Friday, December 14, 2007

Mossy's Backpackers #17

“So what are we doing again?”

“Finding a proper Christmas tree for the hostel because Mossy has one of those horrid fake ones. And keep your voice down.”

“And we’re doing this in the middle of the night because…?”

“It’s ah… more of an adventure this way. And shh.”

“Right. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the legality of cutting down a tree on someone else’s property without…”

“Ok, seriously Tim? You’re at like a nine right now and I need you at a three.”

“Sorry,” Tim replied at about a six.

“Good enough,” Max sighed as he continued to inspect trees by flashlight. “How about this one? It looks about the right height.”

“Too few branches,” Tobias whispered. “Too many gaps, it won’t do at all.”

“That’s what you said about the last four trees,” Max grumbled. “Who are you, the Head Elf of Santa’s Tree Inspection Agency?”

Tim barely managed to smother a loud laugh with his arm while Tobias ignored them both as he persevered in his search. Another ten minutes passed in near silence before he came to a stop in front of another tree.

“Ah, this one is perfect,” he announced.

“Great, let’s get to work,” Max said quickly. To his eye it looked no different than the others which had not passed Tobias’ inspection but he had no intention of mentioning that.

“Where did you get that axe anyway?” Tim asked.

“Long story, not interesting,” Max answered as he examined the trunk.

“It’s Mossy’s, isn’t it?”

“Unimportant.”

“And he doesn’t know you have it.”

“Can we discuss this later?”

Tim grunted noncommittally but it was enough for Max. He passed the flashlight to Tobias and took aim at the disturbingly sturdy-looking trunk. His first swing hit home with a thud that sounded like a firecracker in the still woods.

“Hey Max? Your tree chopping is around a twelve, could we get you down to a four or five?” Tim asked happily. Max swore under his breath and kept going.

How long before Farmer Brown shows up with his shotgun?

Max tuned the voice out and continued hacking away. After several more swings his shirt was clinging to his back and he was breathing hard. He paused to inspect his progress.

Very impressive, you must be a tenth of the way through, the voice snickered.

“The Canadian Lumberjack Society will be very disappointed when they hear about this,” Tobias said as he shook with silent laughter.

“Do one of you two clowns want to try it?” Max huffed.

“Nuh uh, I’m on flashlight duty,” Tobias grinned.

“Here, pass it over,” Tim said as he rubbed his hands together. “Grab hold of it so it doesn’t come crashing down.”

Max got a firm grip on the trunk about halfway up and braced himself. Tim’s first swing almost rattled his teeth right out of his mouth.

This keeps getting better and better.

After two more bone jarring swings Max was ready to try chopping again. But before he could say anything Tim swung again and the tree came free from its base. It looked like he had not even broken a sweat.

“Well then,” Max said evenly. “Let’s get this out of here. Tim grab the top, I’ll grab the bottom, Tobias lead the way back.”

“Yes, good plan,” Tobias said as he glanced first to his left, then to his right. After looking over his shoulder he asked, “Which way would back be?”

I knew we should have brought a video camera for this.

Max opened his mouth to reply just as Tim grabbed the top of the tree and pulled it towards himself. The sudden shift resulted in Max being on the receiving end of a mouthful of pine needles.

“Isn’t it that way?” he finally managed as he picked the last needle out from between his front teeth.

“I thought we came from that way,” Tim offered from the other end of the tree, pointing in the opposite direction Max had indicated.

“Well at least we have a tree, we’re halfway through this!” Tobias said a bit too optimistically for Max’s liking.

He shifted the tree into a more comfortable position on his right shoulder and studied his surroundings. After a few moments he could say with complete confidence that all of the trees looked exactly the same.

That was when they heard the dogs barking in the distance to their right.

Dogs? DOGS?!? Fantastic.

“Ah…” Max began, “may I humbly suggest that we try going…”

“… In the exact opposite direction of the rabid dogs?” Tim finished in a rush.

“Follow me,” Tobias squeaked. As he started off (in a direction neither Max nor Tim had earlier suggested was the correct way) he asked over his shoulder, “Should I turn the flashlight off?”

“I’d rather not walk face first into a tree, thanks very much,” Tim responded through gritted teeth.

“Can we pick up the pace a bit? They’re getting closer in a big hurry,” Max half whispered, half yelled.

They lurched into a faltering half-jog with Tim and Max getting regular eye and earfuls of pine needles. The dogs grew steadily closer.

This has got to be the single worst idea you’ve ever… is that the road?

It was. Seconds later they were clear of the woods and back on sweet, smooth, obstruction free pavement. Tobias spotted the hostel van immediately, about a hundred meters up the road.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” he yelped.

As quickly as possible with their burden, they arrived at the back of the van. Max unlocked the double doors at the back and they stuffed the tree in. For one heart stopping moment it did not want to fit but one last shove from Tim got it the rest of the way in.

As they shut the doors four howling, barking, foaming at the mouth dogs burst through the tree line and onto the road behind them. Tobias whimpered, Tim swore loudly and Max simply said, “Get in. Now.”

They scrambled around the sides, Max jumping in the driver’s seat as Tim and Tobias dove through the sliding passenger door. They slammed it shut just as the first dog drew even with the rear tires.

As the scraping of their claws against the door echoed inside the van Max gunned the engine, threw it into drive and floored it.

“Is this some kind of Canadian Christmas tradition?” Tim asked from the floor behind Max. “Because if it’s not, it really oughta be.”

1 comment:

senga said...

really going great.
senga