With the team so far behind, Luke buried his foot in the firewall, bringing the Minerva’s full force back into play again. The 3.6 liter DOHC V6 snarled angrily like a wildcat in a room full of rocking chairs, catapulting the car towards ever-dizzying speeds.
“70.” Luke said, counting out the speed as Linda watched the scenery whizz by at an unusually rapid pace. “80. 90. 95. 100.” he continued, the car’s snarl picking up as fourth gear was held for pure acceleration. “105. 110. 115.”
Amy watched as the steering wheel kept shuddering in Luke’s hands, the vibrations through the driveline causing the whole car to shake.
“120.” Luke counted, as the vibrations started getting worse.
A violent clatter and bang resounded through the back of the car, and some of the vibrations subsided, while others were made worse. “The fuck was that?” Scott asked, seeming nervous.
“Wheel weight. Vibration shook it loose. Was imbalanced anyway.” Luke said, his foot still pinned to the firewall. “125. High oil pressure light just flickered. 127. Light’s ignited, steady. RPM is at 5800. 130. Off the end of the gauge. Gear change… Now.”
The car lurched as Luke forced the transmission to 5th gear, the car now traveling at its top speed of 136 MPH. They went screaming past several other motorists, their Minerva just a dark purple dot in most people’s mirrors before roaring past, barely recognizable as a sedan by most people who got passed.
Luke piled on the brakes as a bright orange Storm Shadow moved to pass another car, having checked and seen the Minerva almost a mile away. The tires screeched as he made every effort not to drive up the back of the very expensive thousand-horsepower super sedan, hauling the car down to a mere 80 miles per hour and joining the Shadow in the pass.
“Maybe a bit more… Sane pace is called for.” Linda said after a few moments. “After all, we don’t need to go crashing through the Pearly Gates or the Halls of Valhalla in our dark purple shitbox.”
“At least, if we’re going to go crashing through the Pearly Gates, make sure we’re going backwards first.” Scott said, getting a laugh from all of them.
“Nah, you’ve got it all wrong. Gotta go through 'em doing at least a hundred, on the roof.” Amy said, continuing the joke.
“Well, I don’t know about going through backwards or upside down, but I do know that one was close. A more tempered pace, perhaps, at least until we’re out of this damned traffic. Then we’ll uncork the 3.6 and see if we can make up some time.” Luke said.
“Leave it to Luke to pull a stunt like that. Listen, I’m in no great hurry to meet the Grim Reaper. Plus, someone else already crossed the finish line.” Linda said.
Luke lifted off the gas almost imperceptibly, although the effect it had on the car was noticed by the tailgating truck driver behind them as they got honked at. Luke didn’t even bother to return the blast this time, seeming lightly demoralized.
“At least the last time… We weren’t too far behind. Now, we’ll be lucky to make it without being considered ‘lost in transit.’ Lucky if there’s any food left or any party still going once we make it. All this hard driving, and it’s for nothing. Two days of hard driving, two major stops, one still remaining, but… We’ve lost. Why bother speeding at this point?” Luke said, still shedding speed as they settled back down to flow-of-traffic speeds.
“Oh, cheer up, Luke. Surely you’ve found some excitement out here?” Amy said, trying to raise Luke’s spirit a little, mostly in hopes that he’d find some hidden desire to go fast again.
“Not really. Just a lot of driving. A lot of highway miles in a car that probably shouldn’t be running at this point. Almost 3300 miles since we started our journey in Chicago, cannonballed 32 hours to get to the starting line, and now it’s nearing the end of the journey.” Luke said.
“Well, the old saying used to be, ‘it’s not about the destination, the journey’s the important bit,’ or something similar to that. Surely something’s been exciting, or fun, or noteworthy for you?” Linda said, realizing that Luke’s lack of excitement might be a direct result of his lack of participation in events.
“No. Not really. Most of it’s been driving the car, or fixing the car, or planning on fixing the car, finding a hotel. A talk with Martin from Team Southend-or-Bust, but that’s the closest thing to noteworthy in this event.” Luke said.
“Well, we’ve got to fix that.” Scott said. “We need to do something for Luke, because without him, we’d be stuck back in Storm Automotive HQ, working on some race car or another, or putting an interior in the latest concept car, or completing yet another business transaction. And he’d still be up there, on the 37th floor, trying to decide what the next major sales trend will be.”
Luke continued on at the speed limit for the rest of the stage, despite the team trying to convince him to open the throttles wide and continue at their once-rapid pace.
Car Condition: Running well enough, despite losing a wheel weight.
Team Condition: 3/4 okay. 1/4 demoralized.
MRL: +17 (No Change) Partially demoralized, but got to see a limited-edition Shadow on the street.
FTG: +4 (+1) Near Death Experiences are scary.