Is the fee just a handshake? You think to yourself.
A thorn just brushed your side mirror.
It is dark. You don’t mind. You put on your headlamps. You see deflated tires in the thorns. A few damaged parts of cars are lodged in the thorn bushes.
Then. Bam! Pothole.
A few other damaged car parts are also lodged in the thorn bushes. You keep driving but continue wondering at this.
You are almost instantly jarred back from your thoughts by a loud bang.
You switch on high beams, and you see a sea of potholes on a road that seems endless.
The wind has picked up.
You try to navigate through the potholes. The knowledge of the beautiful city keeps you going.
The rains start. The road gets tighter. The thorns rip out the passenger’s side wiper blade.
It’s not looking good so far.
You look in your rearview mirror. It’s pitch black. You are gently galloping on the road.
It briefly widens ahead. You see a parked car with smoke coming out of its hood (or bonnet). The owner sits in it staring into the void. It looks like he has given up. He does not seem to notice your presence.
You shout – DON’T GIVE UP!
You keep going. The road is much tighter. The thorns look like they are on steroids. They are bigger. Sharper. Longer.
Both of your side mirrors are broken at the same time. Ice starts falling. This is no snow. It’s a hailstorm. Your windows are cracking from the continuous battering of the ice.
You roll down all four windows. There is a crack on the rear windshield.
You look up, hoping and wishing it stops. It rains harder.
You quietly say in a resigned tone ‘Please stop‘
The hail stops, just as you arrive at the next pothole. This one covers the width of the road.
Your car is a complete mess now. One of your tires is flat. You see a large pool of water ahead. Your instinct kicks in. You slam the brakes.
You come out of the car, standing in front of this huge pool, wondering how to get across. You break off a huge thorn, and use it to test the depths of the water. After several dips in different parts of the road, you are finally able to get a part that is relatively shallow. You have found your entry point.
This hole is uneven underneath.
You come up with a plan to climb out of the sunroof to test the depths with the thorn. You are finally able to make it across.
It has been a slow and hard journey.
It gets worse. It starts to rain again, heavily. You keep going. Your strength is not diminishing. It feels weird, but you don’t have the time to think it through.
You finally make it through.
The high pitched irritating sound causes you to stop. You come out of the car. The car you have been driving for what feels like days does not look like the car you began the journey with. There are nasty scratches at the base close to the tyres. It gets worse. The thorns have slashed open two other tyres, the front tyre on the passenger’s side and the rear tyre on your (driver’s) side.
Meanwhile, the passenger’s rear tyre is gone. The rim was responsible for the screech.
It’s is a depressing sight.
The car seems to be beyond repairable. The engine works though.
You remember the awesome road you were on a while ago (it feels like a really long time). The time you have spent on this toll road now feels like eternity. It has been horrendous. You remember the city again and say to yourself, “I’ll keep going”.
Next up are lots and lots of speed bumps.
You think to yourself – why put speed bumps here?
It’s not like anyone can ever speed on the road. It seems redundant.
The road here is a lot wider than it has ever been.
You gently and slowly go over the bumps. One at a time.
Hours later. You finally see light for the first time on the road, but it isn’t the sun.
It’s the city.
You made it. Your car is a wreck. But you made it.
The car finally gives up. The engine cannot take it anymore. Its job is done. You come out kiss the hood (or bonnet). It’s dirty but you don’t mind it. You approach a checkpoint of sorts.
This checkpoint reminds you a little of the toll booth at the beginning of the road. But, it is completely different. This one is made of gold.
The road from that point is gold.
Exhausted and puzzled. There’s a tired smile on your weary face.
You take one last look behind, and you notice your car slowly moving into the thorn bush.
You quickly walk towards the checkpoint.
Upon getting there, a voice asks for your name. You respond.
The voice asks you to place your hand on the scanner. You look at your hands. They are covered with dirt and dried blood. You place your right hand on the scanner. It hurts a little.
It flashes green.
The barrier in front of you is lifted, as a white limousine with gold rims parks in front of you. You never even saw it come around.
The door opens.
It is your new ride to the shiny city.
You won the race.