Mobius: Eyes Above the Clouds Chapter 2
I remember when my father first went public with this endeavor to take to the sky… to take on Mobius. It was during the World’s Fair that year… two ago it was now. He was up there on the stage he had bought out with Lorraine, showing off the current flying machine. It was the 4th rendition of it- after the original flown on that landmark flight. It was vastly different, at least from what I had seen. So vastly different that it did not work yet. Just a frame and body of aluminum up there for show, still incomplete after having run out of time to get it ready. No engine or anything to make it work properly. But a sight it was nonetheless. I remember looking from back behind the curtains, out at the crowd gathering.
Lorraine didn’t seem like much of a showman- not that anyone would have been able to pick apart his accent even if he were. Luckily my father was there to talk him up. My father told of the small team, working under Lorraine, payed for by his money, working on the fantastical craft that was to take to the sky for a yet unknown reason. It was at that point that my father then brought Daniels to the forefront. He wasn’t our captain yet, just a Mr. Wess Daniels. Yes, that Wess Daniels. The very man who had, at the time, just returned from mapping out many of the nooks and crannies of the Grand Canyon on a several month long voyage down the Colorado. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, I wondered if they suddenly cared more about him than the flying craft.
After the rabble finally died down, my father took Daniels’ shoulder and offered up his plan to those listening: to take a craft and crew, lead by the brave explorer at his side, up into the sky to make contact with Mobius. Some booed, or looked around to make sure they had heard the words correctly. Others wandered off, shaking their heads either out of disbelief or offense.
The true outrage reared its head the day later, in particular when the big city newspaper released an article. The obviously high-strung writer had plastered ‘Fool, Blasphemer, wishes to take to the sky’ on the front page, showing the fine black and white picture of my father and Daniels exaggerating to the crowd. The article within criticized him for seeking out what obviously was not ours as humanity, and furthermore, a thing sacred and significant to all those who had gazed upon it. While taking in brunch, my father read it aloud to us, replying that neither Mobius nor the sky belonged to any one person.
The criticism to come in the following days generated worry as to if it were possible to upset the creature in the sky- for lack of a better word, make it angry or upset. “What might happen? What would Mobius do if it were angry?” Were one’s words. While my father found himself content in repeating that nobody knew the answer to said questions, a vocal few would not back down. I remember when the protesters outside of our gate at the end of our long driveway grew to more than just a select few. It wasn’t long before he could no longer leave the house, not for fear for himself, but of being able to protect us- my mother, myself and the servants- from any collateral damage by the rabble. It was at that time when he assigned me to be the liaison for the project as it continued to grow despite everything else.
I wiped my sleeve across my lip, picking up the residue dripping out my nose and mouth. I took a deep breath and pushed against the hard, rough surface under my hands. The frigid wind tore at my body as I rose back to my feet. I saw Babir stand up along with me.
“You well, my friend?” The tanned man mouthed to me. I nodded my head slowly, the air still stuck in my lungs.
Daniels paced around, holding his hand to his brow while he looked out over the expanse. Chase skipped down the ramp next. At the bottom, he turned back around and offered a dainty hand up to Mary to help her down the last few steps. I doubt Mrs. Dunn had the capacity to trip, but at the same time, her husband didn’t have the capacity to let his eyes off her for very long. The Mr. and Mrs. team had been with the Captain on his previous expedition, and from everything that I had seen, they could work perfectly as a pair without even the slightest of words exchanged.
Just after the Dunns, Richards crept out, coming from the opposite side of the compartment. He was not a frail man, but his movements told otherwise. I believe the talk was that he was much more comfortable in his practice down on the ground. He held tightly to the fur trim around his hood that threatened to fly backwards off his ears as he met the winds outside. Joseph guided him down with a heavy hand. The doc looked around in a similar fashion to Daniels, adjusting his round glasses. Looking down, he danged his foot off the edge of the ramp and cautiously made contact with the organic surface below.
“Harris, you of all people should know this should be fine.” Mary danced around, stomping her feet deliberately.
Richards nodded and made the last step downward. He nodded once again and crouched down to feel the texture of the unique material, putting on a face as if he were humming.
“Captain Daniels!” The call came from within the fuselage.
The captain turned back and gazed into the dim compartment. “Lorraine?”
Inside, the man was pushing down a bundle of triangular-shaped wedges, wrapped in a bundle with thick straps of knotted twine. Joseph went in and began to pull on the opposite side. Samuel came up from behind, unable to help. “Captain, we mustn’t forget to secure the wheels!”
“Right!” Daniels responded, rubbing at his stubble and taking one last glimpse behind him at the fresh horizon. “Get those things untied!”
Joseph gave a good yank on the bundle, causing it to slide into his legs and then down the slope of the ramp sideways. The big man jumped back out of reflex and held at his shin.
“What did I tell you all about acting foolishly?” Daniels belted. “Get it together.”
Babir took out his knife and sliced into the two lengths of knotted rope. I approached, offering out my hand.
“Good, Sami.” Daniels praised, pointing. “You two get the left wheel. Joseph, up front, and Mary, Chase, Harris, go right.”
I could barely react when Babir shoved the heavy rubber object in my hands. It was apparently made up of a center of heavy steel or lead or the like to give it a proper weight. I huffed and a pulled myself up to avoid having the wedge land on my chest should I fall back. Babir stretched his knees up and took one for himself.
I dragged my feet heading to the first of the landing gear. I saw Joseph pushing just ahead of us, carrying one under each arm. Just before arriving at the spot, I adjusted my grip so as it drop it without crushing my fingers. Babir shoved his in place just opposite me. Just before I could set it down, a loud gust of wind blew through me. I closed my eyes to block out the cold. I could hear out to my right a loud creaking. Opening my eyes revealed the right side of the flying craft lifting in the air, caught up by the wind. I dropped the wedge out of fear, making sure I was out of the way should it crash over.
The seconds dragged on, but the wind eventually subsided and allowed the craft to find its resting point once again. “Get those in, now!” I heard another call come out, unmistakably from Daniels. I pushed the weight and was finally able to wedge it in place at the back side of the wheel. At the right gear, I could see the Dunns and the Doctor get theirs in place.
Lorraine crept up behind me, giving me a start when he kicked at the wedge to make sure it was in place. “Alors, good.” He mumbled, before heading off to the other set of landing gear.
I held onto the collar of the thick jacket as I made my way back to the rear hatch of the craft. Samuel had passed down a length of thick rope down to Daniels, held in a bunch. In his hands, the copilot also held a collection of thick metal pegs, sharpened to a point and lined with short, gruesome looking barbs. “Startled, are you, Sami?” Daniels said to me as I arrived.
I bit my lip and gave a quick nod before deciding to change the motion into a shake of my head. Samuel glanced at me before turning his attention back to the captain. “Right. Like I said, I don’t trust it, especially with winds like that. Need to secure her down. Could get worse.”
“You’re sure it will be fine, then?” Daniels returned. He grabbed one of the stakes from Samuel and balanced it carefully in his palm.
Samuel shoved the rest into the captain’s hands. “Not my job. Got us here, your guys figure out how to keep us.” He licked his lips and turned his attention back to more of the supplies.
Daniels juggled the supplies in his hands before catching sight of Richards returning alongside the Dunns. “Harris,” he waived the doctor over. “What would your intuition say? Would it notice if we drove in a few stakes to it’s skin?”
Richards pursed his lips. He traded with his feet on the surface a few times, the gears turning in his head. “If the epidermis… the skin… is anything like our own… we have some leeway.”
“Hmm.” Daniels took in the information.
“A little thing like that?” Mary grabbed the stake out of the captain’s hand. “Sure, it won’t feel a thing. Same as if you were trying to hit a black bear with anything less than a .22. Skin is plenty thick.”
Daniels shifted the rope down off his shoulder. “Right then.” He said, examining the nearby crew members. “Get this thing secured. Else, our way home isn’t going to be fun.”
Joseph stepped up, taking the bundle from the captain. He traced the length of cord back to one of the frayed ends, wrapping it around his wide palm and making a simple but tight knot in it.
Daniels shoved a blocky instrument into my chest. I grabbed it up in my hands; a wooden mallet. “Follow after Lomeli, hammer them in, Sami.” Daniels instructed.
I gulped and looked to the stack of stakes now being passed to me. “Sure…” The copilot pushed me back as more crates arrived at the edge of the hatch. Farther up the side of the craft, Joseph had already slung the length of rope over, just in front of the wings. The rest of the bundle hung down on the opposite side.
I arrived just in time to step on the end of the rope and stop it from sliding up and out of my reach. I shoved the handle of the mallet under my arm and fumbled to get one stake on its own. The rough points of the spines dug into my hand. I found the end of the rope again, carefully entwining it among the bit of metal upon the chosen object. Satisfied with the rough knot, I knelt down, touching the sharp tip of the stake to the strange surface of our host creature.
My eyes lay focused on the circular base of the metal rod, steadied by my left hand. In my right, I took the handle of the mallet. “Ready over here now, kiddo.” Joseph called out over the sound of the wind. I kept my eyes to my work. I realized my hand had slowly began to lose its feeling from the cold. I knew eventually I wouldn’t be able to hold onto the hammer any long. Stifling my hesitation, I rammed the flat edge of the mallet into the back of the stake.
It sunk in just a little over an inch. I held my breath, feeling below my feet for any response from the creature. The stake had penetrated the skin, but not yet up to the barbs. The point at which it had entered showed no signs of blood or any other bodily fluids. I swung back and hit the stake again. Deeper it continued. I struck it once again. The barbs took purchase, and I could feel that it no longer wished to move any father side to side. I stood and shoved my foot on the base of the stake, sending it just a little farther deeper.
The line of rope beside my head went taught as Joseph leaned his weight into it from the other side. Babir had joined him and had driven a stake of his own, to which Joseph attached the now taught rope. Despite the wind continuing to growl, the craft seemed as if it no longer wished to lift up from the ground.