This story first appeared in the anthology, HE IS LEGEND, honoring Richard Matheson. It was inspired by Matheson’s short story DUEL, which he turned into the script for a young Steven Spielberg’s first movie. You remember, the one that starred Dennis Weaver as a salesman fleeing a killer truck driver across the desert.
Here we have a bike club, The Tribe, led by Vince and Race, father and son, both vets, Vince Viet Nam, Race the Gulf. They’d just left a slaughter, a partner in a deal for a meth lab that the pair had invested in gone bad, the trailer exploding and burning the first day, their fifty thousand investment gone. Clarke hadn’t bothered to inform them, they’d had to hear it from someone else.
Oh Clarke was all apologetic, claiming he was about to hunt them up and explain. Except he’d been packing. His seventeen year old girl friend, high on meth, had pulled a pistol and started shooting. All it got her was chopped to bits by a machete and Clarke’s head caved in by a shovel.
They’d pulled into a truck stop to get something to eat and were talking about it among the big rigs parked where they’d slid in behind. One suddenly cranked and pulled out. All Vince saw of the driver was a tanned arm with a marine tattoo, DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR, on the bicep.
After eating, Race wanted to visit Clarke’s sister. The man couldn’t have put all their fifty thousand into that crappy trailer. And he had been frantically talking to someone on his cell when they’d pulled up.
It was down the road a bit when they caught up with the rig, LAUGHLIN on the cab door, pulling a oil tanker. Unusual because they were only twenty miles from the truck stop and they’d been inside an hour. Had the man pulled over? Why?
They found out soon, passing him and heading on up the road, only to find him barreling at them about sixty miles an hour, they only doing forty-five, plowing through them, eating up bikes and riders.
And they didn’t even know why.
Thus begins a tense battle across the valley, the action unrelenting, the violence out there.
Loved this homage to Duel, the movie version one of my favorite TV movies of all time. Each chapter of this novella has a wonderful piece of art by Nelson Daniel heading it. Here’s an example. Cllick on the image to enlarge.
Available at a modest price on Amazon. I could not get a working link for THROTTLE for some reason and gave up after ten, fifteen times. I lost count. OK, I’n probably a moron. It’s a great story worth the price.