The Dead of Night

Franz van Beusekom

The car swerved violently off the road, clattering down, slowly, into the muddy ditch. It was 2.56 am, early on a Saturday morning.

The cold night air chilled the bones of the sole survivor – a seventeen-year old male. He climbed groggily out of the severed car door, limping carefully out of the muddy ditch which had claimed the lives of his three mates. Fear. If there was one thing he felt, it was fear. He felt not the hundreds of bruises that battered his body. He felt fear. That was all.

Finally, he reached the cold hard surface of the road. The surface was damp – it had been raining recently. For now, though, it was only cloudy, and cold. He laid his bruised body down by the side of the road, and wept. Hours ago, he had been partying. Now, he had lost three of his closest friends. He thought back, now, to the hours leading up to the tragedy, at his friend’s parents’ house, on his mate’s eighteenth birthday. He remembered the fun they had: skulling drinks, smoking cigarettes. He remembered the fun they had: playing video games. And he remembered the delicious food served to him by his friend’s parents. He also remembered offering to drive his friends home himself. He had been declined, however. John refused to let anyone drive his ’97 Nissan – it was his pride and joy. It was also, utterly and totally, destroyed.

 

It was 2.30 am when they left the house, an utterly wasted John behind the wheel. The four of them crammed inside the small black Nissan, singing drunkenly, drinking and yelling. As they sped along the small country road, he repeatedly noticed the speedometer creeping past 110 kilometres an hour. He urged John to ease the pressure on the accelerator, but John was drunk. He wasn’t listening. Twenty-six minutes and twelve seconds later, there was a sharp left-hand bend in the road. A few seconds later, and his three mates lay lifeless, twenty metres off the road’s edge.

 

It was getting towards dawn. The eastern sky was getting lighter, revealing hundreds of clouds scudding across the sky. “A million shades of grey,” he sighed. He eased his cramped muscles and stretched.

 

It was around mid-morning when the police car slid to a stop by the side of the road. Two policemen got out of the car and approached him. One of the policemen got out his notebook and clicked his pen. The policeman asked for his name and he replied: Tory Oakson. The policeman wrote the name down and moved off to search the grim scene. As he scrummaged around, the policeman couldn’t help noticing a lack of seatbelts in the car. He also couldn’t help noticing three smashed beer bottles lying amongst the rubble. The policeman started writing, Tory constantly hearing “drunken teens,” being muttered. He sat down on the ground and, for perhaps the thousandth time, wept.

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