Saturday, March 27, 2021
Welcome back, my chuckaboos! I apologize in advance — I will be scarce around the blogosphere for the rest of this month. I have a lot of catching up to do on Dead of Winter.
There isn’t much preamble today, I barely made it to the river as it is. However, I do have a random reader thing. It’s from John W. Howell. Several weeks ago he suggested insufficient fuel. How could I possibly pass that up?
I threatened another cliffhanger, so hang on tight.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 68 — Fuel
Sooty air left specks on the goggles of my breathing apparatus. Although that didn’t make much difference. I had flown up into the brown cloud. It prevented me seeing anything, even if the goggles had been clean.
The kite-like wings welded onto the rocket tilted as I pushed all my weight toward the right. It might have been fun if the harness hadn’t been too big for me. I had the uncomfortable sensation that if I wriggled wrong, I might fall out of it.
The rocket began to sputter and dip, but I hadn’t reached the cloud yet. For the first time I looked at the fuel gauge. The red needle was all the way to the left.
“Balderdash,” I muttered.
Seeing a metal framework of some sort I took hold of a grappling hook that was attached to a thin rope. I had looped it around my waist as an afterthought before I set out on my hairbrained scheme. I didn’t take the big crossbow contraption Victor made. That was much to heavy and unwieldy for me. I whirled the rope, breathed a prayer for good aim, and set it free.
The line lurched, but it held. Hastily, I checked the parachute attached to the rocket in case the line didn’t hold.
My hands found a firm hold on a metal bar. I tried to figure out how I was going to climb up into… whatever it was.
Squinting upward, I spied the place where the grappling hook landed. Abruptly, the hook shifted. I stifled a scream when I dropped a good fifteen feet. The rocket beneath me rocked violently. Thin rope holding it snapped.
I watched as the machine plummeted. A second later the parachute opened, and it swayed and gently drifted downward. At least the rocket would be safe. Maybe Victor or the Captain could use it again.
Sucking air through the breathing apparatus I looked from the metal bar to which I held and up into the brown cloud.
“It’s a ladder,” I murmured in astonishment as my gaze followed one metal bar after another, thirty feet up into the cloud.
Carefully, I climbed. On the tenth rung, my button boot slipped.
I gasped and squeezed shut my eyes, but I righted myself. I tilted my head so that I would have to look upward — not down, when I opened my eyes.
I couldn’t help myself. I looked down. The Delta Pearl looked like a bathtub boat toy. It was small and progressively smaller. My ladder and whatever held it moved upward.
“Don’t look, don’t think. Just climb,” I told myself.
Taking a deep breath, I restarted my ascent.
Finally, there were a few rungs left to climb. I tried to see precisely where the metal bars led. I knew it must go to something. Granted, there were so many specks on my goggles that I couldn’t see clearly, but the ladder appeared to simply stop.
I thought about the Delta Peal. Wanting another glimpse of the riverboat for courage, I looked down. However, the grimy air prevented me seeing much of anything.
While my head was bent, I felt something grab onto the back of my gas mask. It yanked upward at first only pulling my hair, but then choking me.
Reflexively, I put my hands to the bottom of the breathing apparatus, trying to keep it from strangling me. Whatever held it pulled again.
My feet swung out wildly, no longer on the ladder. Both of my hands clutched the mask.
I coughed and gagged. My feet kicked as I used them to try and find the ladder. However, my boots only found empty air.
End Chapter 68
Sorry… I hear you coughing. I admit to a wicked streak.
Dead of Winter
It’s still early in my Amazon serial. If you haven’t already joined the journey, you’re just in time for a nice-sized bite. All three together are under 200 pages — you can catch up easily before the fourth installment is published.
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
Thanks for visiting. I’d love to hear from you in a comment, but like I keep saying, this is my sanctuary — so keep it friendly. Remember — this is not a forum for critique. I freely admit to having PTSD issues. I wasn’t kidding when I said I barely made it here this week.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 and 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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