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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The Fanged Frog - Chapter 11

Wagon, Ho!

 

Time seemed to slow down for Brenda.  She was aware of Jack pulling Miranda toward the front of the wagon and she knew that she ought to join them, but the awesome sight of both vampires, in full moonlight, driving toward them through the air kept her rooted in place.  Her eyes shifted from toad to frog and back again so quickly that the silver gleam of bared fangs became like a streak of evil connecting them in midair.

 

The toad’s arc was higher, she noticed.  She could tell that it was going to fall short of the wagon, which was still picking up speed as it jounced down the hill.  The frog, on the other hand, had sacrificed height for length and, with its long legs trailing behind it, was closing the gap on them.  It came close enough for Brenda to see the fury in its eyes before it, too, dropped harmlessly back to earth.

 

“Look,” said Miranda, “they’re giving up.”

 

It was true.  Brenda saw the toad jump again, bringing it even with the frog, but there they stood, watching the wagon careening down the hill, taking their prey even further out of range.

 

“No!” Jack cried.  “They can’t stop now.  They have to chase us!”

 

Miranda gaped at Jack in astonishment.  She was injured and Brenda had already narrowly escaped from the vampires twice tonight.

 

“We can still catch them!” Jack shouted.

 

“Don’t worry!” Brenda yelled.  She didn’t know what Jack had in mind, but this clearly wasn’t the time to question her trust in him.  “I’ll bring them,” she said.

 

The wagon hit a bump in the hill that lifted everyone in the air.  Brenda jumped at that moment and it looked as though she had been thrown overboard.

 

She crashed to the ground and rolled another ten yards down the hill before her momentum gave out.  Not quite as graceful as the vampires, she thought.  When she tried to push herself up, a stabbing pain shot through her right shoulder, making her wince.  It hurt, but it wasn’t broken.

 

She got to her feet and looked back up the hill.  Seeing the vampires in flight didn’t have the same effect on her this time as it had the last.  Her heart began hammering in her chest and she couldn’t move her feet fast enough.  She turned and ran.

 

 

 

The wagon bounced again, knocking Jack off his knees and sending him rolling into Miranda.  When he got his legs back under him, he saw the vampires--at this distance, they were nothing more than dark blobs in the moonlight--leaping down the hill toward Brenda.  She had a good lead, but he could see it was going to be a close race to the fence.

 

He hadn’t wanted it to be this way.  Yet when he saw Brenda jump from the wagon, he couldn’t suppress the feeling of relief that washed over him.  The vampires may have given up on chasing the wagon (which, Jack had to admit, was bucketing down the hill faster than he’d expected), but they couldn’t pass up a human on foot.  By tempting the vampires into pursuit, Brenda had saved Jack’s plan.

 

Now it was up to Jack to make sure it worked.

 

“Jack!” Miranda yelled.  “We’re going to crash!”

 

Jack turned around.  The fence was only a few yards away now, and they were barreling toward it at crushing speed.

 

“We have to jump!”  Jack said.  “Now!”

 

Jack and Miranda sprang out of opposite sides of the wagon.  On the way to the ground, Jack’s only hope was that the wood was as rotten as he’d thought.

 

 

 

Brenda saw Jack and Miranda dive over the sides of the wagon only seconds before it plowed into the fence.  The sound of the impact wasn’t nearly as impressive as Brenda expected, but the damage was spectacular.  At the point of impact, the fence disintegrated in a shower of broken shards of wood.  On either side it, five-foot sections of the fence creaked and tilted.  Just as Brenda had when she’d jumped from the wagon, Jack and Miranda started tumbling down the hill when they hit the ground.  They rolled straight at the leaning sections of the fence, which, when they crashed into them, dropped on the verge on the other side with two heavy-sounding whumps.

 

Brenda barely had time to hope that Jack and Miranda were all right before she heard the thud of one of the vampires hitting the ground behind her.  They were close now; maybe close enough to prevent her from reaching the alley, though she didn’t dare glance back over her shoulder for fear of losing her balance.  If she fell, she wouldn’t have a chance.

 

It was crazy, she knew, but she pumped her legs even harder.  Her body tilted forward until it was leaning at about a forty-five degree angle over the ground sloping down in front of her.  It took all her speed to keep her body from pitching forward into the earth.  Realizing she couldn’t stop now even if she wanted to, she imagined slamming full speed and head first into the fence on the other side.  She’d be knocked unconscious for sure, and possibly worse.  Well, she thought, that’s better than letting the vampires get me.

 

 

 

Jack lay face down on the section of fence he’d collided with.  His whole body ached and his head pounded with each beat of his heart.  He’d expected the wagon to blow open a hole wide enough for him and Miranda to roll through; instead it had merely weakened the sections on either side of the impact area.  That made for a hard landing, but he guessed it could have been worse.  He got to his hands and knees and then pushed himself onto his feet.  He could hear Miranda groaning somewhere off to his left.

 

As he rushed around the wagon, which had rolled to a stop in the middle of the alley, he glanced at it to make sure that it was still intact.  A few splinters of wood were missing from the front panel, but it was still in one piece; none of the wheels had broken off.  He found Miranda sitting on the fallen fence, holding her calf.  A two-inch sliver of wood stuck out of the wound the frog had inflicted at the top of the hill.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Miranda winced as she took the splinter between her thumb and forefinger and yanked it out.  “I am now,” she said.  “Help me up.  We’ve got to stop Brenda.”

 

Jack helped get her standing, but she couldn’t put any weight on her injured leg without hissing in pain.  Jack started to say something, but Miranda cut him off with a look.  She hopped next to him on her good leg.  “Give me your arm,” she said, and when Jack did, she linked hers with his.

 

“Get ready,” she said.

 

By now, Brenda was nearly to the bottom of the hill and heading straight at them.  Jack saw the vampires bobbing up into the sky behind her with each leap.  Brenda had actually gained a little ground on them, and no wonder:  she was practically flying down the hill.  Jack admired her speed, but he could see she was out of control.  “Lean forward,” he said to Miranda, and they both tilted forward onto their toes.

 

Brenda blasted off the hill and tripped on the broken fence.  She was airborne when she crashed into Jack and Miranda.  The force of the blow sent them reeling backward.  It also forced Miranda to put her full weight on her injured leg; it held out for two steps, then buckled under her.  As she fell, her arm, still linked with Jack’s, swung everyone to the left.  The link broke when Miranda hit the ground.  Brenda dropped on top of her, but Jack’s momentum carried him over Brenda’s back and pitched him into the fence on the other side of the alley.

 

When the vampires hopped through the hole in the fence, they looked at each other and smiled.

 

None of the humans was moving.