Phil Ryan – Near death in sunshine
Near death in sunshine
by Phil Ryan
This is true.
I was driving back from Cambridge at around 10.30 on a bright sunny morning this week. I’d been out visiting a friend and had stayed overnight. And being busy sadly I had to get back to London. I was travelling along the A505 to Royston heading to connect to the A1 and then I could zoom down the motorway towards home. I wasn’t tired. I was relaxed. All around me fields stretched away. Green and golden. Full of wheat and scarlet poppies ringed with bright green hedgerows and trees. It was a lovely view.
I was driving at 50 miles an hour. The road was empty. Just me.
Then the road narrowed a little and became a typical two lane country road. Lined with hedges at about car roof height. Above me the sky seemed vast, blue and half full of fluffy white clouds. The sun bright and hot. A perfect summers day.
Up ahead of me as I headed along the very long and straight road in the distance a car appeared around the bend. It must have been a few thousand yards away. Then I realised it was in the same lane as me. It was moving very fast. I flicked my eyes into my rear view mirror. Nothing. No-one behind me. So now flashing my headlights to attract the car’s driver who was on the wrong side of the road I slowed down.
But he kept coming.
He must have been doing around 90.
I flashed my lights and pushed on the horn. He didn’t move. Maybe he couldn’t see me. The sun was blindingly bright after all. So I carefully drifted onto the wrong side of the road which apart from him on my side I could see was thankfully empty.
He quickly moved over. So I quickly went back into the right lane.
He followed me again. I drifted out again onto the wrong side of the road.
He followed me. We were on a collision course I couldn’t avoid. He was speeding up.
I looked in my rear view mirror. No-one behind me still. But he was getting really close so I slowed right down. I know the equation. If you hit an object at speed you add your speed and their speed together to calculate the impact. My car is quite big and solid but even I figured my airbags wouldn’t do me much good if he ploughed into me head on. So I slowed down and stopped completely and started to try and scramble out the passenger side. The other car was barely thirty feet away.
The road was narrow so I couldn’t open the door. Getting out the driver’s door wasn’t an option. But I’d figured that already and as the windows were open I started to scramble out. The hedge was in the way. It was thick and dense. But I’d thought that if I could brace my feet against the side of the driver’s seat I could physically push my way through it. It was a plan.
I could clearly see the other car now. It was dark green with a tinted windscreen. It was barely fifteen feet away. It must have been doing at least 100 by this point. I just had time to brace myself and then as my muscles tensed to let me jump, barely ten feet away it sharply jinked to the left and roared past me. I could just make out the faces of two laughing young guys through the tinted windows. But they looked possessed. Their faces were frozen in an open mouthed rictus grin. Almost as if they were on drugs or something. They looked more like demons than humans. They missed the front of my car by barely two feet. As they passed my whole car shook wildly, just like when a high lorry passes you on a motorway. But this really shook the car due to the confined space.
Their car shot past me. It was a beaten up looking black Peugeot with tinted windows and huge rusted silver exhausts that made its engine rumble loudly. Incredibly loud music pounded from it. The bass frequency thudding and insistent. And it swept by me trailing a plume of whirling dust and leaves that whirled and filled the air.
There were no others cars to be seen. And suddenly it was silent again. Just bird song. I was freezing cold. I was still poised in my ridiculous escape position.
A few minutes passed. Oddly though the entire incident the one ridiculous thought kept running uppermost in my head was “I hope they don’t smash off my driver’s door mirror”. Weird huh? My car door mirror. Not my life in flashback. Not the pain of being killed. Not the sorrow of those I’d miss. My mind was simply filled with the potential loss of a chrome door mirror. Admittedly they’re not cheap. But what was that about? Shock I suppose.
Then I jumped back into my seat and flooring the accelerator I sped off.
My shirt and shorts were now soaked with perspiration.
The road in front of me and behind me was still empty. I drove for about another ten minutes when I saw a layby. I pulled in. And now safe I got out my legs trembling. The blue sky above me seemed massive. It filled my entire vision. The fields rolled away in all directions and I could see the wheat stalks. My heart was racing. In the boot I had a couple of bottles of water and my emergency overnight bag. So I peeled off my soaked shirt and washed myself. It was sunny bright and hot. The air was thick and still with the rising heat. Luckily I had a spare shirt I’d put in the back seat (on really hot days I often do this) And happily I tugged it on.
So after another minute or two I got back in the car and drove home. Hm.
Somehow the very next day I had to drive to Southwold in Suffolk to do a live radio session. And I travelled exactly the same way as I’d done to Cambridge the previous day but a lot later in the afternoon. And of course in the opposite direction. But as I passed the spot I’d stopped in I immediately decided to return a different way. It would add an extra hour onto my journey I knew but I didn’t care. I didn’t feel comfortable. But then on my return from Southwold I was kindly invited to again stay at my friends in Cambridge. We all had a great evening meal. It was really nice.
I hadn’t been out of bed the next day for ten minutes when I got a call asking me to get back to London for an important meeting. I was short of time now. And yes you’ve guessed it I went home down the ‘collision’ road at virtually the same time where I’d encountered the mysterious crazy green car the day before. But it was busy with traffic as I passed the spot where I’d stopped and I just drove on briefly thinking of what might have happened. I guess I was just lucky.