Chapter 27: Light My Fire

Author: Mallory Keaton
Date: 31st October 1997

"Erica, you amuse me," Anttilanien chuckled throatily. "You have so much spirit. It's quite sad really." His eyes resumed their usual coldness.

By now Anttilanien's thin hand was gripping Erica's arm uncomfortably tightly as he hauled her off the asphalt. She felt drained of all energy, unable to resist him. The man called Anttilanien who knew her name and who had an oddly familiar voice was leading her to the black car. That car . . . Narrabeen . . . the highway . . . Free Willy 2 . . . the recent events of her life seemed as infinitely complex as Mandelbrot sets. Looking at it sequentially made no sense. But as a whole patterns were starting to emerge.

As the Finn started the engine, the car was flooded with New Age pan pipe music. Looking behind her as they pulled away she saw dazed, bloodstained people standing outside the bus. Still she could feel nothing, except fear. They were heading north.

"I told them not to take their weapons on the bus," Anttilanien said. "But they didn't feel safe without them. That's what happens to weak people."

Erica noticed her door was locked. "Where are we going?"

10 minutes passed.

"I love this music, you know," Anttilanien said. "It is helps me achieve peace of mind."

Realising her questioning was futile, Erica turned her head, and for the first time, looked at her captor. She saw a 66 year old man, pale and thin with a long neck and white hair and grey eyes. His clothes were plain, black, and he wore nothing remotely identifiable, not even a watch. They sat in silence, listening the music while the car continued up the Pacific Highway.

Pan pipes may have had a soothing effect on the old guy, but if there was one thing she hated, that was it. They brought back the same sense of helplessness she felt during facials. It was standard beautician practice to leave you alone for in a darkened room under a face mask looking at photos of lotuses blu-tacked to the ceiling, slowly going insane from the annoying piped pipe music for hours at a time. She began to fight back. She had a plan in mind.

"Patrick was right about you," Anttilanien said. "Pity I was wrong about Patrick. You were wrong too, for trusting him."

"Yeah, whatever. Look, can we stop listening to this crap?"

As Erica reached for the CD player she pushed in the cigarette lighter, turning it on. Anttilanien stopped her with his iron grip. Sighing, Erica, slumped back in her seat, and waited.

By now they had reached Coolangatta, just north of the border. Pulling up at a red light in traffic, she decided to make the one move that could possibly get her away from this freaky guy.

"Look, have you got a tissue or a handkerchief or something? I need to blow my nose, like, right now!"

As she said this, jostling about in her seat pretending to try and find a tissue, she put her hand over the lighter, pulled it out and smashed the glowing hot end into Anttilanien's face and ear, unfastening her seatbelt at the same time. He grimaced in pain, emitting a threatening growl and tried to wrestle it off her. Erica, meanwhile,quickly leant across him, unlocked the doors, and jumped out.

Not looking behind her she ran through a shopping arcade, upsetting a Reef Oil display along the way, and came out onto another street. She ran for a few metres before running out into the traffic to flag down a taxi, which screeched to a stop.

"Where are you going?" the driver asked.

In times like these, instincts come into play, and all Erica could think was that she wanted to go somewhere safe. "The Sheraton Mirage hotel at Surfer's Paradise, please."

A facial wouldn't hurt either.