It was dark.
Iulius Caesar Stravinsky sweated noisily as he swerved to avoid a marauding shrubbery and veered into the serpentine curve of a parking-lot entrance, swishing into the lot with the noise of tires on rainy cement. This was peculiar - partly because the parking-lot was paved with asphalt, not cement, and partly because Iulius Caesar Stravinsky had been killed three hours earlier.
But neither of these conditions was the reason for his distress. Stravinsky was sweating because he had sped past the town furniture store at seventy miles an hour and the proprietor and his family had spotted him anyway.
Stravinsky could not do long division. He had no idea how one might go about finding hypotenuses (nor was he certain what they were exactly) and he'd never been able to make sense of a periodic table. But if there was one thing he knew, it was that he was being followed, and if there was another thing he knew, it was that the people who were following him would like very much to kill him.
This was the reason that he was now sitting in a very dark car in the shadow of three enormous paper-recycling bins, holding his breath for abnormally extended periods of time and wondering whether he should risk trying to use his mobile phone.
He had no idea how long he'd been waiting when the Jeep's headlights lit up the world around him.
Sjburgsteon Pootisson had waited for exactly three minutes and nineteen seconds before turning into the library parking-lot. He had done this mainly to avoid letting Stravinsky escape with a sort of Crazy Ivan manoeuvre, but also to add a sense of tension to the story.
It worked. As he hurtled toward the parked car, Pootisson saw Stravinsky tense, somehow becoming even stiller than he had been. In the seconds before their cars collided, Pootisson smiled, thinking of the reward money he was about to collect for the second time.
Time seemed to slow as the impact shuddered through both vehicles, and though neither Pootisson nor Stravinsky was aware of the other's thought processes, they both found themselves being vaguely disappointed that the noises of the crash did not seem to be amusingly slowed, but in fact remained jarringly real.
Stravinsky exited through the windshield of the car and performed a spectacular double roll down its bonnet, landing on his feet but falling over almost immediately. Before long, however, he was up again and running for the field ahead. He heard a car door slam and assumed (correctly) that it was Pootisson's; without looking back, he sped up, narrowly avoiding a few inconveniently placed rabbit holes.
It took him a while to realise that the noises around him were gunshots. Once he'd registered that, he smirked a bit, wondering if Pootisson was just a poor shot or if the weaving trick he'd been taught really did work.
Unfortunately, it soon turned out to be the latter. As soon as Stravinsky's running pattern straightened out (on account of more shrubbery, of course), something hit him in the leg and he was on the ground before he knew what had happened. He could hear Pootisson behind him now, gaining rapidly (which was unsurprising but still annoying) and making the horrible noise he tried to pass off as a laugh.
No human being should be capable of making that noise, Stravinsky thought absently. Then something connected with his head and the world became very quiet.
TO BE CONTINUED