Paul H Brockman
Copyright 2007 Paul H Brockman
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The Wrong Place at the Right Time
The driver was in a hurry, though his haste had nothing to do with the imminent appointment of which he was mercifully unaware. The narrow asphalt strip snaked through the unrelieved gloom of a sodden November night. Headlight beams fell onto the black pavement and were soaked up. Jack Pepper tromped on the brake and the accelerator alternately and vigorously, crowding the limits of his skill. He muttered fiercely to himself as he concentrated on negotiating the turns. Rounding a tightening curve whose exit was hidden behind a tall hedgerow, his eyes widened suddenly in alarm and his arms straightened in a reflexive and entirely futile warding motion. Before him in the center of the road a bovine apparition of impressive proportions chewed vacuously on a cud of grass and regarded the onrushing bright-eyed monster with apparent unconcern. Presented with few options and no time at all to weigh them, Jack made his choice. He wrenched the wheel, tightening the already tight arc that the car was set upon. The back end of the car lost traction with the wet surface and skidded swiftly outward, presenting a sideways aspect to the ungulate obstacle. Suddenly realizing her danger, the cow sprang into motion and charged off into the surrounding darkness. The car rolled once, twice, and a third time. With a scream of tortured steel and a crash of shattered glass, the spinning mass ascended a grass-covered bank and became airborne at its summit. With its considerable momentum yet to be expended, the car would probably have continued to roll upon landing, had it not been for the large and intransigent object that stood in its path. The rusty combine harvester, all angles and attitude, abandoned to brood in the dark wet field, had no intention of getting out of the way.