Hello, all - I've decide that "Hoshi no Senshi: A New Beginning" is officially on hiatus/hold until I can think of ideas to take it ahead. Until then, I'm gonna try my hand a this - a Herbie story! I had "Herbie Goes Bananas" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded" when I was a kid and I've recently bought the box set with all five of his films. I've also seen the 1997 remake of "The Love Bug" (whoa, Dean Jones got older... XD) and a TV series, "Herbie the Matchmaker" on YT.... I'm rambling now, aren't I? Well, expect to see some of that later! :D Enjoy! ^^
Why couldn't he hear it?
That voice had never failed to reach him. That warm, tender voice that always made his ignition feel sprightly, his mind clear and ready to burn some rubber. The voice that, when he was scared, would cast such a lulling spell over his worries and fears that they would be instantly calmed or would take on an encouraging tone to fire him up for action. He loved to hear that voice.
More importantly, he loved seeing the man whom it belonged to. The man who had owned him, caressed him and adventured with him for what seemed like an eternity, the man who, after a rocky start, had accepted his quirks and clicked with him like no-one else could. Every morning he'd throw open the garage door, exchange a few kind words and take him for a drive. Then they'd come back, take a leisurely break and go on another drive. That's what they did and he loved it.
So where was he? And more pressingly, why was there a tarp over him?
The black road ran through the fields and trees like a sore thumb. Green crops and luscious leaves skirted either side and flighty birdsong rang pleasantly from the white sky. The asphalt was wet with rain and the fat droplets sat on the impermeable surface like small stones would. Then, a low growl and a streak of silver whizzed by, disrupting the nature around.
A Hyundai 4x4 cruised smoothly along with the driver and front passenger seats occupied. In the driver's seat was a 22 year old girl: her blue eyes were deliberately marked with deep brown eye shadow and heavy mascara and pink lip gloss marked her thin, pursed lips. Her light blonde, shoulder length was tucked behind her ears and perfectly manicured nails in electric pink finished her fingers as they gripped the wheel. She wore a light magenta shirt and a mauve summer skirt with black espadrilles on her feet. Next to her sat a 17 year old with her feet on the dash, arms folded and a sombre, vacant look crossing her jade eyes. Unlike her companion, she didn't need make-up to highlight her striking facial features. Her messy, un-brushed ginger-brown hair hung at her waist and some locks fell over her eyes. A thin white shirt and a blue sports hoodie hung limply over her torso and shoulders whilst a pair of ripped blue jeans and black sneakers clung to her legs and feet.
The ride continued in silence for a long empty moment, the 22 year old occasionally swiping concerned glances at her passenger before focusing on the road again. With good reason too; the 17 year old's uncle had died a month ago and she was still in the beginnings of serious depression. The funeral was last week and she'd been forced to turn up and now, they had just finished reading her uncle's will, to which she was also forced to turn up. But it had been written that he'd left something very special to her at his house so she'd demanded that they go and look. The 22 year old had been asked to take her into care after a suicide attempt had gone wrong and landed her in ER for 3 days. Now, she just fell into long brooding silences which seemed to happen at least 6 times a day. The 22 year old could only hope that the suicide thoughts didn't return.
Soon, the Hyundai pulled swiftly into the estate. At first, it coasted along a gravel path lined with trees before arriving at the front door of a medium sized, red brickwork, 2-floored cottage. The windows and door were lined in white granite and a large garage stood next to the left wall, with its door closed. The two girls stepped out and surveyed the building; even though it was only 6 or 7 years old, it sent chilly vibes through the pair of them. The 17-year-old made a beeline for the garage door with her older cohort right behind her.
"Um, Calley, shouldn't it be, like, more respectful to use the front door?"
"Key's under the flowerpot, Charisma. You use the door."
Calley struggled with the rusted door handle for a few seconds before it finally cracked open, allowing her to grab under the rim of the door and push it upwards. The garage seemed empty; none of her uncle's toolboxes were there and the pictures that used to hang from the wall had been taken down. There were no spanners or wrenches lying on the concrete floor like there used to be, either. Everything seemed bare and misplaced. Calley's heart sunk and her eyes stung.
However, in the middle of the garage, stood a large, rounded shape covered with a grey tarpaulin. Calley's eyes glistened as she circled the shape once, slowly and then came to stand in front of it. Tentatively, she reached out and took the front of the cloth, before whisking it back. Her heart burst right back into life and fresh tears rolled down her cheeks as a smile contorted them upward. There, waxed and polished to look brand-new, sat a 1963 pearl-white Volkswagen Beetle with red, white and navy blue racing stripes and a grey 'ragtop' sunroof. The number 53 emblazoned its doors, hood and trunk lid and a black number plate which read 'OFP 857'sat snugly on the bumper.
Her uncle's car! This was her uncle's most treasured possession, his pride and joy. He'd taken her for long, happy drives in this car when she was younger – they'd go to the coast or the country and just drive. Drive long and talk long, as her uncle said. And boy, would they have long talks. Just an uncle and his niece, snuggled together watching the sunset from the Beetle's vantage point on the cliffs or the hills before returning to his home. Also, she'd pretend that the car was alive. She'd talk to it and pet it like a dog and, even though the car never responded to her, her childish fantasies always made her believe the car had heard her. Her uncle also told her bedtime stories about the car to keep these fantasies alive. Whether it be about the car running away from a cruel owner through dimly-lit city streets or falling hood over wheels with a beautiful lady car and constantly trying to win her heart, each and every story was imaginative and passionate. To the girl, this made them more exciting and real than ever. And now... the car was hers and hers alone. The object of all her juvenile hopes and dreams... was hers.
Letting the memories wash her with reminiscence and new-found grief, Calley stroked a finger along the front fender before opening the door and slumping into the driver's seat. The cold leather shocked her skin and gave her goose bumps but she didn't care. Her wet eyes jumped from one gauge to the other all along the dash and back again before brushing her fingers over the wheel. It was only when she scanned the gauges a second time that she noticed the glove box was open and an opened envelope was poking out. Curiously, she took it and pulled out the letter inside, opening it up and reading aloud.
"My dearest Calley,
If you're reading this, I'm either dead or will die sooner or later. I hope this doesn't come as a shock to you but if it does, do not feel guilty about this. I was liable to go in the next few years, wasn't I?"
"No! No you weren't! You were timeless, ageless. Always full of energy and life. I never imagined you could..."
"Okay, if everything goes as it's meant to, you should be reading this after my will has been read to you. And if you are, congrats, kiddo – the car is yours. I always said I wouldn't give it away to anyone since it was so important to me but considering how much we loved this car when you were young and now you have your licence... well, I figured it'd be a crime for me not to supply you with your first car."
Calley place a hand on the wheel again and continued reading.
"Hopefully with this lil' gift of mine, you and he can go ahead and accomplish great things together. If anything Cal, I want you to remember me by this car and everything I've said about the car. ... Speaking of that, I guess I should come clean about a few things: everything I said about this little car, every story I told about it, every picture I painted in your head. It's all true – this little car really did do all the things I said it did. It really did run away from its cruel owner, it really did fall in love with a lady car and it really did win the El Dorado by splitting in half. Now, I know that may sound crazy –"
"Too right it does."
"- but it's all true, all of it. This little car really is something, just as you are. You're something else as well, y'know. And that's why I loved you and always will."
Another tear fell from Calley's green eyes.
"Well, I guess I'd better wrap this up before it gets too long-winded. You're the new owner of the car so have a great time with it. I want you to enjoy the car, just as I have. Who knows, you may be able to take him racing one day, huh? Have a great life, Calley. Whatever you wanna do, just floor it and don't back down.
Forever yours, Uncle James Richard Douglas."
Calley let out a soft sob before clutching the letter to her chest and lying back in the seat, throwing her sodden gaze to the roof. She still couldn't get her head around the fact that the car was hers but she had also been reminded that her dearest uncle was no longer here. The tightening pains in her heart nearly made it impossible to keep beating regularly so it skipped a few times before trying to settle back into a regular rhythm. Calley then dropped her glance to re-read the letter. When she was done, she noticed a final extract she'd failed to pick up earlier:
"PS – Please take care of Herbie. Whatever your problems, he'll help you find the answers."
Calley flicked the tears away and blinked a few times, just to make sure that she'd read it right. Yeah, she had. It definitely read that she had to take care of Herbie. Herbie? Who was Herbie? Unless...
"Yo, Calley! You there?"
Calley could hear Charisma coming down the stairs pretty quickly – best guess was she'd heard her crying again. The teen hurriedly slid the letter back into the glove box and clicked it shut before stepping out and letting the door shut by itself. Wait, itself?
Charisma strode in, unaware of what was happening.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"You've been crying again."
"So?" Calley dragged her sleeve across her face once more.
Charisma sighed and was about to walk out when she clapped her eyes on the car. She too, walked around it, checking out the shape and condition before standing next to Calley.
"I know, but... Is this a joke?"
"Why would it be a joke?"
Charisma rolled her eyes. "Your uncle... he could've left ya money or... our own house... Heck, he could've left you with some fancy estate or something. But... he gave you a car."
"Yeah, what of it?"
"Doesn't that make you think he didn't care?"
A cord snapped in Calley's head. Her voice grew dark.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I mean, okay! He left you a car, big deal... But, couldn't he have left you... a better car?"
"Well, I don't know... like... my Hyundai or something. 'Cause you've gotta admit it: this car is a heap of junk."
Calley's heart was burning. Raging. Her hands were shaking in fists at her sides and her face clouded over.
"Yeah." Charisma carried on, totally oblivious to Calley beside her. "I mean, like, no offence or anything, but, this is the kind of car an old granny would have. It's small, it's ugly... in short, it sucks."
Calley's eyes grew hot and her voice grew sinister and spiteful.
"Charisma... this was my uncle's car. He left it to me because he knows I'll look after it."
"Either that or he had really bad taste."
"What d'you say?" Calley turned to look at Charisma, who stepped back in surprise and gave a wave of dismissal.
"Geez, Calley – don't your knickers in a twist. It's not worth freaking out over a car. I mean, that's, like, insane! Hello!"
Well! That was that – Calley had had enough. She turned away and stormed over to the driver's side and got in, slamming the door behind her. Charisma came after her.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"Uh, no you're not."
"Uh, yes I am." Calley slipped out a key from the glove box and stuck in the ignition. Charisma slapped her hands over the door and leaned into the car like a vulture over meat.
"Listen here, Calley – you get outta this car right now. We agreed that I'd drive you back."
Calley didn't look up. "More like you demanded it."
"Calley..." Charisma's voice grew malicious. "Don't make me mad."
"Or else what?" Calley's eyes danced with hate and she cranked the key around and the engine caught. Rather loudly too and first time. It almost sounded like the car was growling as loud as it could, a deep, throaty sound emanating from the tiny engine. It sounded more like the sound of a Formula 1 Ferrari rather than a '63 Beetle. A sadistic smile played on Calley's lips.
Charisma stood dumbfounded for a few moments before a glaring frown etched into her face.
"Calley, I'll ask you once more: get out of the car."
Calley cupped a hand to her ear. "Sorry, Charis! I can't hear a word you're saying!"
"Get OUT of the car."
Charisma snarled in frustration and grabbed the door handle. But the door didn't budge. She tried again. The door stayed firmly shut. She clapped both hands on the handle and pulled hard. Not a chance. She pulled harder then whisked her hand back with a yelp. Calley looked up in curiosity.
"Oh my god! Oh my god!" Charisma squealed in fright then angrily thrust her hand in front of Calley. One of her manicured nails was broken and chipped. Calley smirked in triumph whilst Charisma shouted profanities at her and stormed off.
Calley smirked again. Sometimes it was just too easy to wind Charisma up. She snuggled more comfortably into the seat and waited until the Hyundai engine purred away. Calley also noted that the engine of the Beetle had settled down into its regular cycle of rumbling and constant puttering. 'Much better. Now let's go,' thought Calley as she shifted the car into gear and gently pushed down the accelerator. On command, the Beetle rolled smoothly out of the cold garage into the light of day, crunching the gravel under its tyres. Calley quickly stopped to shut the garage door before continuing onto the tarmac road before her.
She was certainly surprised at how responsive the Beetle was; the start wasn't jerky, the accelerator, clutch and brakes were perfect and the engine sounded beautiful, almost like the sweet song of a bluebird. Everything was calm, collected and under control. With the running of the car deemed okay, Calley could turn her thoughts to other things: where would she go? She had no idea; she just wanted to drive to clear her head from all that happened. The letter, Charisma, Herbie...
Herbie... Who was Herbie? A friend of Uncle Douglas', perhaps? Or a friend of a friend of his? Wait, was it? Or was Uncle Douglas referring to the ... the car? He couldn't have been – that was crazy... But the letter said that all the stories he'd told her were true, that the car really had done all those things he'd spoken of so maybe it was true. Maybe the car was real but her mind wanted to deny it... or was her heart that wanted to deny it?
Calley never found an answer before she saw what was ahead: a gang of teen boys she knew from school. All were about 6ft tall – head and shoulders above her – and were extremely flirtatious. One look at the popular girl would send her heart a-flutter and deliriously in love. Two gave her especially nasty grins as they perched on the roof of their car – a stylish, black BMW M3 Sedan.
"Oh..." Calley slowed to a stop and stared in disbelief. This was the last thing she needed; she'd gone on a drive to clear her head and figure things out, not to run into more trouble. She face planted on the dash as the two boys perched on the Sedan slid off and strutted towards her. 'Please don't let this be happening... yeah, it's happening.' Two sharp taps at the window forced her to look up and roll it down.
"Hey, good looking, you heading anywhere?" A black haired boy with dancing brown eye's that could melt a girl's heart leaned in and got way too close to Calley's face to be comfortable. His breath stank of lemonade and cigarettes. Calley stared at her jeans, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
"Well, I know for a fact I'm not heading to the cemetery anytime soon," she hissed.
The boy stepped back, unimpressed. "Aw, come on doll, we just wanna have fun... Where you headed? Need a lift?"
Calley was cordial but her tone wasn't. "No thank you, I already have a lift."
The boy laughed then leaned back in. "Nice try sweetheart, but I think you'll need us to tow you there, huh?"
"I don't think so, CJ."
"You wanna bet?"
CJ smirked. "Wanna race? Our car against yours. The winner's right and the loser is no more than a sore loser. JJ'll drive."
Calley glanced up to the brunette boy who just gave her a vacant glance. She gave a silent sigh; JJ was one of the best drivers she knew – she'd seen him at a go kart race, he'd thrashed everyone – but she'd never seen him drive the BMW before. If he was that good in Mini's version of an F1 car, what would he do in something that could top 126 mph? Was it worth the risk?
"... Okay. Let's do this."
...rrrrrRANTING! :D Naw, not really. ^^ But I plan to do a couple of things with this story - kinda like experiments in a way:
1: I want to see if I can include references to every single film throughout the story - you can spot a couple in this one! c:
2: Try giving characters realistically dark backgrounds: Caitlyn from "Percy: A New Hero" touches on this, but her background, whilst being dark, is riddled with flaws and is fantasy, to say the least... I'll work on that. ^^; Since this story is meant to be more realistic, the background of each character is gonna be realistic too, e.g: Calley's uncle has died so since she was close to him, she's a depressed, confused, nervous wreck. Well, now she is anyway; Herbie's gonna help her get better. X3
Please read, review and enjoy! ^^