The crowd of Psychlos makes the earth tremble as they shuffle out to watch the man-thing try to drive. Terl's got a loudspeaker suspiciously similar in design to our own trumpet-shaped voice amplifiers, to give Jonnie instructions, and his pistol, to give Jonnie incentives. For his part, Jonnie's feeling uneasy, because "a sixth sense was biting him, like when you had a puma behind you that you hadn't seen. It wasn't Terl's threats. It was something else."
That's right, folks. Not only does our hero have perfect health despite living in a radioactive gully, rugged good looks, an enlightened mind that scoffs at tribal superstitions, an independent streak, ranger-class survival skills, and a superhuman learning ability... he's also got a danger sense.
Terl makes sure his monkey's leash is welded to the tractor's rear bumper, and then the show begins.
"Raise the blade!" roared Terl, through the horn.
"Lower the blade!"
It goes on.
Terl orders Jonnie to make a mound of snow, but Jonnie, either showing surprising work ethic or just showing off, does him one better and makes a square-sided, level-topped pile. While making his last run:
Suddenly the controls did not respond. There had been a prolonged whirring whine in the guts of the control box. And every knob and lever on the control panel went slack!
Since a cliff was described earlier, naturally Jonnie's headed right at it. He glimpses Zzt holding something in his paw - good eyes, Jonnie - and tries to bail out, but he is alas, tied to his vehicle. Can our hero extract himself from this precarious situation?
Of course he will. The book is over a thousand torturous pages long, and we're not even at 110 yet. There is no way our hero is going to die here. There is no suspense, no sense of danger, no excitement to be had. We merely keep reading and wait to be told how this super-special character manages to survive.
Something under the tractor's hood blows, and then Jonnie's ride is on fire. He grabs the "flexirope" (after so much exposure to "breathe-gas," this doesn't even faze me), presses it against the superheated metal, ignores the burns and blisters until the metallic cable melts enough to break, and then leaps free.
The tractor goes over the cliff and explodes, and Jonnie tries to cool off in the snow.
Whew. That sure was exciting. What heart-pounding adventures will come in the next chapter?
...Terl confronts Zzt. It's not as interesting as it sounds.
Back to Chapter Five