Driving Off Grid

“They aren’t the only ones we have to worry about,” James cried over the noise of his car’s engine. He turned the car sharply to the left, bringing them onto another residential street.

“What do you mean?” Brad asked, doing his best to stay upright in the backseat.

“I’m driving off grid!”

“Oh, yeah,” Brad said and then raising his voice: “The police!”

“I’ll take care of the police.” Linda’s tone did not have any of the worry or anxiety that accompanied the words of the other two. James looked away from the road just long enough to shoot a frown in her direction.

She pulled out a device that looked somewhat like a smartphone, though a brand that neither James nor Brad had seen before. Grasping onto both sides of the device, she pulled, extending the screen to the size of a computer tablet. She tapped on the screen, and the device came to life, illuminating the interior of the car with a soft, artificial glow.

“The police will be busy in another part of the city,” Linda explained as she tapped away on her tablet. She looked up from her work and yelled, “Watch out!”

James, who had been staring at Linda’s activities, swerved out of the way of a parked car. “Where am I going, anyway?” he asked after a few seconds of silence to calm himself.

“Make your way to State street,” Linda instructed. “Then head south.”

After taking off his seat belt, Brad leaned forward, bringing his head between the two front seats. “We are already on the north end of town. Wouldn’t it make more sense to head north?”

“Brad, we need to lose Liverpool’s men,” Linda replied. “We won’t do that on the open road. We will have a much better chance in the city.”

Brad frowned. James at least gets the respect of being called Mr. Miller, he thought. He sighed as he slumped into the back seat.

James turned the steering wheel sharply to the left, sending Brad tumbling to the opposite side of the car. His shoulder landed on a jagged piece of glass left over from the implosion. He yelled out and reached for his shoulder. He brought his hand back in front of his face; a drop of blood ran down his middle finger.

“What happened?” James began to panic, unintentionally slowing the car.

Linda looked behind her. While catching a quick glimpse of Brad, she also noticed the ever present car keeping pace with them and perhaps even catching up. She quickly turned her attention to James. “Never mind that,” she said. “Pay attention and keep driving.”

She looked behind her again. Sure enough—Liverpool’s men were getting closer. “Can you go any faster?”

“I’m flooring it … practically.”

Linda began to reply but was interrupted by a scream from Brad as the car hit a pothole. A few moments later James began to instinctively slow as the car approached the intersection with State street.

“There’s too many cars.”

Linda waved a pointed finger, indicating the cars in front of them. “Just go. The Grid will try to get them out of the way.”

James stepped on the accelerator, weaving around cars that never touched him. Two cars shifted sideways, a maneuver only the Grid was capable of performing. Linda tapped a few commands onto her tablet, and the cars shifted back into their original places about the time that the pursuing car was entering the intersection.

Liverpool’s men averted a direct collision by swerving quickly to the side, but they were unable to miss one of the obstacles completely, breaking a headlight as the corner of their car struck the side of the other car. The force of the hit would normally have tossed the slower moving vehicle in the opposite direction, but the Grid held the obstacle in place, forcing the pursuing car to scrape along the entire length of the now stationary car.

“That’s our chance,” Linda said. “Go as fast as this car will let you.”

James slammed on the accelerator, shoving his foot all the way to the floor. The cars on the Grid they were passing seemed like they were standing still.

“How’s Brad?” James asked, never removing his eyes from the road. Linda shifted in her seat so she could get a better look into the back seat.

“He’s got a nasty cut,” she replied.

Brad’s eyes darted to his shoulder. He began to breath harder, noticing the large blood stain for the first time. It doesn’t hurt, he thought, which helped calm himself some.

“Shouldn’t we take him to a hospital?”

“No,” Linda quickly replied. “Liverpool would surely find us there. We can’t take the chance of stopping now.We’ll treat him as soon as we can.” She looked down to consult her tablet.

“Take one of these cross streets coming up,” she continued. “Then act like you are on the Grid.”

“What about the back window?” James asked.

“Well.” Linda sighed. “Turn your lights off when you get on the other street. We’ll take our chances.” Once they were safely cruising down the cross street at a much slower pace, Linda pointed to an unoccupied parking spot.

James parked the car and killed the engine. “You going to tell us what’s going on?”

“Not here,” Linda replied. “We aren’t out of the woods yet.”

A few moments later Liverpool’s car streaked by them, the occupants completely unaware that James had turned onto the cross street. Linda exhaled, sighing loudly.

“What we need now is a place out of the way where I can treat Brad’s wound.”

The End

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