Runaway Highway

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Chapter 2 - Phonecall

Johanna's POV

I sprinted towards my rusty Ford Escort which was parked a few meters away in a clearing as soon as I noticed the police. The crowd that hadn’t followed the racers stood petrified as half a dozen police sirens echoed violently into the valley. I looked back as I ran, counting at least 2 police cars parked near the crowed area and 4 more chasing the racers. I could hear screaming and shouting coming from the highway, and I soon as I slammed the car door shut and I started the engine, a gunshot blasted my ears. I ducked instinctively, covering my head. No window shattered so I assumed my car hadn’t been hit. With my hands shaking, I stirred the wheel and pressed the pedal as hard as I could to get out of there.

As I drove away from the scene, I looked in my rearview mirror. Some of the policemen were aiming their guns while the crowd started to run in multiple directions like spooked mice.

Questions were running wild in my mind: why had they decided to show up? Was their goal to arrest the racers, apprehend the vehicles, get the money, possibly find drugs? Did they know there were gang members hiding in the shadows? Even though I was dying of curiosity, the last thing I wanted was to get stuck in the middle of a crossfire.

In less than ten minutes I saw the first stop-sign, indicating I was close to the town centre. I sat back on my seat and relaxed, knowing that I was probably safe.

As I quietly drove home, I just hoped that the cops wouldn’t succeed. Granted, I couldn’t wait for all the crime to stop, but at the same time I knew that without the races I would have no way of supporting myself financially. I needed the races as much as the races needed me.

In less than five minutes I arrived at my house. I parked my car outside on the sidewalk and skipped towards the porch, trying to avoid the rain. While getting the keys out of my shoulder bag, I could hear some cars sprinting nearby, indicating that some smart people had ran away from the race site like I had. However, I could still feel the danger and I hurried to unlock the door. As I entered the house, the wood creaking all over, I could sense my mum was already asleep. Nevertheless, I went to check on her in the only room of the house.

The only sound in the room was the humming of the oxygen machine by the bed. I wondered how she was able to fall asleep with that constant noise, but I guess exhaustion always found its way to pull my mum into deep sleep. For someone with lung cancer, it was rare the times when my mum felt energized anyway.

I leaned over the bed to kiss her forehead, the fluffy comforters and the exaggerated amount of pillows making it seem like she was floating up in the clouds. I noticed the motion of her chest rising and falling, putting me at ease. With that, I exited the room slowly so the floor boards wouldn’t make a sound.

I went to the kitchen and poured a glass of water. By the dim white light of the ceiling lamp, I could only imagine what was going on at the race. I knew that the cops didn’t stand a chance, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe this time they were pulling out the big guns, using everything they had to arrest those criminals. I just hoped no one got injured.

My mind kept taking me to the worse case scenario, where the spectators, some of them teenagers, were accidentally shot, that the police officers had been injured beyond repair, that the racers (in the rush of getting away) had fallen down the cliff... A shiver ran down my spine.

These thoughts weren’t helping. I knew all I could do was wait for tomorrow morning, where the news would bombard the town with information about what had happened during the night.

I went to the living room and closed all the windows so I was in complete darkness. Since our house only had one bedroom, I had always slept on the couch ever since I could remember. I laid down on the long scruffy sofa and pulled a blanket over me. I just had to fall asleep and that miserable night would be over.


My body jumped out of bed before I had time to process with. There was someone banging violently at my door. With the room still dark, I walked towards the door, dragging the blanket with me.

I had no idea what time it was, only that I had been pulled abruptly from sleep and that I wasn’t in a good mood.

“Who is it?” I asked.

“Johanna, open the door! We have to talk.”

I knew immediately who the voice belonged to, and even thought Mia was always welcomed at my house, I was annoyed she was at my door so early. I opened it reluctantly and she came flying in.

“Oh my god, have you seen the news?!” She went straight to the point, walking towards my ancient TV and turning it on “Are you hurt? Did you manage to get away from the race?! Did you see any action?!”

“Wow wow, slow down girl,” I said, placing my hands on her shoulders to keep her steady “Before you say another word, what time is it?”

“It’s six thirty!” she said, walking towards windows and opening the shutters. Apparently I had nly slept for 5 hours. “And look at you! Get dressed, you look like you just woke up.”

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” I sighed, walking towards the bathroom to brush my teeth and rinse my face “And be quiet, my mum is in the next room. She’s only supposed to wake up at eight.”

“Sure will,” she said, sitting on the sofa. “Oh, look at this! They are broadcasting it now.”

I walked out of the bathroom, brushing my teeth in the process. I stood in front of the TV with the toothbrush in my mouth, listening carefully to news anchor.

Last night, at around one in the morning, the police forces of Westray Valley set up an operation to detain and put an end to the illegal races the town is know for, resulting in the death of two officers and a civilian. The civilian in question who was killed by gunshot was a man in his early thirties named Dave McGuire. The operation was deemed as a failure by the police cheif Mark Darrow...

Halfway through the speech of the news presenter, I zoned out. What I feared the most had happened.

“I can’t believe this,” I sighed, completely in shock. I grabbed my phone instantly and walked out the door to the front of my house.

“Where are you going?” Mia asked, her eyes, like velcro, detaching from the screen.

“I’m calling Lickety,” I answered without turning back. I had never spoken to Lickety on the phone before, but I had his number just in case. Today was the day to finally use it.

“Good morning love, good to know you’re alive,” he answered the phone joyfully. I kicked my foot on the moldy ground, hating myself for being weak and calling him.

“Shut up,” I answered bitterly, not amused with his tone “Will you tell me what happened or not?”

“Oh, sure thing, I’ll tell you all about the beautiful race... You know the drill, everything comes with a price.”

The tone of this voice made me sick.

“I’m warning you,” I threatened “Or you tell me what happened right now or I’ll bash your car so hard you won’t even recognize it.”

“No need to bash it,” he answered cooly, my threat not intimidating him at all “It’s already destroyed. You see, the fucking cops shone their headlights straight into my rearview mirror, and you can probably figure out what happened next.”

“You crashed it?” I asked, completely stupefied.

“Not exactly. You think I was gonna let those motherfuckers end our fun without thanking them properly? I hit the breaks and the police car smashed into mine.”

"Oh god, don’t tell me you killed him!” I wjispered-shouted. Even though the street was vacant, saying those words out loud made me feel watched.

“Couldn’t care less if I did,” he answered. I heard a soda can being opened and Lickety gulping it down “But I don’t think I did... Anyway, they brought the trouble to themselves, it’s their fault two of them are dead. They should’ve known better than to ruin the party.”

“You’re morbid and sick,” I answered, the chilling cold of the morning freezing my fingertips as I held the phone to my ear.

"But alive,” he said, taking another sip of his drink.

There was silence between us, to which Lickety continued, filling in the empty space “They just appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly there was no race anymore. I no longer was chasing my opponents, but trying to get away from the blue cars.”

“Funny how things change so fast,” I said, trying to imagine the scene in front of me.

“As I tried to speed up and dodge them, I heard gunshots. They weren’t from the police, so that just leaves one option, right?”

A shiver ran down my spine. I just wanted to go inside but I couldn’t wake my mum so I sat down on a dry patch on the porch.

“All I can remember after the crash was my people coming to get me in their cars. My uncle was there, so I felt safe.”

I should have known the “uncle” would be there to save the day. That was the only way Lickety had of getting out of there safely and fast.

“What about the other racers? And the money? Did the cops take it?” I asked, hungry for information.

"I think they got out of there at least, not sure in what state though,” he answered “You think those bastards took the money? No way in hell!”

“Where is it then?”

He chuckled “For you to go get it? Honey, some information really comes at a price.”

I knew he wasn’t going to tell me so there was no point in insisting. Besides, he wasn’t going to hear a “please” from me.

“The cops were kinda dumb if you ask me,” he continued “They didn’t take the money, didn’t arrest anybody, got themselves killed... OH! And they gave me such an adrenaline rush! They basically made my night! Such idiots!”

Lickety laughed with pleasure. I pulled the phone away from my ear and almost clicked the middle button to end the call.

“You know, one day these races are going to end, and you and the rest of the racers are going to get arrest!”

“Oh sure, can’t wait for that day. In the meantime, you’ll keep working for me. My uncle will pull some strings and... Uhm, what’s the best word here...? Ah! Reduce! My uncle will reduce the police force one by one until there is not a single blue man left! And I am sure the other families would also join in! In fact, that’s not a bad idea... What do you think? Unite long-life enemies to destroy our biggest opposition so we can do businesses in peace?”

I hung up the phone, bile from my empty stomach rising to my throat. I got inside, the warmth of the house beginning to defrost me. Lickety was my main source of income, but at what cost. I was sure he was completely bonkers, addicted to adrenaline and oblivious to consequences. The way he spoke freaked me out.

“So?” Mia looked at me expectantly.

“All the racers got away. The families helped them, and from what I could deduce, they were the ones who kill the policemen.”

There was silence as we dove into deep thought.

“These bitches are here to stay.” said Mia, refering to the gangs.

“And they ain’t playing games.”

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