Part 57 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)
My knuckles had turned white, so tight was my grasp on the grab bar above the glove box. From the centrifugal force pressing my right ear against the passenger window of O'Day's vehicle my eyes were trained on the side view mirror and I caught sight of a warning sign reading 'Slow, Dangerous Turn.'
"There's nothing slow about this turn," I muttered as we continued around the circular path of the ramp to the highway.
O'Day's deft maneuvers lined us up in a straight trajectory as we shot from the ramp like a projectile fired from an artillery piece onto the highway. His mouth grew tight with stern determination, for his driving skills were about to be put to a greater test. Two vehicles were speeding headlong at us in the two lanes we were straddling - from the opposite direction.
The outermost vehicle, a red sports car veered to the left, and an open bed truck loaded with crates swerved to the right at the same moment which allowed us to pass between them. Scant seconds later there was the blare of horns followed by the scream of braking tires behind us. I turned to look over my shoulder just in time to see a black sedan broadside the truck.
I felt the contents of my stomach shift and slosh as O'Day touched the brakes and forcibly jerked the steering wheel hard to his left. The sudden course change sent us across the four lanes and onto the grassy median strip. The northbound lanes we'd left being higher than those heading south, the vehicle was launched airborne for twenty feet.
The rear driver's side wheel was the first to touch the gypsum surface and the rear end bounced before the opposite wheel landed. The front wheels seemed to make simultaneous contact and the under carriage scraped road as the front end bounced and bobbed. Slowing down to a more reasonable seventy-five, O'Day righted us into a southbound lane.
"Shit!" O'Day barked. "I lost a brand new muffler."
It took a series of hard swallows before I was able to get my heart to return to its natural location within my chest. I shifted in the seat and was relieved to feel that I had not soiled my pants.
We slowed down and pulled over onto the berm and Brock whistled and said, "Would you look at that!"
I turned and leaned forward to see around him. Across the median strip in the northbound lanes were the tangled wrecks of the sedan and the truck. I stifled a laugh when I realized the truck had been carrying crates of live chickens. Broken crates were scattered all about and the terrified fowls that had escaped their confines were scurrying around in every direction.
There was movement in the sedan and one of the Federal agents looked our way and began cursing and shaking a raised fist at us. The old man who'd been driving the truck was more concerned with trying to round up his freight.
Laughing, I said to Brock, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
He shrugged and shook his head, "I give up. Why?"
"To get out of the way of Federal agents driving like maniacs!" I replied.
Brock and I were still sharing a chuckle over the timely joke as we cruised at eighty-five miles per hour down I-93 southward to Boston. We had just crossed the state line into Massachusetts when Brock glanced into the rear view mirror and remarked, "I don't like the looks of this!"
I turned in my seat to see a black sedan about three car lengths behind us. "I always wondered why they use those plain nondescript cars and yet drive around with federal license plates."
"That car has been on our tail for a few miles. I was talking about what's coming up in the far lane," he quipped. In the next moment he was forcing the accelerator to the floor.
Unmistakable with its camouflaged markings, a National Guard Hum-Vee was closing the distance between it and our vehicle. "Christ!" I yelped. "Can you outrun that thing?"
His eyes scoping the terrain ahead of us he replied, "Oh yeah. It's that machine gun that's being trained on us that has me worried. I can't outrun bullets."
As if on cue, the Guardsman manning the gun squeezed off a couple of short bursts. A line of bullets strafed the lane next to us sending up sparks and pieces of pavement. Brock appeared to be unfazed and drifted into the next lane. He eased up on the gas which allowed the sedan to pull up along my side. I flashed a sheepish grin at the agent behind the wheel of the car.
The Hum-Vee was pulling into the lane adjacent to Brock's side of the vehicle and was slowing to match our speed. When all the vehicles were moving three abreast at sixty-five Brock whispered to me, "Ben if you are a religious man, now is the time to start praying."
"What ...?" I began but the rest of my sentence froze in my throat.
To my horror he pulled out his revolver and let loose three quick shots into the Hum-Vee's front wheel. The alert gunner immediately spun his weapon at us to open fire. Brock's actions, however, were quicker and he slammed on the brakes. The deadly burst from the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun ripped into the side of the sedan instantly killing the driver.
Brock swerved hard to the right and stepped on the gas as the sedan drifted into the lane we'd vacated and into the path of the Hum-Vee. We flew past the car and onto an exit lane into a rest stop. Behind us the Hum-Vee's momentum carried it up and onto the hood of the sedan. The inexperienced soldier behind the wheel slammed on his brakes, but the action caused the military vehicle to tip onto its side.
At the same instant that we were speeding through the rest stop and back onto the highway, the gas tank on the sedan erupted into a ball of fire. I was just about to relax and to check my pants again when Brock staring into his rear view mirror exclaimed, "Oh, holy shit!"
Not bothering to author my own expletive I echoed Brock's words, "Oh, holy shit!"
An eighteen-wheeler, the tractor sliding one way and its trailer carrying gasoline fish-tailing another direction, was on a collision course with the two disabled vehicles in its path. The resulting explosion and massive fireball could be seen and heard several miles away.
Trembling like a leaf in the wind I said to Brock, "All that training and experience in high speed chases is sure paying off. Just how many times have you been the chasee?"
He glanced at me and uttered, "Counting today ... once!"
Stammering like a speaker with stage fright I said, "You planned that. You saw that we were coming up on that rest stop. Didn't you?" His sly grin was all the answer he would tender.
I felt within my head what was becoming a familiar sensation; Rosie was making contact with me.
"Ben, I hope you can read me. The rescue teams got me out of there! Stu and I are on our way to Mass General to see Susan. When I know how she's doing, I'll get back to you!""Thanks, Rosie. I'm glad you are okay," I replied.
Brock, hearing my one-way conversation commented, "Man, it's spooky when you and Rosie do that. She's communicating telepathically to you, but you answer out loud. Can't you talk to her in the same way?"
I nodded and answered, "Yeah, she can read my thoughts, but I feel more comfortable talking my words. If it bothers you, I'll try to think my words the next time."
"Nah!" he shrugged, "I was just making conversation. Honestly, I'm fascinated by all that mental stuff. I'm just having a hard time accepting it."
"I hear you, Brock," I said, "I always thought that mind reading and brain swapping was the stuff of science fiction novels. I decided that rather than to drive myself crazy, I'd go with the flow. I figure that I can think about it and dwell upon it after this mess we're in is history."
"I'm trying to do the same thing, Ben. I do know that I don't want anyone messing with the inside of my skull."
I grinned to assure him that I understood how he felt. I sighed heavily and mused aloud, "The inside of my skull is like scrambled eggs right now, Brock. I mean, just who are these Feds? Who's in charge of them and who's giving them their orders? At first, I thought the Feds were working with Bishop King. Then it appeared they were answering to Gates. Now ... I can't even venture a wild guess."
"Ben, I've been tossing the same thing around in my own head. I have come to the conclusion that these Feds know exactly what's supposed to happen to the President and they are pulling out all the stops to make sure it does happen. Somebody wants our country to go to war," he said. He paused to glance at me to see if I was following his brand of logic.
"I don't believe your line of thought is far off base," I noted. "I guess we would have to ask ourselves 'who would stand to profit if we went to war?' Perhaps that profit isn't for financial gain as much as it would be to gain power. There must be any number of honorable men with aspirations to be the next President!"
It wasn't until we had driven about five more miles without incident before my blood pressure had returned to normal. Brock was silent with his own thoughts as the Boston skyline loomed in the distance. As for me, I was rehearsing in my mind what I had to do once we arrived at Government Center. I couldn't help but think that my mission there was going to be far more dangerous than our harrowing drive from New Hampshire had been.
I almost jumped out of my skin when Brock broke our mutual silence. "Well, fuck a duck!"
"Now what?" I cried.
Initially, he didn't say a word but pointed straight ahead at a row of trees next to the highway. I didn't see it at first, but then it arose from behind and above the trees like an ominous bird of prey.
"An AH-64 Apache! The meanest deadliest chopper in the world! These people mean business!" he declared stating the obvious.
"Are those missiles under the wings?" I asked even though I knew the answer.
Brock nodded in resignation, "Yes ... Hellfire missiles." He eased up on the accelerator and muttered, "Ben, we gave it one hell of a try, didn't we?"
(To be continued in Part 58, on Monday, 6/15, with The Chase Is On.)