“Don’t worry, lady,” he said. “I’m not following you this time, just going my own sweet way home.”
Maps in a Mirror (1990) is a collection of short stories by American writer Orson Scott Card. Like Card’s novels, most of the stories have a science fiction or fantasy theme. This specific short story drew my attention as I was driving and listening – a story about a maniacal driver who pushes the pedal to the metal and follows his victims to their deaths. What would you do if you had a person tailgating you, hounding you for 80 miles or more, swerving through traffic? I would have pulled over in the nearest police station. I would have tapped my breaks to let him know to back off. I probably would have looked for help in a gas station.
These women (as all of his victims have been women), did not choose to do so and found themselves in danger.
“Going pretty fast, lady,” he said.
Ninety, said the speedometer.
Of course, Stanley realized. She is running out of gas. She wants to get going as fast as she can, outrun me, but at least have enough momentum to coast when she runs out. Nonsense, thought Stanley. It’s dark, and the poor lady, is scared out of her wits. I’ve got to stop this. This is dangerous. it’s dark and it’s dangerous and this stupid game has gone on for four hundred miles. I never meant it to go on this long.
Stanley passed the road signs that told him, habituated as he was to this drive, that the first big curve was coming up. A lot of people unfamiliar with the Salt Flats thought it went straight as an arrow all the way.
But there was a curve where there was no reason to have a curve, before the mountains, before anything. And in typical Utah Highway Department fashion, the Curve sign was posted right in the middle of the turn.
Instinctively, Stanley slowed down.
The woman in the Hornet did not.
In his headlights Stanley saw the Hornet slide off the road. He screeched on his brakes; as he went past, he saw the Hornet bounce on its nose, flip over and bounce on its tail, then topple back and land flat on the roof. For a moment the car lay there. Stanley got his car stopped, looked back over his shoulder. The Hornet erupted in flames.
Stanley gets off on the power, the control he feels he has. He has found a new high and with each victim he promises he won’t do it again but yet he is on the road prowling for a new woman to terrify. He finds a perfect one today – a girl in a red car and she is a good driver. She does not show any moments of doubt or worry but drives like a maniac to escape him. She goes off from two lanes to take an exit that takes them into the canyons.
She escapes up a dirt road where she parks her car and hopes he will go past her but he notices a small flash of red and follows her. He always fantasised what would happen if he ever caught up with one of the women and his fantasies always ended in him being threatened with a gun or told to take off his clothes and hand over his keys.
This time, however, he does not get out of the car but revs it enough to slam into her. She reverses quickly and he can’t stop on time and goes into a ravine and down to his death.
As he falls, he hears her crying that She promises this is the last time, that he is the fourth kill.
He had found his match
Read the beginning of the story here: