Manamancers

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Chapter 16

Leaving for Home

Training Camp

Little Cottonwood Cyn

June 2005

Matt was packed to go home. He had a small satchel with his books. There was a reading assignment from both Alma and Judges for a discussion they were to have on Monday. But this was the first Friday and the first weekend of his stay at the camp.

“What are you going to do, Matt?” asked Luc.

“See my family, see my friends, take a walk up the canyon,” he sighed. “Relax, maybe. You?”

“I have a girlfriend that I want to take on a picnic,” said Luc with an inward smile.

Matt suddenly had an odd thought. “How do your parents feel about you flying to the US every weekend?”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked. “They think I am in Switzerland.”

“Oh, that’s sneaky. So how about Nehto? He lives in the Amazon.”

“His parents think we have a camp up the Xingu river, about two hours drive, I think.”

“Alright, Cherubs!” called Andersen. “We’re going to the garage, bring your bags.”

They all filed out to stand by the smashed up remains of several cars, six cars to be exact. One had been involved in a head-on collision. The front bumper was nearly where the wheels should have been. Another was just plain old and rusted through. A third looked like it had been dragged out of a fetid lake. The cars were well beyond repair.

“You may have thought it odd that we had a question about cars on your last quiz...” There was a bit of laughter. “But here they are.” The boys groaned and began to complain.

“I thought we would be able to drive!” called Justin.

“Be patient, Cheribs!” said Andersen. “These will be the cars you choose and they’ll be yours when you graduate. But they are actually ours til then. You must tell your family and friends that they are the school’s cars from our car pool. But, they’re for your use. They are perfectly legal, insurance and all. And they will never need to be tanked up. They don’t run on gas, after all. So, anyway. Matt, you wanted a classic Mustang.”

“Yeah, but this?”

“This will become what you want.” He smiled and nodded. “I’ll transform this into your dream car. You describe it to me when I give you the sign.” He tapped his staff, then reached into the air and pulled out a silvery ball of mana, which he tapped on the door of the nearest wreck. He then nodded .

Matt wrinkled up his brow, screwed shut his eyes and said: “A fully restored 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1, pewter colored with black race stripes and chin spoiler!”

The car turned a bright silver glint and then, without any warning, it began to unfold. First the crushed front end popped out to an acceptable shape, then the windshield seemed to glisten like a soap bubble, filling in. Then the color became a light pewter. At this point, the whole car expanded from a small Toyota Celica to the famous Mustang shape. The finishing touches were those that made a 1973 Mustang the largest one put out by the Ford Company: the hood had nostrils, the tail had a spoiler. The car looked mean and muscular.

The light went a way and Matt’s dream car was sitting there in front of him. He didn’t listen to anything else as his was the best. Matt ran his fingers over it to see if it was real. His heart began to ache; he was so in love with this car. He heard gasps of joy as other Cherubs described the cars of their choice and saw flashes of silver light, but he was preoccupied. He did notice that Nehto got a red Land Rover. The thing looked like a box, but Nehto was as thrilled with it, as he was with his muscle car.

“Joel, your stall/portal is set to egress north of Rexburg, Idaho. Justin and Matt, you can just drive straight out the front to the 209, which turns into 9400 S. That in turn changes into 9000 S. which intersects with the I-15. And you know where to go from there.” Matt really stopped listening at that point. He knew he had to get back to camp at midnight Sunday night, which meant he’d have to leave home around 10:00 PM that night, or his mother would start worrying about this and that and the other thing.

He’d never driven on the interstate alone and never the distance he’d be driving today. Smith threw his arm around his shoulders and said: “We’re making you drive over fifty miles for the practice. Just drive; don’t do anything fast, and triple check your blind spots.” He started to zone out when Smith started repeating the safety features they’d installed. Smith then shook Matt’s shoulder roughly in the manner he guessed was supposed to show affection. “See you Sunday night.”

The adults then turned and walked back into the camp.

Matt opened his car door and slid in. The keys were in the ignition. He threw his bag onto the other seat and started it up. It was a sweet roar. The four others and their fog had gone already. It was just him and Justin. He looked over at the Champaign colored Cadillac Escalade his friend was driving. “What is it with Caddys?” he asked no one in particular.

Matt waved to Justin who waved back that he should go first. So, he pulled out of the stall and slowly approached the sliding door. It opened up to a frontage road leading to a major one. He pressed on the gas and the ’Stang came alive. He didn’t exactly throw gravel, but he did accelerate. Taking his foot off the pedal, he coasted out of the cave opening and onto the frontage road. Luckily it was empty because he hadn’t looked for traffic. He turned right and slowly began his descent from the canyon to the city below.

As he joined the 209, he looked in the rear view mirror. It was not set very well so he adjusted it. Justin was now following him, and a bit too closely. Matt began to build up speed as he descended more and more rapidly. Justin stuck to his bumper.

When he had merged with the 209, he was going just over 30 mph. Matt looked down at the speedometer, He was now doing over 55. Just up ahead, on the side of the road was a complex built into the side of the mountain. “That must be the Church’s vault!” he called out. When he looked back to the road, he noticed that he had drifted from his lane off to the right side. It was only a two lane highway and he was headed off the edge of the road. He turned the wheel sharply to the left, which caused the front end of his car to veer sharply that direction. He had over compensated so far that he was now headed into the opposite lane. Luckily, there was no oncoming traffic just now. He jerked the wheel to the right and then back to the left. He was wobbling and nearly began to fish-tail. He slowed down and then looked into the rear-view mirror. Justin was paying more attention than he was and had slowed down in anticipation.

Matt let out a breath, not realizing until then that he’d been holding it in. Shortly thereafter, he exited the canyon and came up to a traffic light. It was red so he stopped.

Going home, he thought. He reached up to his face and felt the five days growth of beard. What will his brother think when he has more evidence of manliness on his face? What will his friends think...

Justin honked his horn to jar Matt back from his daydream. Unfortunately, Matt killed the engine when he jumped. He started it up again and pulled ahead. The road curved slightly and he noticed that he was now on 9400 S. “Don’t do anything fast,′ came the words Smith had said to him before he left. So Matt kept the speed below the posted. It felt like he was crawling after the descent down the canyon. The road curved to the right and he realized he was now on 9000 S. There ahead of him he saw the overpass that was the interstate crossing the road he was on. He saw Justin turn to the right heading north so he tootled his horn and waved.

The light was red on his side. So he waited but kept his eyes on the light. It changed and he took the entrance to the interstate, south. Merging with the traffic was a difficult concept until he remembered that he needed to drive the same speed as those in the lane he wanted to drive on and then signal and merge. After a few minutes he was driving well and no one seemed to notice that he was as inexperienced as he was. His speed, however, kept creeping up. By the time he reached the Point of the Mountain, half way home, he was driving 92 mph, uphill!

He realized that going downhill would actually increase his speed, so he slowed. Finally, his exit showed up and he was driving in city traffic. Five more turns and he parked his car where Andersen had just days earlier.

He exited the car with his bag and placed the hat on his head. He had a very large smile on his face when he entered his home. Unfortunately, his mom didn’t recognize him and she screamed. Not that that was an unusual event. Mom was easily startled and actually screamed fairly often.

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