“I’ll bet you’re regretting that third cup of coffee now!” Emerson jeered as he raced past the Squire’s idling Go-Devil (Product of Ying Research Inc. – order yours today) taking the lead for the first time in the almost two hours since the race had commenced. He chanced a glance back over his shoulder in time to see Malus refastening his trousers and coat as he ran from behind the tree he had been using. Within moments the Squire had resumed his ride but he would be at least a full minute behind, maybe two, before he got up to speed.
Emerson turned his attention back to the trail. He took note just ahead at how the trees began to close in along the path they had been following. They were about to enter a treacherous passage through a more densely forested region that sloped steadily downward from the north side of the mountains. Emerson knew the route would continue through this heavily wooded area for several miles before opening up in the valley below. Cleetus’s farm, on the northern margins of the Valley was at least another two hours ahead.
Emerson angled his Go-Devil between the tree-lined banks sloping up from the trail. It was almost like entering a tunnel, the tree were so thick overhead. At least the Squire will have a challenge passing in here, he thought.
The roadway twisted and turned as it wound its way through the woods. Emerson had to reduce his speed considerably to avoid running into the powdery banks. It was fortunate that the wooded trail necessitated such speed control, for after only about five minutes he came across a fallen spindly spruce stretching from one raised bank to the other. It would have blocked the trail entirely but for getting hung up in the branches of trees on the opposite side. He would have to veer as far to the right as the trail could accommodate.
The propeller on the front of the Go-Devil just managed to clear the obstacle. It was then that he got an idea. An awful idea. Emerson got a wonderful awful idea. Jumping off his Go-Devil he ran back to the fallen tree. Cautiously at first, he climbed up on top, and started bouncing. In the distance he could hear the Squire’s approaching Go-Devil. Frantically he shimmied closer to the top until his weight was sufficient to knock it loose from the supporting branches and it tumbled down another two feet closer to the ground, enough, at least, to fully obstruct the pass.
Emerson hopped off the tree then ran quickly back to his Go-Devil, snickering the whole time at his own cleverness. That will hold him, thought Emerson as he raced off. His glee was short-lived however, for he had not advanced more than another two minutes when a movement up ahead caught his notice; something large was lumbering in the periphery. Slowing somewhat, with furrowed brow, Emerson focussed. Something was tracking him! All of a sudden he let out shriek as a thirty-foot steamworks bear lunged out from the wood to the right, blocking the trail as it belched black smoke and bellowed with mechanical ferocity.
Emerson executed the fastest fifteen point turn on record as he hastily turned the Go-Devil and raced for his life back in the direction from which he had come; the mechanical bear, with programmed blood-lust, in hot pursuit. Suddenly, Emerson pulled to a sliding halt as he faced the fallen tree!
To be continued