I’ve told you the Rumblebus story too many times already!
What? You want to hear it again? Alright.
Many years ago, right after the Big War, we couldn’t travel easily for fear of Trolls, Goblins and Witches. I was lucky to live in Memphis, though, which was big enough to keep us safe from such monsters.
But when all of us kids needed to get our Needle Pokes, we had to drive all the way to Atlanta! We were pretty scared, because all our orphanage had to get us there was a simple school bus. So everyone got to work, preparing for anything we might face:
Ser Blacksmith put thick steel plates on the bus, to keep bitey-bullets from getting in.
Ser Gaffer made new windows out of bulletproof glass, to protect us from snipers.
Ser Mechanic put tracks around the tires so we could ride over anything without stopping.
Vroom! Vroom! The Rumblebus was born!
We left Memphis on a sunny day, happy to be safe inside our bus. We’d only driven a few hours when old cars and trucks started appearing, lined up along the road. “Uh oh!” shouted Ser Driver. “Looks like Trolls!”
He was right. Out of each jumped an angry little monster, yelling and shooting their long guns at the Rumblebus. We were so afraid! We crawled under our seats and listened to the bullets hit the steel plates. Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat!
After nearly a mile of this, we saw the biggest trucks of all, right in the middle of the road! How would we get past them? Ser Driver knew what to do!
“Hold on tight, kids!” He shouted, and shifted to a different gear. “We’re going up and over!”
Vroom! Vroom! We did just that – rolled over those trucks as if they were clover plants in a grow house!
We stopped for the night way out in the woods where we thought no one could find us. But the Goblins could! They attacked our Device Network!
Remember this was just after the Big War, so the networks we created were pretty small. But we loved them! Every computer in Memphis had been scoured for data, and we had a grand time reading threads and acting them out, or imagining what life was like now in Egypt or Middle Earth.
Anyway, there we were, reading a gamer chat thread recovered from some kid’s laptop, when the thread started disappearing! Then all of our threads started disappearing!
“We’re being hacked!” My friend Mabel yelled. A couple others chimed in that they were losing their homework, too.
“Turn everything off!” Ser Guardian said. “They can’t hack it if they can’t see it!”
Then we waited. It was quiet except for the Click! Click! Click! as Ser Guardian drummed their nails on their screen.
“Do you think they’re close by?” A boy named Jaden said. They’d been reading about Influencers who were popular right before the Big War. They were now practicing poses in their reflection on the Rumblebus’s windshield. “I heard they’re the ones who hire snipers when they can’t hack data from you.”
“Hush!” said Ser Guardian. “Remember that Goblins have big ears, and hear everything you say.” They waggled a finger in the boy’s face. “If the Goblins come to eat us tonight, it’ll be your fault!”
After that Jaden was too scared to sleep – most of us were. But Jaden had it worse. All night they walked the aisle, moaning and weeping. Boo hoo hoo!
I must have fallen asleep eventually, because in the morning I awoke to find everyone crying. Jaden was gone.
The next day’s drive was hot as the sun beat down, practically cooking us inside the bus. The air conditioner couldn’t keep up. We begged Ser Driver to open the windows. “No way!” He said. “This is Witch Country!”
Sure enough, he was right. Thirty minutes later we heard the Bzzz! Bzzz! of the Witches’ familiars flying around us.
Boom! A fireball exploded directly in front of us. Ser Driver swerved, but the tire tracks of the bus were slow to turn. He groaned when he looked in the rear view mirror and saw the rubber parts of the tracks on fire. More bursts of flame exploded on the road ahead. What could we do? I held Mabel’s hand so tight she squeaked in pain.
“Look!” Ser Guardian shouted and pointed to the sky. We gathered around her to witness a miracle.
It was another Witches’ familiar, but this one was different. It was bigger, for one thing. Much bigger. It sounded like Whoop! Whoop! Instead of Bzzz! Bzzz! Plus it had a net hanging beneath it, which was full of other familiars, all tangled up like rats in a snare!
And that was not the strangest thing. The strangest thing was that its Witch was sitting inside the familiar! They waved at us then continued picking up smaller familiars in the net. Soon we were out of danger!
When we got beyond the bad Witch area we stopped to talk to the Good Witch. They were really funny and gave us a bunch of cool stuff. They gave us food and gas, and something called sparklers. We lit them with a lighter and watched as they shot off bursts of sparks, like when Ser Blacksmith is welding.
Then he gave Ser Guardian a box marked DANGER. He said he found it with the sparklers. She was so grateful she cried. (Because of the food and gas, not because of the sparklers, silly!)
As we waved goodbye to the Witch we turned to look ahead of us and saw Atlanta in the distance. We soon reached the big wall that surrounds the city and protects it from monsters. Hooray! We were safe!
What? I left out the what?
Oh, you’re right. I forgot about the Snipers.
Yes, they’re my favorite, too! Here goes…