The continued pursuit led Griff and Francis into Langford, a suburban offshoot community to Victoria’s northwest, and the increasing density of traffic forced Francis, despite her best efforts, to lay off the gas pedal a little, so she took to laying on the horn instead. Soon Griff was almost wishing he could go back to being terrified if it meant the obnoxious noise would stop.
They continued to gain ground, but slowly, never quite drawing within sight of their prey. Every traffic light they reached seemed to turn against them, while Griff didn’t sense their target stopping at a single one. Finally Francis got so fed up that she picked a gap in the cross-traffic and whipped right through a red.
“What the heck!?” yelled Griff.
An automated camera flashed. “Sorry, lady,” muttered Francis with a shrug. “Don’t worry; I’ll help her fight the ticket on that one.”
“Oh, great,” said Griff. “That’s what I was worried about there…”
“Grow a pair,” retorted Francis. “Have they reached Highway 1 yet?”
“Maybe,” said Griff. “I think so. They took a right turn somewhere, probably at the onramp, but it could’ve been earlier than that. It’s getting harder and harder to tell exactly where they are.”
“Well make a decision!” said Francis, punching the horn and slipping through a gap between two trucks. “Highway 1, or the back route?”
Griff summoned up what little he knew of Langford’s layout and compared it to the distance they’d been from their target when he’d sensed them turning. “They’re on the highway,” he said. “Pretty sure.”
“You’d better be right,” muttered Francis, and gunned it through a late yellow.
Turning east out of Langford, they merged onto Highway 1, and Francis pressed the hatchback’s weary gas pedal all the way to the floor once again. Traffic was heavy with morning commuters pressing through what was locally known as the “Colwood Crawl”, a notoriously clogged up stretch of highway that passed from Langford through the Colwood neighbourhood towards Victoria’s downtown.
“Maybe I should’ve let that cop car chase us,” moaned Francis. “At least the sirens would’ve cleared some space for us.” She resorted to scraping by on the right shoulder, drawing a chorus of angry honks in her wake.
Griff closed his eyes, ignoring everything outside of the car that was threatening to maim or kill him, and took note of their target’s position once more. “Hmm. Um. Hmm…”
“What?” demanded Francis. “What’s ‘hmm’?”
“The highway curves north a bit from here, right?”
“They’re kind of… south of us.”
Francis made a noise in her throat. “So they went the other way, then, down through Esquimalt?”
Francis smacked the dashboard so hard with her fist that the plastic cracked. She muttered another half-hearted apology to the car’s absent owner. “Okay, it’s okay. This isn’t over yet. They aren’t out of your range or anything, right?”
“Then we can cut across at Helmcken and get back on the right track. We’ll lose some ground, but it’s our best bet. Hang on.”
The instructions weren’t necessary: Griff had been literally hanging on ever since he’d gotten into the car.
Francis sent the hatchback rocketing over the shoulder for another 500 metres, then swung it south onto the Helmcken exit, cutting off a minivan in the process. From behind them, Griff heard a squeal and a crunch.
“It’s nothing,” Francis said, flashing a glance into the rear-view mirror. “They’re all fine.”
Griff didn’t let himself look back. It would only make it that much harder to look forward again.
After reaching the more southern Island Highway, they continued onto Craigflower Road, surging ahead to regain the ground they’d lost. With fewer lanes to choose from and narrow sidewalks instead of gravel shoulders, Francis found it a greater challenge to drive as insanely as she seemed to prefer, but still they made some progress, and the gap narrowed between them.
Before long, they reached downtown, and here Francis had to really settle down. By now, they were close enough to their target that Griff found himself squinting at the traffic a few blocks ahead of them, trying to spot the flash of green paint that would signal the impending resolution of the chase. Nothing presented itself, though, and they passed through downtown into the Fernwood neighbourhood, where, at long last, Griff sensed the car pulling to a stop, and two of the people getting out.
“A few blocks further,” he told Francis, “on the left. The driver’s still in the car.”
“Perfect,” said Francis. “Grab your gun. You can take the safety back off now…”