Normal 0 21

Chapter 09

 

The Gerbil-Space Ship

 

“Where?” all the hamsters shouted at once.

 

It was embarrassing to the big hamster to be in the middle of interest all of a sudden.

 

“I think”, he said in a low voice, “I spent the night there.”

 

“In the gerbil ship? You spent a night in the gerbil-space ship, Dodo? Where?”

 

Dodo squinted at Hamstilidamst. “Well, recently, when I was a seal. In the village pond.”

 

“So the thing sunk. All right, people, as soon as it’s dark, we’ll recover the space ship. We’ll borrow a crane from this site. Then we take the ship here and get it restarted. At dawn we’ll be gone. All right, Mayor?”

 

“Erm, I so to say have a request. May I for one last time be the cormorant – er – what I mean is commander. I – erm – promise not to say anything but I so wish to shit – er – er – to sit on the captain’s chair once more. Of course – erm – we may dote, that is vote…”

 

Tearfully the mayor looked around and the chief nodded his agreement to the voting. Slips of paper were given out to all hamsters and a few minutes later Flecki informed about the result:

 

Yes-vote: 1

No-vote: none

Abstentions: 10

Void: 1 – as the statement: ‘I want to be back in the pond’ was quite off-key as Flecki stated.

 

Because Finny and Emmy only were trainees, they were not permitted to vote. Chief Botchy ordered them to take care of the building site and ‘start a bit of cleaning’. As matter of fact Trample sighed deeply at this moment, absolutely glad that something like trainees exited.

 

Now preparations had to start, this meaning first of all taking along supplies and the most necessary items. It took some time until Goldi understood that 3 trunks with food were a wee bit too much and much too much of weight for the small gerbil-space ship. At dusk the hamster troop set out for the pond. Tuffy drove ahead with a small ambulance, the rest trudged after her. They were in good spirits, only the mayor went on their nerves by his permanent babble of ‘being happy and – erm – honoured’ to have been elected with one voice. All the time he glared up to the evening sky, drivelling about ‘deep space’. Flecki’s hint that it was not very probable that they were going to visit space on their way to Ullapool he answered with a stupid grin. Only after crossing the building site and falling into several pits he calmed down a little and to the general relief kept his mouth shut for a while.

 

Recovering the small space ship showed to be a little difficult as at the first try the crane with Tuffy slipped from the water’s edge and landed in the pond. After some discussion another crane had to be fetched, to be controlled by Goldi. Flecki and chief Botchy had quite a tantrum after Goldi had made down eight lamp posts because he, as he phrased it, ‘wanted to train a little’. When also this crane ended in the pond, the operation seemed to have failed. About midnight it was decided to send in a frogman. The chief really succeeded to find several old diver suits in the tool room. After a check they discovered that only the smallest one could be used. After another, shorter check they found that this suit would only fit a small hamster, i.e. Trample. So no vote was needed and poor Trample was thrown into the pond with a swing so that he got the necessary diving depth – as Goldi stressed.

 

After several dives Trample found that the space ship had landed on the fountain and its nose was stuck deep in the mud.

 

“I see, that’s why the fountain did no longer work”, chief Botchy marvelled. Months ago the city gardeners had given him the order to repair the fountain after all of a sudden it had stopped working or, to be exact, had vanished. So now it was clear that the space ship was lying on the fountain and pressed it down to the bottom of the pond. After Trample had helped Tuffy and Goldi ashore, his job was done and chief Botchy immediately knew what to do.

 

“Tuffy, turn up to water supply for the fountain, full power!”

 

Some time later bubbles could be made out in the middle of the pond and about an hour later the gerbil-space ship slowly emerged to the surface.

 

“Tuffy, turn the water back to normal. Is the order of the city gardeners somewhere about? Yes? Fine, so we can send them a steep invoice and they might as well pay for the recovery of two cranes.”

 

As the cranes were not at disposal, a truck was needed to recover the space ship. This time chief Botchy in person took the wheel, not surrendering to the plead of the mayor to let him have the passenger seat. At first all went well, the chief dragged the ship slowly towards the neighbouring green. Unfortunately nobody informed him that there was a rail around the pond and when the ship got stuck at the rail, it happened. When the job was almost finished, suddenly it did not go on although the chief at first accelerated cautiously. Tuffy’s desperate shouts about some rail being in the way, the chief could not hear in the driver’s cabin and so the hamsters had to watch helplessly how chief Botchy under roars of fury put in the highest gear and hit the pedal to the metal. There was a loud, ugly sound, a big clatter and the truck’s motor died down. Cursing, the chief scrambled out of the destructed driver’s cabin and together with his repair team took a look at the damage. Like a catapult the space ship had shot onto the truck from behind. Luckily the ship was not damaged, the truck however was a clear write-off.

 

“Tuffy, put the truck on the invoice. It’s been damaged during recovering the cranes.”

 

Checking the space ship, they found that it was in good order and a few things only had to be clarified before the start, first of all the length of the runway. Would the distance down the allotments and the recreation park behind them be long enough? Chief Botchy admitted that he was not keen on ploughing down the new soccer stadium of SC Hamsterton. He had after all participated in the building and rather liked the beautiful stadium. Next item was the navigation of the ship. The majority of the hamsters would have refused to enter the ship in case Goldi took the navigation. Goldi’s alternative proposal to take over the weapons again was also rejected, pointing out the peaceful character of their mission. As Flecki refused to touch any navigation unit contaminated by gerbil paws, there was no one but chief Botchy to steer the ship and of course first of all to start it.

 

“And how will we get there?” Flecki put a legitimate question. “Does anyone know the way? And don’t tell me anything about Hamstilidamst and his Scottish ancestors – or I’ll start crowing!”

 

“You do so anyway”, Goldi grumbled and immediately was asked if he was any better in knowing how to reach Scotland.

 

“Easy”, he retorted. “Map and compass.”

 

“Wonderful, so to say excellent”, the mayor cheered. “Go let so – er – so let’s go!”

 

Cheering, the hamster troop went on board. The next moment they were inside the ship and looked about them. There was a little light from the street lamp so that the few controls and switches on the tiny bridge could be made out easily.

 

“Dodo”, Taty shouted, “say something!”

 

The big hamster looked around, looked at Taty and back to the bridge. “And now? What shall we do now?”

 

“Swell, that’s what we’ve been waiting for!” Tealeafy cried and nudged his brother.

 

The chief eyed the switches, tapped here and there, craned his neck and for several minutes studied the instruments.

 

“Any idea, dear Mr. Botchy?”

 

“Well, my dear Mayor, the real pro checks alien techniques well before making quick and false judgements. Only a raw greenhorn would jump to conclusions.”

 

Two hours later some disquiet came up when Botchy was still knocking at the controls and switches, somewhat louder by now. Even in the dim light of the street lamp everyone could see that by now his head has the colour of a very ripe tomato.

 

“Well, erm, Mister…”

 

“How am I to concentrate with all that gibberish?” he interrupted the mayor who after hours wanted to put the one important question. “How am I to analyze alien technology if all the time someone is babbling to me?” Furiously, he kicked the wall of the space ship and banged his little fist on one of the units. The board lights went on with a flicker and the chief jumped back.

 

“Three cheers to our chief!” Tuffy shouted and the other hamsters laughingly agreed.

 

“All right”, the chief bawled and put his much too small paws to his much too fat hips. His self-confidence was back and with legs apart he placed himself in front of the main panel – or what he thought to be the main panel. “Let’s proceed with logic and analytical”, he shouted, looking at the inscription on the instruments. “’Forward’ could well mean that the ships moves into bow direction, the reverse would be ‘Backwards’. ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ would indicate the navigation direction as well as ‘Up’ and ‘Down’… Well, ‘Start’? Well, I’ll test that one.”

 

A trembling paw moved towards the lever with the inscription ‘Start’ but before he could push it, Flecki was at his side, holding back his paw. He looked at her with big eyes and Flecki purred:

 

“How about to pro first using the ‘Close door’-button so that we do not lose half the crew on our way?”

 

Some hamsters cackled while the chief did as bidden. “A little rusty”, Botchy grumped and once more looked round to this troop. He obviously did not feel very well and wondered to let someone take his place.

 

“Well, shall we start now?” Goldi asked, yawning.

 

“You see he’s yellow…”

 

“I’m what?” Botchy roared, turning round. “Who said that – confess! Me an’ yellow! You’ve no idea, I’m doing that all day long. Hold fast, you softies, I’ll show you!”

 

With a very read head and much infuriated, the chief pushed the lever. He did not push it cautiously but down to the stop. The engines reacted at once. “See, tha-a-a-a-a…..”

 

The shear force made his words stuck in his throat and pressed him – and the rest of the troop – to the back wall of the bridge. From here the hamsters had a first rate view on what was happening on their course. As matter of fact the gerbil-ship accelerated – very much so – and could not be stopped by irrelevant things like fences and park benches – neither by trees. So the travel group quickly crossed the small park and approached the Hamstian allotments. The outer fence was soon conquered and so was the club house. Spellbound, the hamsters watched how an allotment garden with house was ploughed down. Just when the space ship crossed another of these charming little houses, Trample recognized his new furniture which he had bought one week ago and with much love had furnished his allotment with them.

 

On they raced through several freshly planted hedges and over the club-flag to the recreation park. The new pavilion, opened a few weeks ago by the mayor with many ceremonial words, disappeared with a loud, ugly sound, same as the freshly planted plants. On they went down a recreation green, several chestnut trees and a number of hedges. At this time the whimpering of the mayor could not be neglected any longer and also the chief realized that it was time for him to take action.

 

“Bit much power, isn’t it?” Flecki shouted at Goldi how raptly watched through the bow window how the racing ship approached non-braked the large parking lot in front of the new soccer stadium of the SC Hamsterton. The gatehouse was no opponent for the space ship, neither the first row of parking cars which clever Hamsterton people had left here to save the city’s parking charges. Soon the large entrance to the stadium was down, only the grandstand damped the speed a little and a pained “NO!” rang out from the back-wall of the ship’s bridge. The next moment the chief desperately scrambled against the centrifugal force and with his last grain of strength pushed up the lever inscripted “Up”. Followed a lot of rattling, accompanied by the howling of a certain chief who had to watch how row after row of seats disappeared which he had mounted in many long hours and with many exaggerated invoices. As show-down the giant flood-light mast was cut in halves – then the gerbil-ship was in the air.

 

“Are we in space now?”

 

No one answered Dodo. They all were exhausted and mighty glad to be still alive. By now the mayor was sitting in the commander’s seat, patting the chief who was lying beside him, sobbing and drumming his fists at the floor of the bridge.

 

 

Next

 

Normal 0 21

Chapter 08

 

Rescue

 

Slowly the mayor staggered on. Chief Botchy had risen and walked towards him equally slowly.

 

“Well?” the repair hamsters heard him side rider kept up for quite some time!”

 

“Didn’t it?” the mayor grinned. “Also the pit is first rate, I infected it in person – er – inspected it.”

calling. “How are matters going?”

 

“Erm, so to say splendid”, came the tortured reply, “quite outstanding!”

 

“So we could see”, the chief said approvingly, “that

“Now let’s talk business. How long are you going to continue with that mess?” Botchy faced the mayor and grabbed his neck. “The town is down the drain, you may well forget the First Hamstian Exhibition. That karma-bird makes mental minced meat of us.”

 

The so addressed smiled once more in a tortured fashion and shrugged. “Super-hamster perhaps…”

 

“…can’t conjure money.” The chief pushed the unhappy people’s representative towards his troop. There they sat down.

 

“I – erm – expect your proposals”, the mayor whispered and gaped at the floor.

 

“Yes”, Tealeafy cackled, “if you help a friend in need, he will remember you, if he’s in need again.”

 

“I – erm – in a way acted with a little levity…”

 

“Oh, no more than at other times”, Taty purred.

 

“We have boasted – er – are toasted so to say, broke in a way… no one. That is, no one can rescue us…”. the mayor sobbed.

 

“Fat broke”, Flecki confirmed.

 

“Reminds me of a joke”, Goldi piped up. “That is, the judge says to the accused: ‘I find you not guilty of the charge of having stolen 10,000 sickle.’ – ‘Great’, says the accused. ‘So may I keep the money now?’”

 

“How about some constructive feedback, Goldi?” Finny nagged. “You’ve got no way of being of any help.”

 

“Ey, I just try to spread some jolly karma”, Goldi objected. “What about this one: It’s blue and hops from branch to branch? A post-frog – ha ha ha!”

 

“Ha”, Flecki retorted in a dry voice.

 

“But that can’t be”, Dodo wondered. “The post is on strike…”

 

“Thanks for this valuable contribution, Dodo”, the chief grumped. “So it’s up to me again to bring in useful proposals. Well, Mayor, first of all there’s question of booth: row booth, corner booth, block booth? Size, type of booth, that is information booth or sales booth. How many? Then the type of construction: Wood, metal, mixed? Especially important: the concept. Open, roofed? And seats – how many and what kind? What about conference booth, kitchen, bar? This, dear hamsters and honoured Mr. Mayor, are the items to be clarified. That’s the way a real pro works.”

 

“Hum, Boss?”

 

“Yes, Tuffy?”

 

“I think the mayor wants to know how to get money. As, if there is no money, there can’t be an exhibition. If there is no exhibition, we need not worry our heads about row booth, corner booth, block booth and so on. Because we cannot buy the material. However, in all other regards it was a really beautiful speech, Boss!”

 

Everybody mumbled agreement and nodded his head while the chief coloured fiercely. He did not say anything, but whistled and took up some wooden pillars lying about. After finding 10 or 12 nice pillars, he disappeared, still whistling, behind a heap of debris. After that only roaring and splintering of wood could be heard.

 

Taty nudged his brother Tealeafy. “I think he’s just producing toothpicks for the open round bar in the roofed part of the block booth.”

 

“I have several old garden chairs…”, Dodo proposed but the mayor waved that aside. “Thanks, Voodoo – er – Dodo, but without money…”

 

“What are we paying taxes for?” Trample piped up.

 

“All used up”, the mayor groaned, “the VIPs’ claims for cancellation – erm – compensation…”

 

“We might sell Tuffy on the slave market”, Botchy grumped, emerging from behind the debris, “that would be a nice start.”

 

He patted some splinters off his fur and sat down beside the mayor, who buried his head in his paws. Somewhere in the background shrill shrieks came from the town hall. Probably the acting director spread spiritual karma.

 

“The worst is”, groaned the mayor, “that my niece is completely cracking up. We are done.”

 

“So throw that karma-bird out”, Goldi proposed.

 

“She’s got a contract and can only be fired if there is someone to replace her…”

 

“Great”, Sasy shouted, “and who may replace her?”

 

“I know of no one in Hamsterton – chief officer Topple perhaps?”

 

The mayor shook his head. “He’s one of the examination board and members of the dart – er – board cannot be active in the town hall. Conk perhaps, but he can nothing but count, has no idea about yearning – er – earning money.”

 

“So someone not living in Hamsterton”, Flecki wondered. “Whom do we know there?”

 

“The Plushum”, Dodo shouted, “can do everything!”

 

“And Captain Kirk”, Taty and Tealeafy bawled, “and Spock!” They almost toppled over with laughter.

 

“Swell, you clown, go on like that”, chief Botchy gnarled und reddened again.

 

Now silence fell. Even the last hamster comprehended that the situation was critical. Followed more serious proposals like raising the taxes or making a tombola. But this was refused soon. Even the idea to recruit someone from the neighbouring hamster counties was no further discussed because it was much too depressing to sink that low. They agreed that it had to be someone not of Hamsterton, knowing about crises and organization. But who?

 

“Got it!” Flecki suddenly cried and at once all hamster heads came round and all eyes were on her. “Now I know who can help us!” she cheered.

 

“The Klingon hamsters?”

 

“Shut up, Dodo”, Botchy hissed and tried to kick the big hamster but kicked Trample instead who squeaked.

 

“Nope, not them”, Flecki grinned. “But one helping Captain Kirk and BANTACH can also help us!”

 

“Daby!” the hamsters shouted like one.

 

“Exactly”, Flecki triumphantly said, “Daby. But where might she be?”

 

“Well, my bother – er – brother mentioned that she has the management of some branch of a certain Bull of Pool…”

 

“Ullapool!” Flecki hissed. “She is in Ullapool…”

 

“So Mr. Mayor only has to ask his brother…”, Tuffy said excitedly.

 

All eyes were on the mayor now who obviously felt quite unwell. “Well, erm… Unfortunately he was transferred. Down the line so to say…”

 

“So they sidelined the fool”, Goldi grinned. “Well, the phones don’t work anyway…”

 

Silence. Fresh discussions. Another ship’s voyage was out of question. First it would take much too long, second it was most unlikely that they would be as lucky as on their last journey. After three hours of pondering and discussion they all were at one that some plan had to be worked out urgently as the mayor stressed again and again. From the town hall still shrieking sounds of the acting director could be heard, now and then pot flowers came flying out of the window.

 

“The gerbil-space ship!” Goldi suddenly shouted.

 

“Yes, that wouldn’t be bad, Kirk and his troop would be better still. We would be in Scotland in a trice. But we already ticked off that item, Goldi!”

 

“I know, chief. But you don’t know that Kirk did not want ‘that scrap’, as he called it, on his ship. Therefore that Scotty was to beam the gerbil-space ship down to Hamsterton.”

 

“That Scotty wasn’t bad at all”, Botchy remembered, “I could have made good use of him…”

 

“Tell me, Goldi”, Flecki wondered, “how would you know that? As far as I know the gerbil-ship was still on board the Enterprise when we were beamed home.”

 

“O well”, Goldi stuttered, “I just took along a few souvenirs…”

 

“O yes”, Flecki hissed, “the phaser for Trample’s new haircut. And what else?”

 

“Only a tiny transmitter…”

 

“The one I had in the Jeffreys-tube?”

 

“Well, I thought you didn’t need it any longer… So I switched it on and listened a bit. Just wanting to know if them folks were all right. Sometime they were out of reach…”

 

“Good to know that you always can rely on our Goldi as to nicking and munching”, Flecki groaned. “But were may the gerbil ship have landed? Out of town certainly or we would have found it or read about it in the newspaper.”

 

“I think I know where it is!”

 

They all turned round to Dodo.