Pursuit. Right. I’m afraid that we normally all default to car chases, don’t we? Even those of us who write fantasy. Yes, I know there will be the odd (most of us seem to be odd, if I’m being honest) purist who insists on organic creatures – horses, camels, or even dragons. But if, as Richard Bach once remarked in his bestselling book ‘Illusions (the adventures of a reluctant messiah)’ life can be compared to a film, we all have certain scripts in our head. Bond film car chases, The Fast and The Furious, The Terminator films, even The Blues Brothers: car chases appeal and are integral to all the story lines.
Why is this? Well, at some point the authors feel that the tension and drama can be racked up for the audience by having the baddy chase the goody; and indeed vice-versa. Let’s face it, the punters love a good chase, so we all do one don’t we? Not least because a good chase is more fun to write than twenty pages of emotional trauma suffered by the hero/heroine (delete according to taste and preference) as they watch a cockroach climb down a wall beside their bed and compare its faltering descent to their emotional angst. No doubt with insights into the human condition normally reserved for those of a terminally disturbed disposition. Oh, and the readers would rather read a good chase or pursuit too I suspect.
I’m going to offer you two snippets. The first shows my preferred scenario, of my fantasy reality and our own world colliding somewhat awkwardly:
Here, in ‘The Mystic Accountants’, Dai the Dragon has just volunteered to go home to get his guitar before joining The Banned Underground as their bass player. (His reward for getting them a paying gig at a beer festival.)
“I’ll need to get off. It’s not far to the lair, but I don’t like flying in the daylight now. Too much air traffic,” Dai said.
“Are you fit to fly?” asked Fungus, dubiously.
“I’ll be fine. Best hurry, be daybreak any minute, and the RAF start practising at the bombing range at the end of the Country Park early these days. Probably so that the miss hits don’t hit the tourists.”
“Friendly fire, don’t they call that?”
“Have you ever been out for a drink with the cruise missiles? Don’t. A less friendly bunch than that doesn’t exist. Always getting into fights, and then exploding.”
The RAF, however, were wide awake already, and busy on their radios.
“Pen-bre Firing Range, this is Victor Kilo One Six inbound from RAF Valley.”
“Victor Kilo, Pen-bre Range. Go ahead.”
“Pen-bre Range, Victor Kilo is a training flight inbound for Strike Mission, five minutes to run from the East, height 800 feet.”
“Victor Kilo, Pen-bre Range. Radar Contact Acquired. Your Strike Clearance is approved. Be aware of local traffic at your 10 O clock, same height.”
“Pen-bre Range, Victor Kilo. Strike Approval copied. Looking for the traffic AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!!!!! ARMING WEAPONS SYSTEMS!!!”
“Victor Kilo, are you visual on the traffic? Can you identify it?”
“IT’S A RED DRAGON, CARRYING A BASS GUITAR IN ITS’ FRONT CLAWS!!!!!!!”
“Victor Kilo One Six, Pen-bre Range. Your Strike Clearance is cancelled, repeat Your Strike Clearance is cancelled. Disarm Weapons systems and return to Valley Training Base at once. Confirm instructions.”
Oh dear. It isn’t always easy merging realities, is it? Things keep getting in the way.
Now, in this second clip, the ‘baddies’ (in an elderly taxi) are in hot pursuit of the ‘goodies’ (in a Mercedes Sprinter minibus). I’m quite a traditionalist in my writing, you see. So we all know that the ‘goodies’ will get away: the fun comes in seeing how. Also from ‘The Mystic Accountants’.
Lacking a SatNav, the Mondeo slid behind some other vehicles to remain unobtrusive: Ned taking the opportunity of a quick service station break to change its color by magic. Thus avoiding a parking ticket as well.
“But I liked Red. Hid the rust at MOT time,” complained the assistant assistant.
“The last time yer took this to an MOT station, the staff all ran an’ hid until yer went away,” accused Ned.
“So? Still got me MOT.”
“Only ‘cos you knew how to work their computer,” pointed out the junior.
“Well, what’s the point of training to be an evil wizard if you don’t put the knowledge to good use?”
“Look, they’re turning left,” Ned observed.
“No, left. Yer can’t turn right on a motorway.”
“Can in America,” said the assistant assistant.
“This is England, where we do things right.”
“So it is right.”
“GO LEFT you idiot, before you lose them,” ordered Ned.
“Oh gods, why did I chose you two?”
“Cos the Boss told you to.”
“Not left then?” the assistant assistant, like the reader, was confused.
“Just follow that Sprinter.”
“Thought we were following a minibus? You’re not supposed to run about on motorways.”
For a moment, Ned considered following on foot as a serious idea, but then calmed down as the vehicles passed slowly down the scenic A 483 towards South Wales.
The assistant assistant, driving, was observing the road traffic signs as they progressed.
“Look, all the road signs are in foreign. Perhaps we are in America after all.”
“That’s not foreign. It’s Welsh.” Ned told him.
“Why can’t I understand it then?”
“Look, it was painted by someone called Allan,” said the junior, from the back seat.
“Must be proud of their work, here. Our council wouldn’t let them sign the road.”
“That’s mebbe why we have no road signs,” mused Ned.
A ballistic Honda minivan, horn blaring wildly, encouraged the driver to pay more attention to the road signs as it missed the front of the Mondeo by the width of the new paint job on the bonnet.
“Read the signs, can’t you?” yelled the passenger in the van as his nose skimmed the front of the Mondeo.
The dwarves (and of course Fungus who was a BogTroll) had no difficulties at all with the ancient and poetic language, even when badly painted on the road (by an arthritic road painter who had had to keep dodging cars, tractors and occasional sheep while painting.).
“Araf” said the road, and the Sprinter obeyed. *
“Who’s this Araf?” queried the Mondeo driver.
“He learnt to write in the same place as Allan, anyway,” said the junior.
“Now it says ‘ARAFWCH.’ Wonder what it means?” **
“Maybe you pronounce it ‘ARAF OUCH?’” *** suggested Ned.
Again the Sprinter understood, and obeyed. Accordingly, with only a slight crashing from the rear load space, the Sprinter sped around the corner. The fast moving Mondeo made an existential choice, and carried straight on… through a hedge into a very muddy field.
Fortunately failing to connect with the extremely large tractor, which was towing a low loader up the field. Slowly.
“Made me say OUCH,” grumbled the driver.
“Didn’t you read the signs then?” asked the farmer, chuckling as Ned opened his wallet and started counting out notes while the tractor pulled a now very well disguised Mondeo out of the field. Slowly.
“Must have missed them,” sighed Ned.
“Didn’t miss me hedge though, did you boy?” chuckled the farmer.
“Clearly. Still, we are really grateful, mate.”
“Any time, as long as you bring your wallet.”
The Mondeo shot off in pursuit of the departed Sprinter, showering mud everywhere.
“Come back soon!” called the farmer, before going home to count his subsidies.
* Slow Down. Now.
** If you haven’t already slowed down, this is your last chance. Honest. Before you crash.
*** No. Although you will say “ouch” afterwards, if you didn’t araf in time.
See? Two pages of a car chase are more fun than writing about cockroaches. Got to go, I’m busy writing my next pursuit. This time with broomsticks….
The Mystic Accountants is the second in The Banned Underground fantasy series published by Safkhet Publishing and is used here with their permission