Exiting the Garden State Parkway, Martha felt stress slide off her neck as another fifteen-minute drive separated her from slipping into a pair of silk pajamas and cuddling up in front of the television with a gallon of ice cream. Her two-level house stood high within the hilltop community of Gravesend. Hiking boots would be needed whoever dared to walk from the entrance gates to her front door. A good workout to say the least. Sleepiness entered the picture as she stopped at a red light on Chevalier Avenue. Taking a nap sounded like a good idea before calling Natalie about the top-secret package. After a day like today, she needed a moment to recharge her batteries before completely burning out.
However, thoughts swam through her mind about the agency. Did the mailman tell the truth? What if another agent saw her? Will Inspector Lee find out? Agent Combs was swimming in dangerous waters without a life preserver. Never had she broke protocol before, but part of her job is preventing police corruption. Wrongly convicted lives are at stake. She had no choice.
“Lee…” Mentioning his name rattled her nerves, remembering their conversation. Only a high-ranking agent could lock and unlock whatever files they choose. Then it dawned on her: why couldn’t Lee unlock the file himself? He didn’t want to step on the toes of his superiors? Why would that be the
case if Hart is such a good cop? Why was he so persistent? Timid? Martha’s eyes widened, instantly waking up from her sleepy gaze. “I’ll be damned!” she thought. “He locked it!”
Just then, a Harley-Davidson came upon her left side. Disturbed by the
revving engine, Martha glanced over at the rider. A brawny female wearing a high-waist leather jacket and matching pants sat behind the handlebars. Coils of platinum blonde hair hung from the bottom of her black helmet. The light turned green and Martha drove forward while the biker, to her relief, turned left. Nerves must be getting the better of her again. She decided to call Natalie now.
Coming to another red light, she pulled out her cell and paused. Reception bars were all down. She must be a dead zone. Strange. Every house around her had a satellite dish. Telephone poles on every corner. How can she not have a signal? Maybe her phone is out of whack. “I need a new damn phone,” she said before tossing it on the passenger’s seat.
Suddenly, roaring its engine louder than before, the Harley had returned. Same biker. “Am I being followed?” she thought foolishly. New Jersey neighborhoods can have confusing roads. Perhaps the biker made a wrong turn. “That damn package’s got me paranoid.”
But then, the biker inched a bit closer, rolling next to Martha’s window and repeatedly revving the cycle engine. It sounded like an angry lion hunting for meat. Martha didn’t want to turn around, quaking in fear for the first time today. She knew her question had been answered: somebody found out what she did. Her hand slid across the armrest where her .38 Special was kept. Slowly, she turned to her left. Gasp! The biker was facing her direction. Lifting the helmet visor, multi-colored, haunting dead eyes stared a hole through her soul.
Before the light turned green, Martha slammed on the gas and zoomed down the street, swerving around every passing corner at top speed. No matter what colors flashed on the streetlights or who was crossing the street, she feared for her life. Get home. Call Natalie.
Screeching to a stop into an intersection, Martha opened the door and pulled out her .38, waiting for the biker to come. Short breaths pumped from her lungs as her eyes shifted down the empty streets. Except for squeaks coming from the dangling traffic light, it was pin-drop quiet. Martha lowered her weapon and sighed in relief.
She grabbed her walkie-talkie from the glove compartment and radioed
the department switchboard. Only static buzzed from the receiver. No reception again? “Dammit!” she yelled before throwing the device in the backseat. The neighborhood looked deserted, seeing nothing but rundown projects. The numerous wild turns must’ve lured her off course, to an unknown side of town.
No signs of oncoming traffic whatsoever. Not one person crossed the street. Shops closed. None of her communication devices worked. She was alone.
From out of nowhere, a faint buzzing sound broke through the silent streets. Martha panicked as she slammed on the gas pedal and rocketed down the street. Just then, the biker came charging after her, firing an Uzi 9 mm.
The car got nicked by bullets as she cut through the narrowest of alleyways. The biker stayed nipping at her heels. How can she get out of this ghost town? Where was the highway? She lost all sense of direction. Was there enough gas to keep this chase up? This madness has to stop.
Once exiting the alleyway, Martha swerved onto the grounds of a rundown candy factory. A polluted river flowed on its right side and her eyes gawked at a long stretch of road ahead. Seeing the biker at close range, Martha slammed the brakes and drifted the car down the road. While spinning into half a donut, she switched the gears to reverse and began driving backward. She stuck her gun out the window and tightly pressed on the trigger, firing relentlessly. Bullets flew passed the biker like flies in a peppermint field. The biker retaliated by spattering bullet holes across the windshield.
Martha suddenly hit the brake and shot at the motorcycle’s tires. Air exploded from underneath and the biker flew several feet ahead. Her motorcycle violently tumbled down the road like a cell phone in the dryer. She nosedived into a bed of rocks and got carried off by the dirty water, lifelessly floating downriver.
Martha exited the car and crept toward the wreckage. Moving passed the smoking Harley and banged-up helmet, she breathed a long sigh of relief. But no time to reflect on escaping death. She rummaged through the biker’s belongings and all she found was a flip phone with duct tape over the mouthpiece. “Definitely an assassin,” she thought. Checking the call history, her temperature had risen once she discovered the last incoming call number: Khalil Reeves.
Not knowing if hours or minutes had passed, Martha aimlessly cruised through the desolate city and relied on landmarks she drove passed earlier to lead her back to the highway. Suddenly, the reception bars on her phone sprung up like flowers. She wasted no time calling Natalie again. “The number you are trying to call is not in service,” the operator announced.
“DAMMIT!” she yelled, throwing her cell against the dashboard. “Stupid,
piece of junk! Smartphone, my ass!” She ate every red light on the street, more anxious than ever to get home.
She then came to a stop as she saw flashing red lights up ahead at a railroad crossing. Gates came down as the freight train chugged on by. Home awaited
on the other side. She can see the setting sun shining from behind the hills of her community. Figuring it’ll be a few minutes before she can move, Martha took this time to lay her head back and relax, let her mounding stress dissolve to nothing.
Impatient honks from a blasting horn broke her out of the comforting state. Even in a peaceful moment, she can’t relax. Annoyingly, she turned around. Her life flashed before her eyes. It was the biker!
As Martha attempted to drive through the gates, a brigade of bullets tore through her car. Blood splattered across the windshield. Martha could no longer control the wheel as her grip became weak. Her car broke through the gates and rolled onto tracks. Seconds later, another oncoming freight train collided into the vehicle, dragging it for about a mile before the conductor could bring the train to a stop.
The biker rode her newly-forged motorcycle along the gravel. Her helmet was fully intact. Leather clothing as sleek and shiny as ever. How on earth
did this happen? Who is this devious biker? The conductor jumped from the train and ran toward the damaged car. Several bullets were then planted in his back, killing him before his body hit the ground. She stepped over his corpse and loaded another magazine into her Uzi. That’s when she spotted a battered Martha Combs desperately climbing out of a broken car window.
Bloodied and scarred, the gallant agent crawled along the gravel as hard as she could, dragging her dead legs along, barely enough strength to breathe. Trails of blood slid along the rocks. And yet, she refused to die.
The biker strutted toward her helpless victim. She took off her helmet and tossed it to the side. Curly blonde hair draped over her face. She stepped in front of Martha’s path, waiting for her to crawl closer. She then yanked Martha by the back of her hair until they were face-to-face. Martha trembled at the sight of her hideous face: pasty white skin, a mole near her nose, clear lip gloss, heavy pink rouge on the cheeks, and two different colored eyes. Her wicked smirk showed a hint of her corroded yellow teeth.
She heard no sirens ring. No yells for help. As Martha fell face-first into the gravel, all she heard was the sound of the uzi click behind her head. “Natalie...” she whispered. She never got to say goodbye.
The biker squeezed the trigger until emptiness clicked from her automatic weapon. She then lit up a cigarette and strutted back to her bike. The tires swerved against the gravel as she rode off into the sunset. Her identity could only be viewed by the words pressed on the license plate: Cat Strutter.