Runaway Highway

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Chapter 3 - Sam Collins

Sam Collins’ POV

My neck was sore, my hands were rigid like metal in need of oil, my back was throbbing, my legs were powerless. But life didn’t stop for anyone, and it was yet the beginning of another working week.

I reached my hand for the window remote, pressing the button for the window shutters to slowly rise. I glided out of bed, and made my way downstairs to the kitchen.

“Good morning Master Samuel,” greeted the butler as we crossed each other in the staircase.

“Good morning George.” I replied groggily. George had been working for us for years and I considered him part of the family. It sometimes felt like I treated him better than my own parents, but then again, he treated me better than they ever had.

“Are you feeling better?” He asked.

“Hardly,” I answered, “But I will feel better in no time.”

“I left you some medicine in the counter on your breakfast tray, just in case.”

“Thanks.”

I sat by the kitchen isle, noticing the tray George had prepared for me. It contained a croissant with butter and jam on the side, a bowl of crunchy cereals, fresh juice and some blueberries, accompanied by a glass of water and two medicine pills. I pulled out my phone as I ate in silence and checked all my messages from the several useless chat groups I was in.

Completely engulfed in what I was doing I didn’t even hear my dad walking inside the kitchen.

“Good morning darling son,” he said in a sarcastic tone. I rolled my eyes and chewed my cereals away.

I noticed he was wearing the black suit with the red tie, the best he owned. He usually only used that one on special occasions, so I decided to ask him about it.

“So, good day today?” I asked, trying not to appear interested.

“Terrific,” he said, opening a bottle of sparkling water “We are going to finally sign the contract of the merging. This is the most exciting things that has happened to Gazelle Industries in years.”

“Oh right, you are taking over that other car company.”

“They knew they had no other option but to hand over the company. One more year and they would be drowning in debts. The good news for us is that we are getting all their factories and cheap labour. We are one step closer to completely take over the market. What a happy day.”

He placed the hand-sized bottle on the isle next to my tray “But don’t you worry about these things, it’s only business.”

“I think I am mature enough to at least know what is going on in my future company,” I retorted, annoyed that he still spoke as if I knew nothing of nothing.

He rolled his eyes at me and checked his suit on the reflection of the sliding windows that lead to the swimming pool in the back of the house, the sun hitting him and making the fabric of the suit shine “Until you can prove to me that you are indeed mature enough you will hear the bare minimum.”

I gazed at him and saw his cocky smile reflected in the window, his legs wide apart and his shoulders strong. I had never met anyone who adored themselves so much as my dad loved himself.

“Oh really, and what do I have to do to prove I should belong in the board of directors?”

He turned around, the smile gone from his features “Well, first get that damn degree you have been trying to complete for four years now.”

He knew that was my weakness, yet he never missed an opportunity to shove it in my face I was taking longer than everybody else.

“And second, quit those stupid races. You are dealing with dangerous people and as much as I thrive to see you win, the fact that you compete only shows me you aren’t ready to defeat enemies in meetings and courtrooms, and those are the kind of skills you need to be successful in my world.”

“I’m doing the best I can and you know it. At least I will have a degree to be proud of in the end, unlike you who has bought his way to the top. Besides, competing ensures that I settle my reputation as the best.”

My words were intended to sting, yet he only laughed as if they meant nothing to him. Hell, he annoyed me profoundly.

“Even if that argument convinces me, do you think I believe for one second you are even trying at school? Friday’s incident in that race showed me exactly what you are up to in your free time instead of studying. Do you really think it was only money that brought me here? Don’t be so naïve, read some books.”

And again, there he was calling me a child who was unable to understand the adult world. I chose to ignore the comment about the race, we had discussed it plenty already and I was sick of it.

“If it wasn’t money, what else gave you such power?” I asked, ready to get up and leave at the slightest provocation.

“Hard work and strong family bonds.” He stated as if it was obvious. “Two things you clearly know nothing about.”

I puffed and got up roughly, completely exasperated by that man’s narcissism and cockiness.

As I walked out of the kitchen in the direction of the garage, I felt a piercing pain digging into my back. I seriously could not believe how lucky I was to have escaped the police raid without a broken bone. I couldn’t complain much about some brusing and aches.

I got on the elevator and descended to the garage. Once the doors of the elevator opened I was met with a frightful sight. My car, the one I had been working on for a whole year, had two flat tyres, a giant dent in the rear which distorted the word “Gazelle” and the front glass was completely shattered. Those were only the superficial damages, I was yet to find out what further destruction was hiding under the hood.

How I had managed to get the car home that night still dumbfounded me. Firstly, because of all the damage it had endured, and secondly, because I had literally police cars chasing me and the other runners. I knew, however, the minute I saw those blue lights that I had people behind my back protecting me, and I knew the police had to cross them first before getting to me.

I remembered the events so clearly. We were just taking that first turn into the deserted highway when the sirens came on. At first I thought the police sirens were coming from far away so I stayed focus on the race, especially on Lickety who was just in front of me. He always pulled the stunt of hitting the brakes and damaging the cars behind him. That was when the guns were fired and I forgot about everything around me: the race, the dangerous highway, Lickety, the expensive car in my hands.

All the racers started panicking, even those who acted as if they couldn’t care less. Sure, knowing we had our families out there in the forests eased our minds, but still, it wasn’t as if we had police coming after us everyday. At least not for me.

I got out of there are fast as I could. Good thing I had studied the perimeter beforehand and knew all the exits. As soon as I had the opportunity, I left the race and didn’t think about the prize twice. If I was sent to jail, I needed much more than fifty thousand dollars to make me feel like it paid off. It just wasn’t worth it.

Now the future was the only thing ahead of me. I had a whole year to prep the car for the new year’s race. For that to happen, I needed to start almost from scratch, so I first had to dismantle the car to put it back together again.

I turned on the sound system and Def Leppard started playing. I walked to my tools table and looked back at the car to decide what was it I had to work on first. Should I start by checking the motor or work on the exterior first? Should I check the braking system, the electrical system? Should I turn it on and do a test drive to see what needed fixing? I wasn’t that good at mending things, and although I had many tools at my disposal, I wasn’t sure what I should do regarding the repair of the car. I just knew it I had invested more than a reasonable amount of my own money on it, and I couldn’t afford leaving it to rot. I needed my cousin Dave.

I pulled out my phone and called him. After ringing five times, he finally picked up the phone.

“Hey man, what’s up?” He answered, his characteristic liveliness coming through.

“Hey, nothing much, just looking at the car.”

“Oooh...” he said, as if he was standing next to me seeing what I was seeing “It’s pretty fucked up, isn’t it?”

“Yes it is,” I said, hoping he would offer to come to my house without having me to ask. He was part of my team for the race (actually my only team) and I depended on him to be successful. After all, he was my main mechanic, and the fact that the car had survived that race at all was because of him.

"Well, I’m sorry to tell you bro, but I can’t.”

I felt disappointed, but it wasn’t like the car needed to be fixed that instant.

“It’s okay man, come here whenever you feel like it, there’s no rush. And hear me out, I had this idea for the car. No one knows if the police will be chasing our asses from now on, so I think it needs and new coat of paint, to conceal our identities. What you say?”

I could sense his hesitation through the line, which was really odd since he was usually super excited about everything related to the car and the race.

"Look man, I said I can’t go there, for good. This police thing, it made me think... I don’t want to end up in jail, you feel me?"

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I suddenly grew angry, and I just couldn’t control it.

“Dave, cut the crap. Don’t tell me you are chickening out? Simply interacting with the other racers, those scumbags, is more dangerous than the cops! You know that! You haven’t chickened out before, why now?”

“Sam, you know it’s not that simple. I know it seems like I am simply giving up after everything, but trust me, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. It’s not a decision I’m taking lightly... I have to do this man, I have to quit the races. The police incident was the last straw. You know we work our asses off to perfect the car and all, but its just got to a point where the race has taken over our lives, and it’s just a fucking race, an illegal race to make the matters worse.”

“Since when do you care if it’s legal or not?” I retorted, that gut feeling that I was losing the only member of my team sinking in.

“I’ve always cared, and so have you! You know it isn’t right.”

I sighed in frustration, not knowing what to say to make him change his mind.

“Do you remember when we started this? Three years ago, you and me, like two brothers against giants. Those beasts terrified us, but now we are just as good as them! We have the know-how, the skills, the perfect car! For goodness sake, we were doing it because it was the only thing that made us feel something, like we weren’t living in the shadows of our parents, like we had a purpose-”

“Yeah that’s right, but I have found a new purpose now.”

I balled my fists, knowing exactly what he was going to tell me.

“I found a new job, a good paying one, at a mechanics shop two kilometres out of town. And not only that, I have Melissa to think about. Can you imagine what I felt when I was in the sidelines and the police just started shooting? I know this is gonna sound absurd but the only thing I could think about was what would happen if I left her, if I died that night. I have responsibilities Sam, and I don’t want to run away from them. I want to own them like the man that I am.”

I stayed in silence, his words completely valid. Dave was five years older than me, it was probably the best time for him to start a family. I just wanted everything to stay the same, was that too much to ask?

“Okay man, I get it.” I finally said, defeated.

“I knew you would. If you want to continue this madness and compete that’s fine, I know a person who can help you fix the car, but please, please consider moving on. It’s dangerous, costly, and the people you are dealing with...”

“Yeah alright I know,” I dismissed him, “Just tell me who is going to fill your shoes.”

“Well, it’s this girl, Johanna Myers. Have you heard of her?”

“A girl?” I asked, bewildered.

“Why do you sound so surprised? We’re in the twenty-first century, women are allowed to know mechanics, and besides, from what I was told she is the best of best. Not as good as me though, obviously.”

“Who does she work for?” I asked, knowing that the only way for Dave to know about her is if she was competition.

“Lickety mostly, but she does jobs for whoever pays more. She isn’t too picky about clients.” He replied. I gagged for dramatic effect “I know, Lickety is an asshole, but an asshole that wins often. She is his secret weapon for what I was told."

“Nah, forget it. What if I employ her and she snithces to him? Maybe that’s the whole plan.”

“You haven’t even met her and you are already calling her a snitch! Let me guess, you’re gonna call a whore next and say he pays her with sex.” Dave spat through the phone.

“Knock it off! I’m just looking out for myself. You know my name is tied to Gazelle, I have to be careful about who I let inside my circle.”

Dave laughed at my words, which just made me angrier. What was it with people laughing at me?

“Your circle? Looks like fame just got to you.”

“Shut up,” I said, getting a little fed up. “Here’s what I’m gonna do. If she really is as good as you say she is, then I’ll watch her, see if I like her, and then I’ll decide. Simple as that.”

“Sounds like a plan.” He said, sounding more ate ease. “Hey mate, I gave to go now, but call me anytime okay?”

“Sure thing cos.” I replied, faking that I wasn’t slightly mad at him.

I hang up the phone, placing in on the counter a little bit too harshly. From all the things that happened in the last two days, this was worst.

I understood my cousin Dave had his own life, his own plans and aspirations, but why leave me so suddenly? I’m sure the tace freaked him out, he had never even told me he was looking for a job. He meant more to me than any of my other cousins who I only saw once a yea, he literally was the pillar of the biggest passion of my life, and he knew that too damn well.

I turned off the music, no longer in the mood to fix the car in any way. I sat on my leather stool, sulking. I had no other choice but to give that girl a shot. I didn’t know or trust anybody else to help me, so Dave’s recommendation was my only option.

I glanced at my phone and reluctantly stretched my arm and picked it up again. I wasn’t going to ask around for her without doing some digging first. I searched her name on Facebook, and undoubtedly her profile came up. I knew it was her because of her location, Westray Valley, yet I had never seen her before. Her profile picture showed a girl standing on her side, half of her face concealed. Her long black straight hair was resting over her shoulder, contrasting with her pale skin. One of her blue eyes was visible, and held a certain reservoir, her shy smile inviting.

How in hell was that pretty girl supposed to be any good at mechanics?

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Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying the story so far! Sam here is going to be our male lead and I'm so excited for him and Johanna to meet. Please tell me what you're thinking so far!

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