The agents hit the freeway onramp, but the Audi was at least a minute ahead of them. Snow punched the gas and quickly sped up, muscling their car in front of a pair of oncoming headlights, followed by the sound of a horn from behind them. The noise did not let up after a few seconds. Snow pushed the accelerator to the floor and the car lurched forward as it gained speed.
“I think you made them mad,” Natalie commented.
“I had enough room.” Snow replied. “In a minute, it won’t matter because we’ll be well ahead of them. By the way, could you call in this pursuit so the police don’t try to stop us?”
Natalie picked up the mouthpiece to their radio. Their channel linked them in to the local FBI office. “This is agent Natalie Taylor, over.”
“Go ahead, over,” came the reply.
“We’re getting on I-5 southbound, in pursuit of a person we’re investigating. We’re in a gray Dodge Intrepid; they’re in a blue Audi, license plate unknown. Please advise law enforcement to assist in their capture, over.”
“We’ll notify them and ask for an assist, over and out,” the dispatcher replied.
There were other cars on the freeway, spaced out randomly between several lanes. “We’re not going to be able to outrun him,” Snow commented, “But the traffic might hold him up until we find him.”
The speedometer indicated that they had already accelerated to one hundred and ten miles per hour. Snow changed lanes to avoid rear-ending the car in front of him, saw the tail lights of another car a mere two car lengths ahead in the lane he had just merged into, whipped back to the right, passing that car, and then cut over to the left again, effectively bypassing a cluster of cars. Again they heard the horns of irritated motorists surrounding them.
“Your driving record is clean, right?” Natalie asked.
Snow grinned, “Of course. Didn’t they teach you pursuit driving in school?”
“Yeah,” Natalie said. “It really didn’t resemble what you’re doing.”
Snow accelerated past another cluster of cars to the left, spotted a clear stretch to the far left, moved over, and punched it. In front of him, he caught site of a blue vehicle weaving in and out of traffic. “That’s our man,” Snow said.
As they suspected, the car was indeed caught behind several other cars on the freeway. As they approached, two lanes away, they saw the driver turn his head towards them, acknowledging their presence. The blue car picked up speed, then moved between the two lanes, his tires on either side of the dotted white line separating the lanes. Ahead, there were cars in both lanes.
“He’s going to try to fit between them,” Snow remarked.
“He may be in an Audi, but he’s still too big for that.”
They heard the vehicles horn as the driver attempted to warn the other vehicles out of his way. The others apparently either weren’t paying attention, or they didn’t think he was going to actually attempt this maneuver. The Audi sped up, and they saw a shower of sparks erupt between the three vehicles. The car to his left veered into the next lane over, clipping an SUV’s front tire, causing the car to skid sideways, and the front end of the SUV to become airborne. A moment later, the SUV launched into the air, flipped, and skidded down the freeway, still moving at nearly sixty miles per hour. Three other cars in the surrounding lanes slammed full force into the SUV. Snow saw the oncoming obstacles, which were rapidly blocking off the roadway he needed move through. The blue Audi, its sides dented and scratched, continued ahead at full speed, apparently oblivious to the accident it had caused behind it.
Snow cranked the steering wheel to the right, put the car onto the shoulder of the road, and scraped the guardrail as the Intrepid barely passed the developing accident without getting caught up in it. Ahead, the blue Audi was laying on the gas once again.
“See if you can take its rear tire out,” Snow suggested.
Natalie hit the button on her door to roll her window down, pulled her pistol, and then leaned her head and arm out the window. She lined up a shot and pulled the trigger. She could see the spark as the bullet hit the pavement a few inches short of the right rear tire. She fired two more times, both shots missed, then the Audi swerved left and cut across two lanes to avoid some slower moving cars ahead.
Snow steered to the left, swerving to miss a car changing that was changing lanes, and then found himself in a clear patch of freeway, the Audi a quarter of a mile ahead of them. In front of them was a slight rise, beyond which they were unable to see the cars ahead. Natalie fired two more shots, but missed both times.
Just before they reached the top of rise, the Audi’s brake lights lit up. A moment later they saw a sea of brake lights just ahead of them. “Traffic jam!” Snow spat. The Audi was clearly trying to slow, but the vehicle had too much momentum. Snow slammed on the breaks, hoping to be able to slow his car down before he collided with the car in front of him. With a thunderous crash, the Audi rear-ended the car in front of it at fifty miles per hour. Snow kept his foot on the break as the Intrepid slowed, the taillights of a yellow bus looming ominously before them. They heard their tires squeal as the car rapidly slowed, and the smell of acrid smoke assailed their nostrils. This continued for several seconds as the car rapidly decelerated. Their momentum continued to carry them forward, despite the fact that the wheels were locked. They were rapidly running out of between them and the bus.
“Hold on,” Snow told Natalie.
The car continued to skid, slowing as it went. The bus’s taillights were in front of them. Snow closed his eyes, gripped the wheel, and kept his foot on the break. At long last, the car shuddered as it came to a stop, a mere two feet in front of the bus. Snow opened his eyes. “You alright?” He asked Natalie.
“Next time I drive,” she said.
Snow put the car in park, then pulled the keys out of the ignition. The blue Audi they had been pursuing was a smoking wreck no more than twenty feet away. The agents jumped out of the car, ran to their quarry, and observed the wreckage.
The car the Audi hit had struck the car in front of that, which had in-turn struck the one in front of it, and so on, creating an eight car pileup. The Audi was a wreck of twisted metal, but they could see the driver, still inside, trying to extricate himself from his situation.
“They’re going to have to cut him out of there,” Natalie observed.
“This will be a while. I’ll call it in. We’ll have to wait.”
The next morning, a hot shower, and two cups of coffee later, Natalie was ready for the day. She hadn’t slept well last night, and she wasn’t sure if it was the excitement from having participated in her first car chase, the consequences for the innocent and unknowing people who crashed during the pursuit, or the extra firm hotel bed. She gathered her suitcase and belongings, turned in the key to the room, and met Snow in front of the hotel.
“Good morning,” Snow said. “I got a call from forensics at six in the morning.”
“Oh?” asked Natalie.
“They got some interesting results on Dr. Russell’s murder. Based on the lack of powder burns, the point of impact, and the angle of entry, they believe that the gun used to kill him was fired from at least ten feet high.”
“That’s odd,” Natalie agreed. “Is it possible that he was shot from a window?”
“Possible,” Snow said. “I think we really need to go back to the crime scene.”
“And that was where?” Natalie asked.
“His house,” Snow replied. “Which I find strange. He wasn’t married and the previous investigation revealed that there was nobody else living with him.”
“What have we learned about the suspect we captured last night?” Natalie asked.
Snow shrugged. “I called the hospital. He suffered two broken legs, three cracked ribs, a broken arm, and some internal bleeding. He was in surgery for a couple hours last night, but he has woken up. The doctor I talked to says he’s off his nut.”
“As in crazy?”
“Odd that someone like that would be employed as a member of R&D for a company that handles sensitive government contracts.”
“That’s what I thought,” Snow agreed. “I have a suspicion that he’s the person who shot Dr. Russell. By the way, since I’m sure you’re wondering, there weren’t any fatalities in the accidents caused by the pursuit last night.”
“That’s a relief,” Natalie said.
“So where do you want to start?” Snow asked. “Crime scene, or suspect?”
“Suspect,” Natalie said.
They arrived at the suspect’s hospital room half an hour later. Two police officers were stationed outside the room. The doctor, a small man with a round face and full-on male pattern baldness named Dr. Kennedy, met them outside the door. “Good luck getting much out of him,” he said.
“What’s his condition?” Natalie asked.
The doctor shrugged. “When he came in, he wasn’t very coherent. We assumed that this was due to the collision, so once we stabilized him, we took him in for a CAT scan. Based on the results, all I can say is that his mental state is not the result of any kind of trauma.”
“Could you tell what was happening to his brain?” Natalie asked.
“We consulted a neurologist. They ran some additional tests, and the only thing he could come up with is that it looks like the patient’s synapses are breaking down at an alarming rate.”
“How alarming?” Snow asked.
“If things continue at this rate, he’ll be unable to communicate within the week. He’ll probably be dead within a month.”
“Can we talk to him?” Snow asked.
“Yes, but please keep it brief,” the doctor replied.
The agents entered the patient’s room. The suspect was skinny, apparently fit, with thinning black hair and a clean-shaven face. Both legs and one arm were in casts. His face was bruised and swollen. Both agents began focusing their mental abilities on the subject, beginning the process of detecting his surface thoughts.
“Eli Kemp?” Snow asked as he entered.
The man’s eyes snapped open. “No, stay away!”
“We’re not here to hurt you, we just want to ask you some questions,” Snow said.
“I know what you’re here for. You’re here to destroy my mind!” Eli closed his eyes, and Snow felt a tickle at the periphery of his consciousness.
“Eli, are you psionic?” Snow asked.
Eli closed his eyes in frustration, then glared at the agents. “I can’t do it anymore! I’ve lost it. I can’t even….”
“Okay, just answer some questions for me Eli,” said Snow. “Tell me the truth and we’ll leave you in peace.”
“Okay,” agreed the agonized man.
“Why did you run when we showed up at your door last night?”
Eli’s eyes narrowed, “I think I was afraid.”
“Do you always speed off onto a busy freeway when you become afraid?” Snow asked.
“I’m not sure. I was afraid you would hurt me, or take me back. I had to leave.”
“Take you back where?” “The painful place,” Eli replied. Snow detected Eli’s frustration. He was trying to convey something to him, but was no longer able to find the words.
“Did you know a man by the name of Dr. Russell?”
The man’s face contorted in a wave of mental agony that both agents could detect. “I…. Worked…. with him.”
“Did you kill him?” Snow asked.
Natalie gave Snow a quizzical look. She knew that even if he confessed to them here, it probably wouldn’t stand up in court – not that court mattered since the man would probably die before he could be arraigned.
“Yes,” said Eli. He nodded his head vigorously. “Yes, yes, yes, yes! I killed him! It was the only way to stop the pain.”
Snow frowned. “What pain? Why did you kill him?”
“He hooked me up to things…. I don’t know, machines…. things I can’t…. describe…. I don’t….”
“Do you know anything about the murder of an agent and the disappearance of another a couple days ago?” Snow asked.
Eli’s face became calm, and they could sense less turmoil within. “No,” he said quietly. “No, not at all.” They could tell that this was a truthful statement
“Thanks,” Snow said. “We’ll be in touch if we have any more questions for you.”
To be continued...