Wednesday, May 23, 2012


     The device shimmered and glistened in the sunlight. It lay on its smooth, rounded, copper colored side on a cliff top overlooking a wide open plain. I looked at it incredulously. This thing was supposed to fly?

     The inventor looked from it to me and back again, grinning like an idiot. He couldn't stand it any longer. "Well, what d'you think?"

     I opened my mouth and closed it again. "It doesn't look much like a flying machine," I said.

     "Ah, but that's the beauty of it!" the inventor said, his brilliant white teeth hurting my eyes. He tapped the hull of the contraption. "She may not look it, but this little device will revolutionize travel. Imagine what it will be like to be able to fly from one village to another, instead of having to go days riding on horseback!"

     "It sounds lovely," I said, "but there are only three things I know of that fly: birds, gryphons and those ancient airships that were destroyed long ago. This thing resembles none of those."

     The inventor sighed. "I suppose you'll just have to trust me. I've tried it out myself several times."

     "So why do you need me?" I asked, hoping I hadn't wasted an afternoon.

     "I needed a professional to test pilot it," he replied. "You're the only one I could find."

     "I'm not a professional," I protested. "I know nothing about flying!"

     "Ah, but you are," the inventor said, still grinning brilliantly. "You're a Grayson, right?"

     "What does that have to do with anything?"

     "You, my friend, are a direct descendant of the fellows who built those ancient airships you were talking about. Flying is in your blood."

     I still felt skeptical. "Look, don't worry," the inventor said, putting his arm around my shoulders. "As soon as I explain the procedure, you'll just have to climb in and let 'er go. It's easy!"

     I sighed and climbed into the small cockpit. There was no point in arguing with this man. I just hoped he was right about its working.

     The inventor stepped closer and looked over my shoulder into the small, dimly lit space. "Now, first you've got to find the control switch." He pointed to a small black lever with nonsensical writing etched above it. "Press that to take off." He pointed to another lever. "That controls your height, that one adjusts your speed. That button over there is for your thrust, and those pedals on the ground control stopping and landing gear. And, uhm, I think I put a music player in there somewhere... ah, well. That's all. You got it?"

     I hadn't understood anything that he'd said, but he seemed to take my silence as confirmation. "Great!" he said cheerily. "Now just hit that button to close the door, and you'll be off!"

     I pressed the button in question, happy to be blocked out from the inventor's chatter. I could barely see the controls by the dim glowing crystal that was attached to the ceiling. Which lever did he say would lift off?

     I reached down and pushed one of the switches. There was a grumbling noise from the innards of the device, and it began to vibrate quietly. I tried another lever. There was another noise and without warning, the odd machine shot forward into the air.

     What on earth just happened? I realized suddenly that there was no way to see out of the device. How could I steer when I couldn't see anything? In panic I pushed a random button. Two panels directly ahead opened up and I could see the clear blue sky in front of me. OK, that's good, I thought.

     At that moment, another sound came from the back of the machine, and the picture of the sky before me was replaced by a view of a couple wisps of cloud and the ground below, which was approaching the machine very rapidly. Oh, no.

     I looked around the cockpit desperately, at all the buttons and switches thrown onto the control panel with haphazard disorder. Which button fixed falling problems? I pressed one hopefully. An upbeat tune began to bounce from the rear of the machine, behind my head. That was the music player.

     I felt fear beginning to overtake my being. The ground was getting so close I could begin to make out small villages dotting the countryside and a couple horsemen riding to and from them. I tried pressing another button with no effect. Come on, I thought. I had to get a hold of myself and figure this out.

     Flying's in my blood. The thought came suddenly, and offered some comfort in my desperate position. Just calm down. I closed my eyes and took three deep breaths. Then I opened them and went to work.

     Without thinking, I grabbed the lever on the right and yanked it upward. The machine responded by jerking itself upright. I was now hovering in the air. Well, that was good. But how do I actually fly now? I surveyed the control panel, grabbing hold of a lever that looked right. I inched it forward slowly, watching as the machine began to move forward.

     OK, now, let's see what this thing can do. I shoved the lever forward, feeling the exhilaration of speed as the device shot forward. I pressed buttons and switches instinctively, almost recklessly.

     I flew. The machine dipped and dove and swooped just like any other flying thing. I was soaring with the gryphons. There was nothing holding me down. Yes! Flying was in my blood, and I was doing it, right here and right now. I felt the freedom, the excitement, the joy of this experience, rushing through my body. Yes!

     When I got back, I'd have to give that inventor a hug.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'll show you my thoughts, visions, dreams,
Modest tales and various schemes,
I'll let you see this part of myself,
From the pen to the bookshelf.
I'll show you workings of my mind, all,
All this from the castle wall.