Join Date: Jan 2006
I headed away from the Green Dome as fast as I could speed-walk, but not entirely sure where to go from there. But an approaching panda-taxi gave me an idea. Pretending to bend down and examine a small placard by a stand of plants (actually not pretending... I noted that what I, in my ignorance, thought was bamboo, was actually leeks. I need to read up on my horticulture, I guess), I waited until the taxi came close.
Then I reached out, took the panda by the arm, and swung him out of the driver's seat.
The panda rolled onto the ground, righted himself, and sat there staring at me in that cute straight-legged teddy-bear pose, while I climbed into the driver's seat, and tromped on the accelerator. Not that it had much acceleration... a running man could have caught up with me, really. But as there were no men around, and the pandas didn't seem to care, I drove away unchallenged.
Before long, I found a long shoreline, and angled for that. I hoped I'd be able to follow it to the nearest town, or at least identify my location. The taxi turned out to be surprisingly agile on sand, and soon I was headed... west, I think.
I drove for about ten minutes, until I could no longer see the village/zoo behind me. But upon turning my head back to the beach ahead, I suddenly realized there was something ahead of me. As I approached, the image seemed to resolve itself into a huge boulder, perhaps twice the size of the taxi, and (at this point, I thought, of course) painted like a panda.
The boulder was big enough that I'd have to swerve a bit into the surf to avoid it, so I started to veer to the left. I slowed to avoid a wash of the incoming tide, then accelerated lightly, and cast an eye to the boulder to make sure I would clear it.
And that's when the boulder moved. A massive black and white arm swung out, catching the top frame of the taxi, and knocking it onto its two left wheels. I howled, in surprise and fright, as I struggled to keep the taxi from flipping over, and in frank shock at the realization that I'd just been hit by a panda bigger than a grizzly bear!
The taxi came back down on its four wheels, but I'd lost all forward momentum. And in the meantime, the giant panda had moved to block my taxi. Gods, he was big. And when he opened his mouth... well, if you've ever seen regular panda teeth, you think to yourself, "I hope he doesn't try to bite me with those." Now, picture those teeth in a mouth ten times that size. Eeesh.
I put the taxi in reverse, hoping to get some distance, and maybe to maneuver around him... but the giant panda shifted to block me, and closed the distance. We did this dance a few times, until I realized I wasn't going to just slide past him. So I backed up faster, leaving him in place as I opened the space between us. Then I stopped.
I stopped because I'd decided I wasn't going to just give up that easily. I wanted out. My obstacle was a panda. Okay, the ultimate sumo wrestler of pandas, but still a panda. I could do this.
Sizing up my opponent, I gunned the engine, sliding towards the surf to suggest an end-run through the water. I waited until giant panda moved into the surf to cut me off... then threw the wheel to the right, hoping he wouldn't be able to get out of the water fast enough to stop me. For a moment, the panda splashed about, and I was sure I had him!
Then, with a mighty leap, the giant panda cleared the surf, roared, and swung one massive arm at the taxi. He hit the side of the cab, and the taxi and I went flying. At some point, I realized I was no longer in the taxi at all, but barely had time to register that, before I landed on something hard. My entire body screamed at me, but I didn't want to stop... I tried to stand up, to figure out what had happened. I turned around...
And there was the giant panda, towering over me, making your average grizzly look like Winnie the Pooh in comparison. The same paw that had mangled my taxi swung around at me. It connected... the world somersaulted around me, and slowly wrapped a think, dark blanket around my consciousness...