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Authors: Axel Lewis

Canyon Chaos

BOOK: Canyon Chaos
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First published in 2013 by Curious Fox,
an imprint of Capstone Global Library Limited,
7 Pilgrim Street, London, EC4V 6LB
Registered company number: 6695582

www.curious-fox.com

Text © Hothouse Fiction Ltd 2013

Series created by Hothouse Fiction
www.hothousefiction.com

The author’s moral rights are hereby asserted.

Cover illustration by Spooky Pooka

Cover design by Mandy Norman

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

ISBN 978 1 78202 052 3

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

A CIP catalogue for this book is available from the British Library.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright owner.

ebook created by Hothouse Fiction Ltd

With special thanks to David Grant

Chapter 1 - Meet Jimmy

“They’re coming up to the finish line!” said Jimmy. “And they’re neck and neck! Come on, Big Al! Faster, Crusher, faster!”

Jets of flame shot from Crusher’s exhaust and the robot racer surged forwards. Clouds of dust billowed up as Big Al pushed the giant machine into the lead ahead of Layla Jones and her racer, Aqua.

Layla launched Aqua straight into a shark-infested lake and the robot hurtled through the deep water like a torpedo. Big Al yanked on the ste
ering wheel and Crusher swerved to avoid the water, taking a longer route through the forest. Crusher’s razanium rotor blades whirred, hurling trees in the air like matchsticks as he crashed between branches. Big Al turned the wheel sharply to the right and his racer re-joined the track a split-second in front of Layla.

“Watch out!” cried Jimmy.

Suddenly Professor Plank and his robot, The Gadgetator, were on their tails. The professor threw a perfectly timed smoke grenade and a thick, black cloud smothered all three racers.

When the smoke cleared, The Gadgetator was in the lead. Jimmy held his breath as Big Al fired Crusher’s jet engine one last time and pulled alongside The Gadgetator. Professor Plank began to release another smoke grenade, but before he had the chance, out came a sharp ramming-rod from a hatch on Crusher’s side. It jabbed at the Gadgetator like a super-powered snooker cue and the robot swerved violently, spinning off the road into a ditch. Crusher roared towards the finish line.

“Did you see that? Did you?” shouted Jimmy.

“Of course I saw it,” his friend Max replied. “I’m holding the phone you’re watching it on! And we’ve seen it twice already this morning.”

The two boys were stood in the school playground watching a re-run of the final round of the Robot Races Championship, their faces up close to the 3D phone screen as their heroes Big Al and Crusher sailed over the finish line. They yelled with joy as Big Al leaped down from his cockpit and punched the air, then they clapped as Crusher gently picked Big Al up in his massive robot pincers and swung him round in the air, bleeping and firing his boosters in triumph.

Every year a hundred million people around the world cheered on their favourite driver and robot racer as they competed for the ten million pound prize money. It was the biggest event in motorsport history and every boy and girl in the world dreamed of one day lifting the championship trophy.

On the screen, the picture changed and an advert came on.


Brand-New from Leadpipe Industries
,” bellowed a voice. “
Crusher toy with rotating crane pincers that
REALLY
work!”

Jimmy and Max watched as the picture changed to the toy of The Gadgetator:


Available in four different colours!

There was even an action figure of Lord Leadpipe, the multi-trillionaire robot genius who had invented the Robot Races, with his bright red cheeks, long nose and monocle.

“I’ve got Crusher ... but which one should I get next?” Max asked. “Aqua? Or The Gadgetator?”

Jimmy sighed. He knew Grandpa would never be able to afford to buy him a robot racer toy.

“I’d love to go to the Robot Races Hall of Fame and see the
real
robot racers,” Max continued.

Jimmy sighed even louder.
Grandpa
definitely
couldn’t afford that
, he thought.

Jimmy had lived with his grandpa for as long as could remember. His parents had died when he was tiny and Grandpa had been looking after him ever since.

Living with his grandpa wasn’t like being brought up by any normal old person. Wilfred Roberts didn’t like watching daytime TV, or doing jigsaw puzzles, and he didn’t tell Jimmy to wipe his feet or keep his hands off the best china plates. In fact, Grandpa was more of a big kid than Jimmy half the time. He was always making dens in the back garden, building home-made skateboards and letting Jimmy stay up with him until late at night, building campfires and toasting marshmallows as if they were on holiday.

When Jimmy was at school Grandpa worked really hard in his taxi, driving people around all day and sometimes half the night so that he could pay the bills and look after the two of them. But no matter how much he worked, they never seemed to have any money. Jimmy suspected it was because Grandpa was always giving free lifts to people with heavy shopping when it was raining, or to old ladies who couldn’t afford the bus fare.

Jimmy and Grandpa were never hungry. But they ate a lot of jam sandwiches. They were never cold. But during the winter they usually put a coat on when they sat down to watch the telly. And when it was really cold they put on two coats and a hat.

“There are lots of people worse off than us, my boy,” Grandpa would say.

Jimmy didn’t mind being poor. He wasn’t bothered that everyone else in school had a neat little 3D mediaphone while his clunky old phone was held together with sticky tape and only worked if you tipped your head sideways and shouted. He didn’t care that everyone else in school had the latest, whitest, shiniest trainers and plasma walls where they could watch eight hundred different TV channels and any film they wanted. He knew his grandpa was trying his best to make up for the loss of Jimmy’s parents and he loved him for it.

But sometimes Jimmy did wish he could have just one robot racer toy.

He knew that if he really wanted one, Grandpa would go without food for a week to pay for it. But he didn’t want to ask because if there was one thing that could take the smile off Grandpa’s face, it was Robot Races. In fact, Grandpa
hated
the Robot Races.

Whenever Jimmy switched on the telly to watch them, Grandpa would start muttering to himself. His white fluffy hair would flop and even his huge white moustache would sag.

“What’s up?” Jimmy would say.

But Jimmy knew what was the matter. As soon as Lord Leadpipe appeared on the screen to start the race, Grandpa would clench his teeth and start huffing and puffing crossly.

“Lord Leadpipe!” he would say, spitting the name out like it was a mouthful of sick. “He wasn’t always a
lord
, you know. He used to be plain old Ludwick Leadpipe,” he growled, punching a cushion and throwing it at the telly. “But he’s always had the same stupid face.”

“Shall I turn it off, Grandpa?” Jimmy would ask.

“Turn off your favourite programme?” he’d reply. “No, I won’t make you do that!” And he’d leave the room, muttering as he went.

So whenever he got the chance, Jimmy watched the Robot Races with his friends.

“Let’s watch it one more time,” he said to Max.

“Again?” said Max. “The bell’s going to go in a minute. And I’m not even supposed to have a phone in school.”

“Just the end – the bit where Crusher rams The Gadgetator and wins,” pleaded Jimmy.

But Max didn’t reply.

Instead he was staring at the school gates. Something was heading across the playground. It was getting nearer. Nearer and louder.

With the roar of an engine and a squeal of brakes, Horace Pelly arrived in a cloud of dust.

“What on earth...?” began Max.

“I bet you’ve never seen one of these before,” said Horace with a big grin.

“That’s the new Leadpipe F1-X Roboscooter!” Jimmy whispered to Max. “They’re not even out yet! Not for another year!”

Horace was the school show-off. He had long, blond hair which he slicked back behind his ears and a handsome face like the kind of boy you’d see on TV selling breakfast cereal or chocolate bars. He had big, pearly white teeth that gleamed in the sunlight and smooth, tanned skin from the hundreds of holidays he went on with his family. And he
always
had the latest stuff.

Horace’s dad was a very rich man. He worked with Lord Ludwick Leadpipe and was always giving Horace the latest prototype equipment from the Leadpipe laboratories to try out. Horace had been the first person in school with the Leadpipe Skatotron skateboard, the first one with the Leadpipe Multisport Pop-Up-Super-Stadium, the
only
one with the Leadpipe Digital Robocopter – you name it, Horace had it.

Jimmy was used to everyone else having more gadgets than him, but the worst thing about Horace was that he liked to make fun of people like Jimmy because they didn’t have the same cool stuff as him.

Once, Jimmy had been walking down the street when he was caught in a rain shower and Horace and his dad had driven past in their brand-new Thunderbolt T1000 sports car. “Oi! Jimmy!” Horace had shouted. “Where’s your car? I’d call a taxi, if I were you. Oh, yeah, that’s right, your crummy old car
is
a taxi!” And with that, he and his father had thrown their heads back and laughed as they sped off into the distance.

A crowd began to gather around Horace and his scooter.

“I’d like you all to meet Steve,” said Horace.

“Steve?” asked Jimmy.

“That’s his name,” said Horace, pointing to his scooter. “He’s a Special Terrain Endurance Vehicle. Or S-T-E-Ve for short. Say hello, Steve.”

“Hello, Horace. What can I do for you?” said a strange, metallic voice.

“He can talk.” Jimmy was dumbstruck. “I thought only the robot racers had personality technology.”

“Well, of course he talks,” said Horace. “And that’s not all! Steve? Activate auto-wheelie!” he ordered.

“Right away, Horace,” said the motorscooter, revving up his engine. Then he raced off, reared up onto his back wheel and circled the crowd before returning to Horace. Everyone clapped and cheered.

“He’s got all the extras,” Horace boasted, pointing to the switches, dials and screens on the motorscooter’s full dashboard. “Robonavigation ... autopilot ... a homing device if you get lost, of course ... and this is my favourite.” He grinned. “Activate fridge, Steve.”

“Right away, Horace,” the scooter replied and, as if by magic, the dashboard flipped forward.

“The fridge for my packed lunch. And a few cans of ice-cold Orangiblast. Anyone want one?” Horace looked around.

Jimmy stayed silent as Horace handed out the cans of Orangiblast to his friends – the boys who made the loudest ‘Ooh’ and ‘That’s-amazing’ and ‘I’m-really-jealous’ noises.

“Oh, and one more thing,” said Horace. “He does this. Steve? Transform!”

With a gentle whirring noise, the scooter split in half, stretched in about six directions at once, and stopped with a quiet clunk. The scooter had turned into a quad bike.

The crowd stared, open-mouthed.

“Quite good, isn’t it?” Horace smirked. “Dad says when I’m old enough to compete he’ll get me a proper robot racer so I can win the Championship – but I suppose this will do for now. Who wants a ride?”

Everyone jumped up and down and waved a hand in the air – everyone except Jimmy.

Horace flicked a switch and started up the engine. It purred and hummed. “Why don’t you all get in a queue and I’ll take you on a lap of the playground,” Horace said, beaming as everyone squabbled their way into a line. “Except you, Jimmy,” he added. “I don’t want you on my brand-new F1-X Roboscooter in those trainers. You’ll make it all dirty.”

Jimmy’s freckly face went bright red. He wanted to say, “I don’t care about having a ride on your stupid scooter.” But instead he just scuffed the ground with his foot, making his trainers even dirtier.

Horace revved his engine and then hit the gas and drove straight at Jimmy. “Out of my way, losers!” he shouted as he roared to the other end of the playground. Jimmy had to jump to one side, nearly landing in a huge, muddy puddle.

Horace couldn’t get any more annoying if he tried
, Jimmy thought crossly.

But he was wrong.

Horace braked sharply and turned in a tight circle. The engine purred powerfully. He looked down at the dark puddle in front of Jimmy and a nasty grin spread across his face. He hunched over his handlebars, revved the engine again and then accelerated.

Vrroooooommm!

The quad bike rocketed towards Jimmy, the deafening noise of the engine ringing around the playground. At the last second Horace wrenched on the handlebars and swerved, skidding into the water. The puddle exploded in a cold, muddy tidal wave which crashed down on Jimmy’s head. Muddy water dripped from his hair, onto his eyebrows, down his nose and over his chin.

Jimmy closed his eyes and bit his lip. It was difficult to tell if the water in his eyes was tears or puddle water. He wiped it away with a soggy sleeve.

Horace pointed at Jimmy and opened his mouth. Jimmy waited for him to start laughing. But instead Horace’s chin dropped and his eyes widened.

Instead of the laugh that Jimmy was expecting, out of Horace’s mouth came a scream of terror.

“Aaaaarrggghh!”

BOOK: Canyon Chaos
11.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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