Pernell Rogers was born in Cleveland, OH but was transported to Chandler, AZ in 2000. The supernatural world is his realm and that’s where he pulls his stories from. He’ll write anything with an obtuse twist, so hang on. He discovered he loves writing in 2011 and has no plans of stopping.
The red Honda Accord closed in on Keith Swanson’s white BMW. Keith’s heart raced as his eyes shifted from side to side searching for any free space on the semi-crowded road. His life had become a Fast and Furious movie, except he didn’t know what the outcome would be. Where’s the police when you need them? Any other time, they would be everywhere, but now … nothing. That wasn’t the case when he got into an accident with that same Honda weeks ago. That particular day was seared into memory. It was that text message he received that day which started everything.
Three weeks ago, Keith was driving to Karen’s house. Karen Blake was his girlfriend, and he felt like their relationship was on shaky ground. Before arriving to her house, he received a text message which read, “Unknown hardware deficiencies.” Keith couldn’t believe it. That’s the last thing he wanted to see on his cellphone. If this computer issue wasn’t resolved within three days, four other projects due by the end of the year were in jeopardy, and so was his year-end bonus. He needed an idea, some type of solution, and quick. After all, he was the project manager, and he felt his input was more important than the CIO of Life-Signs Industrials. Why wasn’t this caught sooner? He immediately blamed it on sheer incompetence of his people. His fingers performed a soft tap dance upon his cellphone’s screen while he used the left hand to steer. He’d forgotten about the traffic around him. His eyes were focused on the words displayed on his small screen.
A horn blew to his right. He looked up just in time to see a blurred object speeding at him.
When he came to, he found himself sitting near the middle of the street facing the small crowd that gathered on the sidewalk. He had no idea what happened but two medics were kneeling next to him. Although his head ached like it was being crushed in a press, he managed to rotate it around and from side to side. That’s when he saw his car. It looked like the front and driver’s side were products of a car crusher. What happened to my car? Was I in an accident? He couldn’t remember but assumed somebody must have hit him while he was driving.
A police officer approached him from around the crumpled end of his car and knelt down next to him. Keith winced as he turned to face at officer. He tried answering the officer’s questions as best he could but couldn’t remember what he was doing before the accident. The officer’s happened to mention the word “cellphone” and that word ignited Keith’s memory like steel struck against flint.
He was texting on his cell phone as he drove, and those words slipped out before he had a chance to think about what he said. The officer wrote that down on his notepad and continued with more in-depth questions. Anything I say can be used against me, he thought. Now, before answering, Keith took some time to think about his answers. He purposely feinted remembering certain details but it was already too late. He’d already admitted to distracted driving.
Near the end of his interview, the officer mentioned the driver of the other car passed away. He’d taken a life. Keith shook his head. What’s next? There was going to be a trial. He was going to be brought up on charges. Possible jail time was in his future.
The officer left Keith to the medics and they helped him to his feet. He was able to view the entire scene of destruction. The other car, a red Honda Accord, sat upturned on its side. A tarp lay on the ground covering a body. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. This never happened to him before. He’d never had any problems texting while driving. He’d done it for years. Sure there were some close calls sometimes, and a few times people would flip him off because he was either going to slow or weaving, but he had to stay on top of this, people. The projects were too important to the business. He didn’t dare miss a text message. Only he could orchestrate these projects. But how was he going to handle them now?
He’d lost the Honda a few times by making quick turns only to have it catch up to him again. He needed to find a police station or police car. This was road rage. Someone in that car wanted to hurt him. If only he could grab his cell phone. But he had to pay attention to his driving, making snap decisions about keeping straight or turning. He mind wandered back to the driver of the Honda, the one he’d killed. Could he be haunting me? Trying to kill me?
But if the guy was dead, how could it be him? Who’s driving that Honda? He didn’t have time to dwell on it at the moment. This Honda had been following him since the picked his car up from the repair shop an hour earlier. The female clerk at the repair shop mentioned that she remembered both cars being brought to the shop on the same day, and now, by some crazy coincidence, both cars were repaired and ready to be picked up today. When Keith walked out to his car, he noticed the red Honda Accord parked right next to it. Another strange coincidence, but nothing like the one he discovered at his trial two weeks after the after the accident.
It was the second day of the trial and Keith’s public defender introduced new findings that Keith had no knowledge of. His lawyer put forth new evidence that the man who was killed in the accident was also texting on the cellphone … texting Keith’s girlfriend, Karen. The two of them were having an affair, but she refused to leave Keith. In the man’s blinding rage, he was driving to her home with a loaded gun. The investigators found the man’s cellphone after the accident and saw the text messages where he threatened to kill Karen and Keith. It was by sheer coincidence that Keith’s car collided with that other man. A bizarre love triangle.
The public defender further argued that if the accident hadn’t taken place, police may have been left with a double-homicide on their hands. Therefore, in an uncanny twist of fate, Keith was able to thwart a horrible crime from being committed. Further testimony from the officers at the scene led to the conclusion that the deceased driver was suffering from some type of psychosis. His text messages became very violent leading up to the day of the accident. It was his intention to kill Karen to flush out Keith, then kill him. One of the testifying officers felt that after the driver killed them both, he would turn the gun on himself. The jury didn’t take long to reach a conclusion. Keith had indirectly prevented a crime. He was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter but guilty of distracted driving and charged a fat fine.
At first, the pursuit was benign. As Keith pulled away from the repair shop, he noticed the red Honda behind him in his rear-view mirror, but while he was still in the shop’s parking lot, he never saw anyone get into the Honda.
He answered a few text messages and paid it no mind. The Honda wasn’t behind him when he pulled into Starbucks but pulled up behind him as he left. Keith started paying more attention to his rear-view mirror now. He wasn’t able to evade the car after he stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts. Who’s driving that car and why is he following me? He ended up running from the Honda on the surface streets of Kansas City.
Then Keith found himself in the industrial area by the Kellington River. The streets were much narrower and dirtier and he found steering difficult due to years of tractor trailer traffic that damaged the road’s surface. His arms were tired from gripping the steering wheel so tight. His organs jostled and vision blurred as he drove through unavoidable potholes. He checked his rearview mirror again. The Honda Accord was just a few feet behind him. Is he trying to hit me? Road construction sat up ahead and Keith was forced to turn right. His car drifted too far and the Honda tee-boned him in the passenger door. Keith’s car stopped; he shook off the impact and darted from the driver’s side door into a nearby two-story parking garage, his new sanctuary from the pursuing vehicle.
The air was thick and smelled of stale exhaust and gasoline. His shoes slid on the thin layer of soot covering the parking garage floor. The white directional arrows and parking lines painted on the garage’s floor were faded and covered with black tire tracks. He ran up the ramp, passing by cars that were parked on an incline. He wasn’t getting very good traction in his dress shoes. He used the cars to keep his balance, hoping he wouldn’t set off an alarm.
He heard a car enter the parking garage behind him, its smooth engine echoed off the dingy cinderblocks walls. He turned. It was the Honda. Its grill crumpled, the right headlight and parking light shattered, the left headlight hanging by wires. But it was the driver that shook him to the core. From his vantage point, nothing blocked his view of the pavement through both the windshield and the back window.
There was no obstruction … because there was no driver! What type of madness is this? Is that car possessed? Did this just turn into the movie Christine where his spirit wants revenge?
His eyes bulged and his jaw dropped. He did the only thing he could do … RUN! Up the ramp he scampered. The Honda’s engine revved and its wheels squealed. He could hear it approaching from behind. He ducked between two parked cars. The Honda stopped, blocking the opening, and the driver-side door opened. Keith climbed up over the hood of the car furthest up the ramp and stayed on the hoods of adjacent vehicles. He heard the Honda’s door close. It drove parallel to his direction. He leaped from the hood of the last car and dashed from the landing, up the ramp to the uncovered parking on the second floor.
His eyes strained from the sudden transition from the darkened garage to the wild burst of sunlight up top. He was blinded for only a moment, but when his eyes adjusted, the Honda was coming up fast. He had no place to go, trapped atop the garage. He successfully dodged the Honda by making quick stops and changing directions. The Honda stopped the chase at the entrance to the ramp and sat still. Keith backed away from it. The stairwell on the side of the garage was too close to the ramp. He couldn’t make it there.
The driver-side door swung open. Keith backed up to the railing, his eyes peering at this insane phenomena. He could hear the sounds of the river down below, its soft waves lapping the stony shoreline. He had an idea. He turned and looked over the railing. He quickly turned back, realizing that jumping into the water was not such a hot idea. Remote sounds of city traffic joined the lapping waves. The sun beat down on his forehead and he looked down at his abbreviated shadow. He had to do something. He couldn’t stay there forever. Something tugged on his right arm.
He looked over as the pain grew. There was nothing there but something had a tight grip on his arm and it felt like it was going to break. Keith wrapped his left arm around a vertical pole in the railing. The tugging became more intense. If he held firm, he might lose both arms. He cried out and released his left arm. He felt like a mannequin being pulled across the parking lot’s upper deck. He was headed toward the open door of the Honda.
At the door, something unseen shoved him inside making him knock his hands against the steering wheel and transmission shifter on the central console. The door slammed shut behind him. As he tried sitting up, the car shifted into reverse and it backed down the ramp into the shade, but stopped at the landing between the first and second floors. Keith screamed. He tried rolling down the window and unlocking the door. He stepped on the gas and the brake. The Honda refused to move. He tried shifting gears. Nothing. He was just about to climb into the back seat when the Honda’s wheels squealed with a very high pitch. Keith was thrown backwards against the driver’s seat in a twisted position. The Honda re-entered the sunlight at an amazing speed. There was no room for it to stop at that speed. Keith screamed out at the top of his lungs as the car crashed through the railings and fell straight down onto the stony shore below, grill first.
David M. Dresser Sr. says
This reads like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The author did an excellent job of creating suspense.
Mr. Roger’s should consider publishing a book of such stories.
Pernell Rogers says
Hello, David! Thank you for your comments. The Twilight Zone is still one of my favorite shows of all time. As a matter of fact, it was because of those episodes that I started writing. Currently, I’m developing a series of short stories that I’d like to publish in a single book. It may take a little time. Writing them is hard, but editing them is much harder. Stick around. You may see it out there.
Jeane Rhodes says
I was held until the very last work. Great building of suspense. As I am familiar with Kansas City, I was a bit distracted by the reference to the Kellington Rive, which I did not remember and could not find on google.
Pernell Rogers says
Hello, Jeane! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. When writing this particular story, I chose Kansas City because it was a place I’ve seen when driving cross country on a bus while in my teens.
I took a little dramatic license by mentioning the Kellington River. I was thinking about using the Kansas River, but this is fiction. I kept the ‘K’ and used another name. I hope the distraction wasn’t too bad.
I think I may have to reconsider my use of dramatic license. It works well in the movies, but maybe not so well in fiction. I’ll have to ponder that. Anyway, thank you for your comments