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Old 07-30-2008, 05:59 PM   #47
Steven Lyle Jordan
Grand Sorcerer
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I proceeded through the village/zoo, my progress unimpeded by pandas... except occasionally, when I found a line of them blocking a particular road or fork. It did not take long, before I had the distinct impression that I was being herded somewhere. Yet, despite my best efforts to either pick a specific direction, or take turns at random, those panda lines appeared again and again. At one point, I considered jumping over a line, but the pandas seemed to sense this, and began to agitate in such a way that I did not trust my ability to evade them.

Then, I noticed a way out of this rat's (or panda's) maze: I quickly darted into a stand of trees, and found myself moving through a forest. The pandas did not see me enter, nor did I encounter any in the forest... maybe I could cover a significant distance through town, and lose them.

I trudged through the forest for ten minutes or so, wondering exactly how large the forest was, exactly. What I wouldn't have given for a TomTom! Every so often, I'd stop, and listen for pursuers, but I heard none.

Then, as I came through a small stand of bamboo (leeks... whatever), I looked up, and confronted the giant panda! The moment I entered the clearing, he spun about, saw me, and roared in anger. (What was he mad about? As I recall, he's the one who won the fight with the taxi...) I turned and bolted, and a frightening crashing from behind confirmed that he was after me.

I was far enough ahead that he couldn't see me, and he was making too much noise to hear me. Nonetheless, despite numerous twists and turns, I could not lose him. I was close to panicking... if I reached the end of the forest, and out into the open, he'd surely close the gap between us and take me out. What now?

I almost didn't notice my foot landing on something metallic. I looked back over my shoulder, and skidded to a halt to see what it was. It looked like a hatch, embedded in the ground, and mostly covered in leaves. I could see it was about man-sized, which meant giant panda wouldn't get to me in there... but was it open?

I tried it, and sure enough, it opened with a loud creak. A renewed roar alerted me to the panda's proximity... he'd heard the creak, too. That settled it. Without a moment's hesitation, I opened the hatch, dropped down inside, and closed it behind me. I heard loud thumps from above... the panda trying to get inside. But I had a respite, for the moment, from him.

Now, to figure out where I was...
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