“There weren’t always dragons in the Valley,” she thought, with a hand raised over her brow looking out over upon the sun-bleached land. Moving the length of her arm across her forehead, she wiped the sweat off, shaking her head. “Phew, I should head back inside.”
Lifting up the metal sheet door behind her, a cool blast a/c air was a pleasant greeting to her face. Holding the door high above her head, she let her hair billow in the man-made wind as the cold left for the outside, and the heat behind her tried to reach its way inside, both wanting to be at equilibrium.
“Shut the door!” A voice yelled at her from inside. Disgusted with the tone, she made a terrible face before turning around to slam the sliding door to the ground. “Jeezus Macey, could you not waste the electricity? We’ve only got a limited rationed supply each slot, and we don’t get any more until the midnight when our batteries get recharged.”
“What? This entire place is practically supplied by solar panels and there’s sun for miles on end around here. Can you blame me?”
“Yes, yes I can,” he lifted his arm holding his can of Arizona iced tea behind the couch. “It’s hot as hell outside, we keep it cool and dim in here, perfect for movies really, and the rest of our team’s chilling too. If you feel restless you can hit the inside gym, bust out your laptop, or read a book if you’re so inclined. Please, for the love of God, we’re already going to be outside for almost the entirety of the lot, just let us enjoy our comfort inside while we can.”
“Come on James, don’t you at least want to scout the competition? You know, get a peek at them just as they arrive?”
He sighed before downing his drink. Getting up from the couch, he waved a hand, “Follow me.” Knowing that he was about to attempt to educate her how he wanted to, she rolled her eyes.
“He’s always gotta do it his way instead of just doing it anyway.” Huffing a breath, she sloped her shoulders. Traipsing after him, they made their way into the kitchen where he booted up their laptop. Typing away faster than a panicking student trying to submit a procrastinated assignment late into the night before the due date, James booted up their connection to the server in a near instant. “So, what is it this time?”
“Here,” he spun the laptop around, “if you wanna snoop on the competition, you can do it this way. Every single competitor here has their profile and specs shown, even ours. This includes a whole list of modifications that have possibly been done along with their maintenance history.”
“Wait, so they even know about times we got different wraps?”
“Yep, besides you shouldn’t worry about your enemies, you should worry about yourself. You have to prepare to fight them on the best day of their life and the worst day of yours. So, how can you make your worst day the most manageable with the least number of setbacks?”
“I dunno,” she said putting resting her chin on her hand, “how about we check the garage to find out?”
“Now that’s the Macey I know.”
Slapping the laptop closed James they headed their way towards the other main door of the building.
“I gotta admit, I really like how these people really thought of everything. I mean, they didn’t just provide an entire cart of tools for us, but even a dyno. Talk about generosity to the maximum extent.”
“Yeah,” James said, “but these things aren’t meant for dyno queens. Only real beast of the streets, and soon they’ll be tearing a new canyon through this desert.”
Walking in the door, Macey’s eyes always lit up when she saw their beast of engineering perfection. “There’s our baby. Remember when we first bought it?”
“Yeah,” James said, “our whole team was stoked, especially when it came back to town. It was like a symbol of our teamwork’s pride and energy.”
“Remember when Ryan and Matt tried to build a replica version of it?”
“Yeah, well Carla didn’t really fall through with the sheet metal for the body, for they just subsisted with a quote unquote, ‘engine placement swap.’ I gotta admit, it was pretty cool, but still far from how much engineering when into the design of this, let alone the technology.”
“Remember when they removed the back half for better air cooling?”
James snorted a chuckle, “Yep, that I feel bad for that ol’ Cougar though. That car got us back and forth to school all throughout our teen years. Lowkey, I’d thought we’d have that thing forever, even with the amount of rust on the frame.”
“Never buy a car from a salt state, right?”
“Right,” he sighed, “still I miss that ol’ Mercury Cougar. It was the first car I learned to drive stick shift in.”
“LAME!” She hollered.
“What, not everybody like you has a rich-af granddad that’ll just give us a Camaro for our sweet sixteen.”
“I’m not apologizing for having a better life than you, well at least up until that point.”
“Yeah, yeah, shut up princess. I heard that you got slapped with not even being able to look at it cause you threw a fit since it was the wrong color.”
“What? It’s a Camaro, at least have some racing stripes down it to look like it rolled out of a Transformers movie.”
“Hmph, come on, enough chit chat. Let’s check the vitals of the GT.”
“Oil, tire pressure, tread depth, battery, turbo maintenance, and air filter?”
“Unless you wanna do another full overhaul.”
She shook her head, crossing her arms across her body, “Less is more in this instance.”
“Alright,” James said, “Grab Christy, Ryan, and Matt. Let’s make this quick and make sure that we’re crossing our I’s and dotting our T’s.”
After a few hours of oil maintenance, engine cleaning, polishing, and turbo care, the garage door bursted open from the living room.
“Guys! Guys! Guys! You won’t believe this!”
“What?” James started.
“More competitors showed up?” Ryan called.
“Ooo,” Macey called, “let’s check out their rides, “it’s practically dusk right now, it should be cool enough to open the garage door.”
“No.” James said, “We can walk out along the edge doors and knock around. I’d say it’s best to introduce ourselves.”
“Ah come on James,” Macey started, “you’ll never see any dragons if you never show your own.”
“I’m with her,” Matt said, “might as well draw them out. “Besides, I’d like to see if these guys got anything like a Ferrari or a Dodge Viper.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me if some kid drove his dad’s GT-R out here, or some posh guy brought out a Porsche 911.”
James reiterated, “We’ll walk out and introduce ourselves. If they want us in, they’ll invite us. It’s best not to brag and let them show us their cards and ask to see ours instead of showing our hand first.”
“I agree with him,” Christy said, “don’t need to show them the real deal. They’re probably already drooling over our specs on their computers.”
“Yeah, but you never know unless you find out for yourself.”
Wiping off the grease from his hands with a rag, James went to the sink to wash his hands off with the granular pumice soap, “So, let’s all clean up, wash our faces, and grab a cooler full of lemonade to greet them. Let’s go meet the neighbors.”
“I’m down,” Matt said.
“Me too,” Ryan followed.
“What are we waiting for, I bet you I can beat you out the door first, even if I take my time to put on some makeup,” Christy boasted.
“It’s a plan! Let’s go!” Macey pumped her arms into the air.
Upon getting cleaned up, the team went around from garage to garage, knocking on door-to-door. As many as the competitors turned them away as they welcomed them in. Cans of cold lemonade were passed out like cigarettes in a Hollywood movie. Then everything turned somber at the last door.
Upon knocking on the door, a meek and quite voice answered. “Who’s is it?”
“We’re a team from a few doors down, my name’s Macey. We heard that you were new here, and just wanted to give you a warm welcome with a cold beverage.”
“Uh, yeah sure. I’ll be out in just a moment.” Upon hearing a hilarious number of locks being undone, they were greeted by the face of a singular young man. “Hi there.”
“Hey, nice to meet ya’ kid,” Matt said, “put ‘er there.” He reached out a hand offering a shake.
“Yeah, you too,” the young man said. “Mind if I ask, what are your names?”
“Oh, I’m Macey,” she said, handing him a lemonade, “one of the team’s mechanics.”
“I’m James, the lead mechanic.”
“I’m Christy, race care driver and navigator extraordinaire.”
“I’m Ryan, the other driver and navigator.”
“And I’m Matthew, the team’s other mechanic and logistics.”
“So, what’s your name,” Macey asked him.
“I’m Zeke, though most people just call me Z.”
“Cause it’s the last letter of the alphabet and being that I was always into racing as a kid, whether it was running track or driving cars, I’d always seem to win, or lose entirely. You know, ‘last shall be first’ sort of really stuck with me.”
“Huh, if anything I’d figure that’d be because you drove a Nissan.”
“Well no, but as much as I’d like to own a Fairlady Z, I sort of knew that a car of that tier wouldn’t be cut for this kind of race without being heavily modified.”
“So, what kind of ride do you have?”
“Well, you and your team,” James interjected.
“Would you like to come in,” Zeke gestured, “it’s terribly hot out here, even though its dusk. And here I thought that deserts were supposed to grow cold at night.”
“Oh please,” Christy said, “if I have to put another can of lemonade to my neck, I swear I’m gonna end up in a highly sexualized soda commercial.”
Zeke snorted at that. “Here this way.”
Following him in, his entire place was almost pitch black except for the TV in his room showing the dynamics of different engine layouts. Trailing into the garage after him, the darkness was a nice touch of mystery that would add to Zeke’s ride’s element of surprise.
“Here,” he said, “let me find the light switch quickly.” With a flip of the switch, Zeke the lights popped on and they were almost blinded. For a moment they thought that the car was coated in entirely chrome, but on closer look, they realized that it was painted in a highly reflective silver.
“A C8!” Matt yelled.
“Seriously Macey,” Ryan started, “how the hell have you not bought one of these yet?”
“What I still got the Camaro, and I’m not trading that in. Besides we got a beast of our own, that’s just as comparable.”
“Yeah,” Christy started tapping her foot, “our engine’s smaller with less displacement, but at least our aero and turbos help to make up the difference. Plus, the wing’s active.”
“Still,” James started, “just looking at this monster’s sending shivers up my spine. Remember what they called this model?”
“The car that embarrassed Ferrari. Every car guru on YouTube practically called it that. It was a phrase almost as synonymous as the GT-R being called Godzilla, and still they both earned the right.”
“I’m impressed,” James said, “but uh… where’s the rest of your team?”
“Oh, you’re looking at it,” Zeke said. “It’s just these three handsome gentlemen right here. Me, myself, and I.”
“Oh… uh… Well, we’re breakfast for dinner tonight, would you like to join us? You can even check out our ride if you’d like and spend the night too. I know that these garages are extremely minimalist and tend to make you feel on edge.”
Almost immediately Zeke’s eyes lit up, “You mean that? Really?” He bowed his head, “Oh my gosh, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“Hey, no problem, man,” Christy said, “it’s always easier to sleep knowing that you got some good friends nearby. Especially on a full belly. Trust me, you’ve gotta try Matt’s omelets. Pancake restaurants been trying to get his recipes for years. I swear he puts cocaine in them, I’m so hooked.” They all laughed at that.
“Thanks guys. I’d really appreciate that. The only thing I’ve been living on is rice and ramen noodles. More so of the rice than the noodles. I’ve been using their seasoning packets to flavor my rice kind of.”
“Well that’s something new,” Macey said, “I should probably try that someday. Hey James, right that down will ya’?”
“Come on guys, lets head back over to our place. Zeke come along, and make sure you bring a pair of pajamas with ya’. Also, don’t get Macey started about our ride. Her mouth’s got a better motor than every car here. I swear if I could use it to power our ride, I would.”
“Oh, shut up you,” she slapped James’ stomach with the back of her hand. “Don’t let this guy fool you. Once he takes lead, he never lets go. He’s more of a ‘his way or the highway’ kind of guy, if you can follow my drift.”
“Well let’s get going, need some help packing?”
“Yeah, I’d like that,” Zeke answered.
“Alright, guys go on ahead. Macey, you’re sharing beds with Christy tonight, and while you’re at it, please put some clean sheets on for our guest. Matt, you got dinner. You the man with the meal plan. Christy, Ryan, please clean up our living room and garage while you can. Let’s make sure we get things set up and in shape.”
“Yes Mom,” Macey rolled her eyes. They couldn’t help but snicker at that.
About the author
Thank You for stopping by. Please, make yourself comfortable. I'm a novice poet, fiction writer, and dream journalist.