The CD spun around noisily for a minute before the stereo gave up on it again. I hit the play button a few times, not really expecting it do anything. It had been playing her favorite song when it died, so I should have been glad that it stopped, but it was too much like when somebody had stolen a car radio. I was all there was left now. I could hear my wheezing breath, like I was running down the highway instead of hurtling down it in a death-machine.
Well, I guessed it was a highway that I was hurtling down, but I had no way to tell. Water and blood coated the windshields. It was hard to be sure which side of the glass was lined thicker with the filth. The wipers oscillated dutifully, but for all the good they did, I could have replaced them with the dysfunctional CD-player. Every so often, the glass would light up as a vehicle raced past me, horns blazing. It made no difference. If loud sounds could help me see better, I wouldn’t have stopped screaming.
My arms ached, so I slid them off the wheel. The stereo flashed the wrong time in bright orange. This added to all the warning lights from the dashboard, lighting up the stained leather interiors like the cigarette had illuminated her face. I gave a sudden start as I saw her unpainted finger lazily tracing patterns on the gear. I grabbed for it, almost feeling the warmth of those slightly-roughened hands again.
I cursed all the gods I didn’t believe in as my bleeding fingers found only the worn rubber of the lever. A trick of the light, or a trick of the mind, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this had both their marks on it. Why not, with the universe conspiring the way it was.
The air freshener coughed up one last bit of perfume, but somehow made it smell worse, mixing horribly with the stench of rotting flesh. Ignoring the pain as my bones grated against one another, I pressed down hard on the accelerator. The engine screamed in protest, but my other leg hung refused to move to the clutch so I could shift gears. I persisted, and the needle crept up, both of them. I was probably redlining the engine here, but everything in the car was red now so it didn’t matter much.
I rubbed my hand on the passenger seat. Beneath the layer of sand, the covers were much colder than they had any right to be, even with the AC blazing like it was. Far from leaving anything behind, it seemed like she’d sucked every ounce of life before running off.
Fool, I cursed myself. Never ever pick-up hitchhikers. Some were lucky enough to just get a serial-killer or a psychopath. I’d have welcomed a blade at my throat right about now, if only to distract from the pain in my chest.
Suddenly, I was flying. The wheels still spun, but there was no read beneath them. I’d finally driven off. I rubbed the blood and dirt off the window, peering out. The moonlight shone back at me off a restless ground below. The beach! I drummed an old song on the steering wheel and shrugged off the seat-belt.
I wondered if I’d sink to the bottom or maybe float around for eternity. It didn’t matter either way though, as long as I didn’t have to drive anymore.
The stereo whirred back to life and played her favorite song for the last few seconds.
I fill with fire, exhale desire.
I pressed a button, and the door locks clicked open. Just in case.