The Assembler

Chapter 8 - Roadster vs. Daimler

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved

They were tossing boxes and Cyril’s valise into the rumble seat of the roadster when several cars came barrelling up the narrow, curving and hilly street. Ned broke for the drivers side of the roadster but Margot beat him to it. He cursed, redirected toward the front of the car and cranked it up. For once it started on the first try. Ned hopped over the door into the passenger seat. Cyril was left to his own devices - stay with Septimus or hop into the rumble seat with the rest of the luggage. He chose to hop.

Margot put her car in gear and put the pedal to the metal.

“What is going on?” Cyril asked, confused again. It was all to fast, and he wasn't sure anymore who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. His pater would know, no doubt. As would Emmie. Why didn’t he ever pay more attention to politics?

“They’re chasing us,” Ned explained. “Oh and shooting at us apparently. Get down Cyril!”

Cyril did not have to be told twice. Even so, from his buried amongst the boxes position he shouted over the sound of the wind going past them and the sound of horns being blown from behind them, and an occasional weapons discharge, “But why are they chasing us and more to the point shooting at us?”

"They're the bad guys!” Margot told him giving Cyril a moment of pure terror when she turned around to look at him instead of keeping her eyes on the road. Some poor woman crossing the street from the local green grocer with a cart full of healthy green and red things nearly got flattened. She raised a fist at them as they tore along. Then had to dive aside so the car behind them didn't kill her.

“You don't belong being involved in this, Margot,” Ned shouted at the mad woman driving. “Why can't you ever listen! Your father needs you! Now you’ll be hunted too.”

“My father does not need me nearly as much as you need me at the moment,” Margot retorted, unfazed. She tore around a corner and then the roadster skidded mostly sideways into a narrow side street.

Cyril groaned. He’d seen that now there were two cars behind them. The lead car came round the bend at nearly full speed. The other one, for whatever reason, hit the curve and began to skid. The men inside began bailing out as it headed sideways toward a steam engine garage. The car hit hard and with a woosh went up in black smoke. Cyril thought he saw at least one of the men from that car get up and stare at the racers retreating down the road at speed.

“Yay!” Cyril shouted madly, overcome by the madness of a chase through the hills of Bermuda. For a moment it seemed more game than life and death drama. A weapon discharge and the sound of a bullet ricocheting off the back of his rumble seat sent him reeling back into reality.

Ned and Margot both looked at him as if he were starkers. He grinned greenly at them. Perhaps, he thought, he was mad! What of it! They were going to get Emmie back, he knew it! Ned might attract trouble but if you wanted to accomplish something he was the man to have on your side.

Cyril’s euphoria deserted him when he took a second to think. “I say, if we’re being persued by the police or the ... Well, whoever they are, how are we going to get on an airship without being arrested?” He suddenly realized there were a lot of practical things he’d not ever thought of and more to this cloak and dagger lifestyle than he’d ever imagined. “And just where is this machine.. this Assembler... of yours?”

“Shut up!” both Ned and Margot told him in unison. “Watch that car behind us!” Ned instructed the back-seat driver. Margot chimed in to say, “We’ll probably be dead before we need to worry about that anyway!”

Cyril, hurt beyond measure by their lack of proper British upper lip in the face of incredible danger, did turn and see that alas, the big black daimler bearing the men with guns was closing the gap with the little roadster. He’d always wanted one himself. Now he was doubly sure he wanted one.

Then Cyril made the mistake of turning around and looking toward where they were going.

They were flying through narrow lanes, all twisty and confusing, barely wide enough for the roadster and heading down to the bay below them at something like a 45 degree incline. He just knew the brakes would never stop them. He closed his eyes as they skidded around another sharp turn and prayed hard.

“Go the other way, down Turtle Lane!” Ned yelled at Margot.

“No, idiot. Too wide. We want Sunset Lane. That Daimler won’t fit,” Margot retorted.

“You won't make it,” Ned told her glancing back to see that Cyril hadn't been tossed out of the rumble seat and that the Daimler was still gaining on them. “He’ll catch us, or shoot us, before we get there.”

Then he was grabbing on for dear life and clutching Cyril’s shirt collar as Margot took a turn without slowing down. The roadster rode up on two wheels for a horrifyingly long time before it dropped with a teeth-jarring crash back down to its more stable and preferential condition of four wheels on solid ground.

The Daimler, Cyril was delighted to see, had screeched to a halt. It was far too large to make that same turn. The driver would have to navigate carefully around that last corner, if it could make it at all.

“Now head for Turtle Lane,” Ned told Margot.

“Do stop telling me what to do,” Margot growled back at him.

“You’re impossible!” Ned told her.

“Pot. Kettle!” Margot retorted.

Cyril just groaned and grabbed onto shifting boxes and valises wondering about just how badly bruised his body would be after this mad ride. Or was it his ego which would be more bruised? Well, at least they weren't shooting at them any more.

Their roadster emerged from between tall small houses along a narrow lane onto a wider and more affluent coast road. Cyril could see it as it switched back and forth down the side of the steep rocky hillside. But it was far too open. Houses were separated by tracts of open land. If their pursuers reached the top of the road whilst they were navigating down it, they would be able to mark their progress clearly as Margot drove them down toward the sea.

Margot cursed, reversed so fast Cyril nearly got thrown out of the car again, and ended up pulling backwards into a barely wide enough alleyway between two rose-bowered cottages. She backed the car as far down the narrow alley as she was able to find it debauched out into a disused stable yard. She switched off the engine. They all sat there frozen, listening for their pursuit.

The sat there in the sudden silence for what seemed a small eternity, looking at one another. The tension was palpable. They were straining to hear the approach of the powerful growl of the Daimler's engines. Or shots fired as the case may be.

Instead, all they heard at first were the sound of limbs and leaves blown about by the freshening sea breeze and the bittersweet call of seagulls and terns from below them, down near the beaches.

Then they heard it. It had to be the Daimler. The car was heading toward them slowly, no doubt search for them. They had to be suspicious. Not even Ned could just disappear.

 

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