One snowy night, Keith Brambles learns that appearances can be deceptive.
KEITH BRAMBLES shifted his brand new Audi TT Roadster into gear and drove out of the car park. He pressed his lips together in a thin line and scowled as he peered through the windscreen. It had begun to snow while he was in the pub, and he didn’t relish the idea of driving over thirty-five miles home in bad weather. He lived in the small market town of Alford, in the UK, and at that moment, he wondered what on earth had possessed him to travel all the way to Lincoln for a date with someone he’d met after a gig the week before. Gig hook-ups were always going to end the same way, but he continued to hope.
Keith’s date had turned out like so many others—a man who wanted to get close to him because of who he was so he could boast to his friends. This latest guy had been worse than most. The majority of their conversation had been about Keith’s music, and he’d quickly realized he was wasting his time. After two hours, he’d told the man it wasn’t going to happen, and left the pub, frustrated and angry.
Keith turned his car onto the A158 and accelerated away from Lincoln. Already the snow was coming down thickly, and his annoyance caused him to drive too fast for the conditions. The white stuff hadn’t begun to settle on the roads yet, and he thought he could probably get home before it became a problem. He turned the volume on the CD player up louder, and Adam Lambert’s voice filled the car. Lambert was an American singer whom Keith had loosely modeled himself on, and he sang along to the tune as he drove.
Keith covered twenty miles without incident. He passed only two vehicles coming the other way, both crawling along, with their windscreen wipers going at full speed. The snow was falling more thickly, and had settled on the tarmac. Rather than easing up on the accelerator, Keith maintained his speed, wanting to get home. He passed the small town of Wragby and continued for another few minutes, still singing along to Adam Lambert. He wondered if his hero had the same trouble with dates only wanting him because he was famous. Not that Keith was particularly famous. He doubted anyone outside the UK had heard of him. He had his face in a few music papers, and his first album was available for download, but the biggest show he’d done so far was Nottingham Rock City. Rock City was one of his favorite venues. He’d been there many times to see other bands before he started performing himself.
“Shit!” Keith came upon the bend much too fast, and did the worst thing he could do, given the conditions—he stomped on the brake pedal. The Audi lost what little traction it had and continued in a more-or-less straight line. He tried turning the wheel, but nothing happened. Keith could only watch in horror as the dark shape of a tree loomed out of the snowy cloud and headed for the bonnet of the car at frightening speed. He clutched the steering wheel, knuckles white, and yelled out again as the impact with the tree trunk killed the car.