Right, I’m still an episode behind, but I think you will enjoy my take on Anna and the Chocolate Factory.
Note that Google Maps kind of screwed up the route, if you look at it more closely, so I was forced to take some liberties with the route to make more plot sense.
1 & 2: Prologue
5: Malaga - Granada
5b: Malaga - Granada
Chapter 5: Granada - Alicante
Sweat poured down Anna’s brow, stinging her eyes. She blinked and tossed her head, but for her helmet couldn’t wipe her face. A dull ache had started in her arms, slowly but surely making itself known, as she sawed her way through the twisty B roads with unrelenting urgency. Yet back on the highway with its smooth bends and still she held the wheel with a vice-like death grip.
The sun had now risen well past the horizon, but still sat low and smack in the middle of her view, blinding her with the glare. What time was it, barely seven? Pace yourself came an unbidden voice over her shoulder. But pace how? The radio was silent, and for all she knew, she was out in front but she didn’t know by how much. All the cars were scattered somewhere in the grand unknown somewhere in all the sights of Spain she was blurring by too fast to appreciate. The next car could be three minutes behind, five minutes, but on the other hand they had covered, what, two hundred miles out of over three thousand? I’m not a damn tourist, came another voice, equally unsolicited, over her other shoulder. Every second counts. Drive. Win. So she kept pushing on, as fast as she dared, pursued by her elusive phantoms.
The traffic on the highway thickened suddenly, out of the corner of her eye she seemed to be approaching a town. Hitting the brakes, the Evo scrubbed speed, weaving around the cars and trucks. Only then did Anna notice the change in the drone of the engine tone, muffled by her ear plugs, and just how much it too was wearing on her. Just as part of her gnashed with worry when the fuel light came on, another part of her felt a wave of relief, and she took the off-ramp to look for the nearest station. Yet another kind of nervousness crept up on her, trying not to provoke attention in a car that screamed its racing purpose to all and sundry with its looks and the pops and crackles of an exhaust that could shatter windows. Between the second looks and the knowledge she couldn’t outrun the long arms of the law with no fuel, she suddenly felt naked under her steel cage. Better get on with it then- right there, beyond the roundabout! Gunning it, the Evo leapt forward and plunged into the big circle, almost collecting a few cars in the process and leaving them swerving and honking in its wake.
At the pump, Anna took a breath, weighing up the options minute before removing her helmet and squeezing out. The breath of fresh air not stifled by engine heat and sweaty padding was a lease of new life to her, and all her aches and pains rushed through her limbs before evaporating. In went the nozzle in one hand, and in the other she drained a bottle of energy drink. That was probably twice the safe daily dose of caffeine in there and it was barely morning… wait, wasn’t that bad for the bladder? Anna crossed her legs at the thought, nope, that wasn’t a thought, that was a real urgency!
Two extra minutes later, Anna was back in the car. Helmet on. Fuel lines primed, pump on, battery optimal, hydraulics operational. Take another breath, and get back in the game. There was no telling where everyone was now, whether she was still in front. Push START. The engine rumbled to life once more. Alternate reality engaged, and back on the highway, hurtling towards whatever the day would bring.
The distant rumblings that were the local law enforcement became a storm in Alicante. Seeing uniforms and marked cars popping out of every corner, Anna glanced at the map, realising in an instant there was no way but through. Heel toe, drop the gears, yank the handbrake, dodge and weave. And then, in her mirrors, a flash of lime green. Dang and blast she knew she’d lost ground, but now one of the fastest cars on the grid was upon her. Now this was a race!
Down two hundred horses on the Chaucer-Borch, on the straightaways, the Evo was a sitting duck, and no matter if she tried to squeeze it out, Anna didn’t dare actually come together with the stone wall on one side, and the trees lining the median strip flashing by at over a hundred miles an hour. It was braking for the turns and weaving around the traffic even as more flashing lights appeared in their mirrors where she made her moves and nosed back in front. Plunging downhill while the railway overpass rose alongside, a roundabout to the main road was coming up, fortune favoured the brave! Without even looking, Anna swung the wheel right, hard on the brakes, kicked the clutch while yanking the wheel left, flicking the Evo into a four wheel drift with the tyres squealing, nose almost brushing the barrier. Blasting away from the intersection, Anna smirked as she saw the Chaucer dropping back… only to groand as it was replaced by the Guivre! But there was no time for looking backwards, as more flashing lights poured onto the road in front. No more options, it was time to take to the highways again and hope speed did the trick. Anna was squeezed against her seat as the Evo barrelled up the ramp and accelerated through the long left hander, then the long right, and shot onto the open highway once more, the cacophony of the sirens fading fast behind.
The eye of the storm was not to last, however. Barely back into the highway rhythm of things, two things simultaneously befell Anna and the Evo. First, the Chaucer and the Guivre, by now definitely her two main rivals, were back in her rear view. The Guivre, with its sleeker profile, had a better top speed and was rapidly gaining on her. Second, up front, the Civil Guard was forming a proper blockade. Memories of shooting off the road and going impromptu rally earlier that morning flashed through Anna’s mind, and she slammed on the brakes, looking for the exit. She hurtled in blind, surrounded by the dense foilage through a never-ending right hander that emerged suddenly upon a toll booth. She had a fraction of a second to spot the empty lane, making a beeline for it and smashing through the flimsy barrier with a crunch. But the sirens and the flashing lights kept coming, and coming, emerging from all the side roads, clogging the roads. With rising panic Anna realised they were deliberately herding the racers into a tightening net. And there it was, the road was completely closed, in front of them a barricade and soldiers and guns pointed at them and the only way out a sealed construction zone. It couldn’t be over so soon!
No. This was the beginning of a legend, not the end of it. The Evo was going to be the greatest name in Armada, and its renaissance. And it was a true road rally car. Out of the corner of her eye, Anna saw a wide open cargo door at the side of a factory. It would do. Yanking the handbrake, Anna wrenched the Evo around, up the driveway and through the carpark, seeing people scattering and diving out of the way as the darkness swallowed her. After the glare of the light of day, Anna could barely see anything, just vague flashes of fleeing workers and conveyor belts and barrels she tried to weave around. Then looming out of nowhere was the giant vat and a dead end. Anna threw her hands up involuntarily, not even braking before the Evo slammed into it, blasting it out of the way and leaving a huge dint in it, liquid chocolate fountaining up and all over and splattering on her windshield. Trying to regain control, Anna grabbed the wheel and tried the wipers, but only managed to smear more chocolate over her view. Now completely blind, she felt a gut wrenching jolt, then everything went light and the bottom of her guts dropped into thin air. It was at this moment the wiper fluid finally kicked in, revealing nothing but clear sky.
The Evo smashed through the first floor window, flying through the air over the wall of the factory compound, before shaving several roof tiles off a nearby house, crunching through several branches of some rotting trees before plowing back into the earth. Anna’s helmet slammed into the steering wheel, almost stunning her, but she managed to grab the wheel and pull it, the Evo narrowly avoiding a concrete wall, before skirting alongside it and looking for an exit. With a gap in the wall, Anna pulled the handbrake again, drifting the Evo around it, and onto a dusty back road.
That was when the clattering and flapping noises started. The front wheels had no feel left to them, and there was a spine-tingling screeching coming from the wheel wells. Heart still in her mouth, Anna cursed, slipping to neutral and stopping but not daring to cut the engine before hauling herself out of the car to inspect the damage.
Her fears were confirmed. Whatever path of destruction she had wreaked entering and leaving the factory had left its marks on the poor Evo. The front splitter was mangled, the corners of it scraping against the wheels and puncturing them. Her front tyres were in the process of sagging flat. There was no way she was going to go much further in her current condition, but time was a wasting and the cops… funnily enough the sound of the sirens was abating. Had she really shaken them?
No matter. There was no other option. As the sounds of the cops and her rivals passed and faded, she sweated and strained with the jack and the spares. She’d have to source more spares later, not to mention fixing the splitter, but for now, they were battle scars her beloved Evo would have to bear.