It was hard.
It was wet.
Steve didn’t know what he was doing here, lying on it.
It was cold too, against his cheek and against his chest through his soaked shirt. The wetness was seeping through the thicker denim of his jeans too.
Steve reached out his arm, trying to find something to grip, something to hold onto. There was nothing, except wet tarmac as far as his hand could reach.
He hissed in a breath as pain shot across the palm of his hand. Something thicker than water seeped down the side of his face as the rain poured down on him. He smelt blood, his blood, on his face.
He smelt petrol too.
Opening his eyes, Steve saw the expanse of wet road around him as he lay there. He tried willing himself to stand, but everything hurt, from the sore tips of his fingers right down to his heavy legs that would not move, that would not allow him to stand.
He reached out, biting his lip as he pressed the palm of his right hand into the surface of the road. It was hard and unyielding.
Something flickered, reflected in the rainwater pooling on the road, the surface water. An orange and flickering light, bright against the darkness. There was heat too on the back of his legs, despite the rain pouring down on him.
He crawled another few inches and slowly turned his head, feeling bone grate against bone in his neck. He cried out in pain, or tried to. But the only sound he made was a hoarse groan that died on his lips as he realised the orange flicker reflected in the surface water was a car burning.
He stared at the flaming wreck for a moment, trying to get his bleary eyes to focus on it. He blinked rainwater from his eyes as he lay there. Then he twisted, half of his body turning to look back at the car, upside down, on its roof.
He still smelt petrol. He had to get away, but still neither his arms nor his legs could lift him from the rain sodden tarmac of the road. He wondered what road it was, hoping that it was a quiet one. One that no-one would pass along until he’d crawled off the road and into the grass verge he saw out in the flickering light from the burning car.
It was some sort of country road, more of a lane. There was no traffic noise, only the creak of metal heating and distorting under the onslaught of the fire. He could smell melting plastic now too.
He crawled forward towards an orange patch in front of him. As he dragged himself closer, he saw the orange patch was actually white.
White paint on the road – a road marking.
Steve hoped it was designating the side of the road. That he was crawling to safety out of the roadway itself.
His hand touched something. As he tried to pull himself further forward. He looked up at the toe of a shoe.
Slowly, his neck twisting in agony, he looked up. Beyond the shoe, trousers, a long coat, wet in the rain. The figure in the shadows stared down at Stephen, pointing a gun at his head. In a sudden moment of clarity, he saw the finger tightening on the trigger.
‘You should have died in the accident, Stephen,’ a familiar voice said.
As he lowered his aching head, back to the hard wet tarmac, Steve knew it had been no accident.