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By Hannah Palmer All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Thriller


It was hot.

Very hot. And somehow getting hotter.

Sweat was pooling in the cherub’s bow above her top lip, collecting in a puddle, spilling, drop by drop over her lips, falling off her chin.

So hot.

It was unbearable. Suffocating. Making it harder to breathe. Harder to think.

What was that song again?

The sun was blistering her skin.

When the world starts falling down.

Concentrate. On what?

When the walls start crumbling around.

And what?

It was so hot. Where on Earth was a place that was this hot?

You lose your feet and fall down.

Her eyes rolled behind their lids, dry and starved of oxygen. Her nostrils flared in an effort to grasp at the little clean air they could find. The salt in her sweat stung her cracked, pale lips, pursed and dehydrated.

The car stereo continued to play the same song on loop. It was stuck on that same track, replaying the last four minutes and two seconds over and over.

You try to speak up, there’s no sound.

What even was that song?

It was nearly finished again, she could tell.

You try to move but you’re not gaining ground.

The movement of her eyes was scratching and irritating. To open them would relieve her of her discomfort, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Not yet.

Something wet and warm was trickling down the side of her head, running into the crease of her chin and in the dip behind her ear. Sticky. She tried to swallow, but there was nothing to go down. Everything about her was dry and increasingly hot.

The song had finished. It didn’t restart. The distraction had ended. She’d lost track of how many times that thing had gone round. The song was replaced by silence which turned out to be much more distracting than its predecessor.

She managed to swallow and it hurt like hell. The sharp pain at the back of her throat dragged her drowsy mind back into consciousness. Her eyes shot open and she immediately recoiled against the harsh brightness of the midday sun. She wanted to throw her hands up to shield her watering eyes, but she saw them, clinging onto the steering wheel. Her knuckles were white with the tension, the backs of her hands sprayed with dark spatters of red. She stared for what seemed like minutes at her hands clasping the faux-leather steering wheel, the plastic of which had virtually melted from its frame in the heat. The palms of her hands had seemingly welded themselves to the wheel.

She blinked harder, trying to focus on her surroundings. She could feel her heart thudding in her ears, hear it getting louder and louder. She became more aware of the speed of her breathing, her lungs rattling and struggling to keep up with her heart rate.

Gently, she closed her eyes against the sun. The warmth of its rays beat down hard against her moist face and again she tasted the warm, salty sweat that was beading on her top lip. She forced herself to slow her breathing.

3, 2, 1.

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