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Race in the Desert, DW Short by Matthew A DeBarth


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Based on a bit of tense driving I did earlier today. -K

Race in the Desert
By Matthew A DeBarth

David Clark knew that somewhere in the cloud of dust up ahead, the two cars that he was chasing were working their way down the straight. All he had to do was keep the pressure on and hope that one of them made a mistake.

A solid patch of yellow loomed out of the dust cloud off to his left, and he eased his grip on the wheel and drifted back away from the inside dunes. All he had to do, he corrected, was keep the pressure on and also not make any mistakes himself. He glanced over his shoulder and saw that he was still alone as far as he could see behind him - which wasn?t very far at all with all this crap in the air.

He was coming up on the final turn, or at least he thought he was. He squinted into the sand, looking for some hint of how far along the track he was. Ahead of him, the cloud grew thinner on the right, indicating that the cars ahead of him had started their turn. Gently, very gently, he followed them.

And then, coming into view at the edge of his limited visibility, he saw a patch of white - an opponent. His heartbeat quickened and he pushed a little harder on the gas, trying to coax out any extra speed that the car might still have in reserve. He made his move.

The car ahead of him had been lured into turning just a bit too early by a sneaky little kink in the line of dunes that formed the inside edge of the track, and was now off his line and trying to get back on it. Clark closed slowly, getting ready to pass on the outside.

But the two slightly different lines that they were each on crossed, and Clark was coming in too sharply and his opponent was too close. The two cars bumped together, front left to rear right. Metal grated across metal and the two tires rubbed, filling the space between the cars with a cloud of dirty grey smoke.

And then they were locked together, each unable to turn. Clark?s car pushed the rear end of the other car to the left, which made the front of the other car slide to the right, cancelling out any turning ability. And with a car between him and the line that he was trying to hold, Clark was unable to do anything but fight the wheel harder, causing even more force on the car ahead, making the situation even worse. Unless something changed, both cars would keep driving straight until they both hit the outside wall together. Clark swore.

Clark kicked the brakes sharply, and his car slowed and moved farther back along the other car. Clark turned the wheel sharply towards his opponent to give him just a little bit more of a shove, then turned slightly away again so that their bumpers wouldn?t catch on each other.

And then the cars moved apart, and the feedback system was broken. Clark?s car started turning to the left and got back on the line, and the other car went into a deeper slide to the right. Clark started laughing, but it died in his throat when he noticed a new car closing on him from behind. He?d lost too much speed screwing around, and now the pack was gaining on him.

And then he saw the white car he?d been fighting with come sweeping out of the dust off to his right, trying to get back in the race. Clark turned into the impact that he knew was coming and screamed a long drawn out curse, and the cars slammed together side to side. And then the white car was pushed away again, and Clark was home free. He resumed laughing and drove away from the mess, leaving a frustrated fourth place stuck behind the skidding car behind him.

Far ahead, he could see the distant dust cloud of first place, but that was fine. He?d settle for a second place finish today.

Posted Jan 22, 2007, 5:01 am
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