I sprint to my ute and climb in with Dani close behind me. I twist the key in the ignition and the car rattles to life. Something tells me that I might have to work the old car harder than I've ever had to before. It had better not fail me now.
Up ahead I can see Caitlyn's black SUV pulling out of the gutter and taking off onto the road at an alarming speed. The ute growls and revs as my foot quivers on the clutch.
This is going to be hard.
I hear Dani's seatbelt click into place just as I release the clutch. We jolt forward with the sudden rush of speed, and the chase is on.
Caitlyn's lights are my beacon in the distance. Lexi's house is out of town, and I am grateful for the quiet roads. The SUV seems to be reaching further and further away from us.
Dani turns to me. "Cam...go!"
"Do you want me to get us killed? I can barely see, this car barely runs and if anyone sees me I'll be arrested!"
She sighs. "She knows something. I know she does. Do it for Lola, or give me the wheel and I'll drive."
"No way, you told me you haven't driven in months. I've got it."
I tentatively push down on the accelerator and the car lurches forward. I can do this. Caitlyn's lights are still visible in the distance. I push down further, this time with a little more confidence. The dark bushland out my windows turns into blurry streaks as we zoom past. Dani grips onto her seat as I push down again. The engine roars as we hurtle down the road, and the lights slowly begin to grow closer and closer. We can't be more than fifty metres behind her now.
I speed up again and the gravelly dirt road rumbles under my tires. Forty metres. Thirty metres. Getting closer.
Suddenly, the SUV lurches to the side and takes a sharp right. There must be a crossroad.
"Shit," I mumble under my breath as I grip the wheel and pull on it with all my might. The wheels screech and Dani lets out a yell as we spin out. I have a vague sense to the car tilting. I hear a thud as I straighten the wheel and I can see Caitlyn up ahead once more.
I am getting closer once again. I'm so close that I can read her number plate. Dani winds down the window the wind rushes in, cold and aggressive against my face. The car is suddenly filled with the smells of dirt, eucalyptus and exhaust fumes. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Dani stick her head out of her window, her hair flying out behind her like a superhero's cape. I can hear her yelling, but I can't make out what she's saying over the screeching cacophony my my wheels on the dirt road, the wind pounding at my face, and the grunt of my engine summoning all the strength it can muster.
Suddenly, Caitlyn swerves violently. Dani pulls her head back into the car. I crane my neck to see if there's a kangaroo on the road that she had to avoid. That's the last thing I need right now.
I let my eyes flick momentarily towards Dani. "What are you doing?"
"Telling her to stop."
"I think you're just making her mad, she's trying to throw us off. She'd never hear you anyway."
"She can see me in her mirrors."
"Please just stay in the car, I don't want you getting hurt. This is dangerous enough as it is."
By now, Caitlyn must have realised that I've reaches her speed, so she takes off again. I can't believe it. I've already reached 130 kilometers per hour. The lights are fading again. I am losing.
I take a deep breath and push my foot down again.
The lights are turning into streaks through the night. I hear a crash up ahead.
I slam on the breaks.
Dani screams. I grip the wheel for dear life as the world around me turns to a blur. I force myself to blink. There's a bend in the road. I spin the wheel like a top in an attempt to stay on track.
The car slows. I did it. I pull over on the side of the dirt road, put the brakes on and turn the car off. Then, I can breathe.
Dani falls back in her seat, breathing heavily. I look out the window and sure enough, the SUV lies still. It's nose is crumpled against a tree, with it's back wheels still on the road. Caitlyn has crashed.
Dani must see me looking and follows, letting out a gasp. "She's crashed..."
Before I even have time to process what's happened, Dani is unbuckling her seatbelt and opening the passenger door.
"Wait!" I yell as she stumbles out of the car and runs towards the SUV. She doesn't look back. With a sigh, I open my door and follow.
The adrenaline of the car chase and the shock of seeing my best friend's car crashed into the scrub is making my heart work overtime. I run across the dirt road towards the SUV. "Caitlyn!"
Fortunately, the driver's seat opens towards the road rather than the scrub. It opens easily as a pull, and I breathe a sigh of relief when I see Caitlyn sitting at the wheel, pale but alive. She turns to me, her eyes full of fear. "I told you I didn't want to talk..."
My anger from the party is instantly replaced with sympathy. "Caitlyn, I'm so sorry. Are you okay? Here, let me help -"
Caitlyn slaps my hand away as I extend it for help. "Don't touch me, Dani."
Cam steps up behind me and looks down at Caitlyn with contempt in his eyes. "I can't believe you had the audacity to say I looked shady, when you've just taken off down some crazy roads in the middle of nowhere when someone so much as mentions your dead best friend."
Caitlyn doesn't avert her eyes from me. "Did you really have to bring science boy with you?"
"Caitlyn, I just want to know what's going on. Lola was a friend to all of us. We know there's something you're not telling us, and we just want to know what it is."
She glares up at me with death in her eyes, but I swear I can see her bottom lip quiver. "You don't know anything about Lola. Nobody does."
"Then tell us -please."
A tear squeezes its way out of Caitlyn's green eyes before she bursts into hysterics. She screeches into the night like an animal, hot water cascading down her face which is getting redder by the second. She heaves like she's drowning, gasping for air with all the energy she has. She looks pathetic, contorted in her car seat, and sobbing to nobody in particular. She looks back up at me. "This is all your fucking fault Dani. I can't do this anymore."
She lets out a wail and howls into the night as another wave of tears bursts out. Cam remains silent. I crouch down to Caitlyn's level.
"What can't you do anymore? You can tell us."
She shakes her head furiously a manic energy in her eyes. "What's the point? If I can't tell anyone. I can't tell anyone but even if I don't tell anyone you and your stupid detective team are gonna come ruin my life anyway. What the hell is the point, anyway?"
She's rambling, but not giving up any information. I'm about to try gently coaxing her again, before Cam steps forward. "What are you going to do about this car, huh? Everyone is going to know you were speeding down these roads in the middle of the night. I'm sure some people would be very interested to know why you'd run off like that at the mention of Lola, so you'd better start talking if you want us to stay quiet."
Cam's words echo into the night. The wind rustles through the trees in a moment of quietness. I wait for Caitlyn to retort. But, to my surprise, she looks up with defeat written across her face.
"Fine. I can't go on like this anymore anyway. But I'm not doing this for you, Cameron Keyes."
I blink. "You're going to tell us everything?"
She nods stiffly. "Every last bit."
I look up at Cam in surprise. His expression is hardened and his stoic eyes remind me of Kel's. We make eye contact, and he gives me a small nod of support.
This is it.
YOU ARE READING
LolaMystery / Thriller
Dani Chapman is the only friend of Lola Bailey who speaks at her funeral. Cameron Keyes is furious. Both claim to have lost their best friend, and neither are satisfied with the explanation of her death. Their plan is simple - find out what really h...