Chess Pieces, Ch.2 - Country Moors

As quick as the sun had come, the rain soon followed falling heavily down and soaking everything that stood in its way. The whole sky was covered by the thick, grey blanket of angry rain clouds that rumbled and screamed across the Scottish moors. I’d recently passed my driving test and was a reasonably confident driver. However, driving back from the nearest town through the muddy and sloped dirt road back to the McFarlow’s little village was something I wished I hadn’t agreed to do.

     “Why did I agree to do this?” I asked myself out loud, looking in the rear view mirror to spy on James in the back. It was quite late and he had fallen asleep in his car seat with his dummy hanging on the edge of his lip. I returned my vision back to the road in front of me and squinted in an attempt to see the road better, with failure. The windscreen wipers cleared the drops of rain away and a second later was completely covered again. My front lights didn’t help much either as they barely lit up my surroundings. The squelching of mud underneath the tires echoed in my ears, it sounded horrible… I’d have hated being out in it.

     Suddenly, the car jolted as it drove over something; it startled me. I stopped driving until I was sure I could continue. The left side of the car appeared to be tilting to one side… surely that wasn’t good. I tried to drive on but the car wouldn’t move. Oh no… that really couldn’t be good. Leaving the engine running, I pulled my coat hood up and braced myself for the weather outside the comfort of the little Rover Metro.

      As soon as I stepped out into the mud, I was soaked from head to foot. I was right, I’d have much preferred to stay in the car than be outside of it. I dashed around the front of the car to the left hand side as quickly as I could, avoiding to get my trainers covered in as little mud as possible – that would be a challenge and a half – to inspect that damage.

     There was barely any light but, from what I could see, the front tire was stuck in a steady, deep ditch at the side of the road and that the tire was also completely flat. I couldn’t believe it.  

     “For goodness sake,” I yelled to myself, “why now!?” I made my way back to the driver’s seat, stepping in a thigh deep puddle of mud on my way… great. I pulled the door open violently and jumped back into the safety and cover of the old Rover, slamming the car door shut firmly behind me. I turned to the back seat and met James’ eyes. He’d woken up, most likely due to the jolt before, but he didn’t appear fazed by it at all.

     I stretch my legs towards the pedals in order to get my phone out of my jeans pocket. Once retrieving it, I peered down at the screen and sighed loudly in despair… no signal… great! I dropped my head quickly to the steering wheel and jumped at the sound of the horn in my ear, sitting back up straight against the seat. I placed my hand against my chest and closed my eyes as I calmed myself down from the shock.

     James sat gurgling in his car seat, unaware of the stress that was running through my blood stream. How was I supposed to get back to the cottage? I had no phone reception, so I couldn’t ring anybody to help. I was stranded in the middle of the moors, almost half an hour away from the nearest town by car and even further from the McFarlows’. I’d need a miracle to get out of this one.

9:48PM; I’d been stuck in the middle of nowhere for the past hour and a half. Mum would be wondering where I was by now and Teresa… well, she would have most likely convinced herself that we’d been involved in some form of tragic accident and were fatally injured – she’d be having a fit! I made myself laugh inwardly at the image of Teresa freaking out in my head. I turned back to look at James’ sleeping face. He’d managed to fall back asleep almost an hour ago with the rain still hammering down on the roof and the thunder crashes around us. Lighting flashed in the distance, still scaring me despite it being out of each from us.

     I checked my phone again: nothing… like the last eighty odd times I’d checked. Why did it have to be my car that had gotten stuck in a muddy ditch? Why!?

     I leaned back against the headrest and peered out the windscreen in front of me. The wipers continued to clear the window, only to be bombarded another second later with the same amount it had just wiped off. The view before me was Pitch black. I couldn’t make anything out in front of me other than the odd tree that loomed high above the car, either side of the road here and there. They swayed furiously to and fro being stripped of their leaves as they danced angrily away to the rhythm of the thundery wind.

     A distant light glistened from the rear view mirror into my eyes. I blinked wildly and focused my vision on the mirror to the sight behind me. Around the curve of the road I saw a light… two lights… car lights! At last! My own lights were on too, hopefully the driver in the other car would realise that I was stuck, hence the vehicle’s lack of movement. I decided to flash my lights in an SOS Morse code sequence anyway; something I’d been taught in the first few years of secondary school by my Geography teacher, Mr. Herbert. I then realised that only my headlights would be sequencing the SOS code and felt like an idiot. All the same, I just hoped and hoped and hoped the driver would be a considerate person and at least try and help me without knowing the situation before hand.

     The car headlights became clearer and I could see that the vehicle was now close enough to see me too. Their left indicator blinked rhythmically on and off; blink, blink.

     “Thank you!” I cried out loud to myself, clasping my hands together and looking up towards the heavens. I wasn’t particularly the most religious or spiritual person in the world but, at that point, I felt some thanks were needed to the great ruler of the Earth; whether he – or she – did or did not exist… I don’t judge.

     Once the car pulled up behind me, their right hand door – the driver’s side – opened wide and a figure protruded out into the rain, soon followed by a long, slim item that was soon revealed to be a large Golf umbrella. The figure itself was tall and well built, resembling that of a man’s.

     The man made his way across the road to my car. I didn’t know whether or not I should get out and talk to this man or if it was best to just roll down my car window. I opted to get out, despite not having an umbrella at my possession right at that precise moment, as I would rather I got wet than the entire interior of the car.

     I flung the door open, and heard a loud thud and agonising gasp… that didn’t sound good. I leant out and peered through the window of the open car door and saw the man from the other car stood bent down with his umbrella only just covering his head. Oh no! I’d misjudged where he was and hit him right in the…

     “Oh my Gosh, I’m so sorry!” I cried, stepping out of the car quickly, shutting the door behind me, “I really didn’t mean to do that.”

     “It’s okay… no serious harm done.” He muttered deeply. His Scottish accent was prominent and thick and very local. I wondered why he was all the way out in this part of the moors. The nearest house to here was the McFarlows.

     “Are you sure? Isn’t there anything I can do to help?” I asked, taking a couple steps closer to the man, whose face was hidden due to him recovering from the hit. He held one hand on his knee with his head facing down into the mud. He chuckled under his breath,

     “I’m sure it’s you that’s in need of some help, being stuck by the side of the road and all,” he then looked up at me and our eyes met. For a moment he had a sincere and amused look about his face but upon recognising my face it disappeared quickly, “ah, Casey.”

     “Marc?” I asked, my own thoughts changing in a dash. The last time Marc and I had seen each other was when we first met at the McFarlows’ home – his parents’ home – last Christmas where we’d not particularly shared a mutual interest in each other whatsoever, “What’re you doing here?”

     “Shouldn’t that be obvious?” he answered snidely, “I’m on my way to my parents’ house. After all, they are my parents and I have a right to see them.”

     “I never said you didn’t, I was just curious.”

     “Curiosity is something that, if used incorrectly, can be destructive and lethal in so many different ways imaginable.” I hadn’t thought it was possible but, it seemed, Marc had become even more moody and rude than he’d been at our previous encounter six months ago.

     “Well, seeing as you’re going to your parents anyway, do you think you’d be able to drive James and I back there, please? One of the front tires is stuck in a ditch and, to top it all off, has managed to get punctured at some point along the journey.” I crossed my arms and looked up at Marc sternly. Why him? Why couldn’t it be a kind, gentle man who was friendly and helpful to all that needed his help? Perhaps I’d thanked God too soon…

     “You have James with you?” he sneered. His dislike for me magnified onto James too both for him being my son and also for his name being dedicated to the McFarlow’s youngest son, whom had lost his battle against Mother Nature at a fragile, tender young age.

     “Yes, shouldn’t that be obvious? After all, he is my son.” I answered, imitating him from just before. I smirked to myself, watching his lips tighten at the edges and his brow creasing with frustration. I hadn’t noticed until then that I was completely soaked to the bone whilst he stood under the umbrella. A gentleman would have offered to keep me dry and take the risk of becoming ill with pneumonia. Then again, this was Marc we were talking about and it showed the kind of man he was… not much of one.

     Soon after I’d judged Marc, he handed the umbrella harshly to me, pushing it into my hands and folding the driver’s seat of my car forward to access the backseat. I clutched onto the umbrella tightly, wrapping my fingers around the rigid plastic handle and knitting my fingers together.

     Marc unfastened James’ car seat hurriedly and lifted it out, with James still fastened securely and safely inside it. I moved the umbrella closer to the hood of the car, so not to get James wet when Marc pulled him out, and wrapped one arm around it. My hand briefly brushed against Marc’s who then let go of the car seat at the touch. Luckily, I’d got a firm grip on it, handing the umbrella back to Marc so I could carry both the car seat and James in both of my arms.

     To my surprise, after slamming my car door shut, Marc walked me over to his car holding the umbrella over James’ and my head – very much like a gentleman – and even opened the back seat door for me to place James inside. As I fastened the car seat in place, Marc was close beside me, still holding the umbrella above both of us, and watching closely. I could feel his stare in the back of my mind… it almost scared me somehow… but in more of a curious, intriguing way.

     I couldn’t help remembering his quick change in personality when he realised who he was speaking to. It was if he was a completely different person before… perhaps the real him? I was interested in coming to know this new side of Marc, surely it must be an improvement from the side I’d already witnessed and, to be frank, disliked with a passion.

The End

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