People say that the city is a big place, but when one is driving a hundred kilometres an hour, it suddenly feels much more cramped.
The engine of the white, 1990 Cadillac Brougham roared like a wild beast sprinting through the wet, dark, concrete streets of Toronto.
The man in the white tee-shirt sat behind the wheel, eyes scanning rapidly. Sweat began to form on the side of his head. The night rain poured heavily on his windshield and his window wipers were dancing back and forward as fast as they could. His mind had been so focused on the road ahead that he could only think one word: run.
The red and blue lights were shining in his rearview mirror, but those were too far and slow to be of any real concern for him at this moment. Right now, he was more worried about the black Honda inching closer towards his speeding ass.
He looked ahead. He was quickly approaching a Prius that had been patiently following the speed limit.
The Cadillac jerked to the center of the road, driving directly above the yellow line. A Ferrari convertible, driven by a man way too young to afford owning one, drove directly towards him on the left; he could see that the driver was in shock and would most likely continue driving directly ahead.
The Cadillac accelerated and jerked back into the right lane, cutting off the Prius just in time to avoid collision with the Ferrari, which continued speeding ahead.
His eyes darted to his rearview mirror for just long enough to see the black Honda creep to the left of the Prius.
His eyes wandered all around, frantically searching for a way out.
The upcoming intersection was a red light. The Honda continued to speed towards him.
He tightened his grip on the wheel.
The rain made the floor-to-ceiling windows of the skyscraper to his right especially reflective tonight. Through it, he could see that there was a gap in the oncoming traffic—but a small one.
He slammed on the gas and sped towards the intersection.
Reaching the cross in the road, he pressed down hard on the brakes, feeling the ABS pressing back up on his feet, as he whipped the wheel to the right. He fit right into the gap of traffic. The car slipped in the rain, but he just barely managed to keep it steady. Confident that the Cadillac was no longer slipping towards oncoming traffic, he slammed back down on the gas, keeping the wheel straight.
Through the rearview, he saw the Honda fail to screech to a stop, T-boning whichever car had unfortunately been crossing the intersection at that moment.
The Cadillac relaxed.
Finally getting a chance to actually think, he looked down at his hands and counted his fingers. Ten. He desperately wanted to scream. His empty head became suddenly filled with thoughts. What the hell just happened? Where do I go? Where can I go? Is she okay?
A violent propulsion jolted him forward in his seat. He looked up at the rearview mirror. Not only had the black Honda still been following him—bloody driver, caved-in hood, and all—but it had also just rammed into his rear bumper.
He was hit a second time. Then a third. The Cadillac swerved towards the crowded sidewalk, but he managed to skirt back into his lane, only hitting the innocent bystanders with splashes of road water.
His eyes returned to rapidly scanning and his head emptied again, only focusing on the incoming flashes of spatial information. The first, and likely the most important thing he noticed was that the road was about to curve to the left—quite sharply for the speed they were driving. If he didn’t slow down, he would likely spin out.
Looking back, he could see that the Honda's driver was not focusing any further ahead than the Cadillac’s rear bumper.
The Cadillac increased its speed. He leaned his palm down on his horn and held it.
The civilians walking along the sidewalk of the curve all looked up, noticing the quickly approaching commotion. They all began to scatter.
The Cadillac continued to speed ahead.
Moments before reaching the curve, he slammed down on his brakes and spun his wheel to the left. He was immediately hit in the back, harder than ever before thanks to his sudden braking. He continued to press down on the brakes, allowing the Honda to push the back end of his car to his right.
It wouldn’t be a perfect turn, but his car had been turned counter-clockwise enough. He slammed on the gas. The car messily swerved, following the curve of the road.
By the time the Honda’s driver saw the curve, it was already too late. The Honda drove directly into a light post, which completely demolished whatever was still left of the car’s left headlight, and horizontally whipped the car onto the sidewalk.
The Cadillac’s driver looked ahead, noticing that he was swerving directly towards a parked car. He slammed down on the brakes and curved the car towards the sidewalk. It screeched to a stop right as the front-right tire bumped onto the sidewalk.
Exhausted, he managed to muster the energy to turn his head back. The Honda remained completely still.
He breathed. It was over. He turned the wheel to the left, prepared to leave, but he still caught himself looking back towards the Honda. He tightened his grip on the wheel.
He opened the door and walked out of his car, into the dark city rain.
He calmly approached the crashed black Honda.
Reaching the driver’s side window, he looked in. It hadn’t just been the left headlight that was impacted by the light post; the entire left half of the dashboard had caved in. Everything below the driver’s waist had been completely crushed by the metal of the car.
He spoke with a deadpan voice. “Damn, Ray. You look like shit."
Blood dribbled from the driver’s mouth as he spoke. “Fuck you too.”
The rain was heavy.
“Why’d you have to chase me, Ray?”
Ray struggled for a breath. “You didn’t leave me much choice.”
Standing next to the Honda, his dirty-blonde hair had already become drenched.
Ray coughed and spoke again. “You know I’m not going to be the only one, right?”
“What’s your plan? You think you can just drive away from this? Wander the world freely like a lone traveller? You can keep running as far as you want, but Mao will find you eventually. He’ll never forget what you and Violet did.”
Violet. The name rang around in his head, injecting a jolt of life into his veins. He reached into the car and forcefully pulled Ray towards him by the collar. Ray let out a loud, pained groan as the caved-in dashboard held his legs in place. “What do you know about Violet?” His voice was filled now with too much desperation to remain deadpan. “Did she make it out of there? Where is she? Is she alive?”
The distant sirens were quickly approaching. Ray turned to the sound with a smirk. “You’d better get going, traveller.”
His grip on Ray’s collar tightened and his teeth tensed together, lips curling inward. The light of the sirens could be seen now around a distant corner.
He reluctantly released his grip, letting Ray rest in his seat. The pedestrians who had avoided the collision were now beginning to crowd around this spectacle.
He speedily returned to his white Cadillac and drove off, leaving his old world behind.
He drove for a bit on the highway, then, becoming paranoid that he could be spotted, switched to exclusively driving on small, unpopulated roads. Yes, it would take him longer to get anywhere, but he didn’t really have anywhere he was in too much of a rush to get to.
His eyes were unfocused—almost dead. They were only brought to life again when he realized the road was about to reach a sudden end.
He slammed down on the brakes, just in time to avoid crashing into the large pond directly ahead of the road.
The dirt of the road flung into the air, surrounding the vehicle in a fog, which completely shielded his view through his dashboard window.
The world was completely silent. Then, a phone rang.
Confused, he reached into his pocket. His cellphone was receiving a call from an unknown number.
He answered, slowly raising it to his ear without a word.
“How’s the view?” The raspy voice spoke with a slight air of irreverence. “Personally, I don’t care for shorelines, but that’s just me.”
“Wow. You really still have your phone on you? Come on, don’t make this too easy for me.”
“Let me tell you what you have in store for what little life you have left. You’re going to be constantly on the run. Keep moving forward—don’t look back, you won’t have time to. You’re going to be so worried that someone will pop you at any moment that you’ll never be able to trust anyone, and even if you could, you’ll feel so guilty that they might get caught in the crossfire of that pop that you’re going to travel alone anyways. To avoid drawing unwanted attention, you won’t allow yourself to get involved with anyone. No matter how much you want to, don’t get involved. You’ll be a ghost wherever you go. Just a memory of your former life. That person you once were is already dead. That is your only strategy for avoiding my bullet.”
“Is this the part where you offer to make it quick and painless if I turn myself in now?”
“Where's the fun in that? I’m just dropping in to say,” Mao pulled on a cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs, “see you around.” He finally exhaled, letting out a mocking cough of a laugh.
The call disconnected.
He looked down at his phone, then ahead into the distance. The dust started to clear. He could see the vast water now. It was clear and beautiful.
He stepped out of his car, still holding onto the phone in his hand as if it was a foreign object.
He reeled his arm back and flung the phone into the pond. The water splashed and rippled outward, but was still again after a short moment.
He got back into the car and made a three-point turn with a calm determination.
Mao’s words rang in his head.
Keep moving forward. Don’t look back. Travel alone. Don’t get involved.
The white Cadillac let out the roar as Traveller drove down the road.