As if in answer to Valentine’s question, the formerly blank screen erupted into photonic life…
“Good choice.” Said Rudi.
Meanwhile, in another part of the museum, Ginger was getting her bearings…
“Ooh,” she said, “just look out of the fancy window. We’re ever so high up. This must be the Red Tower.”
In an instant, she was joined by Daisy and Bunty. “The Red Tower?” They squealed in perfect unison.
Bunty then added, “But this is the highest building in the whole museum. The public aren’t allowed here. All sorts of things happen here. It’s top secret or something.”
She would have said more, but as the moonlight broke through one of the high windows, all three girls became aware of a great hulking shape in the shadows…
“Wha, wha, wha?” Daisy stuttered.
Ginger required clarification: “What is it?” She suggested.
“Yes,” Daisy replied as she reassembled her taut nerves into a shape that allowed her to speak, “what is it?”
“It’s a great hulking shape.” Bunty answered helpfully. “But the shadows are hiding it too well for me to make a positive identification. But it’s not breathing, so it can’t be alive.”
“It could be holding its breath.” Ginger argued.
“If it’s not alive,” Daisy said nervously, “it must be dead. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs – we’ve found a dead body. And if anyone finds us here, they’ll think we did it!”
Suddenly, it seemed, their situation was of the grimmest kind imaginable to three college girls. “Ooh-ur.” Ginger said intelligently.
But before she could elucidate further, a number of feeble lights lit up the scene…
A relieved Ginger swung around to address her friends: “Look, Daisy: it’s one of them big black flying things you like so much.”
Daisy couldn’t believe her eyes. “A space submarine freighter.” She said breathlessly. “And it’s here – right in front of me. If I want, I can walk up and touch it…with my bare fingers!”
But she didn’t, of course: she was too afraid of fainting from the thrill of it. So she sent Ginger and Bunty to take a closer look – to see if it really was the ‘real thing’, and not a mock-up or movie prop. However, as she received confirmation of the vessel’s authenticity, Daisy thought she heard an elevator arrive in a nearby corridor…
“Someone’s coming,” she hissed. “Quickly; hide!”
They didn’t waste a nanosecond: all three ran straight to the only door available to them…
“But this door is set into the side of the space submarine.” Ginger stated the obvious. “If we go inside there, we’ll be…we’ll be inside the space submarine!”
Daisy might have replied, “Yeah: good, innit?” But within moments of the elevator’s arrival, a number of earplugs and a group of former prisoner-of-war hyperspace pirate end cap engineers entered (what was clearly) the high-rise hangar…
“I told him,” one of the earplugs was saying to another, “it’s all well and good having this repair facility on the seventieth floor: but what if the elevator breaks down? We’ll spend half the day climbing up here, and the second half climbing back down. Nothing will get done.”
“Is ‘climbing’ the correct term to describe a means of descending.” The listener in the group replied. “Is it possible to actually climb down?”
“Mountain climbers do it all the time.” A third earplug interjected.
“Yeah,” a fourth chimed in, “anything else would be called ‘falling’. I wouldn’t want to fall down seventy floors, I can tell you!”
This was a fortuitous conversation because it gave the girls time to collect their wits and act positively…
“We’ll duck inside this maintenance hatch,” Bunty instructed the others.” Then, when all these techie-types have gone away, we can come back out again.”
“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, “and then we’ll slip away and go back to college like nothing ever happened at all. In a week this will have all blown over and been forgotten. You mark my words.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022