The Iron Writer Challenge #21
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open
F. Scott Fitzgerald Bracket
Electric Flying Bicycle
An obscure Black and White Television Drama/Comedy
On Your Own
B R Snow
“Looking for what?”
“The lost city. Atlantis.
“No, the freshwater version.”
“And you think it’s here at Lake Tahoe?”
“It’s here. But not at… in. At the bottom.”
“Off your meds again?”
“Those things are useless. They cloud my thinking.”
“You, of all people, should be supportive. My twin. The only family I have left.”
“Whose fault is that?”
“Nevertheless, without each other, we’d be on our own.”
“Probably not the time to mention this, what with you off your meds, but you are on your own.”
“Funny. Every time I look in the mirror, you’re there.”
“Because I’m you…some bizarre doppelganger you conjure when you go off your meds.”
“Tomato, Tomahto. Twin, doppelganger. No difference.”
“Okay. Why don’t you put the hammer down and we’ll go to the galley and fix a cocktail?”
“Who’s got time?”
“Gee, I don’t know. A guy with a yacht who doesn’t work could probably find time for a cocktail.”
“We work all the time.”
“No, you concoct wild-assed schemes. You fill your day, but you don’t work. C’mon, it’s hot. Let’s have that drink.”
“We prefer gin.”
“Gin it is.”
“We’re out of gin.”
“Okay. Bloody Mary?”
“No, they scare us.”
“We always spill and it reminds us of…”
“Blood. And Mom and Dad.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“No, we spilled one this morning. Remember?”
“I was talking about…forget it. Wine?”
“Red or white?”
“I’m thinking both.”
“What the hell…?”
“It’s a bicycle. An electric flying bicycle.”
“We pedal like normal, but these propellers make it fly.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“Work, work, work…never stops.”
“Why not a helicopter?”
“Sure. What’s the bike for?”
“To help us find the whirlpool.”
“Whirlpool? In the middle of Lake Tahoe?”
“Well, we can’t be sure it’s in the middle. That’s why we need the bike.”
“Of course. So what’s the deal with this whirlpool?”
“Whirlpools…drains. Duh. Once we find it, it will lead us to the plug.”
“Yes. On the bottom.”
“There’s a plug on the bottom of Lake Tahoe?”
“Yes. And we’re going to find it and pull it.”
“So we can drain the lake thereby revealing Atlantis.”
“The freshwater version.”
“Of course. Tahoe’s freshwater. It’d be stupid to look for the saltwater one here.”
“You’re a lunatic.”
“That’s what they said about Admiral Nelson-And don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“Admiral Nelson. He was the star of my favorite TV show, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”
“I don’t remember it.”
“You weren’t around much then. Good show. Especially the first season in black and white. Then it went color and got…vivid.”
“Vivid can be a real problem.”
“Are you ready?”
“To take the bike up and find the whirlpool.”
“I’ll sit this one out.”
“C’mon. I need you.”
“No. You’re on your own.”
Wil sat on his flying electric bike, staring at the sapphire depths of the ocean. Somewhere, beneath the surface, lay their objective. Revving his engine, he prepared for the drop into the icy waters of the abyssal plain..
The rest of the platoon hovered around him, dressed in deep sea gear, multiple doppelgangers, waiting for the signal to jettison into oblivion.
It was strange to be on Old Earth. Stranger still was the Galactic Marine Corps’ interest in the place. Virtually abandoned 200 years ago, Earth had been reclaimed by nature. The few humans who remained were savages, wielders of crude weapons, hardly worthy adversaries. But something else lurked in the ocean—beings of half forgotten legends.
How they had come to the attention of the Marines, Wil didn’t know. He and his platoon were here to contain any possible threat before it could advance.
A voice crackled in his ear. “Ready, Sergeant?”
“Commence drop in five – four – three. . . .”
The door opened at their feet and 32 cycles zipped down the ramp, making the 2,000 foot drop to the surface. Hovering over the waves, they were surrounded by force shields to keep the cold and pressure at bay. Still experimental, the shields were supposed to be impenetrable. Wil had his doubts.
Wil accessed the battle plans, projecting them to his platoon. The dive initiated on his command. Thirty-two cycles sliced into the water. Down they dropped, rapidly nearing their goal. Less than a hundred meters from their objective, Wil’s electrical system glitched. Instead of the detailed battle plans, he saw flickering images of an old black and white TV show. His visor was filled with a banner proclaiming “The Adventures of Superpup”. It was gone just as suddenly.
“You see that, Sarge?”
“Sure did.” Wil tapped his helmet and the battle plans filled his visor once more.
Something else caught his attention, far below and to his left. Raising a hand, he called a halt. Black as night, the water undulated around them. Wil’s raised fist was invisible, but the HALT message flashing inside their helmets, was not.
“What is that?” The same voice filled his ears.
“I’d say, that’s our goal, Corporal.”
With rapid movements, Wil and his corporal deployed the team. On his mark, they descended, surrounding an opalescent dome. As the bikes approached, a panel slid back and they were sucked in, unable to stop. They bounced around a huge tube, the suction drawing them inexorably forward.
A few minutes later, they were set down on a platform. The water drained away, leaving scattered puddles. They faced a 20 foot door, which opened slowly. A giant of a man dressed in scintillating blue robes walked out, smiling. His skin was indigo, his hair white. He held a metallic staff in one hand. The top was decorated with a single, multi-faceted diamond. He advanced to stand before Wil, bowing.
“Welcome, my friends. Welcome to Atlantis.”
Uncle Leonard was generous and kind, so after his death his adopted hometown of Atlanta, Indiana was as devastated as his family.
His eldest nephew, John, and his wife, Mary, adored the man that was the doppelganger of Alan Hale, the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island.
The day after Uncle Leonard died, they watched a marathon of old Alan Hale movies and shows. The especially enjoyed the ‘50s crime drama series Biff Baker, U.S.A.
“I’m telling you, John, there was a flying bicycle attached to an electric cord in the first episode.” Mary threw her head back and sighed.
“I’ll have to watch it again.” John shook his head. “I don’t remember it.”
“It’s in the background when Charles Bronson is first shown.”
John flashed a doubting stare.
“The road!” Mary yelled. “Eyes on the road before you hit something, or someone.”
The slick road, pitch black sky and echoing metal of rain pounding the rooftop made Mary uneasy. Even though they were just 45 minutes north of Indianapolis, the hamlet of 725 just a few more minutes away seemed isolated.
“Are we close?” Mary squinted to see an upcoming green destination sign. The headlights lit up: Atlanta 2 Miles (but someone crossed out in white spray paint Atlanta and wrote Atlantis).
“In this downpour, it might soon be Atlantis.”
Just as they passed the sign, the headlights shone on a man walking in the road. Before either could figure out what was happening, John spun the steering wheel left, then overcorrected right. The car spun on the slick road a full three times. John’s knuckles turned white. Mary’s head pressed against the window after it hit with a crack.
Before they stopped – headlights pointing south in the northbound lane – there was a THUD from the rear driver’s side fender.
John, rubbing his neck, groggily asked, “Mary, you okay.” When she didn’t answer, he asked again grimacing when he looked at her. “You okay, Hun?”
Mary’s head leaned against the window and her eyes were closed. Blood was smeared on the window and before he could yell her name she slowly moved and weakly uttered, “I think so.”
“I think we hit something, or – ” John trailed off because he knew it was likely someone.
Mary turned to John. “Was that a person we hit?”
“It may have been.”
“Do you think we … killed him?”
Mary, groggy and unaware she was bleeding, started to breathe heavily.
“We – need – to – call – 9-1-1,” she said in gasping breaths.
“Breathe, Hun. Let me check out what happened. It may have been … an animal?”
John glanced at his fender, which appeared undamaged, and slowly walked the twenty feet to a ditch where whatever he hit landed.
Rain tapped against a man’s dingy yellow raincoat. There was no blood, but the rain could have washed it away.
He walked into the muddy ditch. He placed two fingers on the man’s neck. No pulse.
He looked down at the body, then to the car and his injured wife. He finally stared into the blackness, closed his eyes and exhaled a deep breath.