Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

SHORT STORY: A BUCKET OF BOLTS

Posted by samatwitch on December 24, 2011

This is the last of my past group challenges (we have one coming up in January). It was for Christmas and had to contain the words turkey, cinnamon and spaceship.  As usual, I put them all in the first paragraph. 😉

A BUCKET OF BOLTS

“You turkey!” Cinnamon slammed her hand on the table next to Sage.  “In the name of the goddess, why would you buy a spaceship?  It’s not as if we can leave this planet.”

Sage waited for Cinnamon’s anger to abate.  She could erupt like one of the volcanoes on Absinthe, but she calmed down a lot faster – and with much less damage – usually.

“It’s just a small one, Cinnamon.  It was in the used ‘ship lot I pass on my way to work.  It hadn’t sold for so long, they marked it down really low.”

“It’s red!”

“Well, that way it can be seen in any weather and other ‘ships will avoid it.”

“Oh, I’m sure the other ‘ships will avoid it, alright.  It looks as if it will fall right out of the sky in front of them.”

“Nonsense, it has a great engine in it.  It’s only ‘ships with Capissen 38 engines that do that.”

“You hope.”  Cinnamon sounded resigned.  Good, that meant she was starting to come around.  “I guess we might as well keep it; I’m sure the dealers have taken your money and run by now anyway.  Face it, Sage, they saw you coming a light year away!  That ‘ship is nothing but a bucket of bolts.  Does it even fly at all?”

“It will,” Sage replied, “I just need to tinker with it a bit.  I don’t think anyone’s looked after it for years.”

Cinnamon shook her head, but she was smiling.  You had to love a man who was confident in his ability to fix anything.  And his confidence was not misplaced.  Sage had yet to meet a machine he couldn’t improve.

“Let me know when it’s ready for a test run,” she said with resignation.

“Of course.”  Sage smiled at her knowingly.  “I wouldn’t go up without my favourite test pilot.  The trouble with you is you’re so used to those big spaceliners that you fly, that you don’t appreciate the little ‘ships anymore.”

“I appreciate anything that actually flies,”  Cinnamon stated, “and I haven’t see this one do that yet.”

“It will,” Sage promised, “I’ll have it in the air before the Christmas celebrations.”

Christmas was one of those quaint customs that had come to the outer planets with the original settlers, but its roots were lost in the light years and centuries of the past.  Nobody Sage knew remembered little more than just before the end of the year there was a celebration with lights and lots of food.  Legend had it that an old fat man in a red suit flew around the planet delivering presents to children, all in one night.  Since they had both been brought up on Coriander, he and Cinnamon had never experienced such a tradition, but Sage was a realist, as well as a mechanic and he knew there was no possible way that any spacecraft could accomplish such a feat.  True, Pegasus wasn’t a very big planet, but facts were facts: to visit every child on the planet would have taken many more hours than were available in a single night.

Sage spent every spare moment he had on his little red spaceship, tinkering, tuning and replacing parts.  One of the perks of being the city’s (and, truth be told, planet’s) best spaceship mechanics was that he was able to get parts at a discount, sometimes even free.  He always knew when a ‘ship was being sold for scrap but still had parts that were salvageable.  His affinity to make a ‘ship fly when everyone else had given up on it was legendary.

Finally, he was ready.  Sage called Cinnamon out to the shipport to go for a test flight.

“You cut that close,” she grinned.

“I said I’d have it ready before the Christmas celebrations and I do,” Sage protested.

“The afternoon before.”

“Do you want to go for a ride or not?” he asked.

“Of course.  Are you flying or am I?”

“I’ll do the test run.” Sage decided.  “Hop in.”

Off they went, soaring up in the low clouds.  Cinnamon had to hand it to Sage once again.  Her husband sure knew how to make a spaceship fly as it probably had never flown before.   It handled well, seeming to avoid obstacles even before Sage was aware of them – and he was a good pilot.  Not as good as Cinnamon, of course, but who was?

After having put the ship through all the tests he could think of, Sage turned to go home and was astounded to realize how far they had traveled in such a short time.  He and Cinnamon had been so absorbed in putting the ship through its paces, they hadn’t paid much attention to the distance they’d covered.

Now they realized they were on the other side of the planet, heading home at a great rate.

“Wow,” said Cinnamon, impressed, “you really got some speed out of the old bucket of bolts.”

They returned home without incident, parking the shiny red spaceship in the yard next to all the other ‘ships Sage was working on.

Before they could enter their house, they were interrupted by their neighbour.  They’d never seen Sandy looking so excited and anxious.  Of course, they hadn’t known him that long and they had hardly seen him at all over the last month, but he had always seemed very happy and calm.

“Where did you get that spaceship?” he demanded without even waiting for a ‘hello’.

“In the used ‘ship lot on the other side of town,” replied Sage, puzzled.

“I’ve been looking all over for him,” Sandy exclaimed.  “He was stolen last year right after Christmas and I looked everywhere.  I finally thought I would have to manage without him this year but I didn’t think I could, especially with this fog rolling in.”

Sage looked out and sure enough, a thick fog was starting to blanket the city.

“What are you talking about, Sandy?” he asked.  “I bought the ‘ship legally.  I have the papers…”

“I don’t care about the papers.”  Sandy brushed that aside.  “I just need Rudy for tonight.”

Sage was getting a little impatient.  Maybe his neighbour wasn’t quite as stable as they had thought.

Cinnamon joined the conversation.  “Who’s Rudy and what do you want with our spaceship.”

“Rudy is my red spaceship and I need him to help me deliver presents to children all over the world tonight.  I must leave now or I won’t get to all the children.  I’ll have him back by morning.”

Sage and Cinnamon exchanged looks.  “What are you talking about?”

“It’s the night before Christmas.  I’m Sandy Close and I deliver presents to all the children on the planet before sunrise.  Rudy is my guiding ship.  He can see through fog and rain and has the speed that I need to guide my sleigh.”

Cinnamon and Sage looked at their neighbour, astounded.

“You really do that?”  wondered Sage.

“Yes, yes,” Sandy answered impatiently, “but I need to leave right away.  May I borrow Rudy tonight?  I promise I’ll bring him back tomorrow and you can ask me any questions you want.”

Sage looked at Cinnamon.  “We did find it strange that the ‘ship went as far and as fast as it did on our test run.”

“I know, but what he’s saying just isn’t possible scientifically.”

“Of course, it isn’t,” Sandy agreed.  “It’s not science, it’s magic.  But even magic has rules and I only have so many hours to fulfill my duty.”

“Fine,” shrugged Cinnamon.  “But if that ‘ship isn’t back in our yard by tomorrow morning, we will be calling the authorities.”

“Thank you, thank you, good neighbours.”  Sandy shook their hands enthusiastically.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”

With that, he let out a piercing whistle and bounded across the street to where a strange contraption awaited.  It was big enough for Sandy and a huge red sack that perched on the back and had eight four-legged creatures with horns attached to it.  In answer to the whistle, Sage’s newest acquisition had flown across the street and now hovered in front of the animals.  With another whistle, it took off, followed by the animals and the open spacecraft, which were now flying through the air.  Circling his astounded neighbours, Sandy Close yelled down to them, “Merry Christmas, Cinnamon and Sage, and have a good night.”

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2 Responses to “SHORT STORY: A BUCKET OF BOLTS”

  1. intomind said

    I love this!

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