The weather was the perfect cover. Everything had gone as planned. The bank’s security alarms had been disabled by a well-paid disgruntled guard who, conveniently and suddenly, left for Europe declaring major family problems. The branch’s duplicated master key was a perfect fit. The promise of a third share as compensation, the bank manager had guaranteed the combinations to the vault. As this being his last day before retirement, the manager was leaving for the Island of Rota in the South Pacific which was a ploy to throw management and investigation officials in another direction. The funds for several major corporation’s payroll had been secured inside the massive Marmac Corporations V-2100 vault by a Brownvale Home Security Corp. security truck leaving over eight hundred thousand dollars for withdrawal.
The stolen four-door 96 Chevy getaway car was parked beside the back door to the bank as promised. Not a fast car, but one that would not easily be recognized due to it’s popularity while the jade gold colour made for a perfect blend into the gloomy nighttime. The rain and wind added to the robberies effectuation leaving no trace of footprints or tire tracks. Every detail had been prepared with precision. Non slip flat boots, black form fitting zippered coveralls with matching sweaters and balaclava completed their attire. The getaway route had been driven dozens of times confirming any obstacles to overcome or avoid. Every sign indicated success.
Being the robbery mastermind, Mark was a burly, facially scarred individual. He presented himself as a buffoon with a gruff exterior and sporty gait. Eyes deeply inset, an unkempt red mustache that matched his eye brows and dirty carrot hair finished off his appearance. At six foot two and weighing in at two hundred and eighty pounds, he was an eccentric character to be dealt with like the proverbial eggshell.
On the other hand, Jason was a meek but meticulous individual who placed logic first. He had finalized and abbreviated Mark’s original plans to cut down the heist time. His demeanor was almost articulate but life’s events prevented legitimate avenues for him which culminated in his gravitation to illegal activities. He was the perfect foil for Mark. Jason was five foot eight, one hundred seventy pounds and slim. Clean shaven, clear skin, aqua eyes and flowing dark brown hair, Jason presented himself with flare and distinction.
“Grab the last bag and let’s get out of here.” Mark demanded. The banks lack of interior lighting made a perfect blanket of invisibility for the two thieves. Jason looked at Mark with a wide smile across his face and Jason reciprocated. Mission accomplished.
Mark and Jason hauled the three duffel bags of newly printed bills out of the bank vault and one after the other were dumped unceremoniously into the trunk of the decade old Chevrolet. The deck lid was slammed shut and both took their respective places in the front seat. Mark grabbed the getaway map out of the glove compartment while Jason nervously started the car. Giving each other high-fives, the excitement of the past hour was mounting for Jason and adrenaline started flowing through his veins. Discarding their black camouflage clothing in a garbage container along Second Avenue, Jason an Mark reiterated how well the robbery had gone. A flawless execution and definitely one for the annals.
Mark noticed the excessive speed the car was traveling and commented with annoyance, “Slow down for God sake. We’ll have the cops and troopers after us if you don’t get your damn foot of that accelerator peddle.”
“Sorry boss.” he responded. With that, Jason eased up on the gas and the car slowed to within the speed limit. The highway to Ostrander Bridge, where they would join the highway taking them to the state line was just ahead and Mark reminded this fact to his driver. Slowing as he approached the on-ramp, Jason maneuvered the vehicle and followed the merging lane intersecting with the main highway. Two minutes to the bridge and the state line. Knowing that interstate flight became a Federal offense didn’t bother either of them. That set of circumstances only added additional confusion for the authorities, yet gained ground and obscureness for the perpetrators. Besides, the border to Canada was but a six hour drive fostering potential freedom.
The rain and wind had gradually picked up in intensity. Although the Chevy was well built, the vehicle now gently rocked from side to side with the increasing turbulence. The inclement weather had prevented either from seeing a mirage; a thin gossamer veil extending vertically and horizontally directly ahead. As the car passed though this phenomenon, there was an imperceptible shudder. It was at this juncture that Jason made an observation totally unrelated to their flight.
“Mark, this is Interstate 44 or am I mistaken?”Jason commented.
“What kind of a question is that? You know it’s Interstate 44. You’ve driven this highway many times. Why?” Mark retorted.
“Well for one thing, don’t you find it strange there’s no traffic all of a sudden? Where did all the traffic go? It’s one in the morning and there should be hundreds of transport trucks and buses and all sorts of cars. There are none in front or behind us and I haven’t seen anything coming in the other direction either. Doesn’t seem right to me. We practised taking this escape route dozens of times at this same hour, like you just said, and I could hardly get on the highway for the congestion.” Jason responded.
“Hey, look at it this way, Bro. It makes for a smooth drive and no interference. There’s the bridge and the state line. Now relax and just sit back. Think of all the money we stole back there. There’s gonna be a lot of unhappy customers tomorrow. And what a surprise for the local police and State Troopers. They won’t even know where to start.”
This created an air of levity and broke Jason’s concern. The state line was identified by two huge flags placed on either side of the bridge representing their respective state delineation. Although barely seen through the rain swept windshield the flags were but one minute ahead.
"What the hell was that?" asked Mark.
"What?” Jason muttered. “I don’t know! I’m too busy driving this old heap in the blinding rain to see anything."
A minute later, ”Hey! There goes another one.” blurted Mark. “I was right. Those things have no wheels. How can that be? Ah, it must be the rain on the side window. But I still swear, that thing had no bloody wheels. It was just floating over the road."
"Ah, you gotta be kidding?" was all Jason could say. "Give me a break. There's no such thing.”
“And while we're on that subject,” commented Mark “I need a break. I gotta go. Pull over for a minute."
"Wait till we cross this bridge and then I’ll stop.” he answered.
“Quick look! There goes another one of those weird looking cars and it’s just the same as the last one. This is really getting weird. And speaking of weird, where the hell are the flags? Did we pass them already? This whole thing is gettin to me. You said we would be over this bridge in two minutes. It’s been over five now and we still aren’t there. Somethings very, very wrong. Pull over, NOW!” Mark demanded.
Jason realized Mark was right. He had not passed the flags and could not see them, or in the distance. The inclement weather continued it’s relentless assault on the car with tension mounting inside. The almost horizontal affect of the rain had made vision for Jason distracting and he decided to pull over and let nature take it’s course.
“Somethings wrong with the car.” He muttered.
“Oh, so now you’re agreeing with me you bumbling idiot. I told you that car had no wheels.” Mark spat back.
Jason sensed anger and frustration in Mark’s voice. Better to be on the side of caution, he thought to himself.
“Not that car, this car. I can't pull over! The wheel won't turn. Damn it, it just won’t budge. It keeps going straight. Doesn't matter what I do. The bloody wheel just won't move."
This shift in events had Jason confused and frustrated. Conditions seemed to be changing all around him.
"Excuse me? The steering wheel won’t turn? Are you a complete idiot? Oh, that's just great. We’re in a stolen jalopy and the darn wheel won't turn. Maybe the ignition system is in the locked position. Boy, that would be just wonderful. I’ll get it moving if I have to break the damn thing off. Now move your hands." he yelled.
Jason did as he had been told. Mark put his hands on the steering wheel, grasped the rims with all his might and yanked. True to his comrade’s word, the wheel refused to budge. The car kept in a straight line traveling the same bridge lane. He again tried full force to relieve the frozen device. It was no use. Jerking the steering column back and forth still proved ineffective. The mechanism refused to budge and remained solid in position.
“Stop the car." hollered Mark. Jason went for the brake peddle. Nothing happened. No downward movement or yield. He pushed with every ounce in his body. The peddle would not depress. It was also frozen in a stationary position.
It was Mark’s turn to be the more frail of the two. Frightened, he blurted, "What are we going to do? You said we would be across this infernal bridge in two minutes? It's over ten now. The car won't turn, the brakes don't work and that wheelless excuse of a car keeps passing us in the opposite direction. Do something for Pete's sake or I'll take my gun and shoot your pigeon-toed foot off. And I really mean it."
With that, Jason turned the ignition to the “off” position with negative results. The engine kept running as smooth as ever. He turned the key so hard it broke leaving half inside the ignition cylinder. The steering wheel continued not to budge as did the braking system.
Petrified, without recourse and unbeknownst to both men, their bodies and faces were slowly transforming into contorted shapes resembling grotesque masks. The stolen getaway car was changing into a mystical image of unknown disproportion. The bridge became convoluted with a twisting wave-like action. The roadway ebbed and waned, I-beams and girders were bending and folding within themselves and bridge railings began an undulating motion. Glass windows and plastic dashboard accessories manifested into melting components before their eyes. To their horror, they continuously witnessed that strange futuristic vehicle passing in the opposite direction.
And from that opposing direction, the driver, in what Jason and Mark thought as a wheelless vehicle, did in fact have wheels. A normal four door mini-van. But what that driver envisioned was also quite different. The stolen getaway car seemed to be deformed in a manner that the mind could not identify nor comprehend. He squinted his eyes for more clarity and decided his imagination was playing tricks. He reverted back to his own driving predicament at hand. The miserable atmospheric conditions. He refocused his eyes back to his side of the road and gave no further thought to the strange enigma.
The center of the suspension bridge never came nor did the state line with dual flags. The wind and the rain persisted relentlessly. The car with no wheels kept passing them in the other lane. There was no visible termination leading to the end of the steel and concrete span.
"This horror began late in 1969, and as I write, I have lost track of time. Eon's have passed. I should know. My name is Mark and God forgive me. Jason vanished several years ago from behind the wheel. He just upped and disappeared. The same will happen to me. I know that. I have tried to keep an account but now my pen is running out and I have no more paper. My legs are now but a shadow and I can’t feel them anymore. I’m still very much afraid and distraught. While I still have a sense of cognizance, I’m writing this with hope, that one day, somebody, anybody, will find my account. It’s still raining and the wind, oh, that merciless wind. The car is still running. I haven’t given it any more thought. I gave up long ago. Please end this nightmare for me. I can’t seem to wake up. I'm still crossing this hellish bridge……. "
There are many unforeseen dimensions yet to be discovered. We are sure of three but not of the fourth. Nobody is certain of the latter except our two bank robbers. With Jason’s disappearance, Mark has been convinced of this fourth dimension and it’s existence. Our two, having penetrated that ethereal gossamer veil of spontaneous teleportation, had unwittingly crossed the boundaries of time and space into a futuristic temporal flux. This loop in the nexus will continue indefinitely even for the strongest of intelligence, without an avenue for their restoration. An oxymoron of sorts, the only sound heard was an inaudible scream on that overpass while Mark continues to play out a never ending role in a futuristic zone and of scientific resolve.