I ran until I could run no further. When I eventually stopped, I could barely stand. Gasping*, I looked back towards the village. Was it the same night or the next? I wasn’t sure and didn’t even care. An orange glow lit the sky above where I presumed* the shop was. For a moment, a vision of the shopkeeper, dead on the floor with flames tearing at him, filled my head.
Suddenly, out of the dark, a car’s headlights flashed, disappeared and re-appeared again, weaving* along the bending road towards me. I ran into the middle of the road, waving my arms and shouting. There was a screech of brakes, and the car slowed down. It tried to go past me, but I launched myself onto its bonnet and made it stop. Inches from my face, a frightened young woman stared back at me through the front windscreen glass.
`Please,’ I yelled, ‘my car’s broken down. I need a lift.’
The woman shook her head. She looked terrified*. I couldn’t blame her.
‘I need to get home to my wife. She’s pregnant. I ran out of petrol. You’ve got to help me. Please. Please.’ I looked at the woman’s face. ‘I’m begging you.’
I could see that she didn’t know what to do. I was a stranger in the night; I could be a madman, but I could also be telling the truth. `Please,’ I said again, `It’s Christmas and I don’t want to miss the birth of my child.’ The woman bit her lip and looked around herself as though she were looking for someone who could make the decision for her.
Slowly, the fear drained* from her eyes and the car stopped completely. I climbed off the bonnet and began apologizing for what I had done, hoping that I was sounding like a normal person might.
A few moments after that, she unlocked the doors.
Gasping* – breathing very heavily
presumed* – assumed, guessed
weaving* – moving from side to side
terrified* – very, very frightened
drained* – emptied