The voice was faint at first. I was out at Delta running laps with one of my test rigs that evening. There wasn't a soul around, or so I thought. It was well after hours and even neighboring Little League fields were barren. Steve, Delta's shop manager, had left without a word an hour earlier, knowing that I would lock up the grounds behind me whenever I decided to head home.
The sun had fallen behind the hills and an unusually thick cover of shadowy Pacific fog had pushed its way across the San Francisco Bay, through the passes and into the valley. A chill breeze slipped through the trees and prodded at my clothing, breaking through ever more frequently. Every few minutes there was a gust and the rattling of leaves was accompanied by a light and whispy howl. It was as if the trees were trying to find a voice to tell me something.
My last battery pack started to give up just as my sight began to fail me in the descending darkness. It didn't take long to pack my equipment into the Volvo and drive just past the property line to close the main gates. The thick chains clanging against the fence as I fastened the padlocks echoed across the fields. As I got ready to step back into the car, the wind picked up slightly and I got the sense that dusk was reversing -- there was light. I turned around to be greeted by a fuzzy, oblong clearing amongst the waves of fog that were spilling over the hill. Through this clearing, the firey yellows & reds of what must have been a spectacular sunset shone through vividly. I wished I was atop nearby Mt. Diablo -- the sights surely would have been breathtaking.
On the long drive home, my mind was uncharacteristically calm and quiet. Normally I would have been thinking about a million things, drafting responses to emails in my head, prioritizing various projects, scheduling the evening around favorite TV shows etc. But not this time. No thoughts. Nothing. I flicked on the radio for a minute to try to get some inspiration, but all of the stations I regularly listen to were airing overplayed tunes that I had grown sick of. I figured, "Ah, well, nothing wrong with a bit of peace n' quiet for a change."
That night I revisited the evening's sights & sounds in my dreams. I kept hearing the sound of the wind, and I would turn suddenly to look down the long row of pit tables, expecting to see someone, but all that was there was my car. But you know how things go in dreams; reality stretches & bends quite a lot. The longer I stared at my car, the more it would change. The nose seemed to slant down and the side windows seemed like eyes that were taking on a very mean look. I'd blink and turn away, and there would be that colorful clearing in the sky. Except, it started to look like an eye now, too. The howl of the wind grew louder and had the tone of a call for help. I'd hear the sound, look over at my car, which would start to distort, then I'd look at the sky, then the Rustler I was driving, then... Great, this was turning into one of those circular nightmares where you get stuck in an uncomfortable situation. Fortunately, I've developed a lot of cross-over between conscious and subconscious thought, and I was able to snap out of the cycle and wake up before it became downright frightening. At the moment when I woke up, though, the sound was just starting to play again, and it echoed through my head for a second after my eyes opened. It was actually a windy night, and the leaves of the tree in front of the house were rustling and whistling. That was actually the sound I was hearing in my dreams, only my mind was distorting things a bit.
The following day, I got an email from Jeremy Jabaay out in Illinois. He wanted to let me know that he had shipped the package and my new red "Nightmare" aluminum chassis would be arriving in a few days to try out on my test Rustler.
Nah. It's just a coincidence.
It's just a coincidence.