Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dead Travel Fast


In the deserts north of Heliotrope, weird monsters of the outer dark and thrill-crazy youths race hopped-up roadsters across dead sea bottoms.

In Hesperia, a “car culture” has emerged. Like the Southron bootleggers, some young Hesperian men have taken to modifying jalopies for the purpose of drag-racing. Most of the modifications are strictly mechanical, but would-be racers save up for more expensive thaumaturgical or alchemical modifications.

While some racing occurs along highways, the real action is out in the desert. There, on the vast and empty beds left by ancient seas, law enforcement doesn’t intrude, and higher speeds can be reached. The speeds, and the often haphazard modification of the cars, sometimes make these races deadly--but these mundane dangers aren't the only things to fear.

Maybe it was just the psychic energy boiling off youth hopped-up on alchemical drugs, speed, and the proximity of death; or maybe the death of the ancient seas left the skin of reality thin, inviting irruption. Whatever the cause, broken and burned-out husked of roadsters--and sometimes the charred and mangled remains of their drivers--have been reanimated by outer monstrosities in forms as colorful and grotesque as something from a drug delirium nightmare.

Appearances by these creatures are things of fear and wonder for the human racers. The unholy growl of giant engines and the overpowering smell of burning rubber presage their arrival--almost always between the stroke of midnight and first light of dawn. They're practically worshipped as secret and strange god-things. Rituals are performed; crude talismans of twisted steel and burnt chrome are fashioned. The bravest (or craziest) of the young drivers sometimes join in their monster races, and those few that survive with life and limb, and sanity, intact are often dragged along in the creatures' slipstreams as they roar back into the void, and are never seen again

7 comments:

Sean Robson said...

Brilliant, as always, Trey. Weird desert drag racing has a great vibe, and I love the way you bring your world to life with these off-kilter vignettes.

Trey said...

Thanks, Sean. It's the most interesting way for me to approach it--sort of writing about bits as they interest me rather than a more structured world-building approach.

christian said...

In the late 1980s my friends and I played Car Wars and got a lot of use out of the limited tole-playing rules in the Deluxe Edition box set. I always enjoyed the marriage of vehicle building/maintenance/combat with regular role-playing game stuff.

Trey said...

I played my share of Car Wars in those days too, particularly using the Autoduel supplement for GURPS.

NetherWerks said...

This is awesome stuff--brought back memories of the old CARtoons zine: http://www.connectionshometheater.com/cartoons/

Great stuff, as always!

TheGrumpyCelt said...

I like the old-school done-right vibe of these posts.

Trey said...

Thanks guys! The genesis of this post was ads I remembered seeing in old comic books for Monogram model kits based on Stanley Mouse's artwork, and "Big Daddy" Roth's Rat Fink.