Darker Shade of Fear - Pt 9

Raven

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Sitting quietly in the slowly darkening room, he had a chance to remember Joe. Often, ever since Joe’s death, memories would come back – some, out of nowhere; like rain that falls at times from a nearly cloudless sky, hitting his face with the wet, cold drops. Which only made him remember how much Joe liked the rain…

Carl watched the evening shadows disappear from the floor and realized that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, nearly 12 hours ago, just before he had left for the church. Which only made him think of Joe again; how they would go to breakfast and tell bench racing stories (usually outright lies but they both laughed about them); how they would spend a lot of evenings working on Joe’s SS or any of a thousand other projects it seemed Joe or Carl had going on. The sadness then washed over him once more like a cold chill and he never, ever felt so alone as he did just now…

He thought that a Tuesday was a horrid day for a funeral for your best friend… even if it WAS a sunny one. And he began to cry once more because he knew how much Joe liked the rain…


***********

Dan sat exhausted on the sofa, Sally sitting quietly next to him… both of them were numb, having just returned home from the dinner held after the service. Like many, they wondered where Carl had gone and like most, no one really ate anything. They spent most of the time just mingling with other friends of Joe or his family, trying to find some sense as to why it had happened but not having any luck. So they usually ended up trying to remember how great Joe was, or how he loved racing, or how about when he showed up with the Donovan in his Camaro? And so, Joe was remembered for how he lived – not how or why he died. After all, they agreed, he had died doing what he loved best.

Racing.

And how many of us actually get to die like that?

“Dan, was that Megan at the gravesite?”

The question startled Dan from his thoughts. He had seen the woman in the Black dress and hat that shielded most of her face, thinking that she seemed familiar. But she had kept apart from everyone else; standing close to some tall guy and another woman he didn’t know who also was in black.

“I don’t know, Hon… it might have been her. I just didn’t pay attention…”

“I think it was her Dan.” The emphasis in Sally’s voice could not be missed.

“Well, I could understand her wanting to come. She knew Joe for a long time.”

Sally mulled that thought for a moment.

“Yeah… I suppose you’re right. I just thought if it was her, she would have spoken, don’t you?”

Dan undid his tie and tossed it onto the coffee table, his jacket already across the one side of it.

“Maybe she just felt uncomfortable, especially how things ended between us all back then. But who knows? Maybe it wasn’t even her anyhow?”

Sally looked at her watch. “No, it was her, Dan. It had to be her… I’m sure of it.”
“How can you be so sure, Sally?”

“I can’t explain it, Danny. I just know… and she’s not back in town for something good, either. Just wait and see…”

Sally’s words hung in Dan’s ears heavily. He didn’t say it but he knew what she meant.

Because he felt it too…

********

Carl headed out into the cool night air. Having decided that Joe would kick his ass for sitting around and moping just because he was all ‘dead and gone’, he went out to the garage and slipped inside through the walk-through door. To his left were the light switches and flipped them all up to the “ON” position. Immediately the hum of twelve 8-foot long fluorescent lights (sixteen tubes in all) broke the silence in the garage, the lights gleaming off the Mach I’s black paint and his red Ram 2500 on past that. The four bay garage was cavernous but not always, especially when Joe brought his Cam-

Damn!!! Got to stop thinking like that, mumbled Carl to himself. Joe would surely be pissed if he knew how sorry he was feeling for himself right now…

He took in the smells of the garage. Odors of pine, of oil, of gasoline (some very high octane at that) and rubber and steel and concrete all inundated Carl’s senses. He walked around to the driver’s side of the Mach I and pulled the door handle up to open the door. The dome lights came on immediately and illuminated interior. Funny, he thought – but not in sadness. The first time he saw Joe’s SS with the Donovan was just outside in the driveway that one sunny morning when he was admiring the Mach I.

He sat down inside on the seat and slid his legs on inside. His hand instinctively reached for the shifter, his left foot for the clutch. The garage door opener was tucked inside the console, out of sight of prying eyes that may look inside the windows when he had it parked out somewhere. He flipped the lid up and hit the small gray button. Immediately, the soft ‘whir’ of the door opener joined the hum of the fluorescents and he could feel the coolness of the air sweep in beneath the opening door.

He knew then what he had to do. It was how he wanted to remember Joe.

He wanted to go racing and beat someone – bad.


He quickly slid from the car, walked over to the bank of light switches and flipped them off, then got back into the Mustang. The key was always in his pocket and he slid it into the ignition, enjoying the sound of the chime which politely reminded him with its “Ding… Ding… Ding…” that his door was open with the key in place.

Carl pulled the door shut gently enough to close it but not slamming it. Rotating the key he heard the fuel pump energize and bring up the pressure. He rolled the windows down with the power buttons and breathed in the cool air deeply.

Yeah… tonight was the night to do this.

Rotating the switch on around, he heard the engagement of the starter and its push to begin the turning over of the rotating mass of steel and aluminum. The Modular motor fired immediately and settled into a steady low pitched rumble at idle. He released the parking brake, depressed the clutch pedal and snicked the tranny on over into “R”.

Smooth as silk, he thought. Smooth as silk – but brutal, even for a ‘New’ car. Especially with what he had just done to it the week before the ‘crash’. Why not test that tonight, he wondered. Why not indeed?

Carl backed out of the garage and hit the door opener again. He watched the door glide down, the light from inside disappear on the concrete apron. He allowed the car to back down the slight incline of the drive and out onto the road. Just down the road was Joe’s house and he wondered what would happen to it now? It didn’t matter, he guessed. Joe had no use for it now.

Nudging the Pro 5.0 shifter into “1”, he let the clutch out slightly and felt it begin to grip the pressure plate. The car rolled forward on into the night, its headlights stabbing into the darkness like two deadly white knives looking for a victim.

He wouldn’t have to look far for the first one…

*********


Pulling out of the drive-thru carryout, Pat and Sol headed in towards the Metro district. Often a good place to park and shine while swapping tales of street bravado with numerous other hyper-hormonally driven youth who owned powerful (or more often than not, powerful looking) cars. The Westgate Bowling Alley (“Home of Thunder Alley!!”) parking lot was one of the favorite hotbeds of street racers. Tonight was no different.

As they pulled into the lot, they noticed several people milling around what looked to be a new ’03 Terminator.

“Is that Tark?” asked Sol. “I haven’t seen him around for several weeks. Wonder what he’s been up to?”

Pat nodded to no one in particular.

“Yeah, it’s him. I heard over at the speed shop he sold his twin turbo Cobra to some guy on eBay and had bought a new ’03. My guess is that that is the one. You know – his Cobra never did run the same after he blew it out at the airport that time running that Buick guy named Wade.”

Sol nodded. He had seen that race and it was over almost at the start line. That was definitely a serious Buick there that night…

They parked and got out of the car, the doors shutting causing many to turn and look at the deep blue street machine.

Pat’s car was eye candy to most. Its blue paint was deep and wet looking. The chrome wheels were a superb accent to the paint and the lack of chrome elsewhere only emphasized the look. Not many Z06’s looked as good as Pat’s. Nor, did many have the ponies under the hood that his did. Nearly 500 hp to the rear wheels thanks to the mods he had paid to have done. After all, he didn’t have a lot of time but he knew guys who DID – guys like Lingenfelter who knew Pat on a first name basis.

John had pulled the stock Z06 mill and performed his magic with the internals as well as the intake and exhaust. Signed and certified by the dyno in John’s shop (496.7 rwhp, 522 rwtq), the Z06 was a snake killer who loved to feed on Cobras in particular. Pat had spent a lot of seat time in the Vette and had the shifts down solid. Tonight would be the inaugural street races for the car whose rear plate read –

U R DEAD

In minutes, the first challenges were issued. Pat had hooked a guy with a big block Ford in a late ‘60’s Falcon and they were back to the lot in less than 30 minutes, the Falcon owner’s wallet lighter by two hundred dollars. This of course raised even more interest and a few accusations of using ‘Nawssss’. But Pat had the hood raised and offered the crowd the chance to look. But no NOS bottle or lines could be found – there weren’t any.

So next up was a Tark’s buddy, Nash. Nash had a healthy ’98 LS1 Camaro that had seen several street races. It was no match either against the Z06, having lost by over 5 cars. The word was spreading among the crowd – the Z06 of Pat’s might just be the king badass car for the night.

Just as the crowd was buzzing about the Vette, they could hear the rumble of a V8 approaching from the south. A few turned to look as the moths and bugs circled in the light of the mercury vapor lamps above the parking lot. The headlights of a late model Mustang could be seen approaching, the blinker indicating the driver’s desire to enter the area. As the car pulled in, the headlights went off with only the parking lamps remaining lit as it circled the area slowly, the windows down.

“Hey Sol, isn’t that Carl?” asked Pat.

“Yeah, I think it is. I haven’t seen him all summer but that’s definitely him. Hey – did you hear about –

“Joe? Yeah, I heard. Man, I couldn’t believe it either” answered Pat, not letting Sol finish. They watched Carl circle once more before he pulled straight into towards where all the people were. Brashly, he pulled right up into the crowd in front of the Z06 and simply stopped, letting the car idle.

People downwind noticed a rich, semi-sweet aroma escaping the side exhausts (just installed days before the ‘crash’ with Joe’s help) and they couldn’t overlook the noisy whine coming from beneath the hood of the black Mustang – a car that was supposed to be naturally aspirated. Still, the Shaker hood was in place – but it was definitely shaking.

Pat looked at the Mach 1 and then smiled – actually, sneered. Catching Carl’s eye’s, he cast a line.

“Whacha got under the hood there, Carl? Sounds pretty seerrrrrr-iiiii-oooouuuussss!”

Carl just looked at Pat without speaking. He chose to ignore him altogether by getting out of the Mustang and leaning against the driver’s side fender, the cool air filling his nostrils with life. Too bad Joe couldn’t see what was about to go down, he thought. He spoke…

“Anyone here interested in running me tonight? I’ve got five hundred dollars that says I’ll take any of you.”

The crowd was silent but Pat spoke up.

“You serious Carl? Man, I mean, you don’t really mean that do you? After all, you don’t even know what people have here tonight.”

Carl ignored him, having figured out quickly that Pat’s Vette was the center attraction this night. And you don’t get that much attention if you’re second dog off the porch.

Carl’s refusal to answer only served to piss Pat off – just what he hoped would happen.

“I ASKED a question – CARL!” fumed Pat. Having gone from the big gun to being ignored didn’t wear well on Pat’s ego. Carl smiled to himself – Joe would have been proud.

He turned now to face Pat.

“Pat! I didn’t know that was you there. Where’s your Civic with the big double wing?”

Pat had been a ‘Wannabe’ racer for a few years before he hit it big in the market and got out before it fell. His money flowed freely and he tried to erase the “Fast and Furious” image he had cultivated so hard before. But many wouldn’t let him forget it. Carl was one of the many.

Pat continued to steam, small beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead as his anger rose.

“You know Carl, I liked Joe. He was a nice guy and I’m sorry to hear about what happened. But that doesn’t give you the right to come in here all hard and stuff and start disrespecting people.”

Carl’s stare was pure ice water.

“Pat, you and I have never seen eye to eye. And I doubt that tonight will be no different. Is that your Z06? Or is it your Daddy’s?”

Pat’s eyes flashed. Not many knew that his Civic was actually paid for by his father. The Z06 was indeed his. But that didn’t stop the snickers in the crowd.

“Tell you what, Carl. I’ll be glad to take your cash tonight… I’ve already won some good money already – from guys much better than you. But yours will spend too. What’s the deal?”

“Heads up Pat. I know all about your car actually so I’m not running you blind. You wanna see under MY hood? Or would you even know what you were looking at anyhow?” More taunts…

Pat’s blood ran cold now. He had no way to go but out on the street.

“I heard the blower, Carl. I’m not deaf. And I’m not worried either. Let’s go out to the airport. There are already some people there.”

Carl smiled. “Let’s go play, Pat. Yes. Let's go play..."

People scrambled for their cars. This was one race everyone wanted to see….

*********

Less than 20 minutes later, the Z06 and the Mach 1 were heads up at the ‘Start’ line. Tark held the money, and Stacey – a leggy brunette who nearly spilled out of her top – held the flashlight. Numerous cars lined the side of the ‘track’, including Wade, Tark’s old nemesis with the 10 second Buick. Now here he was at the same track where he had ran Tark’s T/T Cobra and beaten it when Tark blew the heads nearly off the block. Ironically, it was Wade who helped Tark rebuild his car and a friendship was formed.

Stacey looked at the cars to her right and left. In her hand was a yellow rubberized Eveready flashlight with the black end cap. She could smell the aroma of high octane fuel, hear the rumble from the V8’s and smell the rubber from the brief burnouts both drivers had done prior to pulling to the line. It all came down to this minute, this night for the two drivers before her.

The air was almost chilly now with the clock approaching midnight. But no one noticed, not with two heavy hitters at the line. Most sided with Pat, having found good reason to appreciate the blue Chevrolet with gobs of torque. But there were also some that didn’t like Pat because, well – he was Pat. They felt he hadn’t ‘paid his dues’ so to speak; that he had only ‘bought’ performance; not earned it. Either way, it was going to be a good race.

Both drivers had pulled on helmets and had cinched up their belts tight. Carl had his black Bell on – the one with the red numbers “572” emblazoned upon its front. Pat wore a simple white Simpson. Both were full face and neither driver noticed the perspiration on their necks.

Oddly, Carl didn’t feel so alone anymore…

They watched as Stacey began the count…

*Blink 1*

The RPMS were up now, the clutches depressed but out slightly, both motors about 3200 rpms….

*Blink 2*

Carl brought his RPMS up a little more – he was now nearly 3600 rpm. The Vette was steady at 3200…

*BLINK 3!!!!*

Both drivers dumped their clutches and the mechanical unloading of a combined 1000+ horsepower began. As the clutch pedals sprang upwards, heavy duty pressure plate springs slammed the clutch faces against the rotating flywheels and locked onto the surfaces. The torque load was placed along the drive lines in hundreds and hundreds of pound/feet and the rotational forces tried to tear the drive shafts loose from beneath both cars. But they held as designed.

At the same nano-second, the twisting effort of the driveshafts upon the ring and pinion caused the tires to begin to rotate forward but the physics of trying to move a stationary body made the axles try to twist free from beneath the bodies. Still, all of that held as well. The enormous torque was then shouldered by the suspension and the body, with the front of both cars trying to rotate skyward with the suspension keeping them in check.

And so the launch began. Both cars launched at identical times. Had there been a tree and a clock present, RT’s of identical .50’s would have flashed on the boards.

At the far end of the track a long black car was parked. The two occupants were also out for the evening of distraction to an unpleasant day. Knowing about the abandoned airport, they had picked up some takeout and headed out waiting for the nightly run of street racing. Tonight would not disappoint them.

Carl and Pat were even through the first two gears. Surprisingly to Pat, he could not pull the Mach 1. But then again, the Mach 1 hadn’t pulled him either.

Yet.

As both drivers readied for the 2-3 shift, the car in the right lane began to ever-so-slightly creep ahead. Not even those at trackside could tell but it was happening.

The end of the track was nearing now, both drivers having hit the 3-4 shifts perfectly. But the driver in the left lane felt the heaviness of an approaching loss seep into his bones. And almost simultaneously, both noticed the long black car parked adjacent to the Finish Line with its parking lamps on.

Inside the long black car, Megan nudged Sarah.

“I think he’s got him, don’t you Sarah?”

Sarah nodded silently, having just taken a bite of her sandwich.

Crossing the finish line, Carl wasn’t even sure who had won.

But Pat was. Because he had a good view of Carl’s rear spoiler – it was even with his door.

Both cars braked hard, turned around in the end area and headed back up toward the crowd. Pat was sick. Not only had he lost to a damned Mustang, but he had just proven Carl was right. Neither noticed the Mercury start up and pull in behind them, gliding toward the crowd.

Carl felt good. He knew what he would do with the money – he would refuse it. After all, it was never about the money anyhow. It was about winning. Just then, he noticed the second set of headlights behind Pat’s Z06 and he wondered who those might be?

As they pulled into the Staging area of the unofficial track the Mercury pull up behind them. They turned and saw the plate –

ANNIL8R

Just as Carl was exiting the Mach 1, the crowd could hear yet another built car pulling into the airport. Turning to watch, they saw the unmistakable shape of rectangular headlights. It was a white car and it sounded like one with a big Turbo and more.

It was Dan in his white TR. And behind him was another surprise - someone looking for some mechanical salvation.

It was Sally.

In a GNX - that wasn’t exactly stock either… and that wore a plate that many found interesting -

STOMPER


To be continued...
 

momau3

Member
Nice work Raven, ending's gonna be a good one I think.

Master of suspense....




Part 10 soon?

Suspense kills
 

RBE17

Behind the trigger
Originally posted by Trader_Slick
this is about to get really interesting :D.

Yeah, If Dan plays his cards right he could be in for some three on one action:D:eek: :p

Great story Raven. Looking forward to part 10.

Later,


Steve.
 

turboman38

It costs money to go fast
Raven

You should put all these stories in a book and have it published. You could by another TR with the profits!

Great story!
 
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