by B.J. McCall
In a future where robotic vehicles control the roadways, the once common skill of driving is a thing of history. As a result the popularity of retro street racing -- vintage cars running on fossil fuels with humans at the wheel -- is the new rage. Street racing is loud, gritty, dangerous and real. The fans crave it.
Sugar Evans loves to drive fast cars with powerful engines. It's her legacy. She's determined to win the race her father lost fifteen years ago in the Moonlight mile, the final and decisive mile of one of the toughest nighttime races on the circuit. To win, she has to beat top contender, Callan MacQuaid.
On the eve of the big race, Mac finally meets challenger Sugar Evans. She's beautiful and sexy hot, both on and off the course, but tonight Mac doesn't want to compete.
Sugar Evans revved the engine of her vintage racer. Flooring the accelerator, she hit the straight, then backed off the speed and hugged the corners, controlling the vehicle and changing gears with ease. After several practice turns around the track, she ran the engine flat-out. Running at peak performance, her racer was ready. The rest was up to Sugar.
The impending race would begin in this arena, but the race took place at night on the streets of Moonlight. Thanks to the growing popularity of street racing, the town's population swelled for one of the biggest events on the circuit.
She pulled off the track and passed another racer heading onto the track to take advantage of the practice time allotted each driver, if they chose to use it. The required helmets made it impossible to recognize faces, but the number nineteen painted boldly in yellow on the black vehicle identified the competition. Callan MacQuaid was on a winning streak. Hot, both on and off the track, he was definitely the man to beat.
Sugar raised her hand, acknowledging her most formidable opponent. Tomorrow, MacQuaid, you lose.
She headed for the Sheds, a long line of metal buildings providing inexpensive housing for competitors. She pulled into the shed bearing her vehicle number, forty-three.
Ace Evans looked up from his work bench and smiled. Her father was not only one of the best mechanics in the business, but fifteen years ago he'd been a top contender. Street racing was in the Evans blood. A fourth-generation driver, Sugar was determined to win. The sport had begun as an illegal pastime in the twentieth century when driving was common. But automated cars had changed the world, and driving a vehicle was a skill lost to the masses. Now legal, street racing was loud, gritty, dangerous, and few humans had the skill or the guts to compete.
Sugar climbed out of the vehicle and removed her helmet, protective suit and shoes.
Ace ran his hand over the bright red hood. "How did she run?"
"She's perfect, Dad," Sugar said. "It's time for both of us to relax."
"I've still got a few things to do," Ace said.
Sugar entered the living quarters of the rented shed. She wanted a little girl time before going out for the evening. Tonight, she wanted to wear makeup instead of sweat, she wanted to smell of lavender instead of oil and gas and wear high heels instead of thick-soled shoes.
A few hours later, Sugar was ready to leave. She left her tiny bedroom and walked into the small space that served as the living room to find her father asleep on the sofa.
She leaned down and kissed Ace on the cheek.
His eyes fluttered open. "You look nice. Going out?"
Sugar grinned. "I guess the dress gave me away."
"Don't drink too much. You're racing tomorrow."
Sugar understood his warning. Suffering a hangover, Ace Evans had climbed behind the wheel and tackled the Moonlight night race, one of the toughest on the circuit. He'd crashed in the infamous Moonlight mile, the nickname of the final mile of the race. The loss of his leg and the long recovery had ended his career, but thankfully not his life.
"Don't worry, Dad. I'll be careful."
Tomorrow, Sugar would climb behind the wheel and tackle the same race, but this time she'd beat the Moonlight mile and an Evans would get the checkered flag.
At the door, Sugar threw Ace a kiss. "Love you, Dad."
She walked along the Sheds and looked up at the dark arena. Tomorrow, the place would be full of fans witnessing the start of the race. Thousands of fans would line the grueling route through the streets. The prized seats for the Moonlight mile were the most expensive along the route. Many believed the race was won or lost in that last, critical mile.
Street racing had evolved. By government mandate driverless cars had taken over the roads and highways and human-driven vehicles were restricted to private property or authorized street racing in vintage cars without the aid of computers or droids.
The new rage, street racing was raw and dangerous. Sugar loved it and the fans craved it.
Smiling, she stepped into a bar called Hot Wheels. The place was packed and the AC units were pumping cold air to combat the heat. Large screens, showing past races, lined the walls. Every seat was taken. A drunk wearing a stained set of overalls offered his lap. Sugar declined and moved along the bar.
The only way to get a beer was to squeeze in between the bodies standing at the bar. Sugar made her move, then bumped up against a wall of muscle enclosed in expensive high-tech fabric clinging to broad shoulders, thick pecs and ridged abs. She looked up and her breath hitched. Callan MacQuaid was a looker, as handsome in the flesh as he was on the screen. His hair was dark and he wore a short, stylish cut that always looked great when he took off his helmet. His eyes were midnight blue and his dark lashes so long Sugar was jealous. A small scar on his left cheek gave his face character.
Born on the right side of the tracks, MacQuaid ran with a rich crowd. What was he doing in a dive like Hot Wheels?