Driving in the rain is the worst, especially at night. This stretch of the 70 through Colorado was awful. The bends, twists and steep inclines were enough to make any driver weary. I’d lived here long enough that I knew it well and it still gave me the creeps. I made a note to see about pushing up my Zumba class, so it ended before it got dark. I hoped my clients wouldn’t mind. It was getting to be fall soon and snow was horrible in the mountains. I couldn’t be the only one who hated driving in this weather.
As if to spite me, the torrential down pour picked up. I flicked my wipers on as fast as they’d go. Not that it helped much. I might need to pull over. I’d do it a little after this next bend. The last thing I needed was to get rear ended. Or hit something.
It was like I had a sixth sense tonight. I gasped as I rounded the corner. There was something burning in the middle of the road. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was ginormous and there was no way for me to go around. I slammed on my brakes. My car skidded, hydroplaning across the ground. I pumped the brakes.
“Please stop,” I whispered repeatedly. It wasn’t going to happen. I clutched the steering wheel and screamed. The front of my car smacked into whatever was in the road with a sickening crunch. I was thrown forward, my seat belt caught me slapping me back into my seat. The air bag deployed and hit me like a punch to the face, and a puff of white blinded my view.
“Ugh,” I said as I caught my breath. For something meant to help you, airbags sure did pack a mean punch. I pushed on the airbag making it deflate as fast as I could. It was a good thing too.
Flames billowed over my car. The smell of burning rubber filtered into the cabin. Oh shit. My car was on fire too. I had to get out of here.
I shoved on my door. It wouldn’t budge. I yanked and tugged on the door handle, but it refused to open. My eyes went to the hood of the car. Flames were crawling up the metal closer to me. My pulse thundered in my ears. Gas and fire were a bad combo. I undid my seat belt and crawled out of my seat to the passenger side. When I pulled on the handle the door thankfully fell open. I climbed out and darted away from my car, not stopping until I’d reached the other side of the street.
I turned back and covered my mouth at the sight. Fire had engulfed my car. I patted my pants in search of my cell. Thank God for pockets in workout pants. I pulled it out and unlocked it ready to call 911 when I saw movement by where my car and whatever the hell that was in the middle of the road.
A man stood up, or he tried to. He made it halfway up and then collapsed.
He needed to get away from there. That fire was raging. I shoved my phone back in my pocket and ran back to the inferno.
“Hey, Mister,” I screamed as I flailed my arms trying to get his attention. “You have to get away from there.” I didn’t know how long it would take for my car to blow but it was covered completely in flames already. The fire was burning so hot it was almost white. The heat took the chill from the air. I was starting to sweat. Me and this guy needed to get out of here.
I hurried around the flames and found him laying on the ground. He had long blonde hair that might very well be longer than mine and he was shirtless and shoeless. Weird but I’d worry about that later.
“Hey, we have to get you out of here.” I came around him and put one arm under his shoulder. Somehow, we managed to get him to his feet. He was massive. Probably at least a foot taller than me and he was all muscle. We stumbled forward. He tripped and almost fell. It was through sheer strength of will that I kept him upright. We had to get away from the vehicles. I had no plans to die today.
We kept moving and made it to the tree line. Not a second too soon. The ground shook and we were thrown forward as my car erupted. We tumbled down a small hill and landed in a deep puddle, sending a splash of water up when we landed. I coughed and spat the sludge from my mouth. Great! My cell was probably ruined now too. I turned so I was leaning on my elbows and watched as what was left of my car turned into an inferno. Flames shot at least twenty feet into the sky. My car was a total goner.
At least my night couldn’t possibly get any worse. This was just what I needed. Not! At least I’d saved the guy. I turned to look at him. Whatever was in the road didn’t resemble a car. So, what was it? I tried to get a good look at the guy, but I only had the light of the fire, and we were a distance from it.
He hadn’t moved since we’d collapsed over here. He was lying face up. At least I didn’t have to worry about him drowning in all this water. What if he was injured or worse? I crawled toward him and looked down at his chest. I still had no idea why he was half naked, but he was ripped. And breathing. Thank goodness. Wait a second.
I squinted and stared down at him, leaning closer to inspect his chest. Were those scales? They were flesh colored, so it was hard to tell but his skin looked off. I reached into my pants and plucked out my phone, praying that it worked so I could turn on the flashlight. It did. That was a small miracle.
I shone it down on him. They were scales. Flesh colored scales. How in the world was that possible? People didn’t have scales. It had to be a tattoo. A really well designed one. I put a finger on it. It felt weird, scaly. Not possible. It had to be some sort of weird body art. People did all sorts of crazy things nowadays
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“How bad is it?” One voice asked. There was that voice again. I know that voice. It’s…it’s Cedric. Anger clouded her vision as her commander’s betrayal rippled through her.
“Let me see.” Cedric pushed through the crowd, causing her to gasp when her suspicions were confirmed. He wore a rebellion black jumpsuit, but he was here with the World Alliance. She tried to speak but her words got caught in her throat. Her commander had betrayed her — the entire team. Cedric had led the beta team straight into an ambush. Bastard! She had to do something, but her body simply refused to move.
“Her leg’s shot. Two bullet wounds: one to the chest, the other her shoulder. One’s hit her lungs. She needs a medevac now,” another person answered.
Lara’s eyes drifted shut. Her last thoughts were wondering why they were trying to help her. Why would he save her? The truth hit her and she forced her eyes back open. The cyborg program.
“Keep her alive,” Cedric said. “She’s a valuable asset.”
Her fear was confirmed. No. She wasn’t going to let them turn her into one of those monsters. She fumbled for the gun that was still in her palm. There had better be at least one bullet left. If she took Cedric out then he couldn’t betray anyone else at least. How many soldiers had died because of him? Jack. It hit her like a ton of bricks. The mission Jack died on as one where the intel had come from Cedric.
I’m going to kill you.
Someone grasped her wrist, tugging it sharply to the side. The bones snapped under the pressure, causing her to scream, but instead of a shriek, it sounded more like a gurgle to her ears.
The soldier plucked the gun out of her hand and handed it to someone else. She let her eyes fall closed again as fear filled her. What were they going to do to her? What were they going to make her do?
She didn’t get an answer to her questions: again the darkness pulled her into its tight embrace.
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Bethany Shaw writes paranormal, science fiction and contemporary romance. Vampires, shapeshifters, and good old-fashioned romances are her favorites. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she enjoys creating fun and imaginative characters and worlds.