(Last week: Chartan is driving four businessmen to the wine country when he notices the passenger monitor screen has gone dark.)
Chartan was on his fourth assignment driving Sloan’s newest limo. None of the prior clients had asked about the two miniature video cameras mounted flush above each passenger door. For one, they were hard to see, save for the feint reflection of light in the lenses. But now the dash monitor was black—Chartan couldn’t see his passengers even though the controls in the cab indicated the system was functioning.
If the clients had been a young couple, Chartan wouldn’t have thought twice about the blank screen. But the four businessmen had triggered Chartan’s sense of evil.
With his pulse elevated, he spoke clearly and slowly into the dash microphone. “Gentlemen, we are now on Highway 29 where I will be driving at 35 mph due to traffic.”
“Any questions?” He strained to pick up any sounds but only heard the hum of the road.
“Can you hear me?”
He drove another mile until he reached a gravel turnout. He braked slowly, bringing the limo to a stop under the shade of an ancient oak tree. A steady stream of cars and an occasional semi tractor-trailer passed by as Chartan waited for the clients to speak. After a few minutes he removed his sunglasses and got out. He walked to the other side of the limo and tapped lightly on the smoked window. There was no response other than the rush of air from speeding vehicles.
Chartan couldn’t see inside. The steel door handle grew warmer in his hand. All he had to do was pull to end this mystery.
To be continued next Sunday…