Chuck Wendig issued a flash fiction challenge: write a car chase in 2,000 words. I’m cheating a bit, because while my antagonist leads the chase in a car, the scene is about the chaser, not the chasee. And the chaser is a food truck. But, hey. There’s a car in there. Somewhere. Comments welcome!
When the Eklunds broke away from the race and sped across town, Karen Renfrew turned from the orange and blue paisley–painted, Indian-themed food truck and stared as the small cavalcade—the electric sports cars driven by the investors, and then the electric support vehicle—bashed their way through the traffic cones that marked the route and peeled off in the wrong direction.
“Well, that’s really weird,” she said to Uncle Boo-boo, who had taken her to his sister’s startup food truck and was introducing her to the tasty miracle that was chicken tikka masala. “Why are those cars going off the track? Why is Phoebe following them?”
“Perhaps it is secret CIA business!” Uncle Boo-boo said, beaming.
“What are you talking about?” Sanjay asked, sticking his head out of the food truck’s order window. “What CIA business? What’s Phoebe up to now?”
“We don’t know!” Karen said, frowning after the cars. “It’s very odd.”
“I think it’s secret CIA business!” Uncle Boo-boo said.
“Maybe we should follow them,” Sanjay said. “Phoebe has a exhibited a distressing habit of taking risks. Perhaps she could use our help.”
“An excellent suggestion!” Uncle Boo-boo said. “Let’s go!” He unhooked the chalkboard menu that hung from the side of the truck and stashed it on the counter. Sanjay disappeared inside, and in seconds, a cloud of black smoke erupted from the tailpipe as the truck roared to life.
“We’re chasing them in the food truck?” Karen didn’t think they could catch them in the food truck. Or even keep them in sight, no matter how bright those ghastly yellow cars were and how tall the cones stood out on the vehicles’ roofs.
“With what else do we have to chase them? By all means, in the food truck!” Uncle Boo-boo clipped the menu securely to the counter and then nudged her toward a small door in the side of the truck. “You do not see any other vehicles here, do you? The food truck is what we have. The food truck is what we’ll take.”
Karen heard a shout from inside the truck, and a skinny teenaged boy started slamming down the window covers. In seconds, the truck was secured and ready to go.
“No time to lose!” Uncle Boo-boo beamed and opened the side door.
In for a penny, Karen thought, and tripped up the steps in her killer heels. At the top she bumped into the teenager. “Oh, sorry!” she said.
“This is the nephew of my nephew Sanjay,” Uncle Boo-boo said. “Justin.”
“Justin?” The teenager, a beautiful younger replica of Sanjay with dark brown, almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, and pants at least four sizes too big, shrugged.
“Don’t ask me.”
“Better sit!” Sanjay yelled from the driver’s seat. He ground the gears into first and stepped on the gas. The truck was heavy and slow, but even so, the lurch sent Karen flying into Uncle Boo-boo.
“Here, we have seats in the back,” he said, holding onto her firmly. “With belts. Better than an airplane.”
They staggered to the back of the truck, where Uncle Boo-boo pulled down a jump seat for the two of them, and Justin braced himself in a crevice between two built-in cupboards.
“Hang on!” Uncle Boo-boo called gaily as Sanjay ground the gears into second and the truck lurched again. Uncle Boo-boo grabbed Karen’s leg for emphasis, which was a lot less irritating than she thought it would be. She looked into his twinkling eyes and smiled.
“Where are we going?” she asked. “Can we still see them?”
“We will catch them,” Sanjay called, glaring into the traffic, his eyes focused on the road. “They will not get away.” With one hand on the wheel, he dug his phone out of his pocket, and hit the speed dial.
“Phoebe!” he said. “What are you doing?” He listened for a minute, swerving around traffic with one hand, leaning on the horn when he had to. “We’re right behind you! Alert the hotel!” He disconnected and shoved the phone back in his pocket.
“The Swedish-Korean terrorists are making their move!” he said to his passengers. “We have to step on it!”
“Terrorists?” Karen said. “What terrorists? I never heard anything about terrorists.” She’d never really been positive that Phoebe had worked for the CIA. Her daughter just seemed to have a boring desk job at some gray agency in Washington where she sat all day and pushed paper around. She was a spy? When did that happen? And—chasing after terrorists like this, somebody was bound to get hurt.
“The Swedish-Koreans! I told you! They have guns! They are on the move! We must stop them!” Sanjay stamped on the accelerator. Hungry pedestrians, seeing the food truck barreling down the street, tried to flag him down, but he gestured wildly to get them to move out of the way. Then he turned on the truck’s exterior speakers and hit a button. Music from a Bollywood musical blared out into the Las Vegas desert.
“Ah,” Uncle Boo-boo said. “That is Lat Lag Gayee. Very nice tune.”
“What?” Karen said, hanging on to Uncle Boo-boo for dear life as Sanjay careened around a corner.
“From Race 2,” Uncle Boo-boo said, holding Karen firmly. “Not my favorite film, but I do like the music, don’t you?”
“Ah, sure,” Karen said. The truck sped down the street, music streaming out to the public. Several other vehicles honked. Sanjay honked back. From her position on the jump seat, Karen could see only a tiny sliver of the front-facing windshield. Buildings sped by, but she had a hard time orienting herself to where they were. And then Sanjay slammed on the brakes, and they all lurched forward.
“We’re here!” Sanjay threw open the driver-side door and leaped out of the truck. Uncle Boo-boo helped Karen to her feet and she, feeling unexpectedly hampered by her stilettos, followed him out the side door, gratefully taking his helpful hand. Justin jumped down and hiked up his pants with one hand after he landed. Karen looked up at the imposing façade of the Desert Dunes casino and the yellow electric SUV parked in front. What was Phoebe doing here? What was happening?
“Hey!” the liveried valet parking guy said. “You can’t park here!”
“CIA!” Sanjay flashed his food vendor’s permit for less than a second.
The valet parking guy grabbed Uncle Boo-boo’s arm. “Stop right there!”
“They’re with me,” Sanjay said. “National security!”
“At least turn off that music!”
“CIA!” Uncle Boo-boo said, shaking his arm loose and flashing his realtor’s license. “It’s most urgent.”
“I’m the cocktail waitress,” Karen said, wondering if the valet parking guy might actually hold her back. She thought that might be a good idea. He was kind of cute, and her feet were killing her. When she’d accepted the date with Uncle Boo-boo to see the race, she hadn’t expected to do so much running herself.
“Hey! Wait!” The valet guy said, but Sanjay ran to the revolving doors without looking back. Uncle Boo-boo towed Karen, who tripped along as fast as she could, and Justin slouched behind.
“We’re in,” Sanjay said, looking around the lobby for Phoebe, or alternatively, any sign of trouble. “Now let’s go save us a Secretary of State.”