Saturday, September 4, 2021
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for zaniness. First, in case you missed it, Dead of Winter: Journey 9, Doors of Attunement went live on Thursday. Details on that at the end of this post.
This week’s random reader things are from Pat at eQuips blog. Here are some quick links about them. Roadster is fairly obvious — a sporty, two-seater, convertible. I found a terrific one that you’ll see in a moment. The party-line phone dates back to the late 1800s. That’s a telephone circuit that is shared by multiple telephone service subscribers. It was a great way to collect gossip, because the other people in the loop didn’t always know if someone was listening-in on their conversations.
Thing number 3 is the most fun. You can learn all about paint-on hosiery at this link from Smithsonian.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Last time we left Delila (Dilly) Faraday and an odd pink-haired man who claimed to be her pet armadillo, on a space ship that had docked with the Jupiter AM-18 rocket. Poor Dilly has seen so many strange things that she is about to convince herself that she’s dreaming. Sorry, Dilly. It’s not a dream. The ride was getting bumpy, so let’s see what else is going to happen. Are you ready?
5 — When are we?
Honking a beep-boop sound like a clown horn, the notification system flashed a green light. TROLLEY noted that the transport was ready.
“TROLLEY, your request is processed. Ready to initiate return transport of the physical support auxiliary pilots,” came the voice from Prime.
A red and blue roadster rolled in from the transport bay. Intern pilot Frances hopped into the driver’s seat. Peggy Sue meowed and swished her tail, thumping the door of the American Bantam automobile. The kitten narrowed her eyes, annoyed, but moved over.
Green lights blinked. Another beep-boop sounded, as the roadster rolled back to the transport bay. Then a purple glow emanated from the area.
“Confirming return transport of support auxiliary pilot Peggy Sue and intern Frances. Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY awaiting further instructions.”
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Slowly shaking my head, I watched the two cats jump into an antique-looking roadster. It rolled across the length of the control room. A door that I had not realized was there whooshed open. There was a silly honking sound that did not come from the antique-looking car.
I gaped in astonishment while the car moved beyond the doors. My ears rang with a high-pitched noise, and then the roadster and the cats were gone.
“Did those cats just… Where… Uh, wha—” I fumbled, tongue-tied. “Where did they go? And did I hear voices from in there? Mechanical voices?” I asked, not sure which question was weirder, robotic voices or driving cats.
“Oh my stars! Don’t let TROLLEY hear any suggestion of machines, robots, or even computers!” Pink Hair exclaimed in a whisper. “That was just Prime taking the auxiliary pilots to their next assignment. Think of it as a long-distance party-line phone… really long, long distance.”
Sitting back down into the hugging comfort of that seat, I looked at him, bug-eyed and dazed. I gazed out the porthole at the stars. Gradually I noticed that the stars were no longer streaking past. Or maybe we weren’t speeding past the stars anymore. However, my brain felt stuck. I stared at him in silence.
“Dilly, are you okay? I know it’s a lot to process,” the guy who called himself Tatu Pinkerton remarked and then ran away.
Momentarily he returned with the jar of instant coffee — and a spoon. He poured some sugar into the jar as he hurried back to me.
“Look, honey, you’ve got to snap out of it. Come on, have some coffee. Atagirl,” he said, spooning the dry coffee crystals into my mouth.
His facial expression went from disbelief, to impatience, to concern. He stooped down beside my seat. Then he bowed his head and tilted it toward me.
“Here. Scratch behind my ears. That always makes you feel better. No? Have it your way. Anyhow, we’ve landed. Time to get going,” he stated.
“Landed? When did that happen? I felt didn’t feel anything at all. Once the ship stopped spinning, I mean. Assuming this isn’t an elaborate hoax.. Where’d we land?” I asked, drawing back from the next spoonful of instant coffee.
“That’s right. We’ve landed Dilly. Better have one more bite. I know humans don’t take well to this kind of thing,” he told me, and stuck the spoon into my mouth when I opened it to repeat my question about landing.
“It’s not just where, it’s when. We have to do something about your clothes. They simply won’t do here. Pick something out and get changed. You’ll want to look spiffy for Manhattan!” he stated gleefully as another door swished open.
In mute astonishment, as he scampered past the door. A moment later he appeared in a short kimono style dressing gown, along with the officer’s cap that had the odd insignia.
He turned away from me, but stuck one leg backward for my inspection. His legs were hairy, as I would have expected for a man. However, the hair was pink.
Unable to stop myself I leaned closer to make sure my eyes didn’t deceive me. He had also drawn a line down the back of each leg.
“Did I get the lines straight?” he wanted to know.
“Sort of,” I replied reluctantly, because I was still trying to absorb my strange situation. “Why did you draw on your legs?”
“It looks just like stockings, doesn’t it? Paint-on hosiery is all the rage, with nylons being rationed. Well, it is the 1940s, you know,” he began but waved off my skeptical snort.
“Yeah right. If you’re going to show your legs, you need to shave them,” I snarked and received an indignant look in return. “Wait a minute. Did you say 1940s?”
“That’s right, honey. Welcome to Manhattan!” he cried.
He danced a few steps like a chorus girl. Then he started singing.
“Start spreading the news
I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York…”
“Um… Sorry, that hasn’t been written yet,” he mumbled just before doing a high-kick that, thank heavens, he did not complete.
“Granted, it’s dark out there… Actually, it’s too dark. There’s no way we’re in any part of New York City — no matter what decade you want me to think it is. But it isn’t Cape Canaveral either… or any other part of Florida. Those hills remind me of the southeast, maybe one of the Carolinas or Tennessee,” I finished in a dazed whisper.
“Don’t be ridiculous. My new mission is to adjust the convergence conflict that was created with the combination of February 3, 1959 — the day the music died? And the Jupiter AM-18 launch. The point of conflict occurs at some point between 1943 and 1945, related to the Manhattan Project. Now go put on some glad rags. And do something about your hair. It’s sticking out in every direction,” he countered impatiently.
“The Manhattan Project? As in the Secret City? As in the atomic bomb?” I exclaimed sputtering.
“Yes, but we’re not here to alter the outcome of World War II, or stop the bomb being made, or change history in any way. So don’t go worrying about having to decide whether to kill baby Hitler or anything. Instead, we have to fix something that changes the future,” he tried to explain.
“Heh?” I grunted, more certain by the second that I was hallucinating.
He darted away. I heard soft thuds from the next compartment. Then he ran back to the control room. He wore a white tuxedo complete with tails. When he twirled to show off his formal wear, the tailcoat opened, exposing another tail. That one was long, scaly, shaped like a spatula, and pink, of course.
“You have a tail?” I asked, choking.
“Shouldn’t I? It’s a tuxedo with tails,” he replied innocently. “Here, put this on. We have time to paint the town before morning.”
He tossed a confection of silk and chiffon into my lap. Holding it up I saw it was a beautiful 1940s style evening gown. It was my size too, and just the right length.
I gulped. My eyes took in each detail of the control panel with all the futuristic whatchamacallits. I thought about the cat pilots and how the green and purple lights came from the room where their car went… and that mechanical sounding voice. Touching my frizzed-out hair, I remembered the ray gun he used to zap me.
If the pink hair wasn’t enough, then the long pink, flat-ended tail was. That really must be Fang.
Finally, I looked through the window at the lights scattered here and there across the hills — hills that definitely were not in flat Florida. I took a deep breath and stood.
“Like they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” I said in resigned befuddlement. “But we are not in New York. If you’re supposed to poke around in the Manhattan Project, then we’re somewhere just outside the Secret City,” I said, pausing for his uncomprehending shrug.
“Look outside. See any skyscrapers?” I demanded. “The Manhattan Project? Fang, we are just outside Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”
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I’m beginning to worry about Fang’s fashion sense, not to mention his understanding of history… I love to hear from you, so be sure to stop and say hello. Whether your comment is to me or another commenter, keep it friendly. Hugs on the wing!
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Announcing Dead of Winter, Journey 9, Doors of Attunement!
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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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