The morning fog drifted across the road and obscured Dane’s vision. That and the tears swelling up in his eyes as he sped down the two-lane highway at eighty-five miles per hour. The sirens grew louder as he fought with the steering wheel, desperately trying to keep the Honda on the right side of the road.
Up ahead Dane could see the curvature in the coastline and a flashing light blinking along the serpentine highway. They were heading in his direction. Sirens behind him, lights up ahead. He was being squeezed in with nowhere to hide.
Dane had two minutes, maybe less, before he was cornered. The car fishtailed around a turn and the bomb clattered in the trunk. Dane flinched, waiting for the end to happen, knowing he had just moments to live. In the rearview mirror a flashing light. To his right was the side of a cliff hugging the coastal road like a barrier placed there to keep Dane from turning. The ocean was to his left. For a moment he considered driving headfirst into an oncoming police car, maybe control his death. He couldn’t stand the pressure of waiting for his demise.
Up ahead there was a narrow path that led to an oceanfront property. His window was still open and he could smell the beach to his left. Without a plan, Dane steered the car onto the dirt pathway, bouncing along the road with a pained expression. Each bump caused his stomach to lurch upward. The road dipped quickly and Dane had to pump the brakes as he skidded sideways down the steep incline, the car threatening to come up on two wheels.
As he fought the steering wheel, he managed to control his slide and maneuver the vehicle toward an open stretch of packed sand in between two large beach homes. He had no idea where to go, the stress taking him away from the chasing law enforcement, but now toward a dead end of raging waves. The bomb rolled in the trunk and reminded him of his main concern. The explosion would finish him off quicker than a trip to a jail cell. His brain was malfunctioning, the strain causing him to misjudge his priorities. He needed to do something about the bomb.
Dane’s lungs seemed to be collapsing as he forged toward the ocean, considering the possibility that the bomb might not be waterproof. Maybe he could submerge the car and buffer the explosion. It worked in the movies. But how?
It was high tide and the waves were crashing onto the packed sand in large coiling slaps. Dane felt the tires sink as he paralleled the ocean and knew he’d have only one chance to make it happen. He unsnapped his seat belt, then timed the undertow. Just before the waves receded into the sea, he swerved the Honda into the mouth of the ocean and accelerated. He caught a perfect swell and the car dove into the bottom of a curing wave. The Honda was swamped and instantly submerged. The cold salt water forced its way through Dane’s open window and he battled the powerful surge as he tried to get through the small opening. With a mouthful of water, Dane struggled to get outside the vehicle, his lungs desperate to purge the sea water.
After one big lunge forward, Dane was knocked around by the current. Every second that he was still alive gave him a sliver of hope. He was pushed and pulled and thrown, but still alive. When he finally worked his way to the surface, he choked out a stream of salt water and saw the immersed Honda, now floating among the waves.
Dane’s body fought fatigue and stress and the powerful movement of the ocean as he forced one stroke after another. The waves pulled at him as he struggled to swim. Somehow he felt safer underwater so he kept diving down and lunging and scissor-kicking and fighting the massive power of the Pacific.
When he was completely exhausted, he poked his head up and saw his car almost a hundred yards away being tossed around in the waves. Sirens blared. A police car and two Border Patrol SUV’s were on the beach now with a handful of officers jogging along the shoreline following Dane’s progress. He wanted to scream at them about the bomb, but they were too far. He kept swimming on the surface, suddenly feeling the detonator strapped to his chest. While staring at the vehicle he tugged the device from his chest and threw it into the ocean.
Nothing happened. The water must’ve caused it to malfunction. Maybe the same thing happened to the bomb itself. A series of waves knocked him down and he let it drift him closer to shore. A Police officer stood on the beach with his pistol out and ready to fire. Dane was thrust forward and landed on his knees near the officer.
“It’s not my fault,” Dane said, crawling up the beach. “I was forced to do this.”
“Of course,” the officer shouted above the waves crashing around them.
Dane dropped onto the saturated packed sand and felt the officer pull his arms behind his back and snap handcuffs around his wrists. With his head twisted to the side, Dane could see his Honda bobbing up and down in the ocean.
“Uh,” Dane said with a face full of wet sand. “I would get everyone away from that car.”