long road ghost - part 8 of 9

The sky was a bleedin’ red and with my eyesight not bein’ quite what it was it took a long time for me to adjust to the lack of daylight. By that time, Brom and Alex had already reached Rasor Road, revvin’ their engines and givin’ each other cold looks. They were none to happy to see me when I pulled up alongside them.

“Ain’t gonna solve nothin’,” I said. Leanin’ closer to Alex, I suggested he let the law handle things. But he just got sad with the pain of a broken heart and said, “I don’t know what I want more; for me to be dead or that rat bastard.”

“If ya gonna get melodramatic about it,” I said. “Christ.”

And the two went off down the freeway, leavin’ me behind with a cloud of exhaust beneath a dark sky. But then I felt somethin’ strange, the hairs on the back of my neck standin’ straight. From nowhere in particular came the howlin’ sound of a motorcycle, like a wolf on acid. Then I felt something rush by me; it was too quick for me to see. My heart was beatin’ fast; I admit it. But I got on my bike and sped off after Brom and Alex and whatever else passed me by, swallowing my growin’ dread – I was very far from bein’ a fearless young buck.

I could feel the furious shakin’ power of my Bonneville between my legs as I gave the engine some gas and counted off the ticks to the 70 mph mark. It didn’t take long for me to catch up with Brom and Alex, who were each tryin’ hard to get the upper hand, but merely passin’ the lead back and forth. And damned if they weren’t alone. A headless rider dressed in black leathers, his stump burning with a blue-white flame like the one comin’ out of his exhaust, was gainin’ on them. I tried yellin’ out, feelin’ the fear build up in me like high-pressure steam, but the roar of engine and wind drowned me out. A goddamned headless rider who somehow always managed to stay ahead despite me pushin’ my growlin’ baby to the limit.

Brom and Alex were close enough to start tryin’ to push each other off their bikes. They swerved on the weirdly dead-quiet freeway – where the fuck was the traffic? – barely keepin’ control of themselves and their machines as they jabbed at each other. And on went the headless rider, that ghost outta hell. I saw him reach down to pull out a wicked blade, a machete with a motorcycle handlebar for a grip. Santa Claus was right; it did glow. I was almost close enough to the headless rider to do somethin’, but what that somethin’ would be I had no idea. That’s when he caught me by surprise by slowin’ down suddenly , forcin’ me to brake. The sudden change in speed made me lose control – a stupid thing, really, for an ol’ biker like me – and I wiped out, barely registering the sight of the headless rider swingin’ his blade towards Alex’s neck and loppin’ the poor guy’s head clean off.

I was lucky. Sometimes you’re meat…sometimes you’re not. I was five for five. But even with a helmet the shock to my head made me see things, like little silver stars, that weren’t there. It hurt like a motherfucker. I passed out.

When I came to, a young woman in a medic’s uniform was goin’ over me with a fine tooth comb, ignorin’ me when I said I was fine. Just a few cuts and bruises. Like I said, lucky. Sheriff Monk, cars with flashin’ lights behind him, loomed over me and didn’t waste time hasslin’ me for details of what happened. I told him what I could, leavin’ out the loopy-soundin’ headless flamin’ parts. When I asked about Alex, he told me they didn’t find head, or body, or motorcycle. That gave me the chills.

Next week...the conclusion!

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