“Good Morning,” I say softly, hoping not to wake her if she’s sleeping.
She doesn’t respond. I decide to take a moment to write her a little note to say “Thank you” once again. I search through my purse for a notepad and jot down a few sincere words. My jacket and boots are cool from sitting by the front door. I slip them on and slowly and quietly tread over to her to set the note on the table in front of her.
A gasp of surprise sucks the air from my lungs when I turn around to see Gretchen with her eyes wide open, dried white foam and blood crusted around her mouth. I scream in horror and fear. My mind is racing trying to figure out what to do. I fumble with my cell phone, but there is no service and Gretchen doesn’t have a landline. I grab my purse and bolt for the door, surely there is a neighbor nearby who can help. The door slams shut behind me, startling me into sliding down the snow covered steps. I land hard on my tailbone. The pain shoots up my lower back and triggers tears streaming from eyes. Fuck.
I struggle to my feet with the stiffening pain and advance towards my car. I pull the cuff of my jacket over my palm and take a large swipe at the snow to brush it off the windshield. I’m quickly working my way around the car when the silence around me is interrupted by the clanging of metal. I freeze and peer over the side of my vehicle in the direction of the sound. As I scan the area, I see nothing, not even an animal. Anxiety and fear work through me as I rush to the driver’s side and start up the engine.
I rapidly rub my palms together in front of the vent, letting warmth ignite between them. I take a deep breath to calm my nerves and pull out my phone. The Google Maps app struggles to find my location so I decide to move the car into Reverse and get back to the main road where I might have service. The towering trees offer me no comfort as I slowly progress down the long driveway. I watch the weathered cabin disappear in my rearview mirror. Whether or not there were houses on the main road escapes me, but I assume that there have to be signs for the town somewhere nearby. Get to a neighbor. Call the police.
My tense inner rambling is cut short by shards of glass flying in front of my face. My foot instinctively hits the brakes as pieces of my driver’s side window lodge themselves into my hands and legs and scatter across the passenger seat. The hollow sound and thin fast breeze of an object passes in front of my nose. I barely see it as it continues straight through the passenger window, creating an avalanche of glass. When I look to my right, my eyes lock on a shadowy figure barely visible through the trees. I squint my eyes to better see what it is. My sight is blinded by the sun’s rays glinting off a metal object. As I shift my face to get a better view, I see a man release an arrow in my direction. Holy fuck!
Adrenaline kicks in as I slam my foot on the gas pedal. The tires spin on the snow for a second too long before propelling me forward. I quickly turn the wheel to the right trying to regain some control as I swerve back and forth, narrowly missing the lining of trees. My vehicle gains an edge as I speed down the last mile of the driveway and slide out into the plowed road, nearly sending myself into the ditch. What the fuck was that?!
The rapid thumping of my heart is radiating into my ears. With a hard swallow, I grip the steering wheel with my shaking, bloody hands and floor it. The slosh-covered roads are easier to travel than I expected. My tires grip the road expertly they hug the curves. I finally slow down after ten minutes and pull off the road onto a plowed out nook. The blood around the shards of glass in my hands has started to dry. I carefully pluck the tiny pieces from the backs of my hands and move on to my thighs. Thankfully, they are all small shards that did not lodge too deep into the skin. An oncoming black SUV appears in my rearview mirror as I pull the last piece from my thigh. Thank god, hopefully, they will stop. I stick my head and arms out of the window frame and start waving frantically for them to stop. The vehicle doesn’t appear to be slowing down. I pull myself in from the cold and shift the car into drive. I watch the SUV in my side mirror, waiting for it to pass so I can pull back onto the road.
Its speed appears to be accelerating. Suddenly I’m jolted forward when it slams into my rear bumper. My foot is firmly on the brake as it continues to push me towards the snow bank. I release the brake and slam heavy on the gas, sputtering out onto the main road again. The black SUV is on my tail, not letting up as it hits me again, propelling my vehicle towards the ditch. I’m quick to jerk the steering wheel, barely missing the edge of the embankment. My foot is heavy on the gas as I continue my attempt to get away from this maniac. He’s too fast for me. Another ram into my bumper sends my vehicle over the side of the road. I hold on tight to the steering wheel despite the aching pain from the cuts on my hands. The roof of my car is the first thing to come crashing in close to me as the car rolls down the bank towards the river. Several tree branches break through the windshield. I’m jerked around like a pinball as the descent continues. My head slams into the side of the door and I instantly feel shooting pain and lightheadedness. My vision starts to blur as my vehicle comes to a screeching halt.
All I can feel is the snow pressed against the side of my head; the seat adjustment lever digging into my calves. I try to move my legs but they are pinned. I try to identify the source of shooting pain radiating from my right arm, but I can’t see it. I see blood and darkness. My vision fades in and out. I struggle to stay lucid.
“She’s barely breathing,” I faintly hear a female voice above me.
“Call this number when you get her to the hospital,” another voice says, a voice I would recognize even in a crowd. Aiden. I attempt to call for him but no sound comes.
“We need the jaws,” a louder male voice rings in my ears as I’m trying to locate Aiden’s.
“Hold on, Hun, we’re gonna get you out of here,” the soft female voice says.
The last thing I remember is blacking out from the pain as the pressure on my legs is released.