Saturday, August 7, 2021
Hello, all. Are you ready for the takeoff? I’ve used this video before, but I love the song (and it was a really cool anime series too), and it’s just perfect for this beginning. The all new, interactive, reader-thing driven serial is here!
My overbooked status continued throughout last week. I’m still playing catch-up. So, I was up late writing this first episode. It’s definitely by the seat of my “pantser” pants. So kindly ignore any mistakes. Pointing them out does not qualify as a “friendly comment.” You’ve seen the middle of this episode, in the teaser I gave last week. It was simpler to include the whole thing together, so I’m sorry for rerunning that.
Because of that, the random reader things have a couple of repeats princess phone from GP Cox and transistor radio from Dan Antion. I’ve also used the remaining two of GP’s kickoff set of three things, pink fairy armadillo and cave. I’ve been itching to say this again, so without further ado…
Prologue — TROLLEY
Claxons rang. Warning lights flashed. TROLLEY roused enough to determine the threat-level. Neither date nor location were auspicious. February 3, 1959. Clear Lake, Iowa, USA.
“Ah… the music died. Tragic. However, it creates interesting changes to potential futures. Although no warnings. So, why the claxons?”
TROLLEY checked potential hazards with past interactions.
“Dates at risk from 1943 through 1945. Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. Calutron. Potential for tampering. Threat unlikely. Not critical. Only potential. Yet troubling…”
“Cross-referencing future. One potential convergence point found. Can that be it? May 28, 1959. Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. Hazard seems unlikely. Although risk determination is high. Reporting threat.”
Satisfied, TROLLEY entered status.
“Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY reporting threat assessment, positive. Awaiting instructions.”
1 — Where’s Fang?
My last thought before oblivion overtook me was that those jerks in the lab had slipped a Mickey Finn into my coffee. I should have been unconscious for the few hours that remained in the night and all the next day. However, I had an oddly high tolerance to drugs, especially for someone of my height. I didn’t know why. Maybe if you grew up in Alligator Alley you were automatically tough.
A horrible ringing in my ears brought me around. I woke up remembering that I left the lab thinking I had gotten a particularly nasty bug. The timing couldn’t have been worse. As I staggered to my quarters all I could think was that I was going to miss the biggest moment in my career — such as it was. Even with a name like Faraday, in 1959 a woman without connections didn’t tend to get very far, especially in a scientific field.
As the bell blared into my skull, I realized that I had passed out with my head resting on my princess phone. When I answered it, nobody was there.
Suddenly a terrible thought occurred to me. Those bullies were always threatening to mess with the one thing I cared about besides work. My eyes darted around the room. Where was he?
Trying to put the phone’s receiver back, I knocked over everything on my nightstand. My transistor radio fell over. La Bamba blasted from the speakers. I tumbled to the floor and looked under the bed. Then I looked everywhere else.
Fang was gone!
♦ ♦ ♦
One day, people would be able to sue employers, even the government, for harassment and bullying. However, that wasn’t the case in my day. I had to stand up to all the sleazy remarks, and slap way the hands that got “too friendly” ― and I was no great beauty.
While most women went to the beauty parlor, wore girdles, and endured all manner of torture in pursuit of physical perfection and getting a good husband, I had to go the opposite direction. I threw myself into botanical studies, and then my work as a scientist. I liked plants better than people. Plants and Fang.
It wasn’t that I really meant to let myself go… I just found that if I wore loafers or Keds, and socks instead of nylons, and didn’t get my hair done, the creeps in the lab didn’t pester me as much. There was also the unexpected plus that they didn’t treat me like I was utterly stupid ― or at least not quite as often.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked pretty clothes, and would have loved to be called beautiful. Although I recognized that “average” was the closest to a compliment that my face or figure would get. I would have been fine with that, except for the name my parents hung on me. The irony of it was cruel.
Delila was my unfortunate name. As a toddler the closest I could come to saying my name was “Dilly,” and that was my nickname. As it became apparent that I would never look like a Delila, the silly moniker stuck.
I grabbed my telephone and dialed the switchboard. It felt like forever before the “0” rotated back around.
“Hey, Dilly. I got word from the guys in the botany lab that you were sick,” Donna, the operator answered.
“My telephone rang a minute ago, but nobody was there. Did you take any messages?” I wanted to know.
“Oh yeah. There was so much laughing, that I’m not sure which one of those bozos it was, but the message was ‘Bon voyage, Fang.’ He wouldn’t say what he meant. Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that what you call that weird critter of yours? Dilly? Dilly did you hang up? Land sakes. How rude,” Donna sighed.
A glance at the hands of the clock told me there was barely enough time to get to the launch area. It would be prudent to check other places first, but I was certain those goons had taken Fang and put him on the rocket!
The weird critter in question, Fang, was a gift from my Uncle Arturo. He wasn’t my real uncle, but he was my dad’s best friend and my godfather. Uncle Artie brought Fang to me from Argentina. I don’t know how he managed to sneak him into the country, but then again, Fang was small and easy to hide.
Fang was a pink fairy armadillo, and my best friend. I was able to keep him with me by pretending he was part of the study group of animals at Cape Canaveral. However, Fang’s status was about to become all too real.
Thinking fast, I picked up a small plant from my table and stuck it in the pocket of my lab coat. Glad that I had passed out with my shoes still on, I bolted from my quarters. The corridors were empty. Everyone who was allowed had gone to the control center. The sound of my heels echoed in the empty hallways as if I was in a cave.
There wasn’t a lot of security back then. The guard recognized me. He buddied around with the lab guys. I said that one of the plant specimens slated for the launch had been overlooked.
“The whole team could get fired for this,” I fibbed and retrieved the plant from my pocket. “I know you’re the kind of guy who looks out for his friends. I promise I’ll be so quick and quiet that nobody will ever know I was there.”
The guard was reluctant, but he let me through. I ran, but I didn’t have to sneak. No one in their right mind would go near a rocket that was about to blast off to outer space. However, Miss Baker and Miss Able would be the first primates in space, and I wanted to make sure they weren’t joined by a tiny armadillo!
I darted past the men who secured the pods holding the two little monkeys. I pretended to do a final check on the plant seeds. The men looked askance at me, but they were exhausted from working double shifts to get things ready for the launch of the Jupiter AM-18. Also, the space was cramped. Adding me made it even worse. They were happy to get out.
“Don’t worry. I’m right behind you,” I told them.
Hurriedly I looked in every nook and cranny for Fang. I knelt down to re-check a low area. As I crawled backward from the extra tight spot, my posterior bumped into something.
“Oh! Excuse me,” I exclaimed having thought I was alone.
When I stood, my eyes met the strangest sight. It was a man who would have been ordinary looking, except for his bizarre choice of clothing. On his head was an officer’s peaked cap, but it was black and the insignia was unlike any I had ever seen. Shaggy pink hair stuck out from the cap. The hair color was the least of his strangeness. He wore a tank-style undershirt and black leather short-shorts ― with bright pink fishnet tights.
I stood in open-mouthed astonishment. I tried to speak, but words wouldn’t come.
“Honestly, Dilly. You look like a fish trying to breathe. Did I get something wrong with the outfit? There wasn’t a lot of past-future fashion information in the database,” he remarked in a sassy accent that reminded me of Uncle Arturo.
I sputtered incoherently.
“Oh, never mind. There’s no time. Sorry, honey,” he added.
Then he took a strange sort of gun from his belt. A ray shot from the gun and zapped me.
♦ ♦ ♦
So there’s the first episode! I hope everyone is on board for this new, crazy ride. Since I’m so far behind, I might be slow to answer comments. However, I hope you’ll stop to leave one. Whether your comment is to me or another commenter, keep it friendly.
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
One thing I’m trying to catch up on is Dead of Winter: Journey 8, The Lost Library. However the first seven novelettes are available at Amazon. I welcome you to be a part of these Journeys.
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 7, Revenant Pass
Journey 6, The Fluting Fell
Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
Journey 4, The Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
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 © 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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