The shade dappled road, flanked by tall oak trees, shifted a myriad of autumn colors in the cool breezes of fall. Geese honked their way south overhead for the winter, their shadows falling on the remnants of last nights frost, glistening as dew on the copse lined the road. Ah yes... the world as it is in the country, a serene and gentle place, until the idyllic silence of the morning is suddenly shattered by a loud clanking automobile and the roar of its engine, zipping down the road, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. Black smoke belched from a row of three exhaust tubes jutting at odd angles from the under carriage. It dashed around corners and roared over bridges hurtling across the countryside, a family of squirrels chittered wildly, shaking tiny furry fists at the machine as it hurried by, narrowly missing them.
In the operators cabin, young Adolf Telfin; known as 'Addy' to his friends. Gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles, fully aware that if he drifted too far from the road, he'd lose control of the machine. He took another hair raising turn sucking air through his teeth as the vehicle's center of gravity shifted, the engine whined in protest and with it came a growing paranoia that they were about to tip over. "Steady on lad!" a voice yelled from the back, "you almost tossed me out the side!" The boy's master, Captain Walthingam; veteran of her majesty's army and hero of the Merinere campaign, sat in the back; his mustache bristling indignantly at each sharp turn and every rattling bump. "Sorry sir!" the boy yelled as they swerved into a ditch, Walthingham's hat toppled off his head as the carriage shuddered and bounced.
Momentarily shaken by the loss of control, Addy gripped the wheel and cranked it to the right, narrowly missing a frightened deer on the side of the road! "Won't happen again!" he finished. Bouncing along with the car, Walthingham gripped his hat in his hands and very much doubted that as he straightened himself back up, feeling gravity in the vehicle center as the boy steered back into the road, the vehicle engine increased in pitch as it crested the top of the ditch and back onto the relative smoothness of the road. This was supposed to be a holiday, a relaxing week in the countryside... it wasn't that!
A few similar turns later Captain Walthingham experienced a rush of nausea and hurriedly pulled an interphone off the wall next to him. A deep "Huurk…" emanated from his throat as they sailed around another turn "The shelling of Bakers day had nothing on this boy" he muttered. "What was that sir?" came the boys voice over the receiver, Walthingham stared at the interphone, he hadn't realized he'd been keying the communicator. "Pull over Addy! I can't take much more of this..." he grunted in response and doubled over as his stomach did cartwheels. The dark red velvet interior and rich wooded panels did nothing to calm his protesting stomach. "Aye Aye sir!" came the response. He risked a glance out the window as he placed the receiver back on the wall. The countryside hurriedly passed by the window in a streaking browns and greens. "Ohhhh I shouldn't have looked..." he muttered and turned away. He sighed in relief as he felt the vehicle shift gears and the landscape outside start to slow. With a gradual drift to the edge of the road, they stopped in a cloud of dust and a puff of black smoke, rolling to a halt with a squeak of brakes and hiss of steam.
Outside he heard the heavy clunk of the operators door closing and rush of stamping feet followed by a quickly opened door. Ahh fresh air! Walthingham gulped deeply as he rushed to get out, falling onto the dusty ground. Undignified or not, he rested his cheek against the cool earth, willing his stomach to silence it's gurgling. Beside him Addy stood at a position of attention unsure what to do but slowly coming to the innocent realization that maybe he wasn't as good a driver as he thought he was, then his attention was caught by something. Walthingham took a few more deep breaths missing the moment that Addy's highly polished shoes disappeared from his peripheral vision.
Relishing being back on firm ground and not being tossed about the back of the vehicle he stood up. As he rose he adjusted his coat and put his hat back on, then he took in where they'd stopped. Deep woods lined the other side of the road broken only by a narrow dirt path that disappeared around a corner, behind them, farmland rolled away into the distance. Closing his eyes he took a final moment to compose himself before turning back to the car.
"Alright Addy... let's go... and not so fast this time"
He sat back down in the carriage, opened the days paper and waited for the door to close. When the door failed to close as it normally did, he peeked over the top of the paper. "Addy? I said let's go!" he called and looked back at the paper, rustling it impatiently. A few moments passed and the door still hadn't closed, in fact all that could be heard was bird song and the whistling of the breeze through the branches outside. "Oh for... where is that boy?" he muttered and grumpily tossed the paper to the side. "Addy?" he got out of the car and looked around, "Addy?!" he called, still nothing.
He walked around the other side of the car, he wasn't there either. "Where'd you get off to!?" he yelled again. Grumbling in irritation, he looked around there seemed to be no trace of the boy. Then he spotted something across the road, jogging across he knelt down in front of the object, a boys coat, Addy's coat! in front of the path no less. He cupped his hands to his mouth and called "Addy! Let's go!" but all that did was spook a nearby bird who chirped grumpily at him as it flew away, and elicited no response from Addy . He briefly entertained the idea of leaving the boy but swiftly put that idea out of his mind. Instead walking back to the car, grabbed his coat and hat, strapped his Sprock & Welter sidearm to his side and pulled a walking stick from the trunk. "Alright Addy, I'll play this game..." Confident he was ready for what would be a short excursion, he crossed the road and disappeared down the path, Grumbling vague threats about walloping the boy when he found him.
To be continued...