Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 6 – Peril in the Skies

One of the stewardesses led me to the dirigible’s engine room, stopping at the baggage compartment on the way for me to collect my tools. It was a noisy place, the clattering of pistons making it difficult to hear.

“Is it always like this?” I asked my guide. She shrugged, in the same elegant manner she had used in the driving area, or whatever it was called. I began to cast about, trying to discern what the problem might be. As near as I could tell, everything seemed to be in order, save for an odd whistling noise barely audible over the clatter of metal.

Then a bone-chilling sigh caught my eye.

Three brass nuts lay on the metal floor, vibrating slightly with each shake of the pistons. It was no unusual thing, of course, to see nuts, or indeed bolts, in the engine room–indeed I could have reached out and touched dozens of them without moving my feet. But of course, in most cases, it would have been a nut for every bolt, matched as such things should be, not only holding one another tight, but also keeping various vital engine components firmly in place for proper functioning. Where they sat on the floor, the nuts were doing no one any good, and my mind flew to the various possible duties they should have been performing. I could only hope that they had something to do with the helium diversion panel that Enzo had mentioned, and I quickly scooped them up before moving deeper into the engine room.

I soon located the source of the whistling noise. The ceiling of the engine room was made of wooden panels, several feet across, and one of these was missing. I stood underneath and peered up into black, cavernous darkness overhead. I could sense the movement of air above me, and in fact blowing onto me, but could see nothing. Fortunately, I had a small pocket torch in my tool bag, and I used it to make a closer examination. It seemed that there was a fan of some sort mounted on the roof of the engine room, inside the dirigible’s envelope. I could only guess that the helium needed mixing for some reason.

I looked back in the engine room, trying to locate the missing panel, and saw a window behind us, open to the air for some reason. It seemed indeed that bit of wood we’d seen fluttering earthward had been the missing panel.

“Is that supposed to be open?” I asked the stewardess. My voice came out in a high-pitched squeak, form which I surmised that envelope was indeed leaking helium at an alarming rate. She made no reply other than a quizzical look, holding her hand up to her head.

I shook my own head in disgust, moving toward the large window, intent on shutting it before we lost anything else of value.

Just as I reached the portal the dirigible suddenly lurched, either from an imbalance of helium or from more of Enzo’s incompetent piloting, and I was pitched out into the open air.


Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on November 12, 2011.