Saturday, September 25, 2021
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for zaniness. It’s a new season, autumn for me. Wherever you are, I hope the equinox brought you positive vibes.
Three Random Reader Things
Jill’s three things are fountain pen, uniform, and foldable motorcycle. You read that right. Just before the second World War a foldable motorcycle was developed. Here’s a page full of information about them.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
The trolley-looking spaceship carrying Delilah Faraday and Tatu Pinkerton, aka Fang, landed. The ship started to bulge and contract and gave a warning about “Exit ship immediately. Grounding procedures commencing.” Then they heard something outside in the bushes.
8 — What’s goin’ down?
Vibrations spread across the nearby area. A thud came from the ground. It sounded like something immensely heavy being dropped. The bulging yellow vehicle contracted, expanded, stretched taller, and then shifted to its usual appearance.
The operative, and the human woman who had yet to attain official status, were outside. They had followed directions satisfactorily. They staggered as the ground beneath their feet shifted.
TROLLEY tested internal functions, and variously probed the area. Yellow caution lights flashed, revolving slowly.
“Ship configuration now meets minimum transformation and safety standards. Underlying structure deemed safe for the lifeforms who were brought here,” TROLLEY paused in anticipation of questions, but then continued.
“Visual systems still offline, but Detecting subterranean construction, unrelated to ship transformation. Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY awaiting further instructions.”
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I heard that mechanical voice coming from Fang, although it wasn’t coming from his mouth. I stepped close to him. The sound was coming from either his ear or a spot close to it. Putting my head against his shoulder, I listened.
“Dilly, what are you doing? Do you want me to scratch behind your ears? That would be a switch, but you can scratch mine any time,” Fang said leaning his head down closer to me.
“That’s the same voice I heard inside your trolley car-looking spaceship. What does she mean by minimum safety standards? That’s not exactly reassuring,” I began.
“Look at you remembering that without even a fountain pen to write it down,” he muttered sarcastically. “Wasn’t it self-explanatory? But with the level of technology in your time, I guess it sounded crazy. I shouldn’t get impatient. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay, Fang. And was that an earthquake? I’ve read that they have some in Tennessee. And I’m pretty sure that’s where we are,” I added giving him a sidelong look. “At any rate it isn’t Manhattan. The Manhattan Project was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Regardless, we aren’t in a safe place right here either, not with earthquakes!” I hissed with a look at the owl who eyed us suspiciously from its perch right above us.
Since I was a botanist, I couldn’t help noticing the plants around me. Even during that tense situation, I had an urge to examine them. The owl sat on a branch of a silver maple tree. All manner of wild shrubs and grasses were around us. The flora confirmed my belief that we were in eastern Tennessee.
“Subterranean construction would include tunnels… Although I think TROLLEY meant something larger,” Fang murmured. “But why are you whispering?”
“I don’t know. I guess it’s the way he’s looking at us,” I replied, pointing up at the owl.
My reaction and the reminder of the bird of prey a few feet above our heads exacerbated Fang’s fear of large birds. He put on a brave pretense, adjusting his white tuxedo and putting his fists on his hips. He slapped the ground with his strange tail, eliciting a soft hoot from the owl.
“Oh, hooty-who back to you. Whooo do you think you are to try and boss me around? I don’t see any general’s uniform on you buddy. Besides, I’m bigger than you now,” Fang sneered defiantly, looking up at the owl.
He leapt backward about three feet when the bird puffed out its feathers and rustled its wings. The owl turned its head backward.
My gaze followed the direction of the bird’s head. I heard movement in the undergrowth again. Eyes bulging, Fang took my hand for reassurance.
The sound wasn’t exactly close, but there was no urban noise to obscure it. I spotted a bush moving about twenty yards away.
“Shh! I hear somebody talking,” Fang whispered as he squinted into the distance. “Can you see anything? Remember, my lenses aren’t working, and I’m still nearsighted from being a pink fairy armadillo for so long.”
On impulse, I ducked down behind the tangle of sweetshrub and deerberry. I grabbed Fang’s elbow and pulled him down beside me. He grunted a protest.
“Your white clothes stand out even in the dark,” I explained in a hush.
“Dilly, I hear them, but just barely because they’re being quiet. They’re talking about the earthquake, or rather what they thought was an earthquake. It was really TROLLEY transitioning. That big thud was from the part of the ship that pushed underground to make extra rooms,” he paused when I knitted my eyebrows in question. “We need covert space to work from. The locals can’t know what we’re up to. And they sure can’t know that we aren’t from their time!” Fang hissed. “Have you gotten a look at them yet?”
“I see one big odd shape,” I started, trying to see in the moonlight. “Oh wait, it’s two people. I think they were hugging. It’s a man and a woman… or maybe a boy and a girl. Stay down, Fang. The clouds are clearing and the stars are getting brighter. The people are moving around, but I can’t see what they’re doing.”
“Let me listen, Dilly. They seem to have a disagreement about something they want to do. They’re worried about getting caught. Maybe they have to sneak around to see each other. Aww… Like Romeo and Juliet. How sweet. Wait. I hear something being dragged. And I think that was some kind of hatch closing, like to a tunnel,” he remarked, listening hard.
“Fang, I think they’re leaving. Now I only see the guy. The girl must have gone into the tunnel then. The man’s leaning over. It looks like he’s unfolding a card table or something,” I murmured, feeling puzzled.
The man straddled whatever he was working with. He seemed to tiptoe and then sit down hard. I heard an engine sputter to life. Then he rode away.
“A motorcycle?” I asked in astonishment.
“Cool. A foldable motorcycle. I knew they had them back then— or rather back now, but I didn’t expect to run across one,” Fang commented. “I wonder what’s goin’ down here…”
“You mean teenage romance, or something more sinister?” I pondered aloud.
“And who are they?” Fang added.
Above us, the owl shifted and stretched its neck. Fang’s scaly pink tail twitched nervously. My stomach growled loudly, and they both turned to look at me.
“What? It’s been a long time since I ate. Not since lunchtime yesterday. And that was just a quick bite while I worked. There was too much to do, getting the plant specimens ready for the rocket launch,” I said unrepentantly. “Have you got anything for breakfast inside that thing?” I asked, pointing at the yellow trolley spaceship.
“Don’t mention breakfast with him up there!” Fang whispered and pointed at the owl.
“Who-hoo…” said the owl, with a gurgle
“Uh, I think he’s already eaten,” I remarked while taking a big step backward.
“Huh?” Fang asked.
Just then the owl upchucked the undigestible part of its latest rodent meal. The pellet landed with a squish on the shoulder of Fang’s white tuxedo.
Fang shrieked. In panic he danced an odd little dance in a circle, flapping his arms. Then he ran back to the yellow trolley.
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A Romeo and Juliet themed song by Trach Ullman, They Don’t Know.
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We’re left with lots of questions from Fang and Dilly. Even the owl wants to know. 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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Dead of Winter, Journey 9, Doors of Attunement!
Dead of Winter, All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 9, Doors of Attunement
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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