It was time.
His left foot depressed the clutch, his right the accelerator, one hand grasped the steering wheel in a vice while the other manipulated the gear box in a frenzy of movement. 0–1–2–25–3–40–4–55–5–60… gears at max, his hands both clenched the steering wheel as the car barreled down the road. The road in front of him was crystal clear, the sidewalk a blur as trees, bushes and other objects whipped past.. well under the 1/20th of a second required to register an image on his retinas. Every slight adjustment of the wheels was more a matter of instinct rather than reaction – he knew the car, he knew the road, he knew his skill. There was no stopping this time. He was going for broke.
The road dipped. The road he was on seemed to extend into nothingness.
He was going downhill now, the plateau of highway over.. he knew he should have pressed the brake a little harder when he hit it, played with the gears just a little more. The turns were still to come, the wicked bends a little after them, and he was still barreling down the tarmac well in excess of any speed limits that might have existed. Ahead, he could see the first of the curves coming.. coming.. closer..
The emptiness yawning in front of the bend ahead seemed to beckon.
At just the fraction of a second that it was necessary, the wheel was twisted impossibly, brakes locked.. released, and acceleration increased again. The rear wheels had inched close enough to the border of the road.. any sharper a bend and he would have swung himself off the cliff at the speed he was maintaining. His hand had flicked the gears almost too quickly, the engine had whined in protest as it was throttled, and revved again. Either the car would fly off the mountain, the brakes would give way, or the engine would blow if he tried that stunt again. A straight stretch of road until the next turn – a wicked one – nearly 70 degrees in angle. If you wanted to continue driving downhill you had to pay respect to the road at least here. Else, there was always time to explore flying options – which might be tough in a huge hunk of metal crashing down to earth.
He continued depressing the accelerator. The needle jumped the speedometer, but there were limits it could go to, too.
The car reached the bend almost too quickly, he timed his brake-jam as well as he could.. but it is tough to beat the laws of basic physics. The car skidded almost perfectly into the 70 degree angle, but then the wheels edged too dangerously close to the edge.. he fought the wheel to rock back and continue zooming down the angle.. precious seconds of uncertainty as the wheels kicked up dirt, fought for purchase, fighting.. fighting..
He was still yanking the wheel to the right when the car toppled over the edge of the cliff. And fell. Almost too slowly compared to how fast it had gotten there.
The car fell.. fell..
The ‘kachink!’ of metal near my head shook me out of a reverie. Turning my head to one side I could see the tiny metal car that had doubtless fallen from the armchair rest above my head. Even as I reached for it, tiny hands scrabbled around mine and caught it up. Turning my head the other way, playful eyes and a wide grin on my two-year-old nephew’s face came into focus. I reached out to grab him, to teach him a lesson for “driving” so fast.. he twisted, giggled and clambered back up onto the armchair.
Znnn..mmmmm….zunnnnnnnn.. the car started going back uphill.