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Endeavour’s Fall #23: Circles at Night

May 2, 2017



He that understands the nature of the Circular Pendulum and Circular Motion, will easily understand the whole ground of this Principle, and will know where to find direction in Nature for the true stating thereof.

-Robert Hooke


Sam stared down into the blackness with the empty line between his hands.  Jack’s escape had surprised him, no doubt about it, but now he felt a hint of jealousy as well.  All Sam wanted was to be down on the ground, out of the airship, and on his way home.  

 Sam looked around the empty loading bay.  The Iroquois had left.  Norris already knew the plan to get Adams.  Sam wasn’t needed.  The Endeavour would pull away any second now, and start circling until sunrise. 

 Sam took a deep breath and ran over to the winch controls.  He moved the levers quickly and put the winch into a controlled descent.  Sam ran back to the line, stepped quickly into the loop, and dropped into the air.  The line was slack, so he fell swiftly at first, then swung wildly through the air when it caught. 

 Sam tried to slow his swinging, but he could barely hold to the line as it was.  His knuckles were white with the effort of it.  Sam had no time to decide whether it was true what he had read that the duration of a pendulum’s swing was independent of the length of its arc.  He swung back and forth wildly in the darkness. 

 Finally, Sam’s heels struck solid ground.  It was soft grass.  He tumbled backwards and kicked the line loose so it wouldn’t tangle up and drag him.  When he caught his breath, he climbed up and ran towards town.

 He turned back just in time to see the Endeavour pull up and away.  The still-lowered line barely cleared the trees.  Then the airship disappeared into the night sky.

 Sam had no plan.  Adams had gone east, Jack probably had gone west.  Home was west, so Sam went west.

 Sam approached two tracks that ran along the edge of the large common area.  Instinctively he sensed that further south, the line on the right must swing west, towards home.  That would be the way to go to try to find a ride. 

 Sam followed the tracks as they curved.  Even in the darkness, Sam could see that the buildings in this town were full of red brick and glass, nicer than anything in Switch or even what Sam remembered of Albany.  Shadows filled the quiet streets. 

 Soon Sam saw the flickering of moving lights on the sides of the buildings to his left.  It looked like a night watch.  Sam heard voices call out.  Had they found Jack?

 In the dark, alone, Sam felt afraid and alone.  He did not run towards the lights and voices.  He ducked his head and followed the rail line to the west.  Soon the shouts fell away behind him.

 The tidy brick houses soon gave way to larger wooden houses.  One or two even had a tree in the yard, like the Deacon’s place back in Switch.  There was just enough light to walk by.

 The rail line that Sam followed split once or twice, but Sam was able to keep his bearings.  With any luck, he could find a main line and jump on the back of a freighter towards Albany and home.  Sam kept a steady pace, stepping from one tie to another. 

 Sam had missed the ever-present tracks.  The Endeavour had floated in the clouds, following the winds for the most part, with no tracks or fixed course.  So different than anything he had known before.  There had been so little to comfort him or remind him of his family. 

 Sam paused.  Jack had watched out for him.  Jack had also tricked him aboard the Endeavour.  He stopped Sam from getting a doctor for Pa.

 Sam thought about it for a while.  Jack didn’t know the colonies.  He couldn’t find his way around.  Norris and Adams had each other and their mission.  Jack had no one on this side of the Atlantic.

 Finally, Sam decided that he couldn’t blame Jack for doing his job.  Even if they didn’t always see eye to eye, Sam couldn’t just leave Jack behind.  Being in a crew with someone was kind of like being family.  Now Jack was family and Sam had to try to help him.  He would at least see if Jack wanted to tag along back to Switch.  He would give him a chance.

 Sam traced the tracks back towards the commons.  The larger wooden houses gave way to the tall brick townhomes and narrower streets.  Sam saw lights flicker on the walls ahead.  He climbed down off the tracks, crossed the cobblestone lane, and rolled across a low brick wall into a small courtyard right as two guards walked by.  They stopped near Sam’s hiding place and held their lamps high. 

 “That little pirate gave me a good bite,” muttered one. “If I get my hands on him…”

 “Quiet!” said the other.  “We’re not going to find anyone if you keep yammering away.”

 “We haven’t found him yet, we are not going to find him tonight,” growled the first.

 “What if he finds the Navy yard before we find him?” asked the second.

 The two walked off, still talking. 

 Sam lay silently hidden until he couldn’t hear their footsteps anymore.  Then he peered over the wall and looked in both directions.  He could not be sure where Jack had run off to.  Sam could only try to head towards town and the Navy yard and see if their paths happened to cross first.  Sam did not want the Royal Airship Navy to find him again, but if he knew Jack had made it safely, he could go home in peace. 

 So Sam turned south, towards Boston.  He followed a looping cobblestone path.  Then he climbed down a stone staircase.  He was just starting to wonder what chance he had of ever seeing Jack, again when suddenly Jack’s head appeared from the shadows below the staircase.


 © J. O. Evans 2017. All Rights Reserved.