- 3 km from Ramm, Imperial State of Alva
February 11th, 2020
he first thought that passed through his head was a minced swear.
The car had flipped in a spectacular manner and was now unceremoniously upside down. As if there wasn’t enough of it dusting every surface of the car, sand had filled up his window. He cursed at himself; he should’ve aimed lower on the dune.
“Alright, let’s get out of here.” His co-driver seemed unfazed as he unlatched himself, grasping for the door.
“Yeah, yeah.” He hit his window; it didn’t budge much. “Hurry up.”
Removing his seatbelt, he struggled to orient himself within the cramped confines of the car. The helmet didn’t make things much better with reduced visibility. A muffled thud followed by a short wince of pain halted him in his tracks; he’d hit the gear stick with his head.
“You alright, Morita?” His co-driver had gotten most of himself out of the car, his legs the only remaining bit within.
“Yeah, yeah.” He paid attention to the loose debris beneath him, careful not to accidentally place his hand on an errant notebook to lose his grip.
Following closely behind his co-driver, he stretched his gloved hand out into the outside, planting it firmly onto the frame of the car. It was a miracle he wasn’t stricken with debilitating sores at this point; he’d driven on the equivalent of lunar dust for the past half hour. He was content with just regular sores instead. The sunlight seemed blinding; the moment he crawled out, it was. The desert heat slammed into him face-first, reminding him of his location. This wasn’t the forests of Amekawa anymore, but the godforsaken Alvak hinterland. Squinting through the blinding sunlight, he could see spectators rushing to the scene.
What the hell were spectators doing here?
He got on his own two feet, turning around to inspect the damage. The wheels, still slowly spinning, looked intact, and so did the suspension. The bumpers had seen better days, but the roll cage had done its job. As for himself, a sore back, a dull pain in his forehead where he’d hit the gear shift, and dry lips were the most of his issues.
“Aisei, you good?” His co-driver had rushed over to the driver’s side of the car.
“Just a bit dizzy. Come on, help me flip it over.” He beckoned him over with a hand wave.
Off in the distance, he could see a black spot growing ever so slightly larger with time. The cameras would soon be here to record this spectacle; he wondered what the commentators would have to say about this. The sand beneath his feet struggled to bear his weight as he schlepped himself over, back to his side of the car. A handful of spectators had already grabbed hold of the rear of the car, ready to tip it back on its wheels. He’d reached the front wheel soon enough, with Aisei flashing a toothy grin. Putting his pained back into tipping the car over, it began to croak loudly. Gravity did the rest of the work, with the car bouncing back on four wheels in no time and shaking loose the sand that had piled onto it.
“If Gorou and Ikkei beat us again…” Aisei muttered under his breath, a hint of delirium in his words.
“They won’t. They’re twenty kilometres behind us since their other car caught fire last round.”
“Let’s get on with it, then. The highway should be close by.” Aisei shuffled back towards his side with renewed vigour in his steps.
Closing the door, he ran down the checklist again in his head. Seatbelts were strapped, the notebook was back in its rightful place in Aisei’s hands, and the engine seemed to be in working order. He had no time to lose; he stepped on the gas pedal. Slowly rounding the dune, a small hamlet rose into view.
Another grin spread across Aisei’s face. “Checkpoint ahead.”