Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 5 – Mechanical Difficulties

Someone shrieked in terror, possibly me. In any event, everyone in the steering-room, or whatever it was called, turned to stare at me. For several long seconds, we all looked at one another, before I risked a glance out the window. As near as I could tell, from the ground passing below, we were drifting sedately along, which, upon reflection, made sense.

Enzo shook his head in disgust. “I’m afraid my colleague does not have my experience with dirigibles,” he said to the stewardesses. He released a little high-pitched shriek, evidently in imitation, then chuckled in that annoying way he had. “Now that I’ve rested the engines, I’ll just fire them up again and we can be on our way.”

He leaned over and spun a dial, then seized a lever and cranked it several times. We all watched as a thin stream of what appeared to be tea emerged from a spout beneath the lever to patter on the floor.

“I see you’ve put your tea dispenser where the ignition lever should be,” Enzo said.

“I think you’ll find the lever you’re looking for to your left,” said one of the stewardesses, indicating a lever clearly marked “Ignition” near the tea dispenser.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed both stewardesses wincing as Enzo vigorously twirled a dial. When Enzo cranked the ignition lever, the whole dirigible seemed to shudder as the engines roared to life with a coughing roar. There was a loud crack, and I couldn’t help but notice a large piece of wood spinning away toward the ground, through expanse of windows in the wheelhouse, if indeed it was called that.

I was unwilling to make too much of the sight, given all the confusion over the engines being shut off. For all I knew, after all, it was an expected event in a dirigible engine startup, some sort of exhaust cover being removed or the like. Judging from the alarmed reactions of all the other witnesses, however, I divined that in this case something unexpected and unpleasant had indeed happened. I was pleased to have maintained an air of insouciant nonchalance throughout the beginnings of the crisis, but it was difficult to be too pleased as panic spread through the cockpit, or whatever the name for it was.

“That never happened before,” Enzo muttered.

“Exactly how many times have you piloted a dirigible?” I asked.

“Enough,” snapped Enzo. “Just never one this…floaty.”

“But surely-” I began, only to be interrupted by Enzo’s flapping hand.

“No time for a recounting of my diriging history,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got to do something about that missing helium diversion panel or we’ll never make it to Topeka, or even Saint Louis.”

“Do you have a mechanic on board?” I asked the stewardesses.

“No,” said one. “They take care of repairs at the airfields.

“No matter,” Enzo said. “He’s a tinkerer.” I looked up to see him pointing a stubby finger at me.

“I am an arcane mechanic, not a dirigible repairman,” I said.

Enzo shrugged. “If someone doesn’t get out there and correct our helium diversion, you’ll be a greasy stain on…” he leaned over to peer out the window, “Pennsylvania.”


Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on November 5, 2011.