Four guys in a car on a road trip. Joe is driving his dad’s old car. It was a mean machine in its day but now it was getting a little old and more than a little past its best.

They had been driving a for quite a while but still it was a long road so plenty to look forward to. For a comparatively short time they had been heading down a hill. It started off so shallow you could hardly tell it was a hill but had been steadily getting steeper.

Joe’s friend Albert, a bit of a geek if the truth be told, had been mumbling something quietly to himself but he was a little shy and always careful to be polite and not offend anyone. This inevitably meant he got ignored a lot.

“what are you going on about Albert?” asked Joe.

“I was just saying that we should probably slow down, this hill is getting steeper” replied Albert.

In the back of the car sat James. On old friend of Joe’s or so he claimed. Well lets just say they have known each other since school. The truth is James has always been a bit of a thug and has been known to bully people, Joe included.

“Brakes are for wimps Joe” he says while slapping his hand on Joe’s shoulder.

In truth Joe is getting a little nervous now too and keeps lightly tapping the breaks but doesn’t commit. Perhaps he is still a little afraid of James.

Albert pipes up again, a little clearer this time. “We don’t really know what is at the end of this Joe, we should slow down just in case.”

“What can go wrong” retorts James, “Your the best driver in the world you can handle it” he laughs, “I taught you everything I know”

“But the breaks on this car aren’t what the used to be, it is going to take a while to slow down safely and you reaaly should be a in a lower gear” says Albert in a much louder voice than anyone is used to.

“Are you slowing down Joe” accuses James, “maybe I should drive, we will never get anywhere at this rate”.

“Albert is uncomfortable I am just trying to make him feel better” explained Joe.

“That is great Joe” said Albert, more than a little annoyed “but your are still going much to fast and this hill is still getting steeper”

“Grow a pair Albert” ordered James “lets just get there I will buy you all a beer”

“Look guys I am not saying we should stop altogether and check the breaks, although that is probably not a bad idea but we don’t really know what is ahead so we should be a little more careful” said Albert apologetically “that is all I am saying, I am not panicking”

Joe noticed that Albert had a bit of a shake in his voice. He touched the breaks and the car began to wobble quite badly which worried him a little.

“Oh come on girls” James was unimpressed.

“That is not enough Joe” snapped Albert “sorry” he corrected himself.

“Why don’t we stop and swap the car for some cycles, you can have training wheels on yours guys” complained James sarcastically. “Anyway it can’t be much further you may as well ride it out now”

“Have you any idea what the stopping distance is at this speed?” Asked Albert

“I can’t stop too quickly Albert I need to ease off gradually or it is going to be very uncomfortable for you guys, especially James in the back.”

“That’s right Joe don’t spoil the fun” agreed James.

At this point the fourth passenger sat in the back with James spoke. “It might turn out to be a lot more uncomfortable for all of us if you don’t try and take control of this Joe.”

Alan was not really one of the gang they had picked him up an hour earlier thumbing his way to who knows where.

“What’s it got to do with you man” snapped James angrily.

“Well James ordinarily I would leave you to it guys but I am in this car too I am afraid” replied Alan calmly.

“You see this hill has been getting steeper all the while and Joe’s half hearted attempts at slowing down haven’t really made much difference so we are not going to be able to slow down or keep control of the car if we have to react quickly to something. Now your are right James this hill may lead to a long flat straight were we can safely roll on our way to wherever it is we are going. Equally though this hill could end with a hairpin bend and cliff. Now I have been on this road for a little while and sometimes is has been straight and other times I have seen some pretty scary curves so I really don’t know what is ahead.”

“And?” says James impatiently

“Well the truth is may already be too late but if we try our best to slow down now we may get bounced around in this car a little and there is a risk that Joe may lose control but the chances are quite low. Most accidents don’t happen while people are slowing down. If we do hit a corner ff then hopefully we will have a chance to navigate it and continue on our journey. If it turns out to be a nice straight road we can always put our foot down again and we won’t really have lost much.. On the other hand if we continue as we are and it is a cliff we are probably not going anywhere good.”

“You are as big a wimp as him” says James angrily pointing at Albert. “If you don’t like our driving why don’t you get a lift with someone else.”

“Well if you wouldn’t mind stopping then I would be happy to” replied Alan.

 

The Company Of Amateur Souls

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