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The Great Race – Part 4

The propeller on the nose of the Go-Devil (product of Ying Research, stock is limited, so order yours today) appeared to be nothing more than a circular blur, bathing his frozen face with a raw, frost-laden hum. It seemed to be singing him a single sustained lyric:


Bugger all if he had ever been this cold in his life! His eyeballs were warm, thanks to a good set of goggles, a most thoughtful gift from the lovely young Miss Ginsburg. Yet while his eyes were spared the anesthetizing bite of a particularly nasty subarctic wind, the rest of his body was long since numb to its frozen discomfort.

Since the incident over lunch, which had allowed Malus to steal the lead, his racing suit had remained unclasped from the back of the neck to just above his tailbone. Through that opening icy fingers dug their nails in deep and scratched him red.

It seemed like hours since he had left the forested trail behind and began the final leg of the race riding across the wide flat farmland in the valley north of the mountains.

Malus seemed just a speck on the dazzlingly bright white expanse. Emerson realized his  chances of overtaking his squire were grim. Perhaps the universe might yet wake up and realize it needed to set things right, but barring that Emerson fully expected months of insufferable, unspoken gloating from his head bartender and Chief Financial Officer.

It was while absorbed in self-centred thoughts such as this that Emerson noticed Malus had altered his course sharply to the east. Perhaps if I take the angle cross-country I can make up some ground, Emerson thought as he triangulated an interception course and turned off the trail.

The field across which Emerson raced as he angled to intercept Malus was not flat. It was littered with small mounds that he needed to swerve around in order to avoid. Squinting his eyes, Emerson could see these tiny bumps, like snow covered pimples, extended across the off-trail fields as far into the distance as he could discern.

After a few minutes of racing across the snowy fields, Emerson noticed a large pile of blackened scrap metal tangled atop a snowless patch of earth. Bits of dirt and metal littered the snow all around the primary debris pile. It almost looks as though there had been an explosion of some sort, he thought. And, if he were not mistaken, one of the giant steamwork bears was the mortal victim.

Emerson scanned ahead once more and uttered a mild curse. The squire must have noticed my interception course, Emerson realized, for Malus had altered his route to avoid interception by matching Emerson’s decision to veer off the trail. The squire was now heading across the snow covered fields in a more northerly direction and once again he appeared to be gaining ground.

In a flash that all changed.


Where the squire had been a heartbeat earlier, a great fireball now rose into the sky. A half a breath later, while still trying to process the implications of the flash, the sound of the explosion reverberated across the plain like a horrid clap of thunder.

Emerson eased off on the throttle, allowing the Go-Devil to coast to stop. He stared at the dark plume of smoke snaking its way into the sky, trying to process what he had just seen. As the reality of the event finally set in, a profound pulse of distress, infused with adrenalized anxiety raged from deep within his chest, sending out sensations of tingling discomfort to his benumbed extremities. Malus had triggered some sort of landmine!

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  1. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs December 17, 2012

    *gasp* Mr. Lighthouse, what have you done?!

  2. Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg December 17, 2012

    Against the merry chatter and laughter of Gangplank patrons, Bert leaned against the bar idly sketching Junie’s profile as she stared at the door.

    “It’s well into the afternoon, missus,” he said quietly. “Why, I’ll bet they’re at the Butterfields’ farm already, sipping cocoa and feasting on a leg o’ lamb, easy as you please.”  He gave her an encouraging smile.

    “Oh, I’m sure you’re right, Bert,” she said, suddenly busying herself with pulling a pint of ale. “They’ve both been to Dairy many times, the weather is fine, the Go-Devils are in good repair, and they’re both excellent drivers.” 

    She grinned at him then, taking a sip of beer as she shook off her mood.  “I don’t know why I should worry. Em is probably patting Martin on the back right this very instant, wishing him better luck next time!”

  3. Thomas Morlock Thomas Morlock December 17, 2012

    “Spurgan! Take young Flint Morlock to the surface and listen for any news regarding this…” Thomas Morlock turned his head to the side wearing a look of one having tasted spoiled fish. “… This foolish endeavour the boy has undertaken. I have an ill feeling about this race.”

    “And what if the news is not to your liking?” queried the lieutenant.

    “Then we will have Mr. Lighthouse join us for lunch!” the Morlock chieftain spat. “I quite fancy pot roast.”

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