Lethean Shroud

The officer’s flashlight beam stung into Rayanna’s eyes. She squinted and shielded her eyes with her forearm until he turned it to highlight the blood-tinged hole in the windshield.

“Know where you were headed?” He swept the beam over the SUV.

“No, sir. I don’t remember.” She gazed into the thick fog gliding among the spindly, barren trunks. An owl hooted from somewhere in the inky forest.

“Been drinking tonight, Miss?” The light struck her face again.

“I don’t think so.” She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed the wound on her head. The pain shot through her skull. “I’m sore, but probably from–”

“Probably? Do you ever drink alcohol on Friday nights?” The officer’s boots scuffed on the gravel.

She peeked at him, but saw nothing past the sharp glare. “Couldn’t say for sure.”

He pivoted the light at the driver’s window. “Your license and registration in there somewhere?”

As the officer approached the window, her skin flushed cold and the earth swayed. Expletives burst through her mind.¬†Once he sees that interior, I’m done. No matter what really happened.

“I can check, but shouldn’t we look for an injured animal first?” Rayanna backed away from him and pointed to the ground in front of the vehicle. “If something was struck hard enough, it could die without help.”

“No damage to the hood. So the impact came from in–” He cupped a hand against his forehead and peered into the cab.

She managed two steps toward the misty woodlands, when the maglight thudded to the roadside behind her. A snap followed.

“Halt or I’ll shoot.”

A glance back revealed the cause of the snap sound. The officer had unholstered his gun.

He trained the barrel on her. “Keep your hands where I can see them. Turn around, nice and slow.”

Rayanna obeyed, raising her arms in a surrender pose as she turned to face him. “Sir, I know how this must look, but–”

“You say you don’t remember what happened or where you were going.” The weapon still aimed at her, he tugged a pair of handcuffs from his belt with his free hand. “Well, I can tell you where you’re going now. See that cruiser parked behind your vehicle? You’re heading to the back seat.”



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