The Man Who Hated Little Cars, Part Six

...Jerry, in the drivers’ seat, beamed up at Ex, waiting for his signal.

Virgil nodded, and the V8 grew louder, building into a familiar, syncopated growling. The gallery stepped back, nodding appreciatively. Mr. Exner apparently wanted to show off the new car’s power.

The V8 roared, the tone from the tailpipes resonating melodiously off the hangar’s metal walls. It was tuned perfectly, thrumming just so – Virgil had selected his mechanics well.

Something was wrong, though. The reporters, at first drawn back from the creation, giving it space, were now drawing in closer, examining it for possible flaws, any unthinkable imperfection.

Though the engine revved higher and higher, rising to a coarse, pained yowling, the car barely moved. By inches it crept forward, straining against its invisible load with tremendous effort, the engine now close to redline, transmission groaning, dangerously near its breaking point.

It was at this moment that a second motor fired. There was a sudden pop, and a dim blue flame appeared somewhere back in the hangar, glowing, accompanied by low, loud static noise that surrounded them all and sounded like the whole ocean rushing in at once.

The crowd leaned in closer to the darkened bay, straining to see what was running in there, what was on fire. The distant flames seemed to grow orangish at the tip, then white, brightening gradually as the noise built in intensity. Hands pressed over ears; eyes squinted, seeking.

The purple car, out in the sun, its engine still pinned into the red, slowly resumed rolling forth. Jerry’s face briefly showed relief, though he still was checking the rearview mirror anxiously.

The flame inside the hangar lengthened, turning a pale whitish shade, and the noise got somehow louder still. Slowly, slowly, the second car was being towed out into the daylight.

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