The Mission: Chapter 5

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Excerpt from Chapter 4

I did have a sense of Dodge-Zen as I leapt out of bed as if I had done this before – a calmness that I was prepared for anything the SRT Hellcat Redeye would dish out. I threw on my clothes and as I walked out the door, I reached into my front pocket and found another new keychain with a tag that read … YOU’VE GOT THIS.

Out the door I went…

“Yeah, I’ve got it alright.”

So, I’m finally back on the road to I still don’t know where, thinking about the Bondurant instructors, the casino, and asking myself, “Is it normal to laugh so nervously when you’re driving alone?”

That’s when the voice on the radio kicks in.

“Greetings and salutations, your next stop is the Woody Creek Tavern in Woody Creek, Colorado. There, if you make it, you will get your next instruction key.”

Before I can interject the voice interrupts, “Oh, and uh, don’t be surprised if things get a little weird along the way, just roll with it.”

Now I’m thinking about the Hunter S. Thompson quote, “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” 

What the hell, I just had some serious driving lessons from the Bondurant instructors, a halfway decent night’s sleep and my navigation reads “Follow I-15 for 591 miles.”

Mile 1-5: Driving.

Miles 6-150: Wishing I had a copilot.  

Miles 151-333: Thinking I’m actually flying.

5 hours of blue sky and now suddenly nothing but dark clouds. Wrong turn? I’m on this strange road leading into darkness that looks like it heads to nowhere when ahead I see a sign that reads, “road may not continue.”

That’s not one I’ve seen before.  

The adrenaline junky in me must motor ahead and get to the heart of this bizarre circumstance.

A gravelly voice says, “Welcome to Thunder Mountain or as some call it, Bandimere Speedway.”

Serious wrong turn.

I quickly look at the NAV and radio.

IT’S OFF.

What THE?!

My heart practically leaps through my rib cage and onto the dash as I see out of the corner of my eye…I now have the legend, Bill Goldberg riding shotgun. Oh man, he’s even more monstrous in real life. Was he the copilot I was longing for earlier?

(Right now, you’re probably asking yourself the obvious, “is this some kind of a dream sequence?” or “have you gone completely mad?” Truth is, I wish I could tell you. Has anything made sense so far on this journey? Just ride this one out with me.)

So, back to Goldberg and me, the Thunder Mountain staging lane, the impending 1/4 mile, and the insane launch I’m about to dominate.  Goldberg turns to me and says, “You know why I’m here?”

I reply, “I give up, why?”

“Kid, I’m gonna make you a better racer. You see, with me in the car, you’re safe. We can do anything, and I don’t have to read any disclaimers, either. Why? It’s your story, your time, and the audience knows they have to obey the law. See, kid…you and I, we’re in the middle of an epic literary journey of HEMI® sized proportions, so ready yourself for that last yellow. Tighten your harness. I wanna see 9s or better.”

There’s now a swarm of people chanting…

“Goldberg! Goldberg! Goldberg!”

He turns to me and says, “hear that, kid?”

I can barely reply, “umm, yeah, that’s for you.”

He smiles and pats my shoulder, “no, no, kid, that’s for us. Now let’s get up to that line and burn one out.”

I absolutely light ‘em up in the box, creating the gearhead orchestral equivalent to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 with a finely tuned 797 hp growl. Burning rubber so hot, one could argue my tires were made on the sun. I’m surrounded by a mystical billow of deep stage smoke keeping our perfect roll undercover. This thing IS possessed.

The rumble under my feet vibrates through my spine. The smoke begins to clear and I look to my left to see just who I’m going to be turning to toast.

Holy mother of all muscle milk, it’s freaking Matt Hagan.

He lifts his visor, I see the icy blues. Yeah, he means business. As is if the death stare wasn’t enough, he blows me a kiss and snaps the visor back down with vengeance.

Pretty sure he could hear my “gulp” all the way over the ridiculous rumble in his lane.

I look over to ask Goldberg, “what now?” But he’s gone. Vanished just as fast as he appeared.

For a split second I forget the next steps.

I channel Goldberg’s confidence.

I remember my training.

Here goes everything.

And with that, GREEN.

Holeshot.

Warp Speed.

A technicolor blur of my entire life moves through my mind in about 9.7 seconds.

And somehow…Matt is behind me.

I win.

As I’m about to turn off, pick up the slip and collect the Wally that I’m sure is waiting for me, the voice comes back on my radio, “Well done. But it’s still just a practice for what’s to come.”

In what world is racing NHRA Funny Car World Champ Matt Hagan PRACTICE?

This world.

This world where I somehow just passed a sign that reads, “Welcome to Boulder!”

Now I’m actually starting to question just how mad I’ve gone.

 “Ok guys. I’m spent, you win, I can’t take any more surprises.”

The voice over the radio, “Shame, because you have to pick someone up at the No Name Bar on Broadway.”

I’m unable to fake it. “Hello, a little sleep wouldn’t hurt. A little sanity. You know…normal?”

“We chose you because we knew you could handle this. And if you pass the next test with your passenger, he’ll meet up with you again for a supremely amazing stop in the Motor City on your journey to New York. Hurry. Bill Goldberg is waiting.”

I think to myself, “Wait…what? Goldberg was with me just 25 minutes ago!”

The voice says “No, that was you channeling your strongest self, and it got you through it. This time you really WILL have Goldberg as your copilot. Now Drive.”

By DodgeGarage member: James McCarthy

Send your Chapter 6 submissions to us here.

The Mission – Intro
The Mission – Chapter 1
The Mission – Chapter 2
The Mission – Chapter 3
The Mission – Chapter 4

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