By Thomas Underwood
You’d be surprised how easy it is jack-knife a lorry. Just the right wind speed, or a distraction, or a long day at work. At least, that’s what the police report said. How the driver had been “tired” and “on his last delivery”. Rubbish. I don’t give a damn how tired he was. Tiredness is not an excuse for…. for what he did…. God…. I still can’t quite grasp it.
I think a part of me expected it. Fifth gear, driving down the motorway, trees and hedge rows, and lamp posts merging into one indistinguishable blur of light. The music was radiating from the speakers, passively invading my ear drums, as I sat dead-pan, hands at ten to two, brows furrowed at stupidly slow speed of the car in front. I sighed, hit the accelerator and overtook. I drove by in the next lane, glancing temporarily at the balding man sitting in his car, alone. Then I realised that I too, was alone. I shook off this melancholy thought, and carried on, not seeing the horror etched across the man’s face, his jaw gaping as though it were fixed on with well oiled hinges.
I looked up as I came up to the bridge, just by chance. It wasn’t like in the films. It didn’t go into slow motion, and there wasn’t a huge sound or the screeching of tires. It just sort of…. Happened. The back end of the lorry swung out first, puncturing the railings as they snapped. The back end came down, and then came the front end. And it was falling, and falling, and falling, and I was falling, into the abyss, a never ending chasm of darkness before suddenly it stopped. And I was dead. Or that’s how it felt. There just seemed to be absolute, desolate blankness. The ultimate silence rippled from car to car, dotted like ants along the motorway, as everyone froze in their vehicles.
The windscreen was blocked. With weary eyes I saw the carcass of the lorry on the bonnet of my car. I looked down. There were my legs trapped beneath the crushing weight of the lorry’s back end. Still nothing.
Then the noise came. The honking, the screaming, the beeping, the screeching, the wailing. Then I started screaming, as the unrelenting agony coursed through each individual fibre of my being, ripping, tearing at the nerves in my legs. My chest rose and fell like a great bellows, as I tried to disentangle the oppressive snake that was tightening itself around my body. How much longer could I last? I endeavoured to keep calm, which was swept away in an instant as another wave of pain washed over me. Clenching my teeth, I clutched hold of whatever was either side of me, and screwed my eyes tight, in the hopes that if I held onto something physical for long in enough, then I could pull through. I could hear the snapping of the door as I slipped away. Still. Silence.