The Ute Charges

A terrible hum filled the air as the beast of a ute drove right toward us. On instinct, I pressed Gollo’s head into the sand, burying my own at the same time. I felt the rumbling as it tore towards us, over us, felt my hat get torn off my head by the torrent of wind.

Then it was past us. I stuck my face up, wiping away the grit so I could see clearly again. The ute had sailed over the top of us, barely missing our tucked-up forms, judging by the tread patterns in the sand. I grabbed Gollo and pulled him to his feet, watching the monster as it spun itself around to face us again.

‘It’s no use,’ Gollo cried, clutching my arm as ute revved its engine. ‘We can’t outrun it, not on the sands.’

‘I’m thinking,’ I snapped at him. ‘Come up with something!’

Without warning, the ute was off again, tearing towards us like we were bowling pins.

Gollo and I dove to different sides, and the ute sailed between us, unable to make up its mind in time.

‘Could we break it open?’ Gollo called to me.

‘No,’ I shook my head. ‘Not with one of those high quality aluminium ute canopies – we’d never make a dent.’

The ute made its choice and charged – at Gollo.

He let out a cry and dove behind a small dune, barely his height. The ute powered up the side of the dune, ramping over it and twisting in the air above Gollo. As it did, I saw the latch on its tray slide out, ever so slightly.

A plan began to form behind my eyes. I smiled, even as I calculated the odds in my head.

Not great.

I just had to grapple with the back of the car, like I’d see them handle the ute trays near Melbourne. That’s if I could remember their technique.


The Ute Chase

We flew over the sands like they were molten beneath our feet, running as hard as we could as the Great Ute behind us snarled and spun, sand kicking into the air behind its rapidly-spinning tyres.

‘I think your god is angry, sir!’ Gollo panted breathlessly beside me. I briefly considered that he must be slowing himself down to keep pace with me ­– there was no reason this man of the sands shouldn’t be a glint on the horizon to me now.

‘We woke it up Gollo,’ I pressed my hand to my hat, keeping it on my head as we ran. ‘We woke it up and it wasn’t ready! We need to find some way of—’

My voice choked in my throat as – with a great roar – the ute leapt over a dune to our right, twisting through the air to land on its heavy tyres, facing us.

I skidded to a stop, slamming an arm out to stop Gollo too.

‘No sudden movements,’ I hissed at him. He nodded sharply, then caught himself and nodded more slowly.

‘O, noble ute,’ I cried, falling to my knees in a show of fealty. ‘Ye who has the shiniest of affordable ute toolboxes near Melbourne! I come to you as a humble—’

The ute growled again, and my mouth went dry.

‘Sir,’ Gollo whispered to me, until I silenced him with a quick glare. I turned back to the ute with a smile.

‘Most gorgeous of utility vehicles,’ I intoned, rising to my feet, hands still held in the air. ‘We are but gnats, caught in the clasps of your 4×4 aluminium canopies. For sale, I offer you these precious rubies, plucked from a Maharanian mountaintop and worthy only of a god such as yourself.’

I fished the gemstones from my jacket pocket, scattering them on the sand in front of me.

The ute didn’t move.

Sir,’ Gollo insisted.

‘What?’ I growled, spinning around to glare at him properly.

‘The ute,’ he whispered. ‘Its sound has changed.’