Saturday, November 13, 2021
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for absurdity touched with reality.
Random Reader Things
This intro is all about “Girl Power.” That’s appropriate since the three things that drive the episode are from Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda Travels series. Her random reader things are Land Girls (aka Women’s Land Army), Bomber Jacket, and Spam.
Tidbits of Truth
There’s a touch of reality in this atom-punk fantasy. While I was preparing to start this serial, I mentioned “the Calutron Girls.” Last time they finally came into the storytelling. There are a number of books about these high school girls, most of whom were from eastern and middle Tennessee. You can learn a lot at this Wikipedia article too.
Another group of young women is also mentioned as a random reader thing — Land Girls, or the Women’s Land Army. That was a British civilian organization created in 1917, which was active during both World Wars. That group inspired a similar organization in the USA. Learn about the Land Girls here.
I can’t neglect Spam in these Tidbits. There were actually “Hormel Girls” driving around in Hormel cars, promoting the product. They were an all-female swing band and radio show (although their existence was slightly later than the time of this episode). Here’s one informative link about Hormel & Co. and Spam in various eras.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
It turned out that the big sister who got separated from the trick-or-treaters was officially missing. Fang and Dilly met the man they had seen in the woods one night — Harry. He was the one who had a foldable motorcycle. The woman with whom he rendezvoued that night was also missing. Harry insisted that the “Calutron Girls” disappeared if they found out about the wrong things. You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
13 — What are they?
Adult human male of mission era detected. Comparing reaction of the operative to his confidante, Delilah Faraday. Bio readings indicate Tatu Pinkerton is wary despite the overt friendliness he displays.
Faraday’s readings indicate a degree of distrust that came so readily it appears to be part of her basic personality. Also detecting… sympathy? Human emotions can be difficult to decipher. Collecting additional data to ensure correct determination of her reaction to the newcomer.
Operative Pinkerton appears to be trying to solicit information from the male. He used an excessive amount of food resources in attempt to do so. Allocating replication resources to production of Spam, since meat is in short supply in this time period.
Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY now gathering intelligence to confirm male human’s statements.
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My shirtsleeves had been fine while I worked up a sweat sweeping the walkways and tidying up around the trolley cars that were really TROLLEY, Fang’s spaceship. However, the weather took an abrupt turn to a cooler temperature while we sat eating brunch and talking to Harry Morgan. From what I remembered, that was typical of eastern Tennessee weather.
Excusing myself, I went inside, in hope of finding some kind of sweater or coat. My unexpected trip through space and time didn’t exactly allow me to pack a suitcase, and my clothes were suited to the weather of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The ship’s artificial intelligence could probably “replicate” something for me. Although I was cautious of using power resources, since I had zero understanding of how things worked.
It felt nosey for me to do it since he was outside, but I stuck my head into Fang’s quarters. Maybe I could find something in there.
“There’s something alright. It looks like a clothing store blew up,” I muttered aloud.
A knee-high pile of clothing was in the middle of the floor. Every color and style I could imagine created had been dropped in the heap. A fur trimmed leather sleeve caught my eye. I pulled out a wonderful bomber jacket. Trying it on for size, it was just right — except that it was too warm. I kept the jacket in case I needed it some other time.
Then I turned back to the fashion-filled pile. Fang had been going through clothes for both men and women. Considering the bright pink fishnet tights he wore the first time I saw him in human form, I wasn’t shocked. Although the sheer number of garments in the mound was astonishing.
It seemed that most sweaters for women were cropped, and came only a few inches below the waist. The breeze out there was cool, so I wasn’t sure either of the light-weight sweaters would be enough.
Beginning to feel like Goldilocks, looking for something “just right” I pulled out a menswear cardigan. It was heavy gauge wool and covered my hips. There were two big pockets in front, and one sleeve had white stripes around the upper arm. I donned the cardigan and went back outside.
Fang was taking a stack of newspapers from the bicycle’s basket. He pranced back and plopped down beside Harry. The dishes went sliding across the table as he spread the various newspapers. I caught a coffee mug in one hand and a gravy boat in the other.
In quick succession, Harry grabbed several of the golden-brown biscuits, rescuing them with startlingly good reflexes. I noticed Fang discretely eye his action in a sidelong glance.
My brows knitted. Had Fang deliberately spilled the remains of our brunch? Did he test Harry Morgan in some way? If so, was Fang interested in how Harry would react to the sudden mess, or the speed of his reflexes? Why would he care about either? Intrigued, I remained quiet. People often told me what I wanted to know — if I just gave them time to fill-in the silence.
“You mentioned Calutron Girls. What are they? Are they like the Land Girls in Great Britain?” Fang asked in a guileless voice.
His glance at me confirmed that he truly was trying to get a sense of what Harry knew. Or maybe he weighed the man’s honesty.
“They inspired a Women’s Land Army was here in the US too. But to answer you, no, not at all. The Calutron Girls aren’t picking up ordinary work that men were doing before the war. They monitor and maintain the calutron,” he paused at Fang’s seemingly curious expression. “A calutron is a mass spectrometer — an electromagnetic apparatus the war scientists invented. It separates isotopes depending on their masses,” Morgan started.
“It sounds like you might be a scientist yourself,” Fang interrupted, chin propped on both hands. “I’m sorry. Do go on.”
“Yeah, well… that didn’t work out so well. Call it philosophical differences. Anyhow, after the machinery was set up, the Secret City brought in a bunch of teenage girls, and trained them like soldiers, not to reason why. Their jobs are about monitoring dials and watching meters for the giant calutron, in those big buildings,” Harry added.
“What else are they doing?” Fang interjected. “Why all those gigantic buildings just for a mass spectrometer?”
“Oh, the calutron’s big alright,” Harry continued. “The government uprooted 1,000 families to buy enough land. Nearly 60,000 acres. Governor Cooper was none too happy about it. The complex itself covers more than 800 acres. The main buildings for the plant — for what the girls monitor are three 450-feet long, multi-story buildings. Then there’s the biology complex, which is huge. It’s the one with the tallest buildings. And buildings for other departments too. There are more people with doctorates living in the Secret City than any other place in the world. You’ve probably seen it from one of these ridges,” he finished, and pointed at the landscape.
Yes, I had spent most of a day, trying to see all that I could, but from a distance. Although I tried to keep my expression neutral.
“How the heck can they expect to keep all that secret?” Fang remarked rhetorically. “I heard bits of gossip while I was in town. About girls disappearing. That’s why I got all these newspapers. I didn’t see anything in the news about it, but there are some cryptic ads in the personal column that make me curious. People trying to get in touch with each other.”
“And that would be a way of keeping secrets,” Harry muttered.
Morgan’s tone was droll and his mouth twisted wryly. However, his calloused fingers gripped the coffee mug like they might strangle it. His flinty eyes gleamed with menace.
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Tater Pie performed by the Hormel Girls, circa 1947
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I get the feeling that there’s more to Harry Morgan than I expected. It seems like he have that tough-guy side after all too. Like I say, only the things know for sure.
The history, particularly military aspects of this story probably make it difficult… However, please remember that this is my sanctuary — a place for all of us to be safe and away from political and religious commentary. Kindly keep that in mind with your comments.
Hugs on the wing!
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In other news, the October issue of Dead of Winter is now available. November’s is still in the works.
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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