Copyright is held by the author.
I NOTICED the sign as I indicated to come off the roundabout — road closed. Next to it was an arrow pointing to the diversion. I almost ran into the sign but managed to swerve just in time. I was in the wrong gear and had to shift down quickly so I didn’t run into a wall. I’d always wondered what was down that lane, but a cold dark winter night wouldn’t have been the time I would have picked to explore.
As I headed into a darkness so thick I could feel it in my body, I thought about why the road was closed. Probably an accident. People treated that road as though it were a motorway, not the B road that it was — just because there were no speed cameras out this far. Only the cows could witness the high-speed overtaking with headlights that startled them as much as the moon.
I tried to relax even though I couldn’t see ahead. I fiddled with the lights to find full beam, first turning on the indicators and then upping the volume for the stereo. Then I saw the reassuring landscape of small farm hedges and walls. I prayed to a god I wasn’t sure existed that I wouldn’t meet a car coming the other way. At one point I thought I saw a wolf, but it was just a gnarled old tree. I laughed at myself, trying to decide if it was better to slow down and be safer or speed up and get out of there faster.
I mused about how diversions weren’t ever just a few hundred yards or a mile out of your way. They took you to places beyond the edge of reason. And then the fog descended as though someone had drawn a curtain. If the darkness had felt like my head was being squeezed, this felt like I’d been absorbed by white noise. I wasn’t sure where it ended and I began anymore.
I comforted myself that it was late and that it was unlikely I would meet someone coming the other way and maybe by the time I did the road would get wider. I was relieved when I saw the light up ahead but then the fog blended with the light and it was even more blinding than the darkness.
I stopped the car and took some deep breaths to gather myself. Then the light became blue and red flashing lights with the faint din of a siren. I realised then that I was no longer inside the car, I must have stepped out at some point. I heard a radio crackle.
“Despatch. No need to send any further emergency vehicles. This one is DOA.”
Then I saw my car — I didn’t recognize it, but I knew it must be mine. It was embedded in a tree that looked strangely like a wolf.