Rain lashes against the car window, delighting the little girl in the passenger seat. Her father watches sourly as she presses her nose against the glass, leaving unsightly smudges.
*Thoughtless brat* ... whispers a voice in his head.
They pass a service station, and she starts squealing for junk food. No, he tells her, there'll be food at the hotel.
*The cheap, shitty hotel that was all I could afford on an office worker's salary*, the voice reminds him.
“Please, Daddy? Please?”
*Should never have married her bitch mother*, he thinks. *I should have gone on that date with the girl from the restaurant instead, or just ditched her after a month*.
The little girl is pouting, but he barely notices, wrapped up in his mistakes.
*Should have studied law at college. Who needs geology? Should have gone to a good college, instead of following my mates to that shithole.*
Even the rain can't keep his daughter entertained now, and she starts to kick the dashboard, her little feet thumping against the cheap plastic.
*Fucking brat, I should never have let her whore mother talk me into having her. Spending all my money on her school fees and clothes and birthdays.
I deserve so much better than this shitty car, this shitty job, this shitty life. She's holding me back. It's all her fault.*
Hatred surges through him, and his fingers tighten around the steering wheel.
*There's a way to deal with this problem*. This time, the voice seems cold and unfamiliar. But it's right, there is a way. A way to fix it all.
His daughter sits, oblivious, and for a moment, his resolve wavers.
“Are we nearly there yet?” she pipes. The last straw.
He jerks the steering wheel to the left, launching the car into the barriers that line the side of the road.
The last thought that crosses his mind is how he wishes his ex-wife were in the car too. *This will have to do.*
Two police officers watch as the fire crew negotiate the mangled wreck. The smaller body is being loaded into an ambulance, but there's no hurry.
The driver is still trapped within the car, but he's just as dead as the girl. There's no indication of anything out of the ordinary.
It's just another accident.
Unseen, a thin, pulsing shadow uncurls itself from around the corpse's ear, and slithers out of the wreck.
It coils along the tarmac, gliding its insubstantial body through the puddles and potholes of the motorway, until it reaches the leg of one of the watching officers.
The man doesn't feel a thing as it winds its way up his leg, and only shivers a little when it crawls up his spine.
His fellow officer isn't looking when it wraps itself around his ear, but even if she was, all she would see is the faint frown that passes across his face.
*I hate crash duty,* he thinks. *I should never have joined the force.*