Drenched in sunshine, he’d packed his car in no time. He’d been renting the house, there was no furniture to worry about, just his bike and several suitcases, one extraordinarily heavy, stuffed with books. He had to take the front wheel off his bike to fit it in the hatchback, forks pointing forwards.
He’s late leaving, after seeing some friends for a farewell lunch which stretched well into the afternoon. ‘Fantastic, lovely to see you… ‘til next time,’ he waved, walking out the door, thinking there may never be a next time. The days are noticeably longer but the sky is heavy with dusk when he finally gets underway.
After a while, on the motorway, clouds rend open spilling silver shards, which cascade across the shifting road – light refracted in the windscreen, the wipers barely washing the rain away even on full tilt. He is doing around ninety, his usual speed, just slightly slower because of the coloured patterns on the glass.
A car drifts across from the left to the middle lane, then continues indicating right as Jonathon is about to pass, the driver obviously hasn’t noticed as he keeps going to the right forcing Jonathon to swerve, his wheels thumping uneven ground on the central reservation, then the deadened thud of steel on steel as he hits the barrier, the car kicked into a spin, skidding on the wet road, ‘Fuck! No!’ he exclaims, as he careers off the motorway across the verge, along a steep embankment through a rack of bushes, to the rupture of windows and windscreen, and the scream of what turned out to be hawthorn tearing at the carcass of spray-painted metal.
For a moment he blacks out, then finds himself awake facing up the slope, cars still passing on the motorway. He feels the back of his head, it hurts, is wet. Only later, in hospital, does he realise one of the forks of the bike had rammed into his skull. The medical staff want to keep him under observation in case of concussion, but say he can sleep.
Dan approaches sleep uneasily, doubting it’s safe to close his eyes. He’s restless but soon starts dreaming. He finds himself experiencing random moments of his early life with utter clarity, his childhood playing before him, brightly coloured, perfectly clear.
His most vivid dreams are the most recent memories. The laboratory, day and night, in the shelter of the hillside, the touch of her, the distant sound of water running through broken rock in the cleft of the valley below.