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The energy ball sends sparks and miniature lightning bolts off all around the Hornet and she slows down by about 20 miles an hour. The other car is coming up fast when one of the counterspells I had put on her kicks in and fire engulfs us right before blasting backward and hitting hard. Our power increases and I’m trying not to skid off the road. A glance in the rear view mirror shows me the big car has stopped and four guys are jumping out. Just as we head around a turn, I notice that one is a tall thin Wizard.
“Leems!” I growl it with such hate that Dak, who was turned looking over the seat at the flaming car, jumps.
“Sorry, Dak, but that Wizard back there is a very powerful and very bad man.”
Dak nods. “I know he is. Every Elf around knows who Tanner Leems is. In San Francisco, he’s just as powerful as Mr. Hong. Maybe more powerful.”
I wasn’t sure Leems was as powerful as the “God Wizard of Chinatown”, but I knew he was just as dangerous and almost certainly crazier. Worse yet, he was the son of a Wizard, a rare and deadly thing. The children of Wizards who had the “talent” learned Magic a hell of a lot faster than other Wizards and it almost always drove them mad. If they were twisted little monsters like young Tanner Leems had been, they were just about the most dangerous thing around.
We hit a straight stretch and I floor it. Leems would have that car back on the road in a minute or two and I need some room to think.
So, I’ve got a Wizard on my ass and he knows my car has protection. If he has some way of contacting people ahead of me, this is going to be a short drive. We’re maybe three miles from a small town set around a big intersection. I need to keep heading north, but even if he doesn’t catch up to me, there will be plenty of folks who see us go screaming through town. Hell, it’s probable that he’ll get there while they’re still goggling in our direction.
I can turn west, but that’s an old farm road and it’s twisty and dangerous and one slow tractor will pretty much stop us. Going east won’t get us and closer to Mendocino and will take us back to the new highway, which I’m sure is thick with cops now. Shit!
Dak is back to watching our rear and he tells me he can see the other car and it’s coming up crazy fast. I get a look just before we have to take a turn in the road and yeah, that car is flying low. Looks like we’ve got a race on and I’ll be zooming though the town ahead with a Wizard right behind me. I slide around the turn and punch the gas. All the while, I’m thinking of what options Honey has for dealing with this situation.
I can see the town up ahead and Dak says they black car is maybe 100 yards behind us and coming up fast. I flip up a hidden panel and there are three switches. Just before we shoot through the stop sign and across that intersection, I flip the blue switch.
I’m lucky that nobody is anywhere near the intersection as we fly through it, all the while leaving three dozen shiny little items for Leems and his buddies to drive over. A few seconds later, the car hits the field of caltrops and all four tires blow out. Dak and I both watch because we’ve never seen what happens when four tires blow out at 90 miles an hour. We both find it impressive.
First, the car begins fishtailing, then it goes into a short slide sideways down the road, then it rolls over maybe fifteen times before sliding another hundred feet on it’s roof. Amazingly, it doesn’t hit any buildings or people. As we crest a hill, the last thing we see is a crowd gathering, but nobody getting out of the car.
“That was nuts!”, Dak yells. “The tires blew out and it was all over!”
I have to grin at his assessment. Leems may have had the Magical end of things covered, but he hadn’t thought of a little good old fashioned booby trapping. With any luck, the evil son of a bitch was dead now.
We put plenty of distance between us and the town. After another hour with no sign of a tail, I relax and start talking to Dak about Magic and Elves and things like that. He doesn’t know much more than I do about Magic, but it helps pass the time. Before we know it, another hour has passed and we’re getting pretty near the turnoff that will take us to my family’s old cabin just south of Mendocino.
As I drive along, I’m noticing that things outside don’t quite look right. Everything looks slightly out of focus. I go to mention this to Dak, but he’s slack jawed and staring off into space. Then I notice Honey is slowing down to a crawl. Then she stops.
There’s Magic at work, but I don’t seem too affected by it. Maybe moving a bit slower than normal, but my thoughts are clear.
I’m sitting in my stopped car, wondering what will happen next when I see the man step out from behind a redwood.