Saturday, October 23, 2021
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for nuttiness. This started as a promotion last time for Teri Polen’s yearly October festival of horror and suspense, Bad Moon Rising. However, along the way I decided to have my own three part Halloween celebration. This would be part two.
Three Random Reader Things
I remembered several magnificent sketches and mural photos from delightful Canadian blogger, Resa McConaghy. She left sent a set of “3 things” that helped me along with this chapter. So today I’m using those. Additionally, for the next couple of weeks I will feature her images, to continue my Halloween celebration. Resa’s random reader things for today are Jitterbug, Zoot Suit, and Armed Forces Radio Service.
Tidbits of Truth
It’s a zany sounding name for any sort of menswear, but “zoot suits” were a real thing. Learn more about them here. Contrary to the whimsy of the fashion, the suits, which did not use fabric in an economical way, became an excuse for people wrongly calling themselves patriots to engage in horrible behavior in 1943. It sounds sadly similar to some things today. You can learn about the Zoot Suit Riots here. (That said, I don’t permit political comments at this blog. I’m simply relating a historical context. Since this story includes time travel, it seemed appropriate to mention. End of story. I freely admit that I’m a “blog-tater.” Political and/or religious comments will be deleted. This is my sanctuary — a safe place for everyone to escape from the pressures of the day. )
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Last time we got better acquainted with the artificial intelligence, TROLLEY. We learned a little about the transformations that have taken place in the spaceship, so that it can look like some kind of “entertainment establishment.”
This time Dilly will fill us in on some details of the World War II Era setting where our heroes have been sent, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
10 — Where have you been?
Replication resources need to recharge. Reassessing production priorities. Assigning primary importance to food and beverage items in support of mission cover.
The operative will have to manage with clothing options created thus far. He will be unhappy. Although the appropriateness of his choices in garments conflict with the time and place of this mission.
Error was made in prior assumption that he was learning to dance. However, I am evaluating the possibility that dance lessons would be a good distraction, to prevent his excessive use of replication devices. The Jitterbug should be sufficiently complex.
“TROLLEY, I’m really not in the mood for In the Mood. Would you mind playing something else? Do you have anything Halloweenie?” Tatu Pinkerton requested.
“Accessing year 1940, Glen Gray’s Boogie Woogie Man,” TROLLEY replied and began playing the song.
Just when it seemed the music was an adequate distraction, the operative spoke again.
“TROLLEY, when will the steaks I ordered be ready. We need them by Halloween,” he asked.
“Beef steaks are currently rationed. Though I can replicate them, it would cause suspicion and jeopardize the mission,” the artificial intelligence cautioned.
“I never understood how meat could be a weapon anyway. Maybe bloodsuckers are allergic to cholesterol. What else can I use if vampires attack?” he wanted to know.
“Perhaps you mean a S T A K E stake, made of sharpened wood, rather than a S T E A K steak made of meat. It should be a nonissue. Vampires appear to be purely mythological on earth at this point in time,” TROLLEY clarified.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to be prepared,” he insisted.
“Replication resources have been reallocated to essentials. Recommend you go outside and find a pointy stick,” TROLLEY suggested. “Outdoor recon would be wise at this juncture.”
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It had been a long time since I had ridden a bicycle. My leg muscles were screaming by the time I got back to the trolley car-looking spaceship.
To be honest, I was hoping for something like that cool foldable motorcycle. However, the artificial intelligence that “replicated” food and needful things seemed to have so much to do that I felt guilty. When it… She? It had a feminine voice… Anyhow she suggested that the motorcycle would attract more attention than a bicycle. I didn’t have the heart to ask for more.
Maybe most people would have spent the day investigating the wonders of a time traveling spaceship, but I was overwhelmed. Especially when I couldn’t get away from the fact that my pet armadillo was actually a human— or rather a person of some undefined sort.
That said, I elected to take the bicycle and a pair of binoculars out to have a look around. Besides, the peace and quiet seemed like a good idea, after a day of Fang’s company.
The spaceship shared the name of the artificial intelligence, TROLLEY, which was a long acronym, the words of which I had yet to memorize. I was a botanist. All the Latin names for plants didn’t phase me. Technology jargon was another matter—
Anyhow the spaceship had settled outside the installation known as the Secret City. Admittedly, there would have been a hullabaloo if the ship landed inside the place. So, I couldn’t complain about the location of our “campsite.”
I had no idea what we were expected to do regarding the Manhattan Project. I didn’t even know how we could get inside the “Secret City” — not for the entire 60,000 acres of it. I supposed we could sneak over or cut through a fence, but what if we got caught? I was a scientist, not a spy. I got stressed just thinking about covert operations.
It was nerve-wracking just to hide in the bushes on a hillside that overlooked the Elza Gate. I didn’t need my binoculars to get a distant look at the K-25 plant, which housed the production facilities for the Manhattan Project. For a time, it was the largest building in the world, covering 44 acres.
I also spotted rows and rows of “hutments,” temporary housing that filled the formerly empty valleys. The sudden growth of the military’s facilities caused the local population to grow from around 3,000 in 1942 to about 75,000 in 1945. At the height of production, the government employed almost 100,000 workers in the Secret City.
Wow, the place really is a city. There’s even a recreation hall and a kiddy club for the children, I thought. I wonder if they have Halloween parties for them. Monsters at a place working on the atomic bomb… that sounds like a B movie.
With all that activity, surely we could find a way to get past the gates… I thought sadly of my NASA identification. They weren’t likely to accept a security clearance from a military organization that didn’t exist yet.
So, I watched things from my hiding spot for a long time. Then I cautiously moved to another, and then another spot. Eventually, I peddled back to the ship.
“Dilly, you were gone all day. Where have you been?” Fang demanded when he saw me ride up to the entrance of the transformed spaceship. “Did you bring a pumpkin? I asked TROLLEY for one, but she gave me puree. You can’t carve a jack-o-lantern from puree.”
“Fang, are you wearing a zoot suit?” I asked, ignoring his question. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s an improvement over the pink fishnets and leather short-shorts.”
He sashayed a few paces away, waving around a long, pointed stick. Then he did a pirouette and strutted back on his pretend catwalk.
“Note our model’s long coat with wide lapels. Also, the trousers are high-waisted, but wide-legged and tightly cuffed, lending contrast to the wide padded shoulders of the coat,” he replied in a fashion commentator voice.
“Hurry up and get inside, Dilly. It’ll be dark soon and the vampires will be out!” he added abruptly as he rushed back to TROLLEY’s entrance.
“Vamp—” I began but was so startled by his remark that I started coughing. “Vampires? How did you come up with that? You certainly didn’t hear it on the Armed Forces Radio Service.”
“Don’t you remember that wolf howling last night? I’m not about to take a chance with bloodsuckers. I’d be a gourmet treat for them!” he responded indignantly.
“Wouldn’t a wolf’s howl be for a werewolf?” I said before I thought about his reaction.
He shrieked. I grabbed his arm to stop him from flailing around in a circle again.
“But yes, let’s go inside. Just calm down,” I added. “I’m exhausted and sweaty. Can you show me how to use that sonic shower contraption? But this time, don’t try to get in it with me — and for God’s sake keep your clothes on.”
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I hope I was able to keep you entertained, despite all the history that was necessary for the story. Hugs on the wing!
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In other news, the October issue of Dead of Winter is now available. Here are some of the characters.
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 10, Pergesca
Journey 9, Doors of Attunement
Journey 8, The Lost Library
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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