I leant against the hood of my car, looking over who would be my competition tonight. My arms crossed over my chest. I was waiting for someone to challenge me. I already knew who might, but they hadn’t moved yet.
“Any takers?” Jake asked, leaning against my car as well.
“Not yet, unless they’ve come straight to you.” I replied, a smirk fixed on my face.
“Maybe they have…” He trailed off, holding his hand out.
“That kid over there?” I asked, although the boy I was looking at was definitely older than me. He was surely mid-twenties, whereas my twentieth birthday had only been a few weeks ago.
“That exact one.” He replied. I slapped a pile of money into his palm, which was still held towards me.
“Who else is in?” I asked.
“The two still trying to beat you.” He said, so I looked at the mentioned two. David and Naveen.
“Last time I raced them, they tried to push me off the road.” I said as I focused back on Jake.
“I’ll be watching them. If they do anything stupid, they won’t wake up tomorrow.” Jake said, pushing off of my car. I took a deep breath as he walked away. “You guys are up in ten.” He said as he looked over his shoulder at me. I nodded and got into my car.
A black Nissan Skyline.
It had a modified engine, with some nitro mixed in as well. Without knowing where to look for the button, nobody would know. Or without looking under the hood. It looked inconspicuous, so cops had never pulled me over. At least not yet.
I drove slowly to the start line and looked away from the street when the first car pulled up beside me. A Porsche Carrera, this new kid really hadn’t raced before. David and Naveen pulled up on the other side of me. I kept my windows up until Jake walked in front of us.
I wasn’t in the mood for talking, and I knew all Naveen and David would do was call me unflattering names. I didn’t have the patience today. I needed this race over so I could take the money and get home.
“Racers, you should all have the app downloaded onto your phones. The map will tell you your directions in real time. Using your GPS tracker, it will tell you which turn to take and when, it will also tell me if you go off track. If you do, you’re disqualified.” Jake called, and I got my phone up onto the mount.
“Drive fair, drive safe… but most importantly, drive fast. First one back wins the pool.” Jake stated. We had put in twenty grand each, leaving with an extra sixty would be very helpful to me.
I shifted my grip on my wheel and looked at Jake. Something didn’t feel right about this race, about how David and Naveen looked at each other. It would be fine. All I had to do was stay ahead of them and then they wouldn’t be able to hurt me. I had to play it smart.
I had to do what I usually do. Win.
“On your marks.” Jake said. I immediately revved the engine. “Get set.” He was making it sound like a running race for children. I rolled my eyes and stared straight ahead, keeping the engine ready to jump.
“Go.” I put the car in first gear and took off from the start line. The kid driving the Porsche had missed the starting mark and was already a few car spaces behind me. David and Naveen were a different story.
Both were in line with the middle of my car.
“Fuck.” I swore before shifting to second, then third, then fourth. They finally ended up behind my car. Good.
“Take the next right.” My phone said. I dropped gears and turned onto the busy street. I slipped in between two civilian cars and started shifting lanes to keep ahead. David and Naveen were following me. They were too damned close for comfort.
I took another deep breath as I sped up my car and kept weaving through traffic.
“Take the next left.”
I hooked my car without slowing down, using my hand brake to drift around the intersection corner and speed through traffic even more. I had to keep this pace, because even though I was good, Naveen and David were still hot on my heels.
“Left.” The phone told me. I shot the car around the corner. “Right.” I followed it. I had to go straight through some intersections before it told me to go left again.
“Left.” I did as it told me. We were already in a quieter part of town, an old industrial park.
“Finish line 1 kilometre away.” The phone told me. So it was a short race. I wouldn’t complain. I looked in my rear-view mirror again, seeing Naveen and David again. One of them shot forwards, obviously hitting their nitro, but it was too early to use it to win.
I could just see the finish line, see the hoard of people waiting. But if one of the two idiots had already hit their nitro, I wouldn't make the finish line.
Something slammed into the back of my car. I spun, and another car crashed into the side of me at full force. That second hit forced my car into the air and I began flying, the car rolling. The top of the car caved in and nearly took me out with it. I was being flung around without a racing seat belt, but I stayed in the driver’s seat. The car landed upright but only stopped because the car had slammed into something.
I couldn’t do anything as my body flung to the side. My back cracked. I screamed in pain as light flashed behind my eyes. My fucking back. What the fuck happened to my back?
When I opened my eyes, I saw the entire passenger side was caved in from a concrete pillar in front of a warehouse. If the car had rotated just another half turn…
Something stung my eyes. I reached up and wiped away warm liquid. It was blood.
My breath was shaking, tears already sitting in my eyes and falling. I didn’t know what to do. I just knew I had to get out. I undid the seat belt and tried to push open the door. The car was too bent to open it. I would have to crawl out through the window.
I went to pull my legs up so I could lift myself through…
But they didn’t move.
My back was screaming in pain, and I was screaming in panic. My back… it couldn’t be broken, could it? I tried to move my legs again, but they didn’t do so much as flinch. Should I be calling for help? My chest was hurting from how fast I was breathing, my head light because of the pain and the lack of oxygen.
My skull hurt, glass had cut through the skin on my arms and my face. My neck hurt, probably whiplash. But my back felt shattered.
I screamed again before someone turned up at the window.
“Fuck, Max!” They shouted. It was Jake, I knew his voice anywhere. “I need to get you out.”
I can’t move my legs.
“Max, what did you just say?” I realised then that I had whispered the words, not just thought them.
“I can’t move my legs.” I said, tears in my eyes. “My back…”
“I am going to kill them with my bare hands, Max. I promise.” Jake said. “An ambulance is already on the way. You’re going to be okay, but I’m not moving you. If your back is broken, I…” He couldn’t even finish the sentence. I looked at him.
“What the fuck am I going to do?” I asked. The minor jobs I had every now and again never lasted long because I got bored. This was how I made my money. I couldn’t afford to get my back fixed if it’s broken.
“We’ll sort it out.” He said. The panic in his eyes was as clear as mine. We had known each other since I was fourteen and stole a car to race here. He had been fifteen, doing the same. We dated when I was eighteen for a year and broke things off to stay friends. He started running the races, because he kept losing to me. “Max, I promise we’ll sort it out. I won’t let them get away with this, and I won’t let you suffer because of them.”
All I could do was nod, because he didn’t seem to understand. I had no one left anymore, not since my family threw me out of the house six months ago. They found out I was racing. They wanted me to get a proper job and thought making me homeless would give the right incentive. I only started racing more.
I had no one.
What the fuck was I going to do?