Chapter 3, Part 1
On Saturday, Cassie got off work early. She stopped by the apartment to change into fresh jeans and secretly collect some money from Abbie and Caleb before heading into town to go birthday shopping for Mariah. She was glad it was summer so that the younger kids could stay home and hopefully stay out of sight of the Freak. They were all still shaken up by her close call in the grocery store but someone had to go birthday shopping and it wasn’t going to be Sam. He got this pained look on his face when she suggested he go buy the gift.
She eased onto the loop around the city and nudged her motorcycle into the flow of traffic to settle into the middle lane. She had two miles to go before her exit. She had a few stops to make. The first was for a music download card; a staple present for Mariah every year. But the second was a book store. She might talk about boys and the latest trends all the time but that girl didn’t fool Cassie. Mariah loved to read, and the older the book the better. The shopping was easy, contrary to Sam’s opinion, and Cassie decided to go into the little bakery beside the bookstore. They were about to close but pulled together a small box of cookies barely covered by her last few bills. She slid the box into her backpack and climbed back on her bike.
She had an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach as she left the bakery. It crept up to her shoulders and her wings nudged at the wraps. Cassie glanced behind her but didn’t see anything until she pulled back on to the loop. She looked around before changing lanes and saw a dark truck dodge behind an eighteen wheeler. Her hands started sweating. Dusk was falling fast and was changing colors all around. It could have been any car. But the pit in her stomach yawned wider as the same truck slid into her lane, leaving one SUV between it and her.
Cassie made a split decision. She suddenly accelerated and raced down the next exit ramp. The roar of tires confirmed her suspicions and she coaxed more speed from the motorcycle. A light flashed yellow in front of her but she didn’t even think to slow down. Neither did the truck from the enraged horns that sounded behind her. She almost flipped over taking a turn into a residential area too fast and shakily righted herself. Blood pounded in her ears and her wings threatened to break through every protective layer of clothing. But oddly enough she could see perfectly fine in the dark, almost as if it was bright daylight. She switched off her lights and roared ahead.
Her slight lead did nothing for her as she soon found herself peeling to a stop in a cul-de-sac.
“Freaking death traps is what these are!” she muttered as she yanked the bike around and took off again. She’d lost direction and cautiously flipped on her lights again as she navigated the quiet neighborhood. She pulled up to an intersection and came face to face with the truck. They sat there for a few moments, engines idling, daring each other to make the first move like gunslingers in an old Western.
Cassie broke first, gunning the motor and slipping around the side of the truck, seeing the tell-tale flicker of orange eyes in the driver’s seat. The Freak pulled a highly illegal u-turn in the intersection and took off after her.
A busy stoplight signal flashed red ahead and there was no way to avoid it. Cross traffic began ambling through as Cassie slammed on her breaks. The Freak did the same behind. This time she did lose her balance and skidded into the intersection with the bike pinned on her leg. There was a sickening crunch as the Freak collided with another truck. Cassie’s world was filled with the sounds of angry brakes and baying horns as the roads erupted into chaos.