At 1:30 p.m., Anne started back to town as the snow began.
The inn sat at the end of a paved lane that wound up a long, winding hill. Halfway down the hill, the visibility dropped. The rear wheels skidded as she went around a curve. Slower, she told herself. The lane can't be more than a kilometer, she thought.
The snow fell faster, and the wind picked up. Faint tracks of another vehicle were all that marked the road. The edges blurred into the fields and forest beyond. Thick snow covered the red stop sign, but it was visible enough to tell her where the lane ended and the highway began. She sat for a moment and breathed, loosening her grip on the steering wheel. It was either forward or turn around and go back up that hill. A left-hand turn took her onto the highway, she remembered and chose that.
A Jeep or something loomed in her rear-view mirror. Why was he so close, she thought, angry at having another thing to worry about. She couldn't go any faster. The grill of the larger vehicle filled her mirror.
"I can't go any faster," she spoke aloud, flashing her lights, trying to get him to back off.
As the cars rounded a curve, the Jeep pulled past, scraping the side of the car, nudging her onto the shoulder. Anne lost control, as the deepening snow pulled the car's wheels. The car plunged off the highway and down a steep incline. She covered her face with her arms as the snow flew towards the windshield. A sudden stop inflated the airbag; the seat belt cut into her abdomen and chest. As she pushed the remnants of the deflated bag away from her face, her first thought was to turn off the motor.
Only the wind and the faint whisper of the falling snow broke the silence. The darkness overwhelmed her. Above the sound of the wind, an engine roared into reverse. Maybe he hadn't intended to run her off. Maybe she should switch on the light to show that she was alive. But what, she thought, what if he wanted to kill her? One person was dead. A light flashed in her rear-view mirror. He shone a flashlight towards her. Anne let her head fall back before the light hit her car. It played through the window for long minutes before it left her in darkness again. Not daring to breathe, she waited for the sound of the engine to reach her. He was gone. The darkness closed in again. She switched on the lights.
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