Balloons, Bolts and a Battle
Part Eleven: Rain, Rain, Please Go Away
Author's Comments: The Empath has left in the stolen TARDIS, destination unknown. The rain continues, the Chickahominy River is rising, and the road is a quagmire. Kim, Ron, Rufus and Oscar are still on the south side of the river where a batlle will happen in twenty-four hours. Not the best sitch to be in, is it? But things can't get any worse . . . can they?
Read on . .
The all-morning, off-and-on rain mixed with the muddy roads of 1862 Virginia to make
the journey back to the camp a long, soggy, trudge. The mud slowed progress to a crawl, and
the fact that they had to pull off the road and hide the wagon three times when military patrols
came by was an additional delay. Oscar was certain that the first two patrols were
Confederates but wasn't sure about the third one.
When they reached the Old Tavern junction and turned onto the road toward the bridge
over the Chickahominy River, Ronald gave a sigh. "Halfway there, KP. Maybe we've seen
the last of those scouts."
"I don't know, Ron." Kim looked carefully through the rain, up the road ahead and back
down the road behind them. "I've got the same 'itchy' feeling I get when Bonnie is in the room
and I don't know it."
"Out west folks say the same thing about Injuns," Oscar remarked as he guided the horse
along the muddy, much-rutted road.
"Well, Bonnie isn't one of those," Kim replied grumpily. She considered how best to
describe the irritating queen of the Middleton High School social 'food chain' and then
remarked, "She's more like a strawberry seed that's always stuck between my teeth."
After a couple of minutes, Ron said, "I hope the bridge hasn't washed out."
"If it has, we'll just have to find another one that hasn't," said Kim absently.
At this point the rain almost stopped, although the low, threatening clouds continued to
press down. In silence they continued along the road toward the bridge until Oscar said,
"We're close to the river now, Miss Kim. Here's the bridge guard detail."
Looking ahead Kim saw a group of Union soldiers blocking the road. As the wagon
drew near to them she could see that one was the soldier they had met the day before when
they first crossed the bridge.
"Howdy, Tom," the boy called to his friend. "Is it all right to cross?"
The soldier replied, "She's still holdin', but the water's risin' again, Oscar. Lots of snags
comin' downstream, too. Did you have any luck with your foragin'?"
. "Nary a carrot! The Army's been here so long that the farms are all cleaned out," Oscar
answered. "At least we're still getting fresh meat from the Commissary."
"Yeah, it's better than the salt beef they like so much," Tom remarked. Then he turned
toward the other soldiers and called, "Let this wagon go through, boys!"
Oscar flicked the reins and shouted to get the horse going, and the wagon moved onto
the long approach to the bridge across the bottom land. The ground on either side seemed
even more swampy and water-logged than before, and as they rolled out onto the bridge itself,
the fast-flowing water looked darker and higher than it had yesterday. It only needed to come
up about two feet to reach the planks of the roadway, and there were a lot of bushes and tree
branches being swept along and under the bridge.
"Oscar, what did that soldier mean by 'snags' coming down the river?" Ron asked
"Snags are trees that fall into a river and get stuck on the bottom," the boy calmly replied.
"The current makes 'em point downstream, an' if a steamboat's goin' up the river and hits a
snag, it'll rip the boat open!" He glanced at the swiftly-flowing waters. "When you have real
high water like this, they can break loose and come floatin' downstream."
Rufus poked his head out of his usual pocket and glanced around. Seeing the debris-
clogged water the mole rat gave a squeak of dismay and ducked back out of sight.
I don't blame him a bit, Kim thought, but she said nothing out loud. Then Oscar gave a
"Here's a big snag comin' down! Hang on!"
Kim glanced upstream to see the trunk and branches of a good-sized tree bearing down
on the bridge and heading straight toward the part the wagon was on. It had been stripped of
leaves and the bare branches looked like the claws of some strange river-monster reaching
for the planks and stringers of the bridge.
A moment later there was the crash of a collision, the snapping of timbers and branches
and the wagon sagged to one side ominously.
"One ot the wheels is stuck; I can't get the wagon moving!" Oscar shouted, tugging at the
reins while the horse whinnied in fright.
"Come on, Ron, let's try to clear it!" Kim shed her poncho and leaped out of the back of
the wagon onto the bridge, to be joined a moment later by Ron. They could see that the tree-
trunk was jammed between the beams supporting the roadway and the swiftly-flowing river,
lifting the roadway planks and tilting them. A thick, short branch that stuck up and over the
roadway from the main part of the tree had passed through the spokes of one of the wagon's
rear wheels and kept it from moving.
"We've got to break that branch on this side of the wheel," Kim shouted over the noise
of the river and the creaking of the bridge timbers. She braced herself on the tipping, swaying
roadway, grasped the branch and pulled, but it only bent slightly.
"Rufus! You're on!" Ron pulled his pet out and held him to where the offending branch
had to be broken. The mole rat wasted no time. He gnawed so rapidly that a spray of wood
chips flew off to one side, as if Ron was holding a tiny, pink chain saw to the wood. After half
a minute, Kim signaled for a pause, Ron and Rufus stepped back slightly, and she took a
fresh grip on the branch. Kim used all her experience and training at Kung-Fu to concentrate
on giving a sharp, sudden, twisting tug, and the branch snapped off.
Ron tossed Rufus into the wagon box and joined Kim as she braced herself against
the back of the wagon.
"Oscar, go!" Kim shouted, the two teens heaved and the boy shouted a command to the
horse. The wagon suddenly jerked forward and rolled up the bridge as the horse bolted for
safer ground. The boy yelled and pulled hard on the reins in an effort to stop the wagon but
the horse just kept going. Kim caught herself on her hands, but Ron went down flat on his
face, just as there was a loud CRACK from the timbers below the roadway.
Kim sprang back from the damaged section and Ron scuttled backwards on all fours.
They had just cleared the part of the bridge where the snag had hit when the planks and
stringers lifted off the piers and fell into the river. The snag moved through the gap and
floated downstream, leaving a fifteen-foot-wide gap in the bridge. Oscar, Rufus and the
wagon were on the north side of the break, but Kim and Ron were marooned on the south
"What now, Kim?"
"Find a boat, Ron. Or swim."
The words were barely out of Kim's mouth when there was another loud CRACK and the
part of the bridge they were standing on dropped into the river! A moment later the two teens
popped to the surface amidst the scattered planks of the roadway.
Kim glanced around just in time to see the broken bridge vanish in the rain as they were
swept downstream. She dodged a piece of brush and saw it colide with Ron about ten feet
further along the river than she was. There was a series of splashes, the shrub went one way
and Ron went the other, swimming toward her.
"I'm coming — glurk! — KP! Hold on!" He slipped aside to avoid a plank and kept
stroking. Kim let the current push her toward her partner and then spotted one of the bridge
timbers coming toward them.
"Ron! Grab this one!" Kim threw her left arm over the plank and shoved it toward him
as they came together. When she swung the plank against her side Kim felt Ron's right arm
come over the top of the board and grasp the timber. They had worked together so many
times no words were needed as they began kicking, and stroking with their free arms, to drive
the plank toward the river bank and the flooded bottom land. But the river seemed to have
The current pushed the plank they held back toward the center of the stream, turned it
toward the opposite bank and then spun it around several times. This river is fighting us, Kim
thought grimly, and it wants to win! Well, so do I!
Kim and Ron kept stroking and were making headway toward the north bank when they
slid onto a sandbar and lifted their heads to see a hump of ground above the water right
Kim scrambled up and onto the hump with Ron right behind her. Looking around she
could hardly see anything but water through the rain, which had become a steady downpour.
"I think this is the normal shoreline of the river, Ron."
"How can you tell, KP? There's water all around," her partner replied, with a wave of one
"That water's flowing fast," Kim explained, pointing to her left. "But on this side it's hardly
moving at all," she added, pointing to the wide surface to her right. "The current must've
swept us to one side of the channel, and our swimming did the rest."
"Okay; what's our next move?"
"Find shallow places to walk in so we can get back to the road." Kim picked up a
length of tree-branch and began probing the water around her. There was a deep drop-off to
the left and a shallow one to the right, but she could feel solid bottom going upstream parallel
to the current that was rushing past them.
Kim led the way, carefully checking the bottom to avoid stepping back into the main river
channel. The safe path wound left and right, making progress a slow, muddy slog. After a
while there was a brief lull in the rain and Ron spotted a ridge of raised ground ahead of them
that seemed to stretch out of sight to the right. He called it to Kim's attention.
"Yes, I see it. And I think the rest of the bridge is over there." She pointed to the left.
"Yeah . . . it looks like something's there. Badical! We're almost out of this stuff." Both
teens' feet had been squelching in mud much too long for comfort, and the thought of dry
ground was enticing.
They pushed ahead until they could see that the ridge was, in fact, the road across the
bottom land from the bridge to higher ground, but just as they came up to it, Ron gave a yelp
and sank up to his waist in the water. Kim turned to help him and promptly stepped into the
same underwater hole that had trapped her partner. Kim could tell that her legs were knee-
deep in mud; getting out of it was clearly going to be a problem.
A moment later, four figures in blue uniforms appeared on the bridge approach and
pointed muskets fitted with bayonets down at them.
"Halt! Who are yuh, an' what're yuh doin' there?"
Ron gave a groan. "Aw, man! Here we go again, Kim."
TBC . . .
Author's Disclaimer and Notes:
The Disney Company owns the Kim Possible concept and characters.
The British Broadcasting Corporation owns the Doctor Who concept.
The term TARDIS is also copyright by the BBC.
The plot of this story is my responsibility.
Once again Kim and Ron are on the wrong end of guns. They might feel like saying, as Arthur Dent once remarked, "Why isn't anybody ever glad to see us?" . . .
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