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Endeavour’s Fall #31: Turnabout

Jul 16, 2017






Law I:  Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.

 -Lord Isaac Newton, PBUH


Adams stood with Norris in the cockpit.  A light wind drove the Endeavour inland.  Trees and hills filled the viewports.

 “I don’t like being this far from the sea,” said Norris.

 “None of the navy airships do either,” said Adams.  “They won’t look for us here.  At least not for a while.”

 “Every steamer and sloop is looking for us now,” said Norris.  “Since New York, they haven’t stopped.  They can’t.”

 “They can’t,” echoed Adams. “They probably have transferred blimps from the front to look for us.”

 Sam popped in through the hatch.  “You called me, Sir?”

 “Thank you, Sam.  How is the mainspring doing?”

 “I think we are ready for another shot, Sir,” said Sam.  “New York burned up some of the wires.  I have replaced what I can.  It has been easier to make progress now that I don’t have a cleaning shift or a watch.”

 “Well, thanks in no small part to you, Sam, we had no trouble finding volunteers in New Jersey,” said Adams. 

 “Yes,” said Norris, “you have really helped us, thank you.”

 “You’re welcome,” said Sam awkwardly.  He looked at Norris, who looked at Adams before continuing.

 “Sam, we are very grateful for your service.  That is why we need to revisit the terms of your enlistment.”

 “Enlistment?” asked Sam.

 “Yes.  Now that we have volunteers trying to get aboard everywhere we stop, there is no reason we should keep anyone here involuntarily.”

 “I see,” said Sam slowly.  “But what about the mainspring and coil?”

 “You are smart,” said Adams, “but not indispensable.  With the Ricker papers and your work, we should be able to keep it running.  We may even be able to get a few of Professor Beecher’s students to enlist.”

 “So, I can leave?” asked Sam.  “You’ll let me go home?”

 “I hoped that you would want to stay,” said Norris.  “I feel so strongly about what we are doing, I imagine everyone else does too.”

 “We also understand what it means to tear someone away from their home,” said Adams.  “It’s not for everyone.  It’s not what we are fighting for.”

 Sam looked back and forth between the two of them.  “If you are saying I can leave, I would like to go,” he said.  “When are we next tying down?”

 “You tell us,” said Adams.  “Look out there, do you recognize anything?”

 “No, I can’t say that I do,” said Sam.

 “We are approaching Albany now,” said Norris.  “We should be able to get you closer to your home than that.”

 Sam turned to the view ports and peered intently ahead.  “That’s Albany?” he asked.

 “Yes, that’s Albany,” said Norris.

 “We hope to find some recruits there,” said Adams, “and lay low for a while as well.”

 Sam took his bearings from the sun.  “If that is Albany forward and to the port, then my home is up there,” he pointed.  “Just follow those rail lines to the north.”

  “We will, Sam. We can land you right on your mother’s lap, if you like. Then we can circle back.” Norris said.

 The three of them watched the outskirts of Albany approach and pass by.

 “I never thought I would see my home again,” said Sam, “much less from the air.”

 “It’s not so bad, is it?” said Adams. 

 The airship easily cruised over the twisting valleys and rail lines that Sam had last raced down in the dark.  A heavy smoke soon filled the valley below. 

 “That would be Switch,” said Sam. 

 “How long has it been since you’ve been home?” asked Adams.

 “Too long,” said Sam.  “When I left my father was hurt badly.  I wonder if he might still be alive.” 

“I’m sure everyone is fine,” said Adams. She put a hand softly on Sam’s shoulder.

 “Thank you,” said Sam, “but we won’t know until we get there. Hold here, please, Captain.”

 Sam peered through the forward window at the small spur leading to his family’s claim ahead. It was so close now. He couldn’t stand to wait any longer. “You won’t be able to moor too close because of the cliffs.  There are even some trees. Just lower me here, please.”

 “Yes sir!” joked Norris. He yelled orders into the forward tubes. “So Sam, after we finish in Albany, or maybe when you get a bit older, promise me to send us word if you’re ready to rejoin us.”

 “You could reach us through the Professor at the College,” said Adams.  “I think we will be staying in touch.”

 “I won’t. I’m sorry, but I think I’ll stick with my family and our mine from now on,” said Sam.

 The airship slowly lowered itself and prepared its lines.  Sam and Adams walked to the loading bay.

 “Do you want me to walk you home?” said Adams, half joking, as she gave Sam a quick hug.

 “Thank you for being my friend,” Sam said to the former spy.  She nodded in reply.

 Then Sam rushed over to the hatch and grabbed onto the line.

 “I’m no expert now, so watch that first step,” joked Adams from the controls.

 Then Sam stepped out into the air. He dropped quickly and with a jerk stopped just inches off the ground. He let go, and, without looking back, hurried up the tracks towards where he had left his family. The airship rose and Sam heard the airscrews engage as it pulled away towards Albany.

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