“Yay, I win,” said Denise.
“Racing isn’t just about top speed,” said Austin. “It’s about skill and strategy and knowing when to accelerate and how to move into a turn. Didn’t you guys ever watch Cars? Besides, it’ll be fun.”
“Where do you want to race?” asked Christopher.
“Let’s race around that island,” replied Austin.
Two hundred yards from shore was a small island, little more than a bit of rock sticking up just above the surface, to which clung a bit of soil and a few weeds, along with a single yucca plant. It was so small that a single individual would have been hard-pressed to find a spot to sit down.
“You want to race over the water?” asked Denise.
“Sure, it’s better than racing around this desert,” he replied. “If we fall, we get wet. If we fell anywhere else, we’d be covered in cactus needles.”
“Valerie can’t race over the water,” said Denise. “What if she fell in?”
“She’d get wet,” said Austin.
“I mean Robot Valerie. She’s made of metal. She might rust.”
“I’m mostly plastic,” said Robot Valerie, defensively. “I still can’t race over the water though.”
“No you can’t,” said Astrid. “I’m surprised at you, Austin. That’s like asking you to fly over a pit of lava.”
The boy stuck out his lip and frowned. “I didn’t… I don’t want her to get hurt. It’s only I wanted to race.”
“Why don’t you three boys race,” said Astrid.
Christopher rolled his eyes, but then nodded and he and Toby walked to their hoverbikes and put on their helmets. Austin, anxious to get started before anyone had a chance to change his mind, was at the shoreline waiting for them. The four girls walked down to the lake’s edge to watch.
“All right,” said Toby. “Once around the island and back to this point. First one to cross the edge of the shore wins. Put your helmet on, Austin.”
The three boys lined up and got ready. Astrid held up her hand.
“Ready… steady… go!”
The three hoverbikes took off across the lake. Austin’s blue bike took the lead, skimming just feet from the water, leaving a path in the waves beneath him. Even from the shoreline, it was obvious that he was pushing the bike near its 40 mph top speed. Christopher was racing nearly as fast, though his green hoverbike was flying about twenty feet higher.
“Toby’s losing,” said Regular Valerie.
“He’s just letting Austin win,” said Astrid.
Austin, now firmly in the lead, leaned right and made the turn around the little island. He had just finished the maneuver, when suddenly something reached out of the water and hit the bottom of his bike. The sleek blue hoverbike flipped over end on end, tossing the boy into the lake.
“Holy macaroni!” shouted Denise.