It had snowed during the night blanketing the fields north of the city wall in a fresh white powder that sparkled as if composed, in part, by crushed diamonds. The pure white had yet to become flecked with the sooty fall-out from a city largely powered by coal. If the reported shortages of the carbon fuel were true and the dire warnings bore out then the frosty postcard white might yet remain unblemished for some time.
It was just after eight in the morning and a small herd of long-haired cows, with clouds of steam billowing from their nostrils, watched with a certain bovine disinterest as a small gathering of townies huddled near the frozen pond.
“Do you think you might not get a bit cold dear?” asked Junie from beneath several layers of scarves, sweaters and coat. “You are going to be out there several hours.”
“I have a theory.” Emerson replied, briskly waving his arms back and forth to increase the blood flow and trying not to let his teeth chatter. He was dressed in a form fitting black leather racing suit, including a shiny leather helmet pulled down tight over his head from beneath which his shaggy gray locks, matted against his cheeks, peeked out. Instead of his customary red rimmed glasses he wore a pair of bright cherry red designer airship goggles with yellow lenses.
“It all has to do with aerodynamics.” he continued. “Once the squire and I get up to speed the wind will flow over my suit without resistance and will not have a chance to make me cold.” Emerson nodded to Malus. “See that bulky coat the squire is wearing and big woolen mittens. The wind will catch in those trapping the cold air. He’ll freeze before he is halfway to Dairy. It’s science.”
“You sure know a lot about science, Mister Emerson.” said Momoe wrapped in bright fluffy colours.
“It is true Moomoo.” replied Emerson. “You don’t get as far in life as I have without a superior intellect.”
Malus revved his Go-Devil (a product of Ying Research Inc) signalling his impatience. “Come on!” came his muffled shout from beneath layers of scarf wound around his face as tight as an Aegyptian mummy.
“This is all very exciting.” said Bert the screever with his omnipresent grin. “I’d love to paint a picture, I would, if me fingers weren’t so numb.”
“Remember not to lean into your turns.” advised Kaylee. “If you don’t lean in the opposite direction the Go-Devil won’t turn properly and you’ll end up crashing into a tree or going over a cliff on the mountain passes.”
“Have no fear, Kaylee.” said Emerson, straddling his Go-Devil. He hadn’t noticed the sudden widening of Junie’s eyes at Kaylee’s warning. “I have been practicing.”
“Who said anything about fear?” replied Kaylee. “I want you two to get back so we can restock the bar and stay in business.”
“It’s true.” said Momoe. “We’ve almost no inventory left since the theft. I hope you get what you need wherever you are going and get back quickly.”
“Are you ready Squire?” Emerson called over, receiving a revving of Malus’s Go-Devil as a response.
“Can I drop the kerchief?” Njal bounced up and down.
With a hint of disdain, Junie eyed the teen-age girl who seemed oblivious to the elements despite being clad in only a thin white cashmere sweater and loosely worn sable cape. “Njal, you look cold.”
“She does.” Kaylee nodded in agreement.
“Here.” said Junie handing Njal a red kerchief. “Go ahead.”
Njal ran about ten yards in front of Malus and Emerson, both of whom were actively revving their engines. She waved the kerchief back and forth above her head three times then let it drop.
Both Go Devils lurched forward with a jolt before Emerson’s came to a sudden halt.
“Oh no!” said Junie bringing her hands to her mouth.
“He stalled out!” Bert winced.
It was only a few seconds before Emerson had restarted his Go-Devil, revved it twice then shot off over the snow about five hundred yards behind Malus.
To be Continued