“Don’t touch me!”

“I’ve no intention of touching you!”

And I haven’t.

But I have, and you didn’t tell her that.

Why would he? You’re not in control.

But I might be in a minute!

I hope not.

“You seemed to, a moment ago.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”

Liar! You know damn well what came over you.

Indeed I do, but it’s not something I can explain, is it? Anyway, I’m in full control now, and I intend to stay that way. Somehow.

It’s two to one. I’ll do my best to help. But he’s strong.

I know that. But this is important.

Concentrate on the driving. It helps to be concentrating on something, changes of control are less likely, especially if it’s something potentially hazardous one’s concentrating on. I just hope we don’t have to stop again.

She’s nodding off again.

Darkness, wet road, no light anywhere except our headlights. Raindrops caught in the light, and not much else to see, because the wet road surface reflects the light away from us not back in our direction.

Can’t think of Viv without remembering her last moments. I don’t want to think of her last moments, I want to think of all the happy times. But the memory of her lying there dying, knowing she was dying, knowing that she was conscious and that she too knew she was dying, always comes to the fore. That, and the memory of the explosion itself.

God, that was close. Going too fast? Maybe, slow down a bit. And stop daydreaming – daydreaming at night? Not nightdreaming. Not dreaming at all. Reminiscing.

Amazing that Ella trusts me enough to sleep. Either that, or she’s incredibly tired, which is quite likely I suppose.

Light in the distance behind – a bright flash on the horizon, illuminating half the sky. Lightning? An explosion? I don’t know. Couldn’t see it properly – only caught a glimpse in the mirrors. Headlights? Could be, I suppose, but awfully bright if so – and just one brief flash?

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
’Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

Damn – must have dozed off. God, we’re headed straight for a wall. Quick – brake, steer hard left, phew. Must stay awake!

Driving, driving, getting away.

How’s the petrol? About a third full now – and two five-litre jerry cans in the back. Could do two hundred plus miles, more if I slow down. What’s the chance of getting some more? Steal some? And get shot? No thanks.

Too much water on the road here –  sliding, slewing, correct the skid, thank goodness that worked. Slow down a bit.

“Have you told your wife?”

Ah. She’s awake again.

“I shan’t tell her anything unless there’s something to tell her.”

“Isn’t there anything to tell her?”

“I don’t know. Is there?”

“What would it have to be to make you think there was something to tell her?”

“Well, if you and I decided we wanted to get a place together, have kids, that sort of thing.”

“Do you think that’s likely?”

“I don’t know. Depends on two things, I suppose. Do you like me that much? Do I like you that much? There’s an awful lot you don’t know about me. I don’t really know all that much about you, either.”

Silence for a mile or two – apart from the swoosh of the wipers and the noise of the car speeding along the wet road. Engine, tyres, spray.

Then I break the silence. “How much do you like me?”

“I like you a lot. How much do you like me?”

“I like you a lot, too. But do I like you that much? I don’t know you well enough yet to know. You don’t know me well enough to know yet, either.”

“How often does this happen to you?”

“Never happened before.”

“When did you know it was happening?”

“The realization dawned on me gradually, but I was aware of something from the moment I first met you.”

“Same here.”

She’s changed her tune since she was telling you not to touch her. You should ask her about that.

I’m not sure I should, and since it’s still me in control, I’m not saying anything.

Silence again for a while. A car, going in the opposite direction – the first we’ve seen in ages.

“I’m sorry I was a bit short with you earlier on.”

“No call to be sorry. I’m sorry if I scared you a bit.”

“I shouldn’t have been scared. Half the time I want you to touch me anyway.”

“Half the time I know that, and half the time I’m not sure. Half the time I don’t know what I want myself.”

Silence, and a safe distance between us.

Driving, driving, getting away.


He really doesn’t know what he wants, does he?

No, he really doesn’t. Everyone knows what you want.

What about you?

I want the best for everyone. I don’t always know what that is.

Do I get any say in this?

You certainly do. You’re in control.

Yeah. And I’m trying to drive.

You could put your arm round her shoulder quite easily.

Yeah. And crash the car. Good plan.

Staring into the darkness. Raining harder now – and a bit of sleet, by the looks of it. Blue flashing lights in the distance ahead. I wonder if anyone is looking for us? I wish I knew the area.

Chances are very strong that it’s nothing to do with us.

A sign for a minor road on the left. I hope it connects through to somewhere, and avoids whatever it is going on up ahead. Take the corner as fast as I safely can. Her head lolls onto my shoulder, and stays there.

That’s nice.

It is. But don’t get too excited.

I’m not. This road needs some concentration to take at any speed in the dark and wet.

Trees overhanging the road from both sides, making a sort of tunnel. Hope we get a reasonable right turn before too long, and that it won’t bring us back onto the main road too soon.

What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? She’s in two minds as much as we are, and I’m not thinking of raping her.

Two minds? I make it three.

Yeah. At least. Anyone else around here at the moment?

If she’s in two minds now, even if she and I are both in the same mood at the same time sometimes, how long will it last? Half the time one of us will want us to be together, and the other won’t.

“I’m sorry, I must have dozed off.”

“That’s all right. You need some sleep.”

“You know, it’s no good. Half the time one of us or the other will want us to be together when the other doesn’t.”

“That’s incredible. That’s exactly what I was thinking a moment before you woke up.”

Yeah. And it’s the story of human life. Get a grip. Don’t waste your life. A quarter of the time we’ll both want to be apart, and a quarter we’ll both want to be together. That quarter outweighs all the other three quarters easily.

Maybe. But I want to get to know her better first.

I thought you were on my side.

I am. But he’s got a point.

I know. But like she said, “it’s no good.”

Not to worry, I’m still firmly in control.

Yeah, but how long for? Down this side road, there must be somewhere quiet we can stop.

I’m not stopping. What I want is a route to rejoin the main road somewhere beyond those blue lights.

A turning on the right – but it’s too narrow, and not signposted. Doesn’t look as though it goes anywhere, we could get hopelessly lost. It might even dump us back on the main road too soon. Keep straight on.

Open country now, climbing into the hills. Rain stopping. Clouds beginning to break up. Moonlight!

“Do slow down a bit. Look – there’s a place we could stop for few minutes – that boarded-up old place at the top of the hill must have somewhere to pull off.”

Ha. What did I tell you?

Oh Gawd. Now what do I do?

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

Driving, driving, getting away.

“I need a wee.”

Ha. What was that you told me?

“Ah. Okay. There’s no traffic about. We can stop anywhere. There’s a place for you to disappear for a minute just there.”

Should I turn the engine off? Probably better to leave it running, she won’t be long. Lights off. World looks much better with just the moonlight. Those are big piles of cloud up in the north, though. Could easily be snow before long.

Door slamming, not very hard though. She’s back.

“You were nodding off! Are you fit to be driving?”

“I’ll be okay for quite a while yet.”

“I’m sorry I can’t drive.”

“You’re even more tired than I am anyway. I’ll be okay.”

“Are you sure? If we put the back seats down, there’ll be just about room for us to lie down in the back. Find somewhere safe to park, and we can sleep for a while.”

“If I turn the engine off, it’ll be freezing in here pretty quick.”

“We’ll be okay if we snuggle up close.”

Ha. What did I tell you?
She didn’t need a wee at all, you know. That was just to make you stop, and a way to pretend, when you’d rebuffed her, that she hadn’t been making advances.

Maybe. Who knows?

Oh Gawd.

“I think we’d still freeze to death in our sleep.”

That’s probably the truth, too. Even if I have got other reasons for saying it.

Driving, driving, getting away.

“PTSD doesn’t only happen in the military.” “PTSD?” “Post-traumatic stress disorder.” “Give it a label, that’ll cure me.” “Will he recover?” “Life’ll never be the same again.”

Damn fool doctor. Life was never the same before, either, I’ve always been like this. I wouldn’t want to be any other way anyway, this is who I am. And stop reminiscing, you old fool – you’ll crash the car.

That wouldn’t be such a bad way to go, all in all.

Better to freeze in your sleep than crash the car.

Better not to do either. Not fair to Ella. Concentrate on the driving.