The Driven Trilogy - 3

K. Bromberg


To Mom and Dad ~

Thank you for teaching me that life isn’t about how you survive the storm, but rather how you dance in the rain.

And I’m finally dancing…


Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

The resonating pain in my head pulses to the sound assaulting my ears.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

There is so much sound—loud, buzzing white noise—and yet it’s eerily fucking quiet. Quiet except for that damn thwacking sound.

What the hell is that?

Why the fuck is it so damn hot—so hot I can see the heat coming in waves off of the asphalt—but all I feel is cold?


Something to the right of me catches my eye—mangled metal, blown tires, skins shredded to pieces—and all I can do is stare. Becks is going to throttle me for fucking up the car. Shred me to pieces just like my car strewn all over the track. What the fuck happened?

A trickle of unease dances at the base of my spine.

My heartbeat accelerates.

Confusion flickers at the far away edges of my subconscious. I close my eyes to try and push back the pounding that’s suddenly playing percussion to my thoughts. Thoughts I can’t quite grasp.They sift through my mind like sand through my fingers.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

I open my eyes to try and find that goddamn sound that’s adding pressure to the pain …

… pleasure to bury the pain …

Those words whisper through my mind, and I shake my head to try to comprehend what’s going on when I see him: dark hair in need of a trim; tiny little hands holding a plastic helicopter; a Spiderman Band-Aid wrapped around his index finger that’s spinning the pretend rotors.

Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Ironman.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack,” he says in the softest of voices.

So why does it sound so loud then? Big eyes look up at me through thick lashes, innocence personified in that simple grace of green. His finger falters on the rotor as his eyes meet mine, cocking his head to study me intently.

“Hi there,” I say, the deafening silence reverberating through the space between us.

Something’s off.

Completely not fucking right.

Apprehension resurfaces.

Hints of the unknown whirl around my mind.

Confusion smothers.

His green eyes consume me.

Anxiety dissipates when a slow smile curls up the corner of his little mouth smudged with dirt, a lone dimple winking at its side.

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” he says, straightening his back some, trying to act like the big kid he wants to be.

“That’s a good rule. Did your mom teach you that?”

Why does he seem so familiar?

He shrugs nonchalantly. His gaze runs over every inch of me and then comes back to meet mine. They flicker to something over my shoulder, but for some fucking reason I can’t seem to drag my eyes from him to look. It’s not just that he’s the cutest fucking kid I’ve ever seen … No, it’s like he has this pull on me that I can’t seem to break.

A little line creases his forehead as he looks down and picks at another superhero Band-Aid barely covering the large scrape on his knee.

Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Ironman.

Shut the fuck up! I want to yell at the demons in my head. They have no right to be here … no reason to swarm around this sweet looking little boy, and yet they keep swirling like a merry-go-round. Like my car should be around the track right now. So why am I taking a step toward this polarizing little boy instead of preparing for the ration of shit Becks is going to spew at me, and by the looks of my car, that I obviously deserve?

And yet I still can’t resist.

I take another step toward him, slow and deliberate in my motions, like I am with the boys at The House.

The boys.


I need to see her.

Don’t want to be alone anymore.

I need to feel her.

Don’t want to be broken anymore.

Why am I swimming in a sea of confusion? And yet I take another step through the fog toward this unexpected ray of light.

Be my spark.

“That’s a pretty bad owie you got there …”

He snorts. It’s so fucking adorable to see this little kid with such a serious face, nose scattered with freckles scrunched up, looking at me like I’m missing something.

Thanks, Captain Obvious!”

And a smart-ass mouth on him too. My type of kid. I stifle a chuckle as he glances back over my shoulder again for the third time. I start to turn to see what he’s looking at when his voice stops me. “Are you okay?”

Huh? “What do you mean?”

“Are you okay?” he asks again. “You seem kind of broken.”

“What are you talking about?” I take another step toward him. My fleeting thoughts mixed with the somberness of his tone and the concern etched on his face is starting to unnerve me.

“Well, you look broken to me,” he whispers as his Band-Aid wrapped finger flips the propeller again—thwack, thwack, thwack—before motioning up and down my body.

Anxiety creeps up my spine until I look down at my race suit to find it intact, my hands patting up and down to calm the feeling. “No.” The words rush out. “I’m okay, buddy. See? Nothing’s wrong,” I say, sighing a quick breath of relief. The little fucker scared me for a second.

“No, silly,” he says with a roll of his eyes and a huff of breath before pointing over my shoulder. “Look. You’re broken.”

I turn, the calm simplicity of his tone puzzling me, and look behind me.

My heart stops.


My breath strangles in my chest.


My body freezes.


I blink my eyes over and over, trying to push away the images before me. The sights permeate through a viscous haze.

Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Ironman.

Fuck. No. No. No. No.

“See,” his angelic voice says beside me. “I told you.”

No. No. No. No.

The air finally punches from my lungs. I force a swallow down my throat that feels like sandpaper.

I know I see it—the chaos right before my eyes—but how is it possible? How am I here and there?

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

I try to move. To fucking run! To get their attention to tell them I’m right here—that I’m okay—but my feet won’t listen to the ricocheting panic in my brain.

No. I’m not there. Just here. I know I’m okay—know I’m alive—because I can feel my breath catch in my chest when I take a step forward to get a closer look. Fingertips of dread tickle over my scalp because what I see … that can’t be ... it’s just not fucking possible.

Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Ironman.

The gentle whir of the saw pulls me from my ready-to-rage state as the medical crew cuts the driver’s helmet down the center. The minute they split it apart, my head feels like it explodes. I drop to my knees, the pain so excruciating all I can do is raise my hands up to hold it. I have to look up. Have to see who was in my car. Whose motherfucking ass is mine, but I can’t. It hurts too goddamn much.

… I wonder if there’s pain when you die …

I jolt at the feel of his hand on my shoulder … but the minute it rests there, the pain ceases to exist.

What the …? I know I have to look. I have to see for myself who is in the car even though I ultimately know the truth. Disjointed memories fracture and flicker through my mind just like pieces of the splintered mirror in that fucking dive bar.

Humpty fucking Dumpty.

Fear snakes up my spine, takes hold, and reverberates through me. I just can’t do it. I can’t look up. Don’t be such a pussy, Donavan. Instead, I look to my right into his eyes, the unexpected calm in this storm. “Is that …? Am I …?” I ask the little boy as my breath clogs my throat, apprehension over the answer holds my voice hostage.

He just looks at me—eyes clear, face serious, lips pursed, freckles dancing—before he squeezes my shoulder. “What do you think?”

I want to shake a fucking answer out of him but know I won’t. Can’t. With him here at my side amidst this whirling chaos, I’ve never felt more at peace and yet at the same time more scared.

I force my eyes from his serene face to look back at the scene in front of me. I feel like I’m in a kaleidoscope of jagged images as I take in the face—my fucking face—on the gurney.

My heart crashes. Sputters. Stops. Dies.


Grey skin. Eyes swollen, bruised, and closed. Lips lax and pale.


Devastation surrenders, desperation consumes, life sputters, and yet my soul clings.


“No!” I yell at the top of my lungs until my voice falls hoarse. No one turns. No one hears me. Every fucking person is unresponsive—my body and the medics.


The body on the gurney—my body—jolts as someone climbs on the stretcher and starts compressions on my chest. Someone fastens the neck brace. Lifts my eyelids and checks my pupils.


Wary faces. Defeated eyes. Routine movements.