Chasing the Light excerpt

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cover of Chasing the LightTom’s next words were interrupted by a jolt that forced the SUV to bounce and stop short. Tom was thrown forward, bounced off the back of the front seat, and tumbled back into the cushions of the back seat. Doña, running too close beside the SUV, ran into its side, stumbled, and just caught herself from falling. She stopped and stared at the SUV, at Thomas, Sr. but his full attention was directed down the driveway. Doña turned to follow his gaze down the drive, at the distant point on the front lawn where the driveway entered the woods beyond.

Spears of light began to poke out from beyond the woods that separated the house from the street.

“Damn!” Thomas, Sr. glared angrily down the driveway. “They’re here!”

Even Kay’s anger was momentarily forgotten, and she turned and looked down the driveway. “Oh, my God,” she muttered, with a distinct sound of dread in her voice.

As they watched, the multiple spears of light stabbed out of the woods crazily, like concert show floods out of control, dancing about as if searching for something. Slowly they resolved into multiple pairs of parallel lights, all pointing in a single direction… directly up the driveway from the woods, brightening and focusing by the second. Headlights. Moments later, the first car appeared, bursting into view from beyond the treeline and roaring up the long driveway. Mere yards behind, almost obscured by the dust kicked up from that car, came another… then another, and another, and another… seven cars and trucks altogether. As they cleared the trees, a car and a truck veered off the driveway and proceeded towards the house across the well-manicured lawn to either side. As they approached a gentle curve in the driveway, the car in the grass on the far side spun out of control, doing a complete three-sixty and churning up dirt and grass in long roostertails, before it regained control. They all bore up at the house, right up the drive where the Escalade stood.

“Damn,” Thomas, Sr. muttered again, as he tromped on the gas pedal and yanked the steering wheel to the right. The SUV jumped sideways and left the driveway, itself kicking up roostertails of grass and dirt, and started across the front lawn. At once, three of the vehicles coming up the driveway swerved uphill, in the SUV’s direction. But the SUV was heading downhill, and Thomas had more than enough time and momentum to get past the pursuing vehicles as he angled across the lawn.

Without warning, there was a crack, and Tom felt something sting his cheek. Kay coughed out a scream, and Tom looked in her direction before bringing his head back around to the direction of the crack. In the glass behind the passenger seat, he saw a neat round hole.

“Shit!” Father and son shouted together, as Thomas began to alter the truck’s course. Tom heard a second shot ring out, then a third, though nothing hit the SUV this time. Did they miss, or—? Tom wildly craned his head around in time to see Doña, her light blue uniform and white shoes catching the light from the vehicles like glowing targets in the night, as she ran frantically in the opposite direction, heading for the thick woods around the far side of the house.

“They’re shooting at Doña!” Tom wailed.

“They’re shooting at us!” Thomas, Sr. rapped out, and yanked the wheel hard to the left. The Escalade regained footing on a gravel path, and Tom realized what his father was doing: He was making for the service entrance at the opposite edge of the property. They plunged into woods on either side of the gravel drive, their pursuers were lost from view… and in another moment, so were Doña and the house. Thomas, Sr. gunned the Escalade up the drive, then started stabbing at the ceiling of the SUV. He stabbed upward numerous times, all while fighting the wheel and the insanely-bouncing truck, until he shouted out, “Kay, the gate!”

Kay and Tom realized then that he had been trying to trigger the automatic gate, but that he hadn’t managed to hit the remote control button in the dark, in the bucking SUV. Kay cried out in alarm, and pitched sideways to find the remote on the visor. Tom could do nothing to help her from the back seat, and he could no longer see behind him, so he finally plopped down into the seat and hastily pulled his seatbelt on.

“Got it!” Kay yelled, and flopped back into her seat. But they were already upon the gate, moving at a breakneck pace, and the chain link gate did not open quickly. Kay screamed in terror, Tom braced his arms against the front seat and cringed, and Thomas, Sr. bellowed almost as if he hoped to scare the gate into opening faster.

The Escalade hit the gate with a bang, knocking the gate off its motorized rollers and peeling it aside like a stiff metal curtain. The SUV jumped violently when it hit… then it jumped again, as it reached the edge of the gravel road and hit the edge of the street’s pavement. Thomas jerked the wheel to the right, but it was too soon, and the truck lurched over sickeningly, threatening to overturn. It seemed to balance precariously on its two left wheels for a few seconds… then it came down, hard, on the other two wheels.

As it turned out, if Thomas, Sr. had not turned the wheel when he did, he would have struck an oncoming truck that was even bigger than his SUV. The truck swerved, locked up its brakes, and skidded sideways, itself almost overturning in the middle of the street. Tom distinctly heard someone from the truck shout, “That’s Everson!” At once, a chorus of voices were heard on the truck, from the driver and all of his passengers. A beer bottle sailed out of the truck’s window and shattered against the back window of the SUV, doors opened on the driver’s side of the truck, and shouting men poured out. Thomas paid them no mind, and instead gunned the Escalade and pointed it down River Road. The SUV shot away before the men from the truck could reach them; and within moments, they were racing down the dark road at well above the posted speed limits.

Tom helplessly looked over his shoulder, out the beer-stained rear window, at the driveways to his home, where he could already see other vehicles swerving and disappearing down the driveway and into the woods.

“Lucky,” Thomas, Sr. muttered as he raced the SUV down the street. “Damn that moron Albert, all his fault. Gonna get us killed… just like Greg. If Frankie hadn’t called…”

“Tom, they’re going to destroy the house,” Kay moaned. “Can’t we… can’t we call the police, or—”

“Too busy dealing with rioters,” Thomas, Sr. growled. “Hell, they might even be helping ‘em, considering Albert’s big mouth. It’s too late.” He pulled his eyes from the road long enough to give his wife a meaningful look. “Just be glad we got out of there alive.”

In the back, Tom’s eyes went wide. “Doña…” he moaned himself, and continued to look helplessly up the road behind them. It had happened so fast… he barely remembered taking a breath, from start to finish. But he did realize—and would never, ever forget—that the very last thing he had seen, as he was being carried away from his home for the last time, was the girl he loved… running for her life.

 

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