A Moment from Girl with Cat (Blue): How to Steal an Airship!
McReady was within spitting distance of the airships. Instinct told him that they were approximately in the area of Hyde Park in London, funny how it was an open space in Lundein too. The trees around the edges were blackened, but the vast space had protected it from the Great Fire. The airships were anchored to the ground by two tethering ropes front and back, hooked to heavy stakes buried in the ground.
McReady looked into his backpack for weapons. He had rockets, firecrackers, ugh; some melted chocolate, toothpaste and finally matches. He was looking back at the airships floating some ten metres or so above the ground and wondered what gas they had used to inflate them. He had a dim recollection of a You Tube clip of an airship on fire about a hundred years ago because it had used the wrong gas. But what gas was it? No such luck Googling anything here. Think McReady. Why did it explode? Damnit – it was right there. He could see the airship, it was the longest ever built at the time and …
Hydrogen. Hydrogen gas burns. Later airships used helium, which didn’t.
He was betting the Gauls used hydrogen.
Something caught his eye across the field. Three running figures, their shadows enlarged by the uncertain light of the burning torches stationed around the airships.
He knew Jules’ outline off by heart. He’d studied her all his life, but clearly his eyes were deceiving him because he glimpsed two Jules and a third, smaller figure following closely. His heart leapt. Was it really Jules? His instincts were right. She’d come to attack the airships, but how to let her know he was here? Obviously he couldn’t blow up an airship, that would probably kill them all. He desperately needed to get to her without alerting the soldiers, or the officer at least, who did possess a rifle he’d noted. He needed a diversion.
His eyes alighted on a small metal water carrier on wheels. It was the most natural thing in the world. He retrieved his firecrackers and went to work.
Jules was grabbing a rope to tie up a crew member. Saska was trying to work out how to unhook the rear of the airship from the stake. It looked like one had to bring the airship down a little to loosen the tether. She wasn’t sure she had the strength to do that and tested it. The airship moved a little, but quickly tightened up again. It was going to be a two-person job.
They saw someone pushing a water cart towards the airship.
‘Someone’s coming,’ Merry whispered. ‘He’s not a soldier.’
Jules was puzzled, the man was waving at them and they’d taken such trouble to be invisible.
All of a sudden someone was shooting at the far end of the field and the soldiers were all hopping and yelling and the officer was firing his rifle into the darkness anyway he could.
‘Firecrackers!’ Jules shouted. She knew who liked setting off firecrackers. She suddenly knew who was pushing that cart.
A passenger basket was descending from the airship. It was all happening at once and almost anything could go wrong.
‘I can’t bloody blow this airship up if your standing so close,’ McReady whispered into the darkness. ‘Jules, it’s me. Show yourself.’
The basket was almost down; there was a uniformed crew member inside, his attention distracted by the firecrackers.
Saska stepped out in front of McReady.
‘You’re very short.’ She told him,
McReady stared at her in amazement. ‘Saska Chancellor?’
The crew member stepped out of the basket. Merry tripped him up and Jules gagged him. He struggled for only two seconds until Merry showed him her knife. Then she got into the basket and it was instantly being winched up back to the airship. Merry knew what she had to do.
‘We aren’t blowing it up, we’re stealing it, McReady,’ Jules called out. ‘Help me here.’
© Sam Hawksmoor 2020
You can download Girl with Cat (Blue) or order the print version here
*Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award & 'Honorary Mention' in the 26th Writer's Digest Book Awards
*Kindle version on Amazon ASIN: B076JLMXNN
Hammer & Tong (Print) ISBN-13: 978-1545156629