"This dingleberry is going down!" Mom growled, speeding up like we were racing a light at a crosswalk. Then she veered up the little slope of wild dirt that protected us from the Momposter's boogeybreath. I followed close behind her as we cut onto the trail just a leash-length in front of the Momposter.
I wanted to introduce myself to the horses, but Mom kept her body in the way no matter how fast I ran. I ran faster, and she ran faster, so I ran faster still and she ran faster still.
Looking at it from up here I could see that most of My Hometown was really wild. The houses and stores of my life weren't in the center of anything, but only slotted into the cracks and flat places between the mountains and the ocean.
Back when there were people here, runners used to come from all over The City every morning to the I'mbarkadero to run an adventure race that had no official starting line and no official finish.
"Hey, Mom! Guess what. This weekend is that holiday when we celebrate the first cruise ships that bought a boogeyvirus to America!"
The sun burned like a grapefruit over the mountain, and as it rose higher it lit the trees and rocks in the same color as the Wagon's tail lights had lit the trees and rocks the night before when Mom had almost backed into them.
Normally Mom makes me step off the trail and up-up onto a rock when we see someone coming, and then she turns her back to the trail and stuffs me full of kibbles until the people pass. But now, Mom pulled on the mask and the other people did the up-uping, as if by magic.
“At this rate I bet we’ll pass close to 2000 people before we get back to the car.” I didn’t know how big two thousands were, but now I know 2000 is how many people fit into 5 and a half miles if you line them all up one behind the other.
Before long we left the river and started climbing the day’s mountain, and the blades of jagged, waxy rocks pushed the trees even further apart. There was a rumbling up ahead that sounded like a motorboat. “Do you hear something?” Mom asked. “I think someone’s mowing the lawn,” I explained, not because it was true but because it’s rude to not know the answer to a question.