Saturday, August 28, 2021
Welcome back to The Armadillo Files. For the moment we’re still on the Jupiter AM-18 rocket in 1959. Better hang on tight. The ride is about to get bumpy.
First, here are a couple of historic tidbits. If the image above is unexpected, that will be cleared up in a moment. I mentioned last week that the bagpipes would be back. That “random reader thing” led me to fictionalize a real life person. He might be back as a minor character in future episodes… Only the things know for sure. The person is Daniel Laidlaw, a piper recognized for his heroics in World War I.
For a little while longer, the Jupiter AM-18 rocket is still in 1959. As you’ll recall, last time a strange vessel connected to the rocket. The other two “things” caused me to design the interior of that ship. They also took me to the movies of 1959. The one I chose is Some Like It Hot.
While I was designing the interior of the spaceship, the third thing caused me to create “convergence alignment system” for it. That’s Teaganization, not science. Speaking of it, here’s a bit about the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
About This Episode
As you’ve noticed this week’s random reader things are from Chris Graham, the Story Reading Ape. Last time I described my use of bagpipes as foreshadowing. I didn’t expect to use them again so soon. Actually, the minute I saw them, I had a character in mind… but that character abruptly changed when I researched famous bagpipe players. The idea of a traveler was born and everything changed. I don’t explain the “traveler” part yet. I do have to keep you on your toes, you know.
The other things for this chapter are the movie “See Here Private Hargrove,” and a Glenn Miller & His Orchestra record.
Previously, amid clanging bells an unseen vessel docked with the Jupiter AM-18. That ship’s “physical support auxiliary pilot” intern, Frances, had asked the pink-haired man to get some of the catnip seeds from the rocket. Then the guy shot his ray gun at Dilly.
Now, are you ready?
4 — What the heck is going on?
Barreling into my chest, the kitten caused me to move just enough that I didn’t get the full force of the zap.
“Gee whiz, Frances! I nearly hit you. What were you thinking?” the weird guy demanded, to which the kitten meowed loudly. “You’ll get the catnip? You don’t know where it is. What do you mean I wouldn’t know the catnip from a cow’s butt?” he exclaimed.
Peggy Sue meowed something from the other ship. Pink Hair made a wry face. He pushed his hat back and put one fist on his hip.
“Dilly your hair looks like you stuck your finger in an electric socket. Hold still,” he stated and pointed the ray gun at me, but the adult cat meowed again. “Peggy Sue, I’m doing the best I can. Wait… what? Well, you told me to— Oh. I see. Well, ain’t that a bite. Sorry Dilly. I was just supposed to bring you aboard the TROLLEY,” he added, turning back to me.
Just then the kitten ran past me with a packet of the plant-seed specimen in her mouth. I ran after her, trying to get my seeds back. It didn’t occur to me that I was leaving the rocket and stepping onto a spaceship.
“Well, that was easier than I expected,” the weird guy said in that saucy accent that was similar to the way Uncle Artie talked.
Abruptly the doors whooshed shut. Frances, the kitten gave an unrepentant swish of her tail. Carrying the catnip, she hopped up onto a control panel.
I gaped in astonishment at my surroundings. Futuristic whatchamacallits blinked and hummed from every nook and cranny. A large screen nearly filled one wall. I was astonished to see Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon displayed, trying to escape from the mafia in “Some Like It Hot.”
Unseen, bagpipes shrilled. The ship lurched. Though everything stayed in place, it felt like the rest of the world did a summersault. The stars outside the window tilted. Somehow the ship had moved or maybe rotated around us, but kept us stationary on the inside. A second later the stars shifted back into place.
“Oh sweet Time Manatees! We nearly hit a traveler. We must have been within a decade of his transition date,” he wailed.
Numbers rapidly slid by on a screen beside Peggy Sue. The feline pilot made a relieved noise. The numbers stopped on a date. June 2, 1950. The cats hissed a warning. The sound of bagpipes blasted throughout the ship.
“Quick! Dilly, jump over there and use the convergence alignment system,” he yelled over the noise of the bagpipes and waved his arm at a jukebox.
“The what? I don’t understand,” I protested.
“There’s no time. Just press a button!” he shouted.
I pushed the first button I saw. Sounds whirred from inside the jukebox-looking machine. An instant later the numbers on Peggy Sue’s screen started moving again. The bagpipes stopped. Peggy Sue looked at Pink Hair and gave disdainful meow.
“Whew, that was close. I know, I know. Never underestimate the power of music. Even if you don’t like the instrument. Besides, I can certainly respect the man’s bravery and achievements. It’s no surprise that Daniel Laidlaw transitioned out of his human form to become a traveler,” he said earnestly.
“Traveler? Now what are you going on about?” I demanded.
“When you got on the rocket and pulled us off course—
“Hang on buddy! You had no business being there either. And I didn’t just get on that rocket. I had to find my pink fairy armadillo. Oh no! I forgot about Fang. We have to go back!
“Cool it, sister. Haven’t you figured that out yet? And whatever possessed you to name me Fang? The name is Tatu Pinkerton, thank you very much.
“Huh…?” I began, but words failed me.
A sound similar to that of a record falling into place emanated from the juke box that he called a convergence alignment system.
The movie on the big screen turned to static. Then it showed an old film from World War II. I remembered my Uncle Artie loved those. I had watched them with him at oldie matinees when I was little. It was “See Here, Private Hargrove.”
Looking at the big screen, Peggy Sue growled. Frances hopped to another set of buttons and frantically pushed one after another. Her tail gave a frustrated slash.
“Uh-oh. That can’t be a good thing. That movie looks like it’s from the 1940s,” Tatu Pinkerton muttered.
“Will somebody please tell me what the heck is going on?” I demanded.
After one more click and whirl, music came from the jukebox. At that instant the ship’s warning bells clang-clang-clanged. Purple lights shot in every direction. The music blasted out louder. I didn’t know the name of the song but I recognized the lively instrumentals. It was a record by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra.
“Holy boogie woogie! I was right. Hang on tight, Dilly! This will be a bumpy ride,” Tatu yelled, and his hat was knocked off as the spaceship spun.
He grabbed my hand, sniffed it and seemed to compare the appearance of my hand to my face, just as he had done earlier. He helped me get to a seat and took the one next to me. The seat seemed to mold itself securely around me, keeping me from falling as the ship moved violently.
“It’ll be okay. You took care of me for years, and I won’t let anything happen to you. Well, not if I can help it,” he promised, and sniffed my hand again.
I looked from his strange outfit to his pink hair. Could he really be Fang?
Engulfed by the sounds of swing music and surrounded by purple lights, I felt reality was slipping away. I sank against the embrace of the seat.
None of this can be happening. I already knew the jerks in the lab slipped me a mickey. So, maybe I just haven’t woke up yet.
I watched the stars shift and stretch. I felt the vibration of the spacecraft.
Yeah… it has to be drugs.
♦ ♦ ♦
So, that was Episode 4. I warned you it would be a bumpy ride. I love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a friendly comment. Whether your comment is to me or another commenter, keep it friendly. Hugs on the wing!
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
I’ve updated the blog page for Dead of Winter. It has all the images I’ve made for that monthly series of novelettes as well as purchase links. Click here. The current issue is Journey 8, The Lost Library. Coming in September is Journey 9, Doors of Attunement.
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 8, The Lost Library
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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