The trees were almost too thick to let in the specks of flickering bronze sunlight. Celeste walked at a creaking pace on shaky legs. She was exactly the kind of wistful and phlegmatic soul that should love strolling down a dark path. But she wasn't thoroughly enjoying herself at that moment. She was careful not to let her gait deviate.
She did this to stay ahead of a knife that was pressed into her back and keeping stride with her. Around her spine, several blood spots indicated places the knife had caught up with her.
She was tired. She let her head tip back for just a moment. Celeste caught a glimpse of the canopy of leaves overhead, seeing that the sky had become a dusky blue. Until this moment, she'd kept her hands extended slightly at her sides, as though afraid of losing her balance.
She tripped and lurched forward. Immediately, the knife jerked forward to keep up with her. She regained her footing as the knife stuck again into her back.
She screamed and immediately restarted her pace. A new stream of blood trickled down the back of her shirt and the fear caused her to stare down at her feet.
It got colder and darker.
A heavy breeze picked up around her and the trees rustled. From the corner of her eyes, she thought she saw something moving in the trees. She stopped short. But the knife kept its pace, prodding her forward.
She walked on. The trees were now littered with stars, the canopy of leaves having receded slightly. The path was just barely visible.
In the distance, Celeste could see a dark mound in the center of the road. She craned her neck as gently as she could, trying to figure out what it is by getting a better angle on it.
It was a van.
"Hey." she shouted in a careful monotone, so as to not move her body in the slightest.
"Hey!" she raised her voice slightly. "Hello? I need help!"
She came close enough for the van to appear clearly. The doors to the truck are closed and she is posed to walk right into them.
She knew that this was not the time to panic. Her weary muscles forced calm upon her. She looked around and did the only thing she could do. She began to collect data. She could see that there was plenty of room to pass on either side of the vehicle. But could she change her trajectory in time?
Training her eyes on her feet, she subtly widened her step to one side: her body shifted.
The knife instantly plunged into her back, hooking into her flesh at an angle. She screamed in a voice so faint it became a whimper. She wobbled as she became dizzy.
She sobbed in a drained, vocal way. It resembled that panting whimper that relieves some stress when nauseated: the stress of trying not to vomit, though it doesn't relieve the nausea at all. She drags her feet, now more to keep with the pace set by the knife than the other way around.
She came within a few yards from the car that wanted to be her cutting board. She breathed steadily and tried to concentrate. The first ray of the moon broke over the receding woods that are now bare as the trees in winter.
She could see the driver side mirror now. A silhouette haunted it from the driver's seat. She was
familiar with the make and model and knew the van had LOCK PIN that she could not yet see. She strained her eyes to focus on the area but she wasn't close enough to see it yet.
At less than five yards, the lock pin was finally reflected in the mirror: it was up.
She gasped in momentary relief. Then swung immediately into a hyperventilates panic.
She sucked in a painful inhale and extended her hand.
She dived for the handle and pulled. The back door flew open, and she tossed herself in while dragging the door handle behind her.
The knife plunged into the door. She had no time to scream. The knife tried to force its way through the metal.
Celeste scrambled over the back seat.
But she stopped, just for a moment, when she saw the figure in the front seat.
The body has at one time belonged to a middle-aged man, though who owed it now was a matter of personal preference. His preference was proclaimed for him by a crucifix glinting silver in the moonlight on his sternum.
There was a light tap, and Celeste sees that the knife has momentarily stopped its traverse as it tried to shove its handle through. She meekly climbs onto the driver's lap and turns the key in the ignition.
"Sorry," she said empathetically.
She shifted into drive and slammed on the gas. Looking back she could see that the knife had been left behind in a fast acceleration.
But then, it picked up speed, flying faster and faster, like it has become determined to win.
It was fast.
"Fuck!" Celeste hissed.
The road began to curve slightly and the knife took advantage of it's flight to catch up with her. From Celeste's perspective, the knife appeared to be drifting to the left of the car. She stared at it through the mirror as though it had eyes. The engine felt empowering. She growled and stared it down, watching it overtake her.
She yelled like a warrior and cut the wheel toward the knife.
The knife was no longer aiming and shot like a bullet at the driver's seat.
Celeste was still alive, the car stumbled through the meadow that she had swerved it into. She lifted her foot from the gas van cruises for a slow slow moment before stopping.
She panted like she'd outrun the knife on her own two legs. Somehow, she knew that it was over.
She looked around, trying to see where the knife went. Then, cringing, she turned to look at the man whose van she had taken. Dark blood was slogging down his side below his armpit.
A second passed and the man's shirt began extending in the chest, as though it were becoming a small tent. The fabric tore as the knife slid out, hooking into the loop through which the crucifix was strung.
It darted into the car wall, pinning the crucifix down. The blood began to melt the knife like lava, the crucifix dissolving with it.
Celeste stumbled out of the van and collapsed onto her knees. She shuddered, catching her breath, and inspected the side of the van.
It has words printed on the side: "Blood of Christ Church." The words are nestled between a pair of hands. One open, the other, beckoning. Celeste looked at the poor man skewered in the driver's seat, wondering what he had become entangled in. How he had come to save her life, where no one had saved his. She looked back at the beckoning hand with a new ferocity.
"Okay then," she said to the van. "Time for a road trip"
YOU ARE READING
The Silver CrucifixMystery / Thriller
Celeste is trying to hang on after the passing of her wife, the brilliant detective, Annie Garber. But Annie's last case was never solved, and when Celeste is hunted down by mysterious forces, she decides to show the "Blood of Christ murders" case...