The USS Quad Damage

time warp

Zen and the art of Rice-mobile maintenance

I awoke with a start. It was the middle of the night. I could hear it… calling for me. I turned on my computer. There it was - Need For Speed: Underground.

It all came back to me. I spent perhaps an hour tweaking the aesthetics of my vehicle of choice – the Nissan 240SX. Finally, the choice was made. For the most part, she was the sweetest deep metallic blue. Her spoiler and rims were a fine, golden-orange colour. Her windows tinted the darkest of black. The vinyl? A roaring, flaming dragon covered her exterior. But all these were secondary to her greatest feature of all – pulsing yellow neon’s.

I had called her Theresa.

I had wasted the previous three days taming this beast. I out-drifted this, I out-ran that. An endless number of challengers left in my wake. There was no challenge.

I was death, destroyer of worlds.

But one fateful afternoon, all this changed. I had hit the wall – challenge 72. I could not dodge the traffic, nor could I handle numerous corners. My competition would blow me away, leaving me a hollow, empty shell of a man.

I am no stranger to gaming stress. In earlier years, I had tackled numerous titles which slowly ate away my sanity. X-Wing, Monkey Island 2, Mechwarrior 2 and others. Eventually, I had bent them to my will.

With this in mind, I faced my demons.

Come 2am, I was still facing them.

Now it was 3am – the demons were now laughing at me.

Oh my, 4am. Now they were baking cookies.

No more, I had decided. It was time to unleash the fucking fury.

I ignored my competitors, and took to learning the course in every way possible. What was the best speed and angle to take a corner? Where were all the shortcuts? At what point was it best to use NOS? Where was the best place to ‘introduce’ my opponents to the incoming traffic?

5am. It was time to put all of my theories into practise.

Teresa had pulled up against her rivals. A Mitsubishi Lancer, a Honda S2000, and a Subaru Impreza. My hatred for EA Games was matched only by my disgust for their sickening paint jobs. The engines roared into life, the counter went down.




Let’s Jam.

Within seconds I had taken the lead. Every corner taken perfectly, no shortcut was missed. I had weaved through the traffic with impunity.

After three laps I had left my opponents behind. All, that is, except for one.

That fucking Subaru.

Despite my immense efforts, I could not shake it. It matched me at every corner, every evasion. I could not rid of it any sooner I could my own shadow.

I needed something special.

I summoned all the concentration I possessed. I took everything the car had to give. I had to become the car. I acquired the calm serenity of its blue paintjob. The fire of its golden-orange spoiler. The deep pits of its tinted windows.

I had become the very dragon adorning the car.

This Zen-like state changed everything. I succeeded every corner because I desired it so. I no longer dodged traffic – it dodged me. By the very last corner, I had acquired a marginal lead. This was it – nirvana.

Then I hit a van that looked like it belonged to the A-Team - MR T HIMSELF HAD DENIED ME MY VICTORY!

I placed second by a mere half-second. As you can no doubt guess, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why, after all this time, and after achieving a feat that I will never pull off again, could I not win?

Why had God (MR T) taken this away from me?

I said farewell to my Teresa, purchased a Honda CRX, and won challenge 72 without breaking a sweat.

The moral of this story?

Do not underestimate a V-TEC engine.

I apologise if this is a rambling, inchoherent mess. It's 6am, and I'm still rather cranky about it.