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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Comedy · #2256742
Was the airship crash due to pelicans, or the pilot?
Co-winner WC Entry for August 18

"The pelicans, sir, had nothing to do with it!"

"Au contraire, Gerandine, I assure you that Familia Pelicanidae were central to the entire affair. Had those blasted Pelecaniformes not been fishing in the bay, our alighting would have been entirely uneventful. And on terra firma." I wondered vaguely how many drinks I had had. I tend to be prolix when drunk.

"And I assure you, Smithson, that bollocks of a landing was entirely due to pilot error."

"It's highly iniquitous of you to accuse poor Harry of incompetence. First, it was an experimental airship. And second, you were the one engaged in his training."

"Had Harry listened to me, and followed my instructions, things would have been fine."

"Your instructions? As I recall the matter, you were bellowing something along the lines of 'Pull up! Watch out for the pelicans! Vent gas! Drop ballast! Left! Left! No, right!'. It was not unexpected for that pack of panicked pelicans to puncture our gasbag and drop us in the drink. And that unfortunate creature that got chopped up in the motor. What a horror."

Clive Gerandine shuddered, and took another sip of scotch. "For that, we are in agreement. Blood and guts and feathers all over the gondola. Next version will have a pusher prop. If a stupid bird commits suicide, let the crap blow out the back. Though I will miss the cool prop-wash passing over us."

"And the stench of oil and petrol? Perhaps the subsequent rendition might have a protective screen surrounding the propellor to prevent blenderized avians, irregardless of motor location."

"Yes, yes, many improvements for next time." Clive began to nod.

"Including, perchance, an advisory to the coast guard or other maritime authorities regarding the location of our proposed re-terrialization. It was mere serendipity that a fishing vessel was in the vicinity to extract us from what might have become our visit to Davy Jones' locker."

"Ah, nonsense. True, the weight of the motor pulled the gondola under, but there was plenty of air left in the envelope. We could have remained afloat for days. Weeks, even. Camped out on the floating island of our airship!"

He waved his glass in the air, and I suspected a surfeit of liquor. In both of us, as I am verbacious when drunk. Did I say that already? The relief of being hauled out of the ocean and saved from drowning or sharks or beaver fever had affected us both. Practical Harry, bless him, had gone to supervise recovery of our airship while Clive and I parked ourselves in the bar of the local hotel. We were celebrities of a sort, numerous people having witnessed our inglorious dunking in the bay. Many had bought us drinks to console us.

The truth of the situation was that Harry had done his monumental best to avoid the bloody birds.

Gerandine tossed back the rest of his scotch, crossed his arms on the table, then put his head on his arms. "Wasn't the pelicans," he muttered. "Pilot error."

I thought he had the right idea, and rested my head on the table. "Was not," I retorted. "Bloody pelicans."

His only answer was a soft snore.

- 30 -

I had several goals with this. First was to distinguish two characters through their 'voice'. Second was to write a light, humorous piece of steampunk. Third was to tell the story mainly through dialogue. If you review, please let me know if I reached those goals.

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