Summary of “Never Stop on the Motorway” by Jeffrey Archer

Never Stop on the Motorway Summary Jeffrey Archer
“Never Stop on the Motorway” Summary

“Never Stop on the Motorway” is a short story by Jeffrey Archer that appeared in his collection Twelve Red Herrings. It’s about a woman who’s driving to her friend’s farmhouse for a weekend stay. A stranger in a van starts following her on the motorway, and she does her best to lose him. The incident brings to mind a recent news story that heightens her fear even more. It can be read free in the sample of The Short, the Long and the Tall (7% in). Here’s a summary of “Never Stop on the Motorway”.

“Never Stop on the Motorway” Summary

Diana, director of a small City firm and single mother, leaves work on a Friday evening just before six. She and John divorced about a year ago. It was amicable enough and he gets the kids one weekend in four, and this one is his turn. She doesn’t like being in the flat by herself so she’s going to spend the weekend in the country with an old University friend, Daniel, his wife Rachel and their kids.

Diana listens to the news in the car and then puts on music. It’s slow going with the traffic. It takes an hour to get out of the city and get to the A1. She realizes she doesn’t have a bottle of wine for them and there are only service stations from now on. They’re always the ones giving.

A small creature shoots across her path and she slams on the brakes. It was too late, though, and she hits something. Diana stops on the shoulder and backs up to the spot. She gets out and finds a dead cat. She feels bad about it and gently lays it in the ditch.

Diana resumes her drive. Soon, a pair of headlights shine through the rear window. She waves the black van around and slows but it doesn’t pass. She can make out a young man in it waving at her. She wonders if there’s something wrong with her car.

Diana slows down and speeds up but the van stays close. She waves at oncoming vehicles but they pass unaware. She was supposed to get a car phone installed at her last service, but hasn’t brought the car in yet.

Getting more nervous, Diana speeds up more but the van matches her. She turns on her high beams and blasts her horn, hoping the police will stop her for speeding.

Diana slows and the van pulls beside her. The driver is wearing a black leather jacket and pointing threateningly at her. She shakes her fist at him and accelerates again but he stays with her. Diana remembers there was a murder on this road months ago and is more afraid. There were warning signs up for a while telling women drivers not to stop on the motorway. The killer, who used a serrated knife, hasn’t been caught.

Diana’s turn off is three miles away. She speeds up again and prepares to shake the van. She stays in the far lane at top speed and continues. At the last moment, she swerves across all the lanes and takes her exit. Other drivers brake and blast their horns.

“Never Stop on the Motorway” Summary, Cont’d

Diana laughs with relief as the van misses the turn. It turns into a scream as she sees the van cut across the grass, careering wildly and almost tipping over, as it ends up on the road behind her. Diana decides to take the next turn to the farmhouse rather than the town in the other direction. The road is unlit but she knows it well and her pursuer probably doesn’t. She should be able to get inside before he can catch her.

Diana takes the turn and rounds the corners well, accelerating on the straight sections. The van quickly fills the gaps and stays near. She stays to the center of the road, terrified that she could be forced off into the ditch. She tries to alert an oncoming driver to her situation but it doesn’t work.

Diana’s gas is almost empty. She prays Daniel has remembered to leave the gate open. She might not have enough gas to make it to the next town if it’s closed. Finally, she sees the farmhouse in the distance and is relieved the downstairs lights are on. She’s drenched in sweat.

The gate is open and Diana swerves into the opening, hitting a gatepost as she barrels down the bumpy road. She holds down her horn and starts yelling for Daniel. The van is still behind her. At a hundred yards away, Daniel comes to the door. She flashes her lights and keeps blasting the horn.

At thirty yards, Diana slams on the brakes. Her car slides across the gravel and stops in the flowerbed by the kitchen window. The leather-jacketed man can’t react fast enough. He slides into the back of her car, pushing it into the house and shattering the kitchen window. Diana jumps out, yelling for Daniel to get a gun.

Diana runs into the house and Daniel grabs the shotgun against the wall. His wife goes to call the police. The gun’s not loaded, but he levels it at the stranger and orders him to stop. The young man limps toward them, saying he’s not the threat. Daniel advances toward the man with the gun pointed at him. The young man says it’s not him; he saw someone get into Diana’s car on the motorway.

Daniel orders him to open the back door of Diana’s car. On the floor is a man with a long serrated knife. Daniel holds the gun on him. A police siren is heard in the distance.

I hope this summary of “Never Stop on the Motorway” by Jeffrey Archer was helpful.