The instant Robert was securely aboard the go-cart, the king took off at terrible speed. It was all Robert could do to hang on as the go-cart careened down the street with Robert perched on the back like a monkey, his eyes streaming in the wind.
Such was their pace that soon they drew even with the rest of Perpetually Eleven (minus Armstrong and Liddle). Once reunited, the pack stayed together for the remainder of the journey.
They kept mainly to the streets, with the occasional shortcut through an alley or parking lot. Robert soon lost all sense of direction as they made their way through the abandoned streets and buildings of the Go-cart King’s realm.
After perhaps twenty minutes, they arrived at a cul-de-sac from which rose the delicate arch of what could only be described as a fairy tale bridge. It led up and over the surrounding houses and descended perhaps a football field’s distance away. Its length was delicately figured white marble with gold railings and trim. It was the most beautiful structure Robert had ever seen, and he knew it could only be the Bridge of Time.
Climbing off of the king’s go-cart, Robert moved closer to the foot of the bridge to investigate. “Step not upon it,” the king warned. Robert nodded in acknowledgement. As he drew nearer, he was impressed anew by the lure of the bridge. It was achingly beautiful, and he longed to touch it. Indeed, his hand, seemingly of its own volition, moved towards the golden railing. As he reached to grasp it, Robert felt like a spectator in his own body, but the experience did not trouble him.
Just in the nick of time, the Go-cart King adroitly snatched Robert’s arm and carried his hand away. The spell broken, Robert shook himself and backed away warily from the bridge.
The king regarded Robert with grim amusement. “Many have been lured by the spell of the Bridge of Time,” he said. “They traverse its span and find themselves lost. Once crossed, the Bridge of Time never leads back to the same place, and the lost souls are doomed to wander the endless corridors of time, never to find their home timeline.
“Fortunately, we of the Perpetually Eleven are not so easily swayed from the path of our destiny. We have the means to cross the Bridge of Time safely. If you could just enter your address over there.”
The king pointed, and for the first time Robert noticed a computer kiosk next to the bridge. It looked extraordinarily out of place. Approaching the computer, Robert could see on the monochrome screen a rudimentary interface for entering one’s mailing address. Bemused, Robert did so. As he pressed “Enter,” the bridge seemed to ripple and shimmer for a moment. Then it was still again.
“Excellent,” said the king, rubbing his hands together. “With your address entered, the Bridge will take us directly to it, and hopefully there we will find Crutchford.”
Just then, the sound of approaching go-carts was heard. “Excellent,” the king said again. “Armstrong and Liddle have returned with the device.” Soon the two riders surged into view and came tearing down the street towards Robert and the others. At the last moment, they slammed on their breaks, spun out, and came to a screeching halt before the king. One of them held aloft a gleaming black metal sphere slightly larger than a softball. The king took it, clapping the rider on the shoulder. “Well done, my knights.”
Then he turned to Robert. “Know you the workings of a dismantler drone?”
Robert shook his head. “I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never actually seen one. They’re highly illegal where I’m from.”
“And here as well,” said the king with a smirk. “The place you are from is the same place we are from.” He grew serious again. “But that’s as may be. Attend, and I’ll show you how the drone works.”