FridayFlash – Love and Power

“Ha, yeah, that’s hi-LAR-ious,” Billy wasn’t really a guy that appreciated humor. He really just wanted to get stuff done. They’d been working on the car all day.

“Shut up, dick.” Jesse, on the other hand, had a sharp wit and liked to push and poke on Billy until he got mad. Jesse farted and waved it under the car at Billy.

“Jesus, you nasty bastard! Just hand me the goddamn 15mm deep well socket,” Billy said. “Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it’s worth having you around.”

The mosquitos and mosquito hunters were in full force as the night crept up on them.

Billy groaned as he pushed himself out from under the car. “There, that should do ‘er. Let’s get all this stuff out of the way.” He breathed in the cool night air and paused to consider the stars.

The engine roared to life and they shot each other a knowing glance. A couple of revs and they were even happier.

**********

“So far, so good. Let’s take her out to the airfield so we can open her up where nobody’s around,” Billy patted Jesse on the back, backed out of the garage and fumbled for the garage door clicker.

A couple of turns out of the neighborhood and Billy mashed the pedal, fishtailing the back end.

“Hooey!” Jesse yelled out the window at nobody, the creases by his eyes deep as he squinted into the wind.

“More power than I expected…” Billy faded off. The design was something he’d been working on for a while. Had the idea in high school, in fact, but could never afford the time or the space to do anything about it until now. Hadn’t needed to build it until now. Billy raised an eyebrow at the steady burble of the exhaust, then reached over to the center console and closed all the windows.

“What are doin’, man? It’s a nice night out,” Jesse knew what Billy was going to do. “She’s gone, Billy,” he said and tightened down his ball cap and settled back into the seat with a sigh.

“It’s time.”

**********

The back road ended and they crossed the abandoned rice fields to the back fence, which they’d already cut open and used a few times before when they did the dry run. A fog settled as they felt the tires embrace the runway.

Billy two-footed the brake and the gas, spinning up the tires, smokin’ them. Jesse smiled a weak smile.

“Dang it, Billy – you sure?”

“You can get out if you don’t want to.”

“Nah. I’m here for ya, man.” The air was thin and the silence was broken by the crickets and frogs resuming their chorus.

Billy pulled a tight u-turn and made his way back to the start of the runway, sighed, looked at Jesse, who nodded slightly at him, and put the car in “sport” mode, then pulled the stick back to “Billy” mode to turn on his modification.

“We only get once. Don’t fuck it up.” Jesse cleared his throat, reached up and grabbed the handle, knuckles white.

The acceleration pushed them back hard into their seats. The roar of the engine, at first, sent giddy shivers up their spines, but the fear of the speed and the limits of the runway weighed heavy on their minds.

60… 80… 120… the boost kicked in … 240… 340… phase II boost… 500… the sonic boom shattered windows in a nearby commercial complex… phase III boost… 800… 2000… 5000… the gravity machine was at full power now and turned on.

The outside world faded into slow motion at first, then a swirl of the deep colors of the night, then a blast of light blinded them in the car. Finally, an all-encompassing darkness.

************

“Billy! Billy! Wake UP.”

Billy woke to Jesse shaking his arm and slapping him in the face. “What the- knock it off! I’m up, I’m up…”

“Billy, for chrissakes, Billy, look around! You crazy motherfucker, you did it!” Jesse was standing outside the car in the soft light of the morning.

Billy cautiously opened the door and pulled himself out of the car, cursing his weak back and knees. “Now how the heck do you know it worked? You wouldn’t know your ass from a – ”

“Shut up, Billy, just… Shut. Up.”

Billy narrowed his eyes and leaned on the open car door, glaring at Jesse, then following Jesse’s gaze to his right. “I can’t -” he stammered. “I won’t – ” he couldn’t get more than two words out before he fell back into the driver’s seat, staring at nothing.

“Get in. I have to go see her.”

*********

Author’s notes

I had an idea as I was working on my car, installing the last of the (first round of) performance upgrades. It was a combination of ideas from several places. I watched an old Code Monkeys episode where the nerdy lead developer had a relationship with Kit, the car from Knight Rider, and they said that car had 800 horses under the hood. That’s impressive.

Then I had another discussion where we were saying that 350 horses wasn’t that much, which is crazy because 10 years ago it was a LOT. You can get 550-600 horses for a reasonable price today. By that I mean not Lamborghini or Ferrari prices.

And I always laughed at the surprising power of the car in Men in Black.

Have you seen the ramjet ultrasonic planes the US military has? They need to be brought up to a minimum speed from an external source before they can have their unique engine (no moving parts) kick in.

So my thought was, what if you had a car that could go faster and faster, and eventually a secondary engine kicked on after you got to a certain speed, which went even faster. I thought about SpaceBalls, where they went to Ludicrous Speed, then went to Plaid, and that was a loose inspiration for this story.

But that’s not a story. That’s a technical background. The story is two buddies working on a car in a garage. Typical. But then you learn about “her.” Who is she? What happened? Then you get teased about the invention he was finally able to install. What does it do? How does it work? They finish, there’s more power than he thought, and the tension builds until they seem to have a strange trip, but we don’t know where/when/why.

Perhaps I’ll finish this story later as a novella if there’s interest.