It’s somewhere between the time when the drunks all carefully climb into their cars and play games with the police and the time when the responsible and the dedicated are out and about taking care of responsibilities while the rest of the world sleeps. The street lights flash in their monotonous pattern, the heart beat of a city in a sleep so deep it might as well be a coma.
The sky is fully dark. Not black, because it never gets fully black. The clouds that would obscure the moon are lit with the pale glow from the city, a faint bluish color that never actually feels like full dark. Nighttime is kept at bay by millions of tall metal sentries that line every path in the slumbering metropolis. In doesn’t help the feeling of loneliness on a night such as this. It certainly doesn’t encourage sleeping. It is only a counterpoint to the loneliness of the deserted roads, a nightlight left on for those returning home at such a forsaken hour.
The heavy, droning tone of an engine is the only thing that pierces the stillness of a night like tonight. The empty streets seem to welcome the sound, repeating it between concrete walls and darkened buildings. It takes on a magical quality, a constant crescendo, anticipation of a living soul in all this inanimate bleakness.
The car tears down the street, no longer hampered by such pedestrian concerns as stop lights and traffic. The keys of the city have been turned over, the roadways laid own with red carpet, for anyone who is willing to venture out into these small hours where life retreats.
The world seems to get even quieter as the vehicle approaches. The insects stop chirping, the wind is muted by the sound of the engine. The world is boiled down to a single noise, the mechanical pounding of pistons driven by endless explosions, destruction turned into motion, combustion turned into propulsion. It is only one energy being turned into another, over and over again, but the inert world around it is envious of the freedom.
The car tore through the night at speeds that it wouldn’t dare to pull during the day, when there were pedestrians and other cars and a thousand other dangers. Now it seemed indifferent to those risks. There was open road and it was going to defeat it handily. A line of motion, gleaming dark metal and tinted glass, the lights reflecting a staccato pattern, watery dots of light a fleeting impression of place before it was gone again.
Inside the car was a different story. There wasn’t lonliness here. Inside the bubble of glass and metal was another world, a world of life and thought and action. In here was a Driver. In here there was purpose.
As the car tore through the empty streets, the driver was nearly motionless. His eyes were alert on the road ahead, the mirrors showing him where he had gone, but he barely moved. Small adjustments of the wheel, the foot carefully measuring the gas, but otherwise the driver was still. That stillness was in direct contrast to the machine under his control. It thrummed a deep vibration from the engine, intricate machinery pushing the thousands of pounds of vehicle forward. The thrumming of the air inside as the music was cranked up, a beat that was like the pulse of some animal, straining and racing to go faster and faster.
The driver was one with the machine, his mind was racing to notice a thousand things. At this speed, any mistake could quickly turn serious. Every adjustment to his course strained against the inertia of the car. When the roads turned, the car strained, the body shifting from the forces placed upon it. But that motion seemed to barely register for the driver, who took it all in stride with a flick of his wrists and a turn of the wheel. The car obeyed his command, machine not just subject to but bettering the abilities of man.
The windows shook with the sound inside of the car. It safely kept the night, and its endless sources of desolate solitude, at bay. In here was energy. In here was life and thought. In here was will turned into motion. The driver was charged with it. His thought could become action with nary an effort. Tools transformed into freedom.
The driver never took his eyes off the road, but he cracked a private smile at that thought. Freedom. That’s exactly what it was. Blood-racing, exhilarating, mind-liberating freedom. It was the freedom to exceed his natural self. And he did so gladly, refusing the call of sleep and the darkness as he pressed the pedal down further and raced faster through his own personal paved paradise.
The car left the quiet city behind, outracing the world and the sun and all those who awaited its return.