Max felt a tingling sensation all over his body like he was covered in static. Similar to having his leg fall asleep, the experience couldn’t quite be described as painful, more so uncomfortable. The high-pitched ring he had heard earlier was now fully absorbed into his head like a screaming alarm. He realized they were in the cab of a tow-truck. Max was gripping Santiago, both of them had thin wisps of smoke trailing off their bodies.
“You can let go,” Santiago said.
“What just happened?”
“What do you mean, flashed?”
“Max, I can’t answer all of your questions right now. Just keep an eye out behind us for any followers and put that vest on.” He gestured to a thick kevlar vest lying on the passenger floor.
“Why are they trying to kill me?”
“Just put the vest on.”
Max moved over and strapped the heavy body armor on while Santiago cranked up the engine. The enormous motor came to life and they sped down the road, away from the hospital, leaving a trail of black exhaust in their wake. Max did as Santiago ordered, watching their back.
“At least tell me where we are going.”
“To Tourmaline,” Santiago barked.
“I’ve never heard of it.”
Santiago shifted up to a higher gear and the engine grunted. Keeping his eyes dead ahead, he clenched his scruffy jaw as if he were chewing on his anxiety. Max knew they had to be driving over the speed limit. He watched the road behind them hoping no policemen were nearby.
“If we can just make it over Harbor Bridge we’ll be safe,” Santiago explained.
Max could feel the road gradually incline. He took a moment to observe Santiago and reflect on what had happened the past twenty-four hours. Seeing him in daylight was very revealing, he looked much older than Max had originally perceived, and his coat was pockmarked with holes, stains, and tears. If he hadn’t known any better, he would have thought Santiago was just an eccentric bum, not some superhero. As Max scrutinized his lined face he recalled what Santiago had said the night before, “Your uncle.” Max tried to imagine what the old man might have looked like when he was younger. Maybe, under all that gray, dirty hair, there were some physical similarities between them.
His thoughts were interrupted when a large vehicle caught his attention. A black armored truck was gaining on them --- fast.
“Uhh. . .Sant---”
A bullet punched through the back window and zipped out the front windshield, sending bits of glass flying in every direction.
“Hang on!” Santiago shouted, slamming his heavy boot on the gas pedal. He weaved in-between cars barely missing a small Honda Accord. The tow truck lurched upward, climbing the steep grade of the bridge.
The armored truck was quickly closing the distance. Max watched as it slammed into the back of the Honda they had just passed, causing it to spin into the other lane.
They were nearly to the top of the bridge, confined to its narrow lanes by two cement barricades on either side: there was no way they were going to out-run the Tekagi. More bullets tore through the cab as the black truck pulled up right behind them.
“We are going to have to take a shortcut. Get ready, Max.”
Just as the armored truck pulled up along their left side, giving the gunman in the passenger seat a clean shot, Santiago spun the wheel sharply to the right, sending the tow-truck slamming over the barricade and off the crest of the Harbor Bridge.
To the people lounging on the beach, they would have seen what would look like the most extreme accident in the city’s history. A large tow-truck somehow drove over the bridge’s barricade and was free-falling toward the bay. The distance of the drop had to be over a hundred feet. Just before the truck disappeared into the water, there was a bright flash from inside the cab. By the time the local news channel arrived, everyone had a different explanation: some said they saw a small explosion just before it hit, others said it was the airbags deploying, then a few rationalized it as a failed terrorist attempt; regardless, all the witnesses were shocked. The real shock wouldn’t come till later though. When, after two full days of searching, no bodies were recovered.