Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I am the 1%

The CWA of Dr. Z Smith: Episode #114: Tempus Fugit

A man screaming.
Dr. Smith sat up sharply, the man was him.
He stopped screaming and opened his eyes.

-=fig. 696: where am i?=-

“Where am I?” he asked himself. A noise made him look to his left, there lay Capt. Brown, asleep.
He corrected himself. “Where Are We?”
Capt. Brown sat up, “Do you always wake up screaming?”
“No,” Replied Dr. Smith “But it's not unusual. Do you know where we are?”
“No, where?”
“It wasn’t a rhetorical question, where are we?”
“Oh. In that case, I dunno. It sure is hot enough though, isn’t it.”
“Okay, what’s the last thing you remember?”
Capt. Brown thought for a moment, “Well, we were in the past, in your living room, and I'd just said …um…something. Huh. I can’t remember what it was.”
“Never mind that, our memories have been wiped–” He carefully avoided mentioning the fact that he had memory-modification technology {because he really hoped he hadn’t wiped his own memory and dumped himself in the middle of nowhere.} “What's important now is what we have to work with, what’s in your pockets?”
Capt. Brown turned out his pockets, he had:

  • Six-and-a-half dollars in half-dollar coins,
  • A tourist map of the legopolis sewer system and adjoining undercity area,
  • A paperback adaption of a Raymond Chandler novel
  • And a small bag of marbles, won off the children who occupy the street in front of his apartment building. {Including but not limited to: a magnificent blue marbled shooter, a clambroth, lutz, oxblood, three tigers and a croton alley, along with some less exciting-sounding marbles.}

Dr. Smith had:

  • No money, {but that was not unusual}
  • A brochure {in french} for a free skydiving class,
  • One bus token,
  • A well-polished lock-pick set,
  • A paperclip,
  • A note, bearing Dr. Smith’s name, address and phone number, along with the instruction to ‘Ask for Jeeves, He'll explain everything.’ {He kept this in his pocket at all times, in case of a sudden attack of amnesia, unfortunately this attack of amnesia was far too specific for this paper to be of any use.}

Along with all this, Dr. Smith’s satchel had been replaced with a rather nice scabbard, which in turn contained his favoured sabre.
“Well, It's not much,” Said Capt. Brown “But at least we have all the stuff in your briefcase.”
Dr. Smith agreed and opened his briefcase.
It was empty.
Dr. Smith stared at the empty briefcase.
It did not magically become filled with various items.
“Why would I empty my briefcase?” Dr. Smith asked the air.
“I don’t know,“ Replied Capt. Brown, “But without all the stuff that was in there ¹, all we have are the things in our pockets. Our pockets, I might add, do not contain food, nor water. And it's hot here.”
“Let's get to some shade, then.” Suggested Dr. Smith.
The stood up and looked around.
It was flat {and terrain-wise, boring} in addition to hot wherever it was they were. But off to one side was a wooded area. If you could call palm-style trees a wooded area.
They walked towards that.
It was further away than it looked, and once they got there they were hot, tired, and thirsty.

  Dr. Smith examined the area. It was  slightly more interesting over here, but just as hot. There was a mass of twisted red metal just in front of them, Dr. Smith wondered what it had once been.
A sharp movement startled Capt. Brown, he reached for his guns, as was his first reflex. They weren't there, but he could feel the weight of his back-up gun on his hip so he drew that.

-=fig. 697: the stranded airman=-

  “Don’t Shoot!” Said the man, who had been in the shadow of the metal, where it presumably was cooler.  Capt. Brown didn't shoot, but he didn't lower his gun, either.
 “Wait, what is that?” Asked the man, gesturing toward the gun.
 “Aha, don’t try your mind tricks on me, I know them all. This is a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver. Fully loaded, I might add.”
  But Dr. Smith wasn’t so sure. “James,” He said, “That's not a revolver.”  It was only then Capt. Brown looked down. He nearly dropped the what-ever-it-was. “Zachary?” Asked a panicked Capt. Brown “Erm, what is it?”  He handed it to Dr. Smith.
  Dr. Smith turned it over a couple of times in his hands, it wasn’t heavy, not for a gun, it was green at the tip, and on the side a dial showed that it was firmly in the purple area.  As opposed to the orange area.
 “Looks like a Ray-Gun.” Dr. Smith said, handing it back to Capt. Brown “Seems to be fully charged, unless purple means empty.”  Capt. Brown brandished the Ray-Gun at the hapless man. “You hear that?” he said, “Fully charged. Probably.  So you better not make any sudden moves.”
  “I wasn’t planning on it. I’m Floyd, by the way. Floyd Schwartz.  And you are?”
 Capt. Brown was forced to holster the Ray-Gun, as his right hand was his hand-shaking-hand. “Captain James Brown–” He said, transitioning from ‘killer’ mode to ‘baby-kisser’ mode seamlessly “–of the Legopolis City Rooftop Police, Mayor of the Grand City of Legopolis. But you can call me Capt. Brown.” Floyd shook Capt. Brown’s hand and walked over to Dr. Smith. “Hi, ” He said, offering his hand “Floyd Schartz. But you can call me Floyd.”
  Dr. Smith glanced at the hand. “Dr. Smith.” He said. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Schwartz.”
 Floyd glanced at his own hand, hanging there, and awkwardly put it in his pocket.
 Dr. Smith walked closer to the metal. Then he figured out what it was. “It's a X-1000!” He cried.
 “Well, Yeah.” Said Floyd. “It was. Before I crashed.”
 “What happened?” Asked Capt. Brown, He had a passing interest in planes, being a rooftop policeman.
 “Well,” Replied Floyd “I was flying along, and then the engine stopped working, the controls froze up, and I started dropping like a stone. No warning. I had to parachute out.”
 “Well, yeah.” Said Dr. Smith, with the tone of someone explaining something to a child, “It's an X-1000. How long have you been in the air?”
  Floyd reached into the glovebox to retrieve his log, “Let's see, Five hours today, six hours yesterday, and three-and-a-half hours the day before that.”
 “Wow.” Said. Dr. Smith, obviously impressed. “Fourteen-and-a-half hours without a catastophic failure? I believe that's a new record for a Dödsfälla X-1000.”
 Floyd was sort of dejected.  “The salesman was so compelling. He said they couldn’t keep them on the lot.”
 Dr. Smith nodded knowingly, “Because they fall apart if you leave them sitting still too long.”
 “Since we're all stranded here” Capt. Brown said, trying to lighten the mood, “You have any water?”
 “Sure,” Replied Floyd, “More than I can really thought I’d need, I used a coupon. Good thing too, I guess, now that I'm stranded in a desert.”
 Dr. Smith started paying attention. If he were a dog, his ears would have ben described as being perked up.   He took a sidelong glance at the plane.  “I can fix it.” He said.
  “What?” asked Floyd, he was surprised by this, seeing as how his plane had basically been described as unfixable.
  “I can fix it.” Repeated Dr. Smith. “The plane. I can make it fly.”
  Floyd was suspicious. “What's your price?” He asked.
  Capt. Brown jumped in before Dr. Smith could tell him their price was nothing. “Our price is two-thirds of your water.”
  “That seems rather steep–”
  “Well,” said Capt. Brown “There are two of us. Besides, we’d be stuck here whereas you might escape.”
Floyd had to admit that this was logical, and consented to the deal.  Dr. Smith walked over and placed his hands on the broken machine.  If he were a spiritual man he would have described its shattered aura.
But he wasn’t.
So he couldn’t.  The best he could have managed {had he been in a sharing mood} Was the machine’s general feeling of brokenness.
  “Have you any tools?” He asked.  Floyd thought, “I have a hammer?” was his answer “And some screwdrivers. One of those wrenches that adjusts, but that’s about it.”
 Dr. Smith grimaced, “No Air Compressor? Electric Hog-Ring Pliers?  Drill Press? Tube Tester? Pop-riveter?”
 “I’m Afraid not, no.”
 “Not even an Arc Welder?”
 “No, sorry.”
Dr. Smith sighed. “This is going to take a very long time.”
Capt. Brown tapped him on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, I’ll help.”
It did take a good long time, but it took less time that it could have thanks to Capt. brown and his helpful ability to lift incredibly heavy things.
Like plane wings.
And fuselages.
And engines.
His strength also came in handy when there was a rivet that needed setting.  A normal man would require a specially compressed and counterweighted device, { using the same theory as the small gears on a bicycle }  Capt. Brown required a hammer.
When it was finally done, Floyd Schwartz climbed into the one-man cockpit.

-=fig. 698: the jaunty craft, poised to take flight=-

  “It’s…Magnificent.” he said in a voice just above whisper.
  “It only looks like that.” Corrected Dr. Smith, ever keen to rain on a parade with reality. “A lot of parts were broken, So I had to use what I could, and what I couldn’t use but needed I re-purposed from elsewhere.  On the plus side, It’s a lot lighter now. On the negative side you no longer have brakes, a muffler, a cargo door, seat springs, or even an attitude indicator, and you only have seven functioning cylinders.”
  “Well, how many did I start with?”
  “Twelve. Theoretically. But most X-1000s roll off the line with only ten functioning cylinders.”
  “Will I be able to fly?” Floyd was getting nervous now.
  “Probably, but you’ll also be hemorrhaging fuel, so don’t plan on going more than about a hundred miles. Oh one more thing,” Dr. Smith added, almost as an afterthought, “When you start it up, Your dashboard will light up like a city at night, every single warning light will come on. Temp problems, low oil, check engine, compression failure,  And they‘re all true. Try not to land unless…well, I was going to say unless you have to.  But try to only land if you see somewhere with people. Or possibly airplane parts. Most preferably both.” 
  Floyd Schwartz nodded and solemnly donned his flight goggles.
The engine cranked three times before Capt. Brown walked over and hand cranked the propeller. 
It started then. 

They watched the impossible plane fly away. 

-=fig. 699: airbourne=-

Something occurred to Capt. Brown. “We got that water off of him, Right?”
  “Oh yeah.” 

¹ Stuff such as: Water, a Tent, two comfy red Armchairs, a Record Player, a Small Table, a Radio, a change of clothes {For Capt. Brown as well as Dr. Smith} basic foodstuffs, like Potatoes and Bacon, and tools of all sorts. Mostly obscure ones, but also things like hammers and screwdrivers, firewood, matches, and an espresso machine.