My current WIP is a YA mystery/crime novel with a small side of SF for added flavour. This scene is set three months before the main body of the story. Yes, it's a prologue. And yes, I know some editors say prologues are a no-no, but in this case it's vital to the story.
Thirteen-year-old Litha turned from her view of the Dandenong Ranges as they slowly blurred into night. She nudged her twin. ‘Bryan, your phone’s beeping at you.’
‘Huh?’ He looked up from his reading, the e-reader casting strange shadows on the side of his face.
‘No, that was my phone.’ Their mother pulled over to the side of the road. ‘That’s odd, it’s your dad, he says the plane’s been delayed and he’ll be leaving Honolulu in the morning.’
‘How can he still be in Honolulu if he caught an earlier flight?’ Bryan leaned forward as far as his seatbelt would allow.
‘That’s what he says.’ She handed Bryan the phone.
‘Your phones has been doing weird things lately, Mum, maybe it’s an old message. Want me to text him?’
‘Yes, do that while I move closer to the lookout. We’re too near the edge of the gully here and I don’t like the way this wind is gusting. And ask him if…’ She broke off as approaching headlights lit up the interior of their car. The vehicle slowed and stopped on the opposite side of the road.
‘Hummer,’ said Bryan craning his neck. ‘H2 I think.’
Litha looked at the vehicle and shivered. It was big – big and black – and she didn’t like the way it just sat there. It looks like a…
The Hummer’s floodlights came on, lighting up the area and turning the overhanging trees into grotesque monsters. It accelerated towards them.
Litha screamed and heard her brother’s echoing cry of fear as their car shuddered when the Hummer hit.
‘Stop!’ their mother yelled and waved frantically. ‘Stop!’
The Hummer continued to push their Yaris sideways towards the gully where it teetered on the edge for a moment before it began to tip. It rolled, and rolled, and rolled again. Only coming to a stop when the car landed against a ghost gum. Cockatoos sleeping in the tree squawked noisily and flapped in confusion above the car before flying further down into the gully.
Litha shook her head groggily as she fumbled to release her seatbelt and fell against her brother. She shook him gently, ‘Bryan, Bryan.’ There was no response.
There was a faint light coming from under the front passenger seat. It had to be Bryan’s e-reader—if she could just reach it. Litha lowered herself painfully onto the floor of the car and reached under the passenger seat ignoring the pain it brought to her shoulder and ribs. Her fingertips touched the e-reader only to push it further away. She screwed up her eyes, ignored the pain and stretched again—just a little more.
Sweat beaded her forehead and ran into her eyes. Yes! She eased her arm free. The e-reader still worked. She scrambled up and activated the torch app and checked her brother—he had a deep cut on his forehead and although his breathing was shallow, it was steady.
Litha shone the light towards her mother and breathed a sigh of relief. She was conscious. ‘It’ll be okay Mum, I think I can climb up and get help.’ When her mother didn’t reply, she leant over the front seat and shone the light onto her face. Her mother’s eyes stared back lifelessly. Litha collapsed back against her brother, rocking back and forth ‘No! No! Please no!’
The light suddenly flickered and went out, leaving her in complete darkness. Her heart beat wildly. ‘What do I do? What do I do?’
Voices and the sound of someone scrambling down the slope towards them broke through her fear. She was about to call out when a terrifying thought struck her. What if it’s the people from the black car?
She slumped against her brother and closed her eyes. If they’d push their car off the road for no reason, she didn’t want to meet them. Grateful for the darkness, she opened one eye a fraction and saw a gloved hand reach through the shattered window and pick up her mother’s courier bag. The last thing Litha remembered before losing consciousness was an impatient, ‘Bystro, bystro!’