Chapter four: Spritle

I couldn't believe my big brother was dead; I didn't want to believe it. For as long as I could remember Speed has always been there and now I was facing the rest of my life without him. The thought was thoroughly excruciating but Royalton had made that decision for my family.

Racer X had led us out of the stadium and towards a bunch of parked vehicles. I didn't like this guy; after all he was the Harbinger of Boom for crying out loud. Who was he to have been with Speed when he died? It wasn't like the guy was family or anything. I guess Pop's thought I should be grateful towards racer X for trying to save Speed; in the end though it didn't matter because my brother was dead. Nothing would ever change that fact for me.

We stopped at a black windowless van and Racer X opened the side door for us. I paused before getting in and glared at him.

"We need to hurry up and get off the grounds before Royalton finds that we are gone" just then some majorly built guys had just exited the stadium and were heading in our direction. I could tell this news bothered Racer X because he pushed me into the van and slammed the door shut before heading to the driver's seat. Before I even had my seatbelt on, Racer X was in the front jamming the key into the ignition. As soon as the engine had started Racer X slammed his foot down on the gas pedal and away we went away from the sounds of guns going off.

"How do we know you weren't the one who killed Speed?" I asked thinking this was a pretty fair question since he had separated Pop's and me from the rest of our family.

"Spritle," Pop's muttered laying a hand on my shoulder.

"Why are we not with our family?" I asked another question as it seemed that Racer X wasn't going to answer my other question.

"Speed was a good friend of mine, I would never have hurt him" Racer X replied to my surprise I had thought he had chosen to ignore my question. I noticed Racer X looking in the rearview mirror and saw him and Pop's exchange a look and I noticed Pop's mouth not yet.

"As for being away from your family, you will be reunited with them in just a little bit" Racer X said answering my other question.

I went silent after that, staring at the floor and losing myself to my memories.

Speed had just one the thunderhead race and he had stayed out late celebrating with his girlfriend, Trixie, before he came home and went directly to bed. The next morning when Speed had gotten up and sat down at breakfast only to be interrupted moments later by none other than the vile Royalton who claimed he wanted Speed to be one of his drivers, Royalton took us all to his company and showed us around. While it had been pretty impressive, I didn't think that it the relationships between the workers was anywhere near as good as it was at Racer Motors. And in the end Royalton had given Speed a choice, one in which Royalton thought was too good to be turned down; but in the end it had been turned down anyways because Speed had realized he was better off with his own families company. The day Speed had turned Royalton's offer down, I had snuck off with Speed who had remained unknowing until after the whole meeting had gone sour, and Royalton had told his brother that every single Grand Prix had been fixed for a long time. Of course, then I had been caught, after getting a behind the scenes look at how the cars were really made with spearhooks in their underbelly. Of course, I never realized what any of this had meant at the time.

I wished I had known then that turning down Royalton would spell trouble. Even if Royalton had basically said he'd make the Racer families life hell. I had never thought that to mean killing Speed, but I guess even murdering an innocent person got Royalton what he wanted; and left us in a world of grief, it wasn't fair. Speed didn't deserve to die, for essentially believing the best about a sport for crying out loud. Guess we learned just how bad the real racing world is if someone doesn't get their way.

I closed my eyes as I felt tears begin to fall. I had never thought that this day of all days would end in pain and tragedy. I wanted Speed to win this race but most of all I just plain wanted Speed back. I would never annoy him again if it only meant that he was alive and well.

I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder and I knew Pop's was trying to find the words that would make me feel better. I appreciated the effort on his part but it was wasted effort nonetheless. At this point nothing anyone said or done could ever make me feel better again; aside from giving me Speed back that is.

A few minutes and several left and right turns the van we were traveling in came to stop and the side door was opened by the Inspector Detector. I stared at him for a moment before getting out with Pop's following right behind me. The Inspector Detector led us into what was obviously the C.I.B.'s home base. The Inspector led us into the building which, if it hadn't been for all the offices decorating the hallway, I would have thought it was just another desolate building for lease or whatever. It only took me a few seconds to realize that it was only the three of us walking down the hall because Racer X had stayed with the van.

I wondered about him, like what had made him decide to join the C.I.B. What really bothered me the most however, was what had Racer X been doing in the locker room in the first place. He wasn't racing so it wasn't like he was getting dressed and had just happened to find Speed bleeding to death on the floor. There was just something about the man that did not add up. All I knew was he didn't get there in time to help Speed and now Speed was dead. For that I blamed Racer X.

A few minutes and a couple of flights of stairs later and we arrived at a room that suspiciously looked like an interrogation room. Stepping into it I noticed that it was a fairly uncomfortable looking with no windows but a huge two sided mirror on the other side of the room.

Sighing, I went to the furthest corner away from any person. Mom, Trixie and Sparky were not here and I could not help but feel as if I had been tricked. I drew my knees up to my chest and placed my head on them. This day was quickly turning into a nightmare.

Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and I saw a blood covered Speed standing before me. I could see that he was very angry and I didn't understand. Why was I even seeing him to begin with?"

"I'm dead Spritle and its all your fault." Speed said "you are such an annoyance; it's a wonder Mom and Pop's can even stand you."

"No," I moaned "how are you even talking to me?"

"It's your fault I'm dead Spritle, I hate you!" Speed screamed at me and all of a sudden wherever I was the place started shaking and the whole world felt like it would fall apart but the shaking did not stop.

I jerked awake when the shaking got a little rougher. I looked up to find it was Racer X who had woke me up.

"You were screaming" was all he said before heading back to where the Inspector Detector was standing talking to a nearly inconsolable Mom. I noticed Sparky was standing beside Pop's with a look on his face that said he couldn't believe what he had just heard. Trixie was sobbing quietly into her hands. My family had finally been told that Speed was indeed dead.

I felt shivers run down my spine as I remembered my dream. It had been so very real; I could still see the anger in Speed's eyes. I could practically feel the hate rolling off of him. He blamed me for taking his dreams away from him.

I began to feel guilty then; maybe he was dead because of me. Maybe somehow I had driven him crazy and that's why he said no to Royalton. Tears began to fall down my face despite the still ever present nightmare; I wanted my big brother back. I felt a hand on my shoulder, when I looked up it was Mom. I wished I could take the deep sadness out of her eyes, that I knew would probably remain in her eyes for a long time to come, if it ever would leave her eyes.

"Speed's dead because of me" I mumbled before laying my head back down on my knees. My tears continued to fall and the thought that kept running through my head was that my big brother hated me.