Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
It dawned on Tim that he had made a mistake. For the umpteenth time now. These days he was in a constant struggle between sense and idiotic enthusiasm, the second always achieving the upper hand. After all, what could go wrong?
The moon stood lonely in the sky tonight, and the wind was reduced to an enjoyable, warm breeze. Circumstances were perfect, as the three Serbians constantly agreed in their own little gibberish language. In the past week, the only word Tim had managed to make out was the one similar to his own language. “Raketa!” they had shouted repeatedly at the skinny Dutch guy. Raket. Rocket. It had sounded like a brilliant plan that night their paths had crossed. Tim, the genius physics student with access to an old, red Citroën 2CV (lovingly called Duck by his people) would enter into a collaboration with three Serbian immigrants with all the access to illegal parts and explosives you could ever wish for. And it was all thanks to the bartender that night, with access to plentiful mind-altering substances. Agreements were made, vodka bottles emptied, and hands shaken. This unlikely fellowship of four would create the ?rst ‘Rocket Duck’. They would break every speed record ever set with one of these old timer automobiles.
What Tim discovered the next day, as he was dragged out of bed by his new friends, was that in a country like Serbia a drunk agreement was just as good as a sober one. Or at least that was how these guys rolled. Tim protested at ?rst, understood it was of no use and so dragged his hungover shell along to the small warehouse where the tinkering would take place. And, to be completely honest, Tim thought the whole idea was nothing short of awesome. Admittedly, ever since the break-up with his long-time girlfriend earlier that week his mind hadn’t been that clear.
He didn’t mind that the whole thing was incredibly foolish. Fool or not, Tim felt free. His new friends fed him enough vodka to forget about his grief and there was something oddly liberating about building a highly illegal construction. The feeling to stand above the law and get away with it. And concerning that getting away, all four agreed they would not manage that while driving a rocket car on the highly monitored Dutch highways. The German autobahn had no speed limits, which meant they would be perfectly in their right to drive a vehicle that would most likely top 500 Km/h. Right?
So there they stood in the parking lot on the side of the autobahn, in the moonlight, waiting for one of the Serbians to tighten the ?nal screws, passing around a bottle of courage juice. Tim’s Duck now looked like a creation from a science ?ction ?lm. Strapped to its back was the massive weight of six rocket engines, all a different type. A lot of metal had needed to be added to the car’s front to keep it in balance and to top it off, one of the Serbians was to be tied onto the hood to prevent it from being opened by the wind. Tim believed that was more for the thrill, as he could think of a hundred different ways to keep it closed. The car’s interior had been overhauled a little bit to include ?ghter jet straps and three shiny red buttons on the dashboard, one for each pair of engines.
The stretch of road they had chosen was a perfect straight line leading up to a massive lake. It was a bit of a desolate area, which meant that few cars used the asphalt during the night. Today was a Sunday, which made it completely deserted. The little struggling engine of the bright red car broke the rare silence that had taken a hold of the area. Strapped on its hood was the fattest and tallest Serbian, wearing a set of goggles that made him look like the exact kind of lunatic he was. Huddled up in the car, all ‘safely’ in their belts were the other three guys. Tim had received the task of driving the car, an honor he wasn’t particularly happy with. Now that the thing was actually going down, he felt like his pants might get wet any second. Even the Serbians were silent for a change. When the car, now so weighed down that it managed a speed of 50 Km/h max, was well in the middle of the road, looking out over a spectacular view of the moon, time seemed to slow as everyone took in the sight. Then, the guy sitting next to Tim put his ?nger on the ?rst red button, his other hand pointing at the white orb in the sky. “That our target,” he added breathlessly. Tim merely nodded. He had lost any ability to speak. So he just held on ?rmly to the steering wheel. The soft click of the button was swiftly followed by a deafening roar as the ?rst two engines ?red up. A moment later everyone was pushed back so hard in their seats that all breath left their bodies. A loud snap outside could only be accounted to the breaking of a few bones. The loud scream from big Serbian con?rmed this and at the same time brought everyone back to their senses. Or, rather, back to their idiocy. The car was now traveling crazy fast and adrenaline raged through everyone’s bodies. Big Serbian’s screams quickly changed from pain-struck ones into hysterical ?ts of laughter. Tim was scared shitless, desperately clinging on to the steering wheel, and at the same time loving it. “Press the next one!” he yelled in a voice that he didn’t recognize as his own. The reply came in the shape of a loud war cry and a click later the car made another huge leap forward. It felt like the strain would kill them, and if not that, the heat would. Talking, even screaming, had become dif?cult, and yet Tim hungered for more. He looked at the man next to him, who looked scared out of his mind, but still wore his maniacal grin. He slowly nodded. Tim’s hand moved to the last button…and pressed it.
Saying this was a bad idea would be the understatement of the century. After the mighty roar of these ?nal rocket engines had initiated, a series of crazy things happened. The ?rst was that with this ?nal burst, big Serbian’s teeth were stripped from his mouth, a little rain of ivory pebbles crashing into the front window. Next, the backseat Serbian’s long hair combusted into a mighty inferno. The two guys in the front seat were ?ne, not paying any notice to the things happening to their friends. They were almost out of highway, looking out over the vastness of the lake, with the moon hanging over it. The moon. That’s where they would go.
Their cheers were even louder than the engines as the car broke free from the highway, a little red comet painted against the brilliantly clear night sky.
They had broken every speed record.