The Speed Trap (Short Story)

Thirty, he thought, the speed limit was forty-five. His hand barely glided atop the wind as it hung out the car window. His mother wasn’t a risk taker. Not like him. He was the boy who would trade his entire childhood if it meant being old enough to drive. The minimum age was all he needed to be, no sense in being older than necessary.
      “Dylan put your arm in the car before it gets chopped off,” his mother shouted.
      He did as told, no need for an argument.

      He really did wish his mother had a heavier foot. Not that he was in a hurry to get to where they were going anyway. He just loved speed, every aspect of it. He was yet to be told by more experienced children that the faster one accelerates the greater the risk of crashing. But he was a risk taker.

      The car finally stopped. Mrs. Rooney was waiting on the front porch of the house already eager to greet the two. Dylan was the first out of the car and Mrs. Rooney swiftly made her acquaintance with a motherly embrace smothering Dylan’s head into her blouse.
      “Oh, bless your heart.” She added a quick kiss on the top of his head. “Martha, you’re saving my life I hope you know."
     “Oh, it’s no problem really. Dylan is glad to help Ryan, aren’t you Dill?” She gave her son a strict stare.
     “You bet Mrs. Rooney. No problem,” he said.

     But there was a problem, for he never actually agreed to be there voluntarily. His mother had to bribe him. No chores for a week and a new set of Matchbox cars was the payment he would receive if he spent four hours with Ryan trying to help him socialize, whatever that meant. He went to school with Ryan up until a couple years ago when his mother pulled him out to home school him. Ryan was not like any other child. He was much slower at getting chores done and couldn’t respond to people as quickly as other kids. Everything about him was slow, which is what annoyed Dylan the most.

     But Mrs. Rooney came to their house crying on his mother’s shoulder because Ryan stopped talking all together. The sanctity of a mother’s tears will slow down the rapidly maturing heart of any child, including Dylan. As much as he yearned to grow up he couldn’t prevent the feeling of helplessness that came with the sight of a grownup crying. So he agreed to accept the bribe. 

     In the bedroom, Ryan sat in a solid blue covered chair with his arms drooping down from his shoulders. Dylan sat across from him avoiding eye contact. He mostly stared at the carpet which was a very bland brown, not exciting.

     “You wanna play cards?” Dylan asked, but no response was given. “Can you hear me?”
     He waved his hands in front of Ryan’s eyes. It scared him a little because it seemed as if there was no life in Ryan at all. What was up with this kid? One thing Dylan noticed was that Ryan was not blinking. He almost decided to go downstairs and call Mrs. Rooney because something seemed wrong, but he suddenly had a flash of memory. It was as if his mind had a buried treasure and he suddenly uncovered it. He remembered several years ago when he and Ryan were both in first grade together. The teacher asked the students who could name their state capital, Dylan knew the answer was Trenton because that’s where his grandma lived, but it was Ryan’s hand that shot up in the air first and it was Ryan who correctly answered the teacher before Dylan’s voice even had time to roll from his tongue.

     He could not stop thinking about the memory. If this were the old West, Ryan’s quick hand would have beat Dylan’s. There was no recovery from defeat, either you are faster than the other man or you are dead. It was so simple.

     So this must mean that Ryan was once not like he is now. He was fast, so he must be faking it. He must be pretending to be slow on purpose. But why would anyone do that? Dylan took this as a challenge. He moved his chair closer to Ryan and he opened his eyes wide and glared into the dark abyss that Ryan now wore over his vision. He was going to have a stare contest.
     For two minutes Dylan managed to keep from blinking, but was getting tired. Ryan didn’t show any signs of fatigue. It was if he wasn’t in his own body. Dylan would not quit however, he would expose Ryan for being a fraud. Water and salt began to liquefy and Dylan’s eyes turned a glossy blue, but he kept looking into Ryan’s eyes, lost and consumed by them. Then he heard a familiar noise, an engine. He heard the distinct sound of a car engine as if it were inside Ryan’s head. As soon as the sound faded he saw what looked like a car speeding into the darkness that Ryan’s eyes held. Immediately Dylan blinked, not because he was giving up but to see if he saw what he thought he saw.

     The water ran down his cheeks and he leaned closer to Ryan looking into him to find the car again. He didn’t see it. So he spread open Ryan’s eyelids to look deeper, intruding his space, but he didn’t care at this point. He knew what he heard and saw, a blue car trapped inside Ryan’s mind. Maybe his obsession with cars was really getting a hold of him. He let Ryan go and stepped back. He couldn’t be going crazy, he had only been there an hour. Three more to go, he thought. If he didn’t find something to entertain him he was sure he would end up like Ryan.

     He walked to the closet in the back of the room and poked his head around inside. His eyes lit up at the sight of it, a dusty red car, sized just for an eight year old. It was one of those battery operated cars, but this one had no battery. This would surely keep him busy for the rest of his visit. There was no limit to an imagination built for speed. He pushed the car out of the closet and faced it toward Ryan so he could keep an eye on him. He still sat there motionlessly. He almost felt bad about giving up on him, but he knew he could not allow himself to end up like him, which is what would have happened if he did not feed his adrenaline rush.
     He opened the door and sat in.

     The car picked up speed and before he knew it he was no longer in Ryan’s room. He was on the road, behind the wheel, and driving super fast. He didn’t know what exactly took place, but he wasn’t afraid. Children do not ask themselves “how” or “why” when their dreams become real; they just live it before it gets taken away from them.

     The red battery car was now a red Ferrari. His hands were now gloved. His mind was now free. An endless road of paved highway layed out in front him and he had it all to himself. He drove until the sun set and rose again topping two hundred miles per hour. A weird feeling came over him a feeling as if he were becoming one with the car.

     There were four things he noticed during his joy riding: there were no doors on the car only windows, his gas gauge always read full, he never felt tired, and he never had the craving for food. He was sure he must be hungry since a day had gone by without eating. He thought about these things for a little while and then forgot them. These were the thoughts that end dreams. So he sped on leaving them behind.

     After a week Dylan had explored the entire territory and there was nowhere else to drive that he had not already been. His speedometer began to lower to one hundred and fifty miles per hour. Suddenly, two cars appeared on each side of his. Both were dark green with red lining. They were models he had never seen before, they resembled miniature cruise ships. A voice spoke through his CB radio.
     “I wouldn’t be doing that if I were you”, said the voice. It was coming from the car on the left.
     Dylan did not notice the radio there before and he was sure he inspected the whole car. He picked up the radio and answered back.
     “Who are you?”
     “My handle is Keebler. And she over there is Delilah.”
     “Call me Deli,” she said through the radio.
     “Where did you come from?” Dylan asked.
     “First things first, what’s your handle?” Keebler asked fervently.
     He was about to say his real name but then realized that a handle was a radio name, something made up. “Speedo”, he said proudly.
     “It’s a pleasure to meet you Speedo”, Deli said. She shook her long red hair at him as a friendly gesture.
     “I’ve been riding through these parts for a week now. I should have run into you earlier. Where did you come from?” Dylan spoke into the radio.
     “This is our speed zone. Think of this world as layers on an onion. You just happened to be at the top layer while we are at a lower layer.” Keebler said. “You have been alone because no one is fast enough to reach that zone.”
     Dylan couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Its not every day he received praises for his driving.
     “No one you say?”
     “You’re bragging kid,” Deli retorted, “You’re speed resembles your youth. A couple years and you’ll be mid zoning like us.”
     “Youth?” Dylan did not like that word. It was as if Deli insulted him indirectly.
     “The younger you are the more passion fuels your vehicle. As you get older that fuel begins depleting,” Keebler’s high voice said. “Which reminds me why we’re here, you had a drastic change in velocity. Did you hit a speed trap?”
     “Speed trap?” Dylan did not understand.
     “Speed traps are set up at every zone, beware of them,” said Deli.
Dylan did not remember hitting anything. It was a desolate road in the fast zone.
     “I slowed down voluntarily,” Dylan said.
     Both Deli and Keebler were shocked. They started speaking all at once into the radio and Dylan could not make out any words.
     “Are you crazy?” Deli shouted. “You don’t ever slow down. That’s the number one rule. You can’t. Or else he will come. And he will challenge. And he will win.”
     “Who will come?” Dylan asked.
     “Blue Blaze. He sets up the speed traps. He has been here so long that his passion is fully depleted and must live in the lowest zone. So he fuels on the passion of others waiting for them to hit a speed trap and enter his layer. You see once you enter another zone you leave open a brief doorway to the zone you were in. That’s how he sets up the speed traps. After he has killed the person and robed them of their fuel he sets up more traps on every level he can get to until all of that passion is run out.” Keebler has been speaking in a low voice as if someone were listening.
     “He is evil, Speedo. You do not want to cross bumpers with him,” Deli added.

     Dylan thought about this Blue Blaze forgetting the dangers of too much thinking. Blue Blaze must have never gotten to the fastest zone because there would have been speed traps there. So from what Dylan can piece together he alone was the fastest person to ever enter this crazy world. That brought great confidence as well as a big ego, something he hadn’t yet learned to control.
     “I will be careful,” Dylan replied to Deli.
     “Good. Its time we are off Deli,” Keebler said.
     “Ay Ay Captain,” Replied Deli.
     Two loud boat horns rocked Dylan’s car from each side and before he could realize he was alone again.

     He thought about going back up to his level but he finally had time to look at the road which was different here from his own. For one it wasn’t as smoothly paved, he found himself swerving around potholes. In the horizon he could see the soft outline of a city. This didn’t exist in his layer and he decided to explore this territory before returning to the highest speed zone.  

     The sun was coming down and he kept his course for the city keeping his speed at 150 miles per hour. He didn’t know exactly how much more or how much less speed would shift layers because as he thought of an onion he remembered the many that existed even within the tiniest one. So he kept his speed constant and continuous.

     He had been driving for days and still not a bit of hunger affected him. What surprised him even more was that he didn’t have to use the bathroom. The strangeness of it all seemed overwhelming to him for a second, but he suddenly remembered that thoughts end dreams. So he kept driving without a thought in his head. That’s when it happened.

     It was dark and he must not have seen it or maybe he did see it but without thinking he simply didn’t register that it was there. His car slammed into a force of wind that had been bundled up in the middle of the street. It was a confined ball that decelerated the car and himself at the same time because he didn’t fly out the windshield. It was as if he was a baseball and he was caught by a huge glove. His speedometer dropped to thirty and suddenly the wind was gone and he was cruising down the same road headed for the same city that seemed to be much closer than he realized.

     He knew what had happened. Speed trap. What did that mean? Was Blue Blaze watching him? He wasn’t afraid. Dylan knew his power in this world and if he was challenged he would accept and he would be victorious. His confidence was about to be challenged.

     Headlights from a car opposite him were turned on down the long stretch of road. Static came across his radio and then a voice.
     “I’ve been waiting,” the voice was dark and echoed sinisterly.
Dylan didn’t respond he tried stepping on his gas pedal but it wouldn’t go above thirty. He noticed his gas gauge had gone down a quarter. He picked up his radio.
     “Blue Blaze I presume,” Dylan was cool and vigilant in his response.
     “Speedo I presume,” the voice reeked out.
     Both cars were coming closer together head on. A couple football fields away he estimated.
     “I accept,” Dylan said before he could be asked.
     “You never had a choice.”
     “How does this work?”
     “We stay straight on this path toward each other. The first person to swerve out of the way loses,” Blue Blaze explained.
     “What are the stakes?”
     “Life or death.”

     Dylan knew that Blue Blaze would not swerve first. He knew the risks of surviving the crash were not in his favor. But he was a risk taker. His decision was made, he would not swerve.

     Both cars were headed straight for each other. Dylan tried to push above thirty but it seemed Blue Blaze controlled this zone and he was coming at him around fifty miles per hour. It was time; Dylan reached his seatbelt and realized that one did not exist. Blue Blaze’s car was now in clear view. It was a mixture of all shades of blue with a shark fin on its hood. He could see Blue Blaze’s face. Time seemed to slow down when he recognized the face of Ryan driving the car. This was a different Ryan, his eyes were alive, his face was intense, and he was speaking clearly. Without thinking Dylan swerved to the right causing a side collision with Ryan’s car. The blue car flipped over the red car exposing sharp metal shards. The metal pierced into the red car and hooked itself in. Dylan’s car had been like a shield deflecting any front end damage and the car suddenly started to speed up. Dylan maneuvered the wheel to keep on the road, but he was now dragging Ryan’s car with him. The car sped up past 100 miles per hour, suddenly the gauge broke and the car was accelerating faster than can be measured. The Blue car accelerated with it.

     Dylan had no control over the car anymore. He was nauseated, his head was bleeding and his body scraped up. Out his driver’s window was Ryan’s car. He could see the face of Blue Blaze, who seemed to be frightened, for control was out of his hands as well. They were headed straight into the city aimed to crash against one of the buildings. Dylan grabbed the radio.
     “Ryan you have to get out. If not were both going to die.”
     “Who are you? How do you know who I am?”
     “Listen to me; I am in your room right now. I am in your car, that’s how I got here. You have to get out of here. You have to get back to your mother.”
     “There is no leaving this place,” Ryan snapped back. “You think I haven’t tried? It consumes you, stay here long enough and it turns you into something you hate. There are no doors; you become one with the car.”

     They were speeding up even more and now they were almost in the city. The building would be there final resting place. All around Dylan could see abandoned cars on the sides of the road. Victims of Ryan or Blue Blaze?
     “Ryan there is a way. Out the window, I can’t climb out I’m stuck to your car. But you can. Kick it open and climb out and you will be home.”
     “We’re going too fast, I’ll be dead if I jump out?”
     “Your mothers tears. I’ve seen them. They will slow you down as you jump out. They are the only thing that can,” Dylan said.

     Suddenly the cars were approaching the building. The next few seconds were a blur to him. There was no time left. He could see Ryan trying to kick open his window, the blood trickled down into his mouth, and he stared face to face with death, his next zone. He closed his eyes right before he crashed into the wall of brick and cement.

     He was screaming when he was pulled out of the car. Blood was covering his face and his mouth and he landed face first into the bland brown rug in Ryan’s room. He did not understand it, but children tend to not ask questions when they cheat death. He shouted for joy and kissed the rug. The blood stain gave the carpet more pizzazz he thought. He then could see two feet standing in front of him. He looked up and saw Ryan holding his hand out. He confidently grabbed it and stood up.
     “Blue Blaze I presume?”
     “Speedo?” The both laughed.
     It was his mother’s tears that had saved Ryan from death that day. They carried him home the moment he jumped out the car window.

     It’s difficult to account for the things that took place that day. But Dylan was considered a hero for rescuing Ryan from the grips of dementia. Later on psychologists would say that it was Ryan’s response to his mother and father’s divorce. Adults were always trying to complicate a perfectly simple situation that they don’t understand. They forget how to use their imaginations and that sometimes children just get trapped in them. Dylan had enough of driving for a while and the boy that would have once traded in his entire childhood to grow up, decided to avoid the speed trap at all costs.

Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment