Where You Can Find It
- Stories in the Ether, e-zine, by Nevermet Press, September 2011.
2009 marked the 200th birthdays of Charles Darwin (February 12), Abraham Lincoln (February 12), and Edgar Allen Poe (January 19). The most remarkable element of this momentous occasion is that these three historically significant men were born within one month of each other. When I discovered this, I started wondering what could possibly have influenced these three men toward such greatness. Was it astrological? Was it socio-political? Or was it something far less expected?
Three young boys, pulled from their beds in the middle of the night, find themselves on a magical airship en route to an undocumented land where they are to entertain a princess. As it turns out, there’s much more going on, and the boys may never make it home again. Their fates hang in the balance. Working together, nine-year-old Charlie Darwin, Abe Lincoln, and Eddie Poe have to outwit their captors and escape back to their own world.
“What in tarnation?”
The strange words awakened young Charlie Darwin. He wasn’t positive what they meant, spoken as they were with unfamiliar inflection, but he got the gist. Charlie pushed up on one elbow and gawped. He lay on the deck of a galleon constructed and carved of dark wood. It swayed and swashed as if afloat.
A bean-pole of a boy with ragged brown hair was pacing back and forth, his unpolished boots thudding upon the deck. He was the one who had spoken.
Another boy lay on the deck next to Charlie. He slept, eyes closed, mouth open, snoring a wheezy little snore. He wore a black suit and had hair as slick as a raven’s feathers.
Charlie spied a man on the quarter deck, standing at the helm, attention focused on adjusting a set of brass levers. He wore white from head to toe, including cowboy boots, a European-style cloak, a knee-length Templar tunic (slit to reveal fringed chaps) and a ten-gallon hat on his head. The wind whipped his cloak out behind him and flattened the tunic to his thighs.
Charlie’s perusal of the man was curtailed by a thunderous whoosh from overhead. He ducked, covered his ears, and looked up. Where he had expected to see sails pulled taut by the wind, he found a trio of white balloons tethered to the boat with criss-crossing ropes. It took a moment for the sight to sink in and for his brain to analyze what he was seeing, but only a moment. In the next instant, he was up and running to the deck railing so he could look out over the ocean. It was there, vast and blue-gray, but it was far, far below.
Charlie sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees.
“You okay?” asked the tall, thin boy.
“I don’t like heights.”
The other boy patted Charlie on the shoulder. “Sorry about that.” He plopped down too. “You’re awake.”
“That remains to be seen,” Charlie said.