The Driver

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  • Published: 7 Jul 2014
  • Updated: 7 Jul 2014
  • Status: Complete
Just another day at work for the Driver. He's waiting for his next Passenger, who's in store for quite a surreal road trip. Which should be starting soon. It looks as if he's about to jump. Because you know how they say as you die your life flashes before your eyes? Well, it's sort of true. It's just not how you imagined it.

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The Driver rolled down the window of the car and craned his neck out to see. A light drizzle fell but he did not seem to care, or even really to notice. He looked at his wristwatch and grunted before pulling his head back inside, rolling the window up and then reclining in his seat with his arms folded.

“Sixteen minutes past,” he grumbled. “He's late. Better not have chickened out. That would royally fuck me over.”

The Driver popped open the glove compartment and took out a small slip of paper upon which an address was written. He looked up at the skyscraper just ahead of him and nodded.

“Well, this is definitely the-”

A sudden rapping at the driver's side window caused his train of thought to de-rail. The windows were misted due to the chill of the weather outside but the bright red uniform of the parking attendant was hard to mistake. The crimson figure shifted and the rapping came again. The Driver sighed long and hard, thinking that this really wasn't his day. He began to crank the window open once again.

“Hey buddy,” the parking attendant began as soon as he knew the Driver could hear him. “You can't park here, for Christ's sake. This is-”

The startling green eyes of the woman who sat in the driver's seat threw him off and his words melted away inside his head. He swallowed hard.

“Oh, uh...I'm sorry miss...I thought that...”

The woman gave a small smile and blinked slowly, flitting her long eyelashes. She said nothing but maintained direct eye contact with the parking attendant, who swallowed nervously again. Then his face hardened and he drew himself up.

“I'm sorry miss, but you can't park here. This is a restricted area. I'm going to have to give you a ticket.”

There was a quick flash of movement in front of them followed a few seconds later by a high-pitched scream. Both the woman and the parking attendant looked ahead of them to see the body of a rather portly man lying on the kerb just ahead of the car, his body twisted and broken and a pool of dark crimson blood leaking from behind his head, already mingling with the rainwater around him. The parking attendant covered his mouth with one hand and steadied himself against the car with the other, his face drained of all its colour. The woman, by contrast, beamed from ear to ear and slammed her hands down on the steering wheel in delight.

“You see that?” she asked the parking attendant. “I was starting to think he didn't have the balls to go through with it! But hell, what a jump!”

The parking attendant looked at her open-mouthed as if he barely understood what she was saying, and then stumbled uneasily toward the crumpled body, around which a small crowd of people had already begun to gather.

“Where....where am I?”came a voice from within the car.

The Driver turned to find an overweight hispanic man in a suit that was obviously too small for him sitting in the passenger seat. He had on a garishly bright tie and was breathing heavily, his features even paler than the parking attendant's had been. The Driver looked over at him and grinned.

“You were a few minutes late, you know. What, were you having second thoughts? Thinking life might not be so bad after all? Did the allure of tonight's dinner coax you back from the ledge for a few brief moments?”

The Passenger looked at him with a nauseous expression but said nothing. After a few moments of silence the Driver cleared his throat awkwardly.

“Well...it's nice to finally have you. You're looking well, I guess. All things considered.”

The Passenger wrung his hands together nervously. They were clearly shaking.

“Who are you?” he asked finally.

“I'm the Driver,” the Driver said with a faint tone of pride in his voice. “In fact, my dear, I'm your Driver. For the next few hours at least.”

“I...I don't...” the Passenger stammered. He was visibly sweating, despite the fact that it was far from hot within the car. The Driver gestured forward toward the grey mass on the pavement ahead of them, obscured as a result of the misted windshield.

“Have a look. Should make things a bit clearer,” he replied, flicking on the windscreen wipers so that the scene before them could be viewed clearly through the glass.

There must have been two dozen people on the pavement now. They had formed a small circle and some were jostling to gain a better view of what lay in the centre. The parking attendant was off to the side hunched over with his hands on his knees. After a moment, the figures in the circle parted just enough so that the main attraction could be seen. The Passenger gasped as his own blood-covered face came into view, eyes white and staring and his mouth twisted open grotesquely. It appeared no-one had been brave enough to touch him or move him into a more dignified position. He remained there as he had landed, like a discarded toy, broken and vaguely pathetic.

It appeared that the Passenger could not tear his eyes from it. It also appeared he had begun to hyperventilate.

“Que Dios tenga misericordia,” he said with each breath. “Que Dios tenga misericordia.”

“Cálmate, amigo,” The Driver said in a tone he believed to be consolatory. He placed a hand upon his passenger's shoulder. “No eres más que muerto. Podría ser peor.”

At this, the Passenger whipped around to stare back at the Driver.

“What? What are you doing speaking Spanish?” he demanded, as if this was a personal affront to both him and his nationality.

“Ich spreche auch Deutsch,” the Driver replied with another wry smile. He then turned the key in the ignition and the small car hummed into life.

“Enough chit-chat,” he said, as the Passenger stared at him blankly. “We've plenty of road ahead of us yet.”

He put the car into gear with an unhealthy-sounding crank, and they pulled away from the pavement and down the busy street. The Passenger looked in the rear-view mirror at the mass of the crowd behind them. An ambulance had arrived, its lights flashing red and blue. He almost wanted to run to it, throw open the car door and bolt toward the ambulance as if somehow it could still save his life, and take him away from his...Driver. He hand lingered on the door handle.

The Driver did not appear to have taken his eyes off the road but he still seemed to notice this subtle motion.

“Don’t make me put you in the back with the child locks,” he said, still staring straight ahead.

The Passenger froze for a moment, then slowly put his hands back in his lap. He looked to the mirror again, but the crowd, the ambulance, and his own body had been swallowed by the mist and rain. 

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