Welcome to the excerpt of The Transition of Johnny Swift Part 1
To read more about Author Kerry Donovan click here
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Anyone placing a pre-order for The Transition of Johnny Swift will receive a FREE e-copy of my crime thriller, The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn
Pole position, traction control on.
For the last time as a Formula 2500 driver, I hope, the dance of fear and excitement pulses blood hard though my ears. I'm going to miss the adrenaline-fuelled kick of anticipation. But Formula 1 will be even better.
A quick glance to my right and there’s my only rival for the title, Enrique La Tiempo. All the others are too far back on the leader board. He’s outside and behind me in the blood-red Ferrari, firing eye-lasers at me. Hates it when I take pole, and I’ve bested him eleven straight times this season. When I start at the front, I usually finish that way.
Sharp sunlight glints off my car’s bright yellow paintjob and flames the bonnet’s black logo — TBR — Team Brazier Racing’s one and only entrant. We cannibalise the carcases of earlier models to make the new ones. This is the Mark IV. The seat is firm, moulded to fit the contours of my back and arse. The engine growls with part-restrained ferocity as I balance the throttle, keeping the engine note below the rev limiter. I pump the throttle again, and my powerful little baby vibrates around and through me, as visceral as a punch to the gut. The car’s as desperate as I am for the off.
Patter, pat, pat.
My fingers play an impatient drumbeat on the wheel. The heat built up in the tyres over the three stop-start warm-up laps is dissipating — less heat, less grip. I glare across at the first bank of three red lights over the starter’s box, daring the next bank to flick on. Once the third bank lights up, there’ll still be another delay before they turn green.
A blink to moisten dry eyes and clear my vision, and I’m ready for battle.
He’s back. Sitting cross-legged on the TBR’s nose cone. Facing me. Haunting and silent.
I guess shadow is the wrong name for him because he’s dark grey, not black. His narrow shoulders are hunched, and he doesn’t have a face.
Semi-transparent arms reach out for me with arms like those wire frame animations they use to create the skeletons of movie avatars, before adding skin and clothing. A hole where the mouth should be moves in silent speech.
I close my eyes. He can’t exist, never existed.
“Get the fuck away from me.”
My helmet radio crackles. “”
Pete’s voice cuts through the background noise. Pete Brazier, TBR’s owner, chief designer, my adoptive father — and my best friend.
I open my eyes. The nose cone is clear of the darkness. I breathe again.
“You said something. Sounded like ‘get away,’” says Pete through the noise-cancelling speakers in my race helmet.
Jesus, I said that out loud?
“Er, no, Pete. Want to get away quick. Hate the waiting.”
“Uh, right. Three minutes. Everything looks good this end. How’d the car handle during warm up?”
“Perfect, as always. She’s a peach.”
“Good luck, son. Bring it home for us.”
The race commentator, Chas Cottam, introduces the starters, his PA voice loud over the noise of eighteen race-bred engines. He starts with the back marker, Greg Sommers, in the only other privateer, a home-built number with a power unit taken from a Toyota V8. Greg’s a nice kid, skilful, but his car’s a bucket of bolts, and rarely completes a race.
Need to use the time to put my head on straight.
I check my periphery. It’s clear. Only the other cars, the drivers, and the spectators.
I suck another centring breath through clenched teeth. The unwanted vision won’t fade, but it must. Today is for Pete and the team; I can’t let anything mess with my head. Nothing can get in the way.
Filter out the noise. Concentrate on picking out the prime driving line to the first turn, the second ‘L’ on the Pirelli hoarding. That’s the line I need to make the first corner on cooling tyres.
“… number three, and in the second Force Austria, Gerhardt Schmeikel,” Cottam yells. He’s reached 9.5 on the Richter Scale in his over hyped build-up and there’s still two more names to announce. I worry the poor sod’s going to burst a blood vessel before he reaches me.
“… and at number two on the grid in the Works Ferrari” — Cottam pauses to allow time for the booing to die — “and currently lying second in the overall Championship, give a big hand to everybody’s favourite, Mr Enrique La Tiempo.”
The booing rises in volume, a legacy from last year’s race when the Spaniard deliberately ran me off the road to scupper my chances of winning the Championship. Fucker won’t do the same this year, not now I’m on pole.
La Tiempo stokes the crowd’s ire by raising his arm and rolling his hand at them.
Finally, Cottam goes for the big wind up, and the crowd’s boos turn to cheers.
“In pole position,” he roars, “and runaway Championship leader, only needing a single point to clinch victory…” “… I give you our very own home grown hero, Fiery Frank Brazier!”
The crowd’s sparse; they never turn out in droves for Formula 2500. It’s only a feeder series for the F1 circus. The thin crowd barely fills the bottom ten rows of the grandstand, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for with enthusiasm. A squadron of spectators, mainly women, all wearing bright yellow T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Fiery’ Frank Brazier, wave and scream my name, and raise flashing mobile phones to their eyes. I wave back, and they yell louder, excitement raising the decibel level to rival the roar of the engines.
I flex my fingers to relax my grip on the steering wheel, which pulses with red, green and blue lights, and digital numbers in orange. Its individual heartbeat keeps time with my own; it’s part of me. Everything’s ready.
With right heel jammed hard on the brake pedal, left foot on the clutch, my toes tickle the accelerator pedal. Petrol spits into the injectors and mixes with air. I inhale the nose-twitching, sweet ammonia smell of high octane vapour before detonation. Gas hits the spark plugs and explodes in controlled fury as eight pistons pump, and the crank rotates at twenty thousand revolutions per minute – full throttle.
Seventeen other drivers do the same. The roar from the pack of race-built engines is deafening, despite the sound-deadening padding in my crash helmet. The noise intoxicates as always, and the exhaust smell is better than perfume on a runway model’s neck.
I feather back on the gas, ten-thousand revs, half way to idling, and rotate my head to stretch neck and shoulder muscles. Tension here is a killer. Can’t shift the crease in the back of my fire-retardant jumpsuit no matter how hard I wriggle against the five-point safety harness.
My heart skips and the rate spikes, but it’s nowhere near max. I’m ready. Been ready for six years.
Right heel snaps from the brake pedal, throttle to the floor. The wild squeal of thirty-six drive tyres drowns out the engine notes for a beat, before rubber finds traction. A pile driver punches my back as the TBR shoots forward, my helmet slams against the headrest, and we’re away. The TBR’s engine snips at the rev-limiter, and I’m slammed deeper into the thin padding on the seat as the g-force doubles, triples.
Near-empty stands roll and blur as I concentrate on the first turn.
Nought-to-sixty in three-point-eight seconds.
Five hundred metres later, turn one is on me. Two cars, a Ferrari and a Renault, crowd my rear wheels, desperate to take my driving line, but it’s my line and I’m giving way to no one.
A shadow falls across my shoulder as I clear the grandstand and head to turn one. I shudder and narrow my focus as the corner grows in my vision.
To Pre-Order The Transition of Johnny Swift click here
Reading excerpt Part 2 will be posted on April, 11, 2014.
Anyone placing a pre-order for The Transition of Johnny Swift will receive a FREE e-copy of my crime thriller, The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn, which aficionados of crime fiction will love.