks. Put a few quid in the fruit machine. Read another newspaper.
It got to 10 o’clock. The rain was still coming down in buckets. It was flowing down the road like a river. But I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to get back home.
It wasn’t such a nanny state in those days. You could drive and have a few drinks and no one would make such a great big bloody fuss about it. You could have a cigarette too without being called a fascist.
But the weather was so bad anyone would’ve had trouble. The rain was falling so hard the wipers would push it off and the windscreen would just be covered again in an instant. There wasn’t any thunder now. Just the sound of the wipers beating back and forth and the rain pounding on the roof.
I wasn’t reckless. I was careful. I had the lights on. I took each corner and each stretch of road cautiously. There weren’t many people driving. But I could see them coming. The lights worked well enough in any weather. They’d see me, I’d see them. I’d slow down, let them by, and drive on. I took each stretch carefully, deliberately, slowly.
I wasn’t the problem. I saw this great light coming at me. Right away, I knew something was wrong. It was large, moving incredibly fast. It was just one light. Not two. One strong beam. Growing and growing.
I pulled to the left, but it was coming so quick; I didn’t know what it was. Some juggernaut? Some carrier lorry? It filled the windscreen. I couldn’t get out of its way. I could hardly see anything else. It was coming straight at me. No swerving. No turning. It was going to be a head-on collision.
I didn’t have any choice. I threw the car to the left and put it right through a hedgerow.
There was no crash barrier, just a thin wire fence my car snapped through. I plunged down a steepish-slope. I was worried I might spin or skid out of control if I put the brakes on hard. I gripped the wheel tight to keep it straight.
When the slope started to level, I slammed the brakes on. The car skidded into the mud, burying the wheels in sludge. I smacked my head on the steering wheel.
I sat back in my seat. My head was pounding and so was my chest. It had all happened in just a few seconds.
I felt claustrophobic and hemmed in. I had to get myself out of the car. I needed air. I needed space.
I opened the car door and got myself out. But soon as I was on my feet, dizziness set in. I couldn’t walk straight. I slipped over and landed in the wet grass.
I had to stay down there for a moment to get my head straight. I turned over and lay on my back and let the rain fall on me.
What the hell was that thing? The more I thought about it, the less it made sense. You can hear cars. This thing had to be enormous. But thinking about it, I couldn’t remember hearing anything.
I get up and look at the car; damn thing has been brutalised. The wheels are deep in the mud. There’s no clearance. The windscreen is cracked. There’s bits of bush in the grille, and that’s battered out of shape.
I’m in a spot. I can’t get the car moving. And I can’t get up the bank. Maybe on a dry day, but it’s wet and muddy, and I slip when I try. I’m still dizzy. And what can I do if I get up there? There’s no traffic. Who’s going to see me? It’s dark and wet. I’d probably get myself killed. I hadn’t seen or heard a single car pass by since I’d crashed.
I needed to call the AA. Call Rebecca. Find someone to get me out of this. And it’s so dark. But in the distance I can see something. An old farmhouse, downhill from here. In a kind of valley between the hills. There are lights in the windows, and maybe a car parked outside.
It was the only option. The only thing. So I set off downhill. The fields were waterlogged. I needed wellies, not shoes. There were fences and gates to climb on the way. My head was pounding with every step. It was still raining. It just wouldn’t stop.
I had no idea how I was going to square this with the wife. And all because of some stupid bloody girl.