Novel Excerpt: The Strength Of Ten

- Graham Vivian Lancaster
Graham Vivian Lancaster
     The hushed crowd stood along the grassy roadside as sullen grey cloud smudging on deep twilight pinks and purple skies slowly faded into the African night. A Barn Owl’s thin screeching pierced the stillness, but the silent crowd, listening intently, didn’t hear.

     Lacy black tree statues emerged from the forest as a sliver of bloodied egg yolk that was the moon, rose silently out of the earth. Still; silently; they waited.

     The tranquillity was broken by the far off murmur of a racing engine and the spectators turned to it as snatches of white light strobed through dark tree trunks. They waited with uneasy excitement as the rally car raced through the winding forest road, laying down as much power as its traction would hold.

     “Slow right into medium left. About two hundred meters fast right.” The crash-helmeted navigator calmly read the pace notes into the microphone. The driver responded instantly, driving on trust. The tyres broke away spraying fans of sand as the small white car drifted through the corner and hurtled into the open stretch.

     Suddenly the full staccato bursts of power rent the air as the car exploded out of the trees at one hundred and fifty kilometres an hour and nine hundred watts of six Piaa halogen spotlights scalpel-cut a brilliant white slice through the black night.

     The crowd watched with mingling fear and delight as the monster roared down on them.

     “About one hundred meters medium left. Fast jump maybe two hundred meters, fast sweep left.” The noise abated for a split second, gearing up, then the motor bellowed again, rev counter flicking, accelerating to the red line. All the while, the nut holding the ball joint in place was working loose.

     The exhaust growl was deafening as the silent onlookers watched in awe. This was whom they had come to see. The car entered the jump at full speed. It leaped into the air, the suspension hanging from the body. The right ball joint dropped out and the wheel swung free. The wheel dropped into the wheel arch and slammed up against the body, locking the steering as the car landed and the right front gouged into the earth in a bomb burst of soil as the rear bucked up and it somersaulted through the air at two hundred kilometres an hour. It flipped three times in a blaze of spinning white and red lights and amber dust and sky and grass and earth and bellowing motor as it flew over the side of the embankment.

     The aghast crowd were screaming, their blood lust feeding on the horror as the car crashed down in a solid thump of rending metal, rolled and scythed a dusty swath through the undergrowth.

     Suddenly, all was quiet, the spectators momentarily silent with their guilt as the headlights glowed red through the dust and grass.