It was dark. Rain lashed against the car's windows. Suddenly a dark shape appeared on the road ahead. The driver swerved, struggling to avoid it. Tyres screeched. The car skidded on the wet road. The lights showed a tree through the rain, straight in front of the car. No! The driver tried to correct the out of control vehicle. Failed. Tree. Then…nothing.
/ / /
Emma woke in a small glade. Fresh green surrounded her, sun warmed grass below and vibrant leaves of every hue above. A small brook bubbled through the glade, dividing it neatly into two while somehow uniting the two halves.
On the opposite bank stood a deer which had been drinking from the brook before it was interrupted. Now it stood, startled and wary of the intruder. Emma sat up slowly. The deer watched. Tentatively Emma stood, reaching out to the delicate creature. 'Hello,' she said to it, feeling absurd as she did so but knowing deep down that for some unknown reason it was the right thing to do, 'I'm Emma.'
The deer was silent, With large brown eyes he looked at her, seeming to examine her up and down, from unruly brown hair, freckled face, hoodie, jeans to the pair of old converses which adorned her feet. Finally a voice came in her head, 'Come, we have been waiting for you.' Before turning and disappearing into the forest. Puzzled and curious, Emma followed.
/ / /
A flustered Isobel Roberts stepped through the front door, shaking the water from her broken umbrella and wringing out her limp brown hair.
'Darling!' she called up the stairs, 'Are you home yet, sweetie?' Isobel had been much too preoccupied with getting out of the rain to notice whether or not her daughters car had been parked in the driveway. She was just about to climb the stairs to check on her daughter when she was interrupted by the urgent bring bring of the telephone. Sighing, Isobel turned and went to the kitchen, picked up the handset an leaned resignedly against the laminex bench.
'Hello? Isobel Roberts speaking,' she answered tiredly.
'Hello, Mrs Roberts,' came a deep masculine voice she didn't recognise, 'My name is Sergeant Peters, Anthony Peters. I have some news concerning your daughter...'
'She hasn't done anything wrong, has she?' Isobel interrupted.
'No, not exactly. She's been in an accident.'
Isobel felt as if the ground has disappeared from beneath her. Her throat constricted and tears welled in her eyes as she struggled not to cry. Every mothers worse nightmare had just come true. Finally, she replied, 'An a...ac...accident?'
'Yes, Mrs Roberts,' Sergeant Peters replied not unkindly, 'She has been taken to the Royal, on Swanston street. I must warn you though, her situation is critical.'
Hospital. Not dead. Critical. Hope and relief flooded Isobel's mind, adding to the cacophony of other emotions already screaming for attention. Maybe, just maybe, not all was lost. 'Thank-you, Sergeant Peters, I will be there right away.'