Short Story

The Tree

See you tomorrow’, said Jane and walked out of the pub. She stepped into a warm summer night and took a deep breath. Her working day was over, to be precise working evening. The night was still, only some sudden police sirens in the distance reminded her that the city was living its usual life. Jane approached the car, dreaming of taking a bath and watching another boring over-18-film, falling asleep in front of a TV in her lonely flat. 'Why not take a walk when the night is so wonderful,' she thought as she turned the ignition key. 'Anyway, I'm too exhausted for it,' and the engine fired.

She drove through the city, avoiding the centre, where the traffic was still jammed with the numerous taxis and cars of those who obviously could afford some other pubs than the one she worked in. The windows of the closed shops with the duty lights on, a group of people who were already at home right here in the street, the traffic lights changing their colours for no one … . The dull scenery of either late night or already early day passed outside her car. Jane had been driving here for thousands of times and knew the way quite well. There has not been much change in her life recently … till this night.

The way to her block led through a small forest, which she could hardly even call a forest. She always used to drive this part faster, not that she was afraid, but because the road went downhill. It started raining. The wipers mixed the first drops of rain with dust on the windscreen and she had to slow down till they wiped it all away. ‘Where on earth does this rain come from?’ and she kicked the brakes.

The tree lying across the road was huge. Jane was lucky to be driving slowly and as the windscreen was clear again she saw it there. She got out of the car not without some strange feeling. Examining the tree, Jane was astonished that it had been cut with something like a chainsaw, the smooth cut exactly towards the road. ‘Whatever it was’, she said aloud to calm herself down, ‘I don't care.’

She returned to the car quickly, thinking of calling the police from home. She had to leave the road to get round the tree. The idea that all this might have a certain purpose occurred to her as the rear-view mirror suddenly blinded her with the bright light behind. It was definitely a car and it was chasing her. This thought struck her as lightning and she kicked the accelerator. The engine roared and the headlights of the car behind moved back, but the driver very soon shortened the distance. 'He, he has cut that damn tree with the bloody chainsaw and he still has it to cut me into pieces!!!' Jane was scared. Shop windows, traffic lights, houses, lampposts, crossroads, T-junctions the pedal was down to the floor all the way, but he kept hanging on the tail. Being tired or scared or both at once, she saw nothing except the endless road going away, up to the dark sky … and those lights in the mirror, behind her. She couldn't see his face but she was sure it was horrible, with blood-filled eyes, ready to kill. She felt her heartbeat in her ears, in her head: 'The main street, now left, then right, come on, faster, come on, the next turn, one way, too narrow, too fast ...'

'I've already told you, officer, I just wanted to help her. Back there in the forest I saw her getting out of the car to have a look at the tree and then a man in a black hood crawled into her car from the other side. He was holding a chainsaw in his hands. I got in my car and chased her to help. I'm so sorry about the accident. Will she survive?' 'She didn't. We'll need you for further questioning…' 'Hey, look what we've got here in her car a chainsaw!' 'I'm coming' 'So, may I go now?' 'Yes, but don't leave the city during the investigation' 'I won't,' and he turned the corner, deeply breathing in the fresh morning air and pulling on his hood.

by Ilia Nedogreev (2002)

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Zuletzt aktualisiert: 2004-07-14 0:43