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Route 62, Ch. 30 by Nevuela Route 62, Ch. 30 by Nevuela
I’ll Meet You On Route 62
(A Disney/Pixar Cars fanfic)

Chapter Thirty:
A Helping Hook

“I’m… so cold…” Mack’s words were little more than a whisper on the icy air, so faint that at first Vee wasn’t even sure she had heard them.

She forced her eyes open, the lashes sealed with frozen tears. “What?”

Mack’s body shook from a fit of coughing. “Cold,” he said again, slightly louder this time.

Vee sniffled and nuzzled the side of her hood against his. She shivered. He was as cold as ice. “Turn your heater on,” she told him. Her own voice was as frail as his from crying. “Warm yourself up.”

Mack squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced. He looked like he was in pain. When he opened them again, he looked even more miserable than ever. “I can’t,” he moaned. “C-can’t turn it on. Can’t s-s-start engine. Too c-cold.”

Vee blinked back the threat of more tears and swallowed hard. “Well, you’ve got all that snow on you. No wonder you’re cold.” Despite her words, there was no denying the thin layer of snow laying across her own hood and roof. “Here, lemme brush it off.” She stood up on her back tires and, using one front tire to balance herself against Mack’s hood, tried to reach up with her other front tire and clear away the snow that had fallen on him. There was little she could reach from her position, and after her second slip she decided it was pointless and gave up. Sniffling, she pressed herself close to him again, sheltered from the bitter wind in the space between his hood and the brim of his cap.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed, tears brimming here eyes once more. “I tried.”

As miserable as he felt already, seeing his best friend so upset over him made Mack feel even worse. "P-please don’t cry, Vee,” he murmured. “Ev-everything’s g-gonna be okay. You’ll see.” This was followed by another coughing fit that only discouraged her even more.

“Oh Mack…” she sobbed all the harder. Mack stopped coughing and frowned.

“Stop it,” he ordered. His voice carried an unexpected strength and resonance that effectively silenced his friend. Vee stared at him in shock. “No more tears,” he continued, gentler this time. “I ca- I can’t stand seeing you like this, V-vee. It hurts. Worse than f-falling off that m-m-mountain.” His voice grew weaker by the word until he was whispering again. “So please. P-please don’t c-cry anym - anymore.”

Vee’s lip trembled, and she bit it to keep it steady. She clenched her eyes shut and rubbed her left side against Mack’s hood. Whether that gesture was meant to comfort Mack or herself, she couldn’t say. She held back the tears for his sake, but inside she was weeping openly, her mind screaming in panic. There was no telling how much time had passed in their frozen hell at the bottom of that ravine. An hour? Half an hour? Half a day, perhaps?

The snow had long since ceased and the wind had calmed considerably. Now and then a frail sunbeam would break through the dingy clouds. It was eerily quiet in the gorge. After a while Mack opened his eyes and looked at Vee.

“Try again,” he whispered.

Startled, Vee jumped and stared at him. “Huh?”

“Storm’s over. T-try again.”

Vee backed away from him slightly. “We’ve tried five times already!” she replied. “Either your CB’s damaged or we’re out of range!”

Mack drew in a deep breath. “Weather m-makes a difference, too.”

Vee sighed. “All right. I’ll try.” She rolled closer to him. “Hello? Is anyone out there? We need help! We’ve fallen into a ravine and my hauler is hurt badly. Please! It’s an emergency! We need help right away!” There was a faint hiss that faded into silence, but no answer. Vee started sobbing.

“It’s no use! There’s no one out there who’s gonna help us!” she growled, kicking up a small flurry of snow.

Mack drew in another deep breath. “Then you - you’re gonna have to go,” he wheezed.

Vee stopped kicking the snow and stared at him. “What?”

“I’m not - not gonna hold you b-back. Just go. Leave m-me here.”

Vee’s eyes widened in shock. “No! No, Mack. I’m not leaving you! Ever!”

“F-forget me. I’ll be -”

“NO!” Vee’s shout echoed off the surrounding mountains. “This is all MY fault, and I’m not going to let you lie here and suffer because of me! I’m going to get help, and I WILL be coming back for you! That’s a promise!”

And without even giving him a chance to protest, Vee kissed him fervently on the lips, then turned and plowed her way through the snow. Too weak to call her back, Mack watched helplessly as she disappeared from sight around a boulder.

Vee didn’t get very far before the snow grew too deep for her to drive through. When it started coming up over her hood, she stopped and tried to back out of it, only to find herself sinking even more. She managed a single, strangled cry for help before the snow poured into her mouth and silenced her. Vee gagged and spat it out. She tried to turn around, pulling herself up onto a nearby rock. Her tires started to slide so she tightened her grip, but it was no use.

Vee tipped back into the snow and was swallowed up by it, buried up to her roof. Her engine raced and she struggled with all her might, but to no avail. After several minutes, she gave up, exhausted. The icy walls of her prison seemed to close in around her.

Then suddenly, it happened. CLANK! Something small and hard landed on her trunk, causing her to yelp and start struggling again. The small something - a rock? an icicle? - slid off and slipped underneath her back bumper, where it seemed to attach itself to her. Vee let out a second, much louder yelp as she suddenly found herself being yanked backwards and out of the snow.

Whatever had seized hold of her was now dragging her, screaming, up the side of the mountain. As suddenly as it had happened, it was over with. Vee was dropped onto a flat, rocky surface, not far up from where she had been trapped. Panting heavily and trembling, she could only stare numbly down at her imprint in the snow for a moment before something touched her side and she jumped.

“Shoot, Miss Vee! Ah didn’t mean tuh scare ya none, but you was turnin’ into uh right perdy lil carsicle down there!”

Mouth agape, Vee stared at her rescuer. “Mater?”

The rusty tow truck grinned proudly. “That’s muh name!” Behind him on the ledge stood Doc Hudson, Sheriff, and Lightning McQueen. Vee blinked several times and shook her hood, hardly daring to believe what she was seeing.

“Oh my Dodge!” she exclaimed, rushing forward to embrace each of them in turn, including Sheriff, who stared back at her as though she’d just bitten him. “What are you all doing here?”

“After I came back to town and heard what happened, I knew something smelled fishy,” Doc explained. “Especially after hearing these three tell their separate versions of the story. Something about it all just didn’t add up, so we set out to find you and Mack and try to help you in any way we could.”

“That’s right,” Lightning confirmed. “We’ve been on your trail for days. We would’ve caught up to you a lot sooner if someone hadn’t been dragging his ass the whole time!” He glared pointedly at Sheriff, who glared back and mumbled something about “gal darn speeders.”

“How did you ever find us?” Vee asked Doc.

“It wasn’t easy, I can tell you that much. If you want to thank anyone, thank Mater here for tracking you down to this gorge.”

Vee turned to Mater, who blushed and scuffed the ground with a tire. “T’weren’t nothing, really. Ah jist heard ya calling fer help on mah CB radio. Y’all kept callin’ and callin’, and Ah jist kept followin’ and followin’ and perdy soon Ah took a little trip down inta this here ravine and there you was in the snow right there.”

Lightning snorted. “Little trip, huh? More like a hundred-foot fall if you ask me.”

Mater gave him a puzzled look. “Sorry, but Ah don’t recall askin’ ya.”

“Where is Mack, anyway?” Doc asked. He glanced around the ravine.

“And my trailer!” Lightning demanded. “Taking it to hide out in I can overlook, but if you’ve been fooling around with any of my stuff…”

* * * * *

Lightning’s horrified cry went ignored by the others as they crowded around Mack. Doc immediately seized control of the situation.

“Mater, unhitch that trailer. Sheriff, get the tool kit and the transmission fluid out of my trunk. Vee, I’m going to need your help with this. Rookie, for crying out loud, forget about your damn trailer! It’s replaceable. Mack isn’t. Now get over here and help us!”

No one wasted any time obeying Doc’s orders. Not wasting any time himself, the old Hudson promptly opened Mack’s hood and started to work on him. Time ticked by. After some (fairly) minor repairs, followed by infusions of oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze, Doc shut his hood again and moved back.

“All right. I’ve done all I can for now.” He sighed, slightly out of breath. “Now all we’ve got to do is get you back on your tires and out of this gorge. Mater?”

“Yeah, Doc?”

“Think you’ve got what it takes to tow a semi?”

Mater’s smile faded as he looked from Doc to Mack. “Uh well, Ah guess Ah kin try. Ah ain’t never towed no one bigger’n mahself before.” That said, he rolled closer to Mack and let out several feet of his tow cable. Sheriff grabbed the hook and slipped it under Mack’s wheel well. Mater reeled the cable back in until the line was taut.

“Ready?” he yelled.

Mack murmured something and Vee patted his grille. “Ready!” she shouted back.

“Okay!” With a roar of his engine and a screeching of tires, Mater began to crawl forward. Snow flew up from behind him. “Rrrrrrrrrrgh…” He clenched his teeth and switched gears, towing harder than he had ever towed in his entire life.

“Come on, Mater, you can do it!” Vee cheered him on.

“Yeah! That’s right!” Lightning joined in. “It’s just like pulling Bessie, and I know how much you like her!”

“She were a breeze!” Mater grunted. “No offense, Mack - hhrrrnnn - but ya might wanna think about losin’ a ton or three.” Just as he said this, Mater felt himself sliding backwards. Without snow chains, he had little traction in the snow.

“Quick!” Doc shouted. “Sheriff, Lightning, get behind Mack and start pushing!” They obeyed and were followed immediately by Doc, who aided them in their effort. Vee approached Mater and laid a reassuring tire on his.

“I know you can do it, Mater,” she told him. “I just know it.”

Mater looked at her guiltily. “Ah’m tryin’ hard as Ah can, Miss Vee. Honest to Dodge Ah am.”

“I know, but… try harder. Please?”

The pleading look on her face was like a high-octane fuel injection. It empowered him. His engine roared to life again and he surged forward. Very slowly at first, Mater inched his way through the snow, lifting Mack up off his side. Behind him, Doc, Sheriff and Lightning pushed with all their might. Vee glanced back and forth between Mack and Mater, watching the progress with bated breath. The tow truck continued to claw his way forward, growling and grunting and panting heavily.

Suddenly, the line went slack. There was a muffled thud as Mack landed upright on his tires. A round of cheers went up from the group. Mater collapsed, breathless and trembling, in the snow. Vee drove up to him and hugged him.

“Thank you, Mater,” she whispered. Mater blushed.

“Aw shucks, Miss Vee. T’weren’t nothin’. Ah’s jist doin’ what Ah was built fer, that’s all.”

Vee shook her hood. “No. You did so much more than that.” She gazed at him for a moment, then, to everyone’s surprise (including her own), she leaned forward and kissed him, long and hard, on the lips. When at last she pulled away, slightly breathless, her face was as rosy as the dawn. Mater blushed redder than Mack. His headlight to headlight grin was infectious. Vee smiled back.

“Hey, what about me?” Mack demanded. He drove over to Mater and Vee, slightly unsteady. “Don’t I get a kiss too?”

Lightning parked beside him. “Yeah, and what about me? I helped too!”

Mack growled at him and Vee chuckled. “Of course you do,” she purred, wasting no time in capturing Mack’s lips with her own.

* * * * *

“Are you sure you want to do this? I think it would be best if you allowed yourself to recover a little first.” Vee pulled up beside Mack as he came to a stop, hauling the trailer behind him.

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “The storm’s over and the sun’s out. Plus it looks like a salt truck came by recently.” He nodded at the iceless mountain road before them. “Should be easy going from now on. Get in.”

Vee shook her hood. “It’s Lightning’s trailer. He should be the one riding in it, not me.”

“Go ahead,” said McQueen. “I’ll drive.”

“Well, okay…” Hesitantly, Vee drove up the ramp into the trailer. The interior was a mess. Vee swept all the Lightning merchandise into the back and settled down on the plush carpet, mulling over the day’s events.

Ford Almighty, what have I done? Mack could have gotten killed because of me! If he didn’t have me to worry about, he’d be safe at home back in Radiator Springs right now, without a scratch on him.

A single tear brimmed her eyes until she blinked it away. It slid down her hood. “Oh Mack…” Another tear fell and she heard it splash on something that was not the carpet. She turned a tire and heard something crinkle beneath her. Vee backed up a little and looked down. On the floor before her lay a signed Lightning McQueen poster, wrinkled and ripped. She stared down at it for a long time, then sniffled and turned the paper over.

Just as she’d hoped, the backside was blank. She turned and searched the mess for one of those tacky pencils she’d seen earlier. They had lightning bolts on a red solid background and a red eraser shaped like McQueen. After a minute or two, she found one. This pencil had lost its eraser, and the graphite point was dull but thankfully still intact. Blinking back a fresh wave of tears, Vee took the pencil and paper and began to write.

* * * * *

The sun was setting by the time Mack and the gang pulled up to a diner in a tiny town in the foothills. Mack unhitched the trailer with a sigh of relief, then knocked on the door.

“The guys and I are gonna go drain the old oil pan,” he announced. “Be right back.”

Vee peered out the cracked and tinted window, watching the five men drive around to the back of the diner. She stared after them for a moment, then took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out slowly. The ramp did not descend fast enough for her, having been damaged in the fall. Vee rammed it twice to get it to open. Once outside, she glanced around both sides of the trailer to see if the coast was clear. Tears splattered the broken asphalt, only to be replaced by black tire tracks and the stench of burnt rubber as she sped away.

A minute later Mack and the others returned. “Hoo boy, what a relief that was!” Mack sighed as he drove around to the back of the trailer. “Hey Vee, are you hungry? Cuz they’ve got a lot of -” he trailed off, noticing that the ramp was down and the trailer empty. Sheriff pulled up beside him.

“Something wrong?”

“Vee’s gone.”

"Probably just went to the restroom.”

“Yeah, probably.”

Lightning drove up the ramp and groaned. “I seriously doubt my insurance will cover this.” He gasped. “My stereo! Oh my Dodge!” Another gasp. “And the mini-bar!”

Mack smirked and turned away.

Lightning spotted something on the floor. “Hey, what’s this?” he murmured. Mack ignored him. In the center of the trailer floor, near the door, stood a Lightning bobble-head. Underneath it was a large piece of paper. Lightning pushed the bobble-head aside and started to read what was written on the paper.

“Uh, Mack? I think you’d better come take a look at this.”

Mack turned around and was surprised to see the troubled look on his friend’s face. Lightning pushed the paper toward him. The note appeared rushed, but he recognized it immediately as Vee’s writing.

Mack -

Words can’t express how grateful I am for your friendship. You’ve done so much for me, and all I’ve done in return is cause trouble. I’m so sorry for what happened today. I can’t bear to see you get hurt again, which is why I’m going away. I love you so much, and it hurts me to do this, but I know it’s for the best. Please do not come looking for me. The further I am from you, the better off you are.

Love you always

Vee



Chapter Thirty-One: [link]
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:iconmikebennett1980:
MikeBennett1980 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
"Better to burp and taste it than to fart and waste it! Git-R-Done!" Great job!
Reply
:iconnevuela:
Nevuela Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
Exactly! :D :D :D
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:iconfizzlebleach:
fizzlebleach Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011
irt
Reply
:iconnevuela:
Nevuela Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011
irt?
Reply
:iconfizzlebleach:
fizzlebleach Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2011
i no right sorey it sod or been inr
Reply
:iconpixar-porsche:
Pixar-Porsche Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2011  Hobbyist Filmographer
lol love how Vee went around distributing kisses...although being a die-hard Lightning/Sally shipper for five years and counting, i dont think mcqueen woulda asked for one. but still, epicness beyond words!!
Reply
:iconnevuela:
Nevuela Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2011
Hehehehehehe.
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:icongraceheart306:
graceheart306 Featured By Owner May 21, 2011  Student Writer
go mater go!!!!!!!!!!!!
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:iconewela007:
ewela007 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2008
go! go! Mater
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:iconnevuela:
Nevuela Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2008
LOL, that's my boy! XP
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