I’m dead. The powerful engine gunning behind him drowned out every other thought. He held on to the handlebars of the borrowed motorcycle, crouched low on the leather seat, and accelerated as far as he dared. When the dark car struck his rear tire the fi rst time, he managed to hang on through the jolt, though just barely. Regaining control, he crouched even lower and gripped the handlebars more tightly, adrenaline surging in the piercing cold. In vain he searched the blackness ahead for an escape, for some point of diversion where the motorcycle could go but the car pursuing him could not. Caught on the wide curve of a hilly highway, there were no shoulders here, and no way to know what lay in the darkness off to the right beyond the metal guardrail. Worse, he knew he couldn’t swerve back and forth on the blacktop to dodge the next hit, because moves like that on a motorcycle would end up flipping the bike and high-siding him whether the car rammed into him again or not.
A second jolt came just as the guardrail ended, a collision that nearly managed to unseat him. Barely hanging on, he regained his balance, scooted forward on the leather seat, and took a deep breath, conscious of the vehicle still roaring aggressively behind him in murderous pursuit. In a choice between certain death on the road and possible survival off of it, he steeled his nerves and made the decision to leave the pavement no matter what he might run into. Holding on tight, he shifted his weight and angled the handlebars to the right, veering into the unknown darkness. The action was punctuated by a series of bumps and jolts as his tires went from blacktop to gravel to crunchy brown grass.
Let it be a field, God. Let it be somebody’s farm.
The headlamp of the borrowed motorcycle was strong, its beam slicing through the February night air to reveal the unfamiliar terrain he had driven himself into. Before he could discern what lay ahead, however, before he could even slow down or adjust his direction or see if the car had tried to follow, he spotted the looming gray mass in front of him --- a solid, four-foot-high cement retaining wall. He knew this was the end.
The sudden stop flung him heavenward, propelling him in a broad arc across the night sky like the flare of a Roman candle. As he went, he thought mostly of the ground far below him, the frozen and unforgiving earth that was going to greet him by shattering his bones or snapping his neck upon landing. He prayed for the latter, less painful option. Let it end quickly, God.
As his trajectory continued, his limbs instinctively flailing against the void, his mind went to one person: his younger sister, Anna. He hoped beyond hope that his message would get to her, that she would understand what he wanted her to do. For a guy who didn’t even own a computer, he found it vaguely ironic that the last thought that raced through his mind just before certain death was of an email. But the message he had sent her was the only chance he had, the only hope that Lydia and Isaac might still be protected. That one email was the only way his desperate efforts might save his wife and son and the unborn child Lydia was carrying.
Let it end quickly, God, he prayed again just before impact. And please, God, please guide Anna to the truth.
Excerpted from Shadows of Lancaster County © Copyright 2012 by Mindy Starns Clark. Reprinted with permission by Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.
Shadows of Lancaster County