Sami’s manager placed a pen that bore the company’s name, molar-dug pits in the first “A” in “A-Plus At-Home Dialysis”, back into the cup with the unused ones. Her skin crawled at the thought of accidentally finding one of those divots when she expected smooth plastic, but the most she could do was remember to avoid it. Everywhere in the office Sami looked, there were pens, signs, coffee mugs, sweaters, pizza cutters, bumper stickers, flags, and even underwear bearing the company’s name. Her manager came up with it, executed it without any input from Sami, and then gave her credit for it. He called it a gift, but the look in his eyes when he said it told her that it wasn’t being given for free. At the time, she tried to ignore it. Nothing she could do about it.
It led to a 4% raise last March, but now she was getting the credit for the black minivan on the break room TV, flitting into a tiny gap between cars like a cat squeezing out a closing door while a fleet of police SUVs steadily lost ground behind it. Even from helicopter distance, their company’s name and URL were legible and plastered all over the car.
They only found out about it the first time when new customers called and traced the referral back to that same furious minivan that now nudged a bystander’s left bumper, sending the sedan spinning into three police cars. A week ago, the minivan pushed a convertible off the road into a concrete wall, and no one in the office spoke to Sami for the rest of the day. She told them it wasn’t her fault, but they didn’t care. No one cared what she had to say. This time, the van had already caused four wrecks since the camera found it.
While the car had everyone’s focus, she was the object in the periphery. The most she could do was keep her face neutral and focus on arresting any tears that threatened to leak out. Her manager babbled from the seat next to her. “…as long as sales are up, well, complaints are certainly a matter of concern but if our sales staff could see that as an opportunity, employ some, you know, some judo, we can turn those complaints into customers. And surely, no one believes that this is some kind of guerilla marketing–surely that wasn’t Sami’s intention with this campaign– and it’s a term which hardly dignifies itself with…”
When the helicopter flew higher, the roadblock came into view. The calls would stop. The news would no longer comment. No more hundred-email chains trying to ascertain how this individual got those decals. Not a single new snide comment out of Miranda from IT about how she thought they just needed a more dynamic website. They’d stop talking about her, stop blaming her, let her get on with her work in peace. The police SUVs formed a double line, with spike strips ahead and rifles pointed at the oncoming car, but the minivan seemed to be speeding up. Ramming through was pointless. What desperate pride made the driver think there was anything to do but stop? There was nothing to do. He was at the mercy of the police.
But the driver–if there was a driver if this minivan wasn’t a demon visiting its punishment upon Earth– tilted the car up onto the median, using its slight curve as a ramp to flip the minivan into the air. It twirled through the air above the spikes, above the police. Sunlight glimmered off the van’s undercarriage, rays of white and blue and golden light mingling in beams and flares captured by the helicopter’s dazed camera. The police took potshots at the minivan as it soared past them. A hole pierced the period of the company’s web URL, so now it looked like a stylistic choice on the company’s part. Now they were a gun-themed dialysis product. A few stares left the TV to find Sami and gauge her reaction, but she maintained a poker face. They wouldn’t get their satisfaction from her.
The minivan took the first ramp it could off the highway. Everyone prepared for the helicopter to lose it at once, but it stayed in frame. Sami leaned closer. The car wanted to show her something.
The minivan sped down a city street, scattering pedestrians as it jumped onto the sidewalk to avoid the cars backed up at a red, and passed the deli that Sami ate lunch at half the time. It was only a ten-minute walk away. A couple of blocks later, consumed in seconds by the car’s terrifying speed, it was on her usual path to work. The minivan was so close. Everyone else had realized the same and murmured recognizance. They were all so entranced by the car’s skidding pirouette as it took a sharp corner that they didn’t notice Sami leave her chair and wander over to the window. She had no need for the TV anymore. Sami lurched the window open, flaking off-white paint that had once sealed it. The engine’s roar echoed throughout the neighborhood.
Some crows that always congregated in the big tree overlooking the parking lot fluttered into the sky, and the car burst through the hedge across the street. Leaves and branches floated in a cloud of debris as it hovered above the curb for just a second. An angel of destruction, wreathed in its violence. Into the car’s din, Sami cheered. She shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” over and over and over until her throat chafed and her lungs burned. Her co-workers attempted to pull her away from the window, but she wouldn’t move until the car crunched back down to asphalt after its leap. Its speed took it out of her sight, and she acceded to her co-workers’ grasp. Outside, not even the chopping helicopter troubled the vivid blue sky, cloudless from horizon to horizon.