Aaron Flyte was a jerk and he deserved to die. Andy would have described himself as seething as he drove the man who was blackmailing him to the nearest ATM to empty out his account. He had no clue how he was going to explain this to his wife, but it had to be done.
Andy’s wallet was in Aaron’s lap. Aaron had picked through it, removing cash and the debit card to the account Andy had so foolishly used for his paycheck and the erroneous funds that had made their way there as well.
Had he been able to wish for a person’s death, certainly he would have done so upon Flyte. It would have been better had Aaron simply turned him in once he found out what Andy had been doing. It would have been a relief of sorts.
The lies had been long and enduring. Once Andy was thoroughly hooked, he honestly expected someone to tap him on the shoulder and say something to the effect of ‘gotcha’, but it never happened. No one ever came. It got easier and easier and Andy began to take more and more. By the time Aaron came along, Andy was so deep he didn’t know where the lying ended and where he began.
“How long have you known?”
Flyte looked at him with that all-too knowing smile. “Long enough.”
Aaron let his hand hang out the window in that way people tended to do when they seemed to be relaxing on a drive in a way Andy had never been able to do. He had an enduring childhood phobia of a vehicle or some stationary object cleaving off his hand that kept all parts of him securely inside his vehicle.
Actually, it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea if—
“Holy geez!” Aaron screamed, yanking his arm back inside the car. Andy glanced over and saw one hand firmly locked around his wrist. He didn’t get too good of a look, but it almost looked like two fingers were missing from his hand.
Andy slowed for a light that had just changed, the cars in front of him surging back into the bloodstream of traffic.
“What the hell happened?” Andy asked.
“Turn around. You have to go back. You have to go back!” Aaron was on the point of hysteria. Andy saw the panic in a man’s eyes just before pressing the gas again to keep up with traffic.
“Stop the car? Why?” Andy could feel a rising sense of superiority, though he didn’t understand why.
“Please,” the other man said. “My fingers. They fell off.”
Andy felt more curiosity than panic. “Really?” he said. “Let me see.” He reached over without looking and grabbed Aaron’s wrist, holding it up to his face. He’d been wrong before. Aaron’s index finger was still there it was only the thumb and middle fingers that were missing.
That was funny and Andy coughed a laugh before he could stop himself.
No, f you, Aaron.
Andy shoved the man’s arm away, feeling him waning like a balloon with a fast leak, while Andy felt strong.
“Please stop the car and let me out. Let me get my fingers!”
“Sorry to break the bad news to you, Aaron,” Andy began in a low tone like he was letting him in on some big secret. “But your fingers are at least a half a mile back. On the off chance they didn’t get run over or scooped up by some critter, you’ll never find them. It’s windy out there and those fingers probably rolled all over the street.”
“Oh, sweet Lord, I think I’m going into shock!”
“I’m surprised you’re not already. Hey, how bad’s the bleeding?”
“I’m not… it’s not… bleeding.”
That was odd, but Andy didn’t really care. He stomped on the gas and weaved around a little Toyota in front of them.
Aaron’s agony was like manna. He wanted more. The speedometer crept up to fifty and Andy gave it a little more.
“What are you doing? Why won’t you let me go?”
“Why won’t I let you go? You? What have you been doing to me for the last two weeks, Aaron? What just happened to you is the least you deserve.” Andy gave the man a sideways glance before pumping the brake to keep from rear-ending a white pickup.
“Tell you what. You want to go get your fingers? Get out. Get out right now. You’ll probably break an arm, maybe your tailbone. But people will probably stop for you and then you can get your fingers.”
Andy began swatting at him, then shoving him into the door. Sure, Andy was wrong for what he had taken, but he hadn’t caused anyone agony. The company could go for years and never know the difference. Hell, they probably would never know if it weren’t for someone like Aaron who wanted to ruin it. Andy had already begun the proceas to stop himself. It was like an addiction and he’d already planned his own intervention. He was going to quit.
But if Aaron had had his way that could never happen.
Andy blew through a red light, several honking horns trailing after them. His speed crept back up to forty.
“Oh, God, my teeth.”
His words sounded looser, like his tongue weren’t caged firmly inside his mouth. Andy chanced a few seconds for another look. Almost all of the uppers and lowers on the right side of his mouth were gone. A few of them were sitting on Aaron’s pant leg, strikingly white against the dark blue of his jeans. The man sneezed and the rest that had come loose that were still in his mouth clinkled across the dashboard and windshield.
It was the first time he’d had a laugh like that in probably months. It felt good. By the time he got his eyes focused and back on the road, he’d scraped bumpers with a blue Grand Am. The driver screamed something at him he didn’t understand and that made him laugh even more. And when he laughed the second time he hit the gas again.
They were doing sixty now.
“Oh, no, my arm!” His elbow was resting against the door at an odd angle and the smile felt glued to Andy’s face.
“I’m gonna go for seventy,” he said. “I’ve never driven that fast off the freeway. What do you think?”
Aaron was babbling incoherently. He pulled at his tongue with his intact hand and it flopped into his palm. They flew past one of the branches of Andy’s bank.
“I didn’t want to stop at that one,” he said. “No drive-thru.” Aaron was making a high-pitched sound, like a deep-throated screaming tea kettle. There was a red light ahead of them with cars four deep stopped at the intersection. Cross traffic had just begun moving, but Andy could beat them if he wanted.
He stomped on the gas, jumping into the incoming traffic lane, a car that had just rounded the corner drove onto the sidewalk to avoid them, the driver honking like he was communicating in Morse code. Walls of traffic closed in from either side, one of those trucks with the tall, compact trailers rigged to it large in the passenger side window.
Andy’s tires chirped and the car leapt. Both men slammed back against their seats as the car fishtailed out of the intersection, weaving into a lane. Andy screamed in victory, crushing the dome light of the car with his pumping fist. He felt blood trickle into his sleeve, but felt no pain.
“Come on, Aaron, how awesome was that?” he said.
The two men met eyes and he could see they were on opposite emotional ends. That was panic he was looking at. Abject terror if there ever were such a thing. He let off on the gas—
—just as Aaron Flyte’s head fell off.
It wedged between his legs, mostly upside down, nothing visible above the bridge of his nose. The empty cavern of his mouth seemed a perfect fit for the lump of a wallet merely an inch or two away.
But of course, Aaron had no need of his wallet anymore or the precious debit card inside. Andy snatched it away.
It didn’t even cross his mind that what had just happened was bad. He rolled down his window, finally taking his foot off the gas. He put his elbow up, feeling the stiff wind against his arm.
Hey, why not?
Andy put his hand up, his speed slowing to sixty, fifty-five. The wind felt nice between his fingers.
At forty-nine miles-per-hour, his index flew off. It didn’t hurt and Andy didn’t immediately notice. He was at forty-four and down to a ring finger and index left before he saw something was wrong.
He stomped on the brake to turn around and his hand fell off. It landed on his thigh like it was about to try for second base. Andy screamed, his foot coming off the brake.
A car honked past, far too close and he looked around. Traffic was coming fast and in a panic, he hit the gas. The car jetted back up to fifty and pressure in his nub of an arm eased.
Andy cradled his wounded arm to his chest, despite not being in actual pain. He kept the car between forty-five and fifty, a long stretch of road ahead with no traffic lights. He didn’t know how long he could go without stopping and the bravery he’d experienced just a few moments ago was all used up.
What would happen when he came to a red light?
It didn’t seem like Andy was going to get the chance to find out. A police cruiser eased out of an abandoned gas station and injected into the stream of traffic behind him.
Andy knew. He just knew. Even as he hoped it wouldn’t, he knew the siren was going to come on, that the cruiser would flash its lights. His only question was what he’d do about it when it happened.
Please also check out my first YA novel, Vamp-Hire. And don’t forget to leave a comment!