After he left the Kola Nut Hotel, where the giant creeping plant was temporarily subdued,* McCluskey, in the grocery blimp, flew on towards the Imperial Palace with his cargo of lettuces. He took a short cut through the Chilly Peaks to make up for lost time, but suddenly a magnetic storm blew up and he lost his bearings. McCluskey looked anxiously at his goldfish compass, which wasn’t lined up to north as it should have been. He saw the hands of his clock switching from one random time to another; five-past-two... ten-to-five... half-past-twelve. The needles of the dials on the grocery blimp’s dashboard also flicked from side-to-side erratically. He thought he could navigate by the stars, but when he looked out of the blimp’s window he found the sky was obscured by swirling clouds. The windscreen wipers did an elegant but squeaky tango across the front window.
McCluskey tried to turn around, but he found the magnetic storm had affected the wire connecting the joystick to the rudder, which swung from left to right. He tried to switch off the engine, but that didn’t work either and the propellor kept turning steadily.
So, powerless to do anything, he sat and watched as the blimp zigzagged forward, getting further and further off course into a region of the Chilly Peaks he wasn’t at all familiar with.
McCluskey was wondering what would happen if he was late with the lettuce delivery, when he saw two narrow parallel beams of light ahead, like the headlights of a car. He jumped when he saw that the beams were being emitted from the eyes of a night-flying condor. The gigantic bird had seen the blimp and was now gliding towards it. McCluskey could see it’s long, wings with their broad, purply-brown feathers like the fingers of a giant glove. He could see it’s pink, shaved-looking head and it’s fluffy collar of white feathers. He could see it’s terrifying, meat-eating beak as it got nearer and nearer. Although McCluskey knew he could never outrun a hungry condor, he instinctively grabbed the joystick. The blimp still did not respond, but it rocked and creaked as the condor flew right up and perched on one of its landing skis. The condor flapped its wings to balance itself, and the blimp’s basket was filled with bright light as it looked in through the windscreen, salivating.
to be continued
© David Severn 2014
© David Severn 2014