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The Monkeynaut and Other Stories

The Monkeynaut and Other Stories

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The Monkeynaut and Other Stories

Longueur:
168 pages
2 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 15, 2019
ISBN:
9780463057667
Format:
Livre

Description

This collection of short stories includes a monkeynaut who hijacks the first tourist spaceflight to orbit the earth, a boy desperate to save a young pig from the local slaughterhouse, and a snake that ends up causing chaos at an important dinner occasion.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 15, 2019
ISBN:
9780463057667
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Jerry Dunne lives in West Yorkshire, UK.He writes fiction for adults and children and adult non-fiction.Visit the author’s blog: http://www.jerrydunne.comBooks by Jerry DunnePsychological CrimeTHE TROUBLED HOUSEHUSBANDTHE PSYCHOLOGISTA DEADMAN'S FILEChildren’s fictionChatter & Squeal Racing SeriesON GEORGE’S DAYHERE COMES THE ROOSTER!Cop Girl Mystery/Detective SeriesCOP GIRL UNDER FIRECOP GIRL TRACKS PETNAPPERSCOP GIRL CHASES SMOKING WEASELShort Story CollectionMY STINKY PARENTS AND OTHER STORIESTHE MONKEYNAUT AND OTHER STORIESNon-fictionHOW TO WRITE CHILDREN’S SHORT STORIES (FOR THE MIDDLE READER)HOW TO DEVELOP (IMAGINATIVE, INSIGHTFUL & CREDIBLE) SHORT STORY IDEASCollection of SayingsSAYINGS (INSIGHT, HUMOUR & IRONY)Find out more about Jerry’s writing at his blog jerrydunne.com.


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The Monkeynaut and Other Stories - Jerry Dunne

The Monkeynaut

and Other Stories

Jerry Dunne

Smashwords Edition

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Copyright © 2019 Jerry Dunne. All rights reserved. No part of this ebook publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission from the author.

Thank you for respecting the author’s copyright.

Books by Jerry Dunne

Psychological Crime

THE TROUBLED HOUSEHUSBAND

THE PSYCHOLOGIST

A DEADMAN’S FILE

Children’s fiction

Chatter & Squeal Racing Series

ON GEORGE’S DAY

HERE COMES THE ROOSTER!

Cop Girl Mystery/Detective Series

COP GIRL UNDER FIRE

COP GIRL TRACKS PETNAPPERS

COP GIRL CHASES SMOKING WEASEL

Short Story Collection

MY STINKY PARENTS AND OTHER STORIES

THE MONKEYNAUT AND OTHER STORIES

Non-fiction

HOW TO WRITE CHILDREN’S SHORT STORIES (FOR THE MIDDLE READER)

HOW TO DEVELOP (IMAGINATIVE, INSIGHTFUL & CREDIBLE) SHORT STORY IDEAS

Collection of Sayings

SAYINGS (INSIGHT, HUMOUR & IRONY)

Contents

The Monkeynaut

Snakes at the Table

The Pig

The Ears

The Little Helper

The Monkeynaut

Part 1

In the flight operation control room, many of the engineers and operators were sat at long desks, each with their own set of screens and keyboards, each monitoring the flight preparation in their own specialist field. Up front, five big screens hung on the wall: one was highlighting details of the space-plane’s planned orbital flight path; two were showing inside Kilkenny Seven, one the cockpit on the upper flight deck, and one the passengers in the body of the space-plane; and the other two screens were showing Kilkenny Seven attached vertically to its rocket launcher on the launch site. It looked much like a small commercial airplane but with a sleeker design.

On the screen showing the inside of the cockpit, the two astronauts, the commander and his co-pilot, were clearly visible sitting at the controls. The two men wore black-and-amber-stripped spacesuits, including helmets with the same design, the company’s colours. Their visors were up.

We’re ready here, ground control, the commander said.

You know the drill, Dougie. Ten minutes and counting, the space-plane communicator told him from the control room.

Although he couldn’t smoke in here, it didn’t stop the flight director, a broad-shouldered, big-bellied man from chewing continuously on a big, fat, unlit cigar. Now he paused in his chewing to declare to anyone within hearing distance, The tourism industry is about to make history. Soon, we’ll all be sunning ourselves on the moon. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen, folks.

Some of those sitting about laughed; the rest ignored him, concentrating on their monitors.

The screen focusing on the passengers, the space tourists, showed them all sitting strapped to their seats but fidgeting excitedly like young children. They also wore spacesuits of a variety of colours and patterns, their visors up. Their fifty-seven faces radiated with good humour and even laughter. The four cabin crew wore spacesuits of the company’s colours and design. They were not yet strapped in themselves but were getting ready to do so.

The communicator asked the cabin crew leader, How are the passengers doing, Maggie?

Eager to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, she reported.

Nine minutes, the flight engineer confirmed.

Suddenly, the screen showing the astronauts in the cockpit went blank.

What’s happening? the flight director asked.

We’ll have them back in a moment, sir, came the reply.

Sixty seconds later, the flight director asked, Where’s the image of the cockpit?

We’ve also lost verbal communication with them, sir, a voice said into his headphones.

That big, fat cigar leapt from one side of the flight director’s mouth to the other. Whaaat?

The communicator explained, The cockpit’s communication system has been switched off.

Switched off? The flight director shouted at the blank screen, Dougie, have you fallen asleep up there? He swung round to the communicator. Contact the crew! Get someone to check it out!

The flight director glared at the other screen, the one focusing on the excitable and happy faces of the fifty-seven tourists. Every last one of these passengers was either a billionaire or the spouse of a billionaire, and each billionaire had paid a fortune, a real fortune to be on this first official tourist flight to circumnavigate the earth from outer space.

Let there be no hitch! Let nothing go wrong! the flight director prayed under his breath.

Seven minutes…

What’s happening with the cockpit?

The cabin crew have still to report on the matter, sir.

A wave of tension rippled over the room. The seconds rolled away.

Six minutes…

Stop the countdown! We’re obviously going nowhere until we regain contact with the pilots.

However, and as though to defy the flight director himself, at that very moment, everyone could see up on a screen the space-plane’s rockets beginning to fire.

The flight director’s eyes popped wide and his jaws snapped tight together, biting his cigar in half. One part fell on the floor, the other half he swallowed without realizing it. Gain automatic control of the craft! What in God’s name’s going on?

Sir, we’ve a report from the cabin crew, the communication officer said. Maggie banged on the locked lower flight-deck door, got no response. She awaits further orders.

Kick the door down and find out what’s happening there!

Up on the screen, the space-plane’s boosters were brightening with intensity.

The swallowed half of the cigar reappeared in the flight director’s mouth, and he began chewing on it. Why aren’t those engines off? he screamed into his small portable microphone.

Sir, we can’t regain automatic control, the booster engineer explained.

You can’t…

The space-plane suddenly slid smoothly and slowly upward, gaining speed as it rose completely free of the launch-pad tower.

Bring that plane back! the flight director roared.

How, sir?

Run after it! Hang onto its wings! Haul it back down! Do it any way you can but bring my space-plane back!

*

The flight director was steaming. You sure nothing’s wrong with the communications?

They’ve simply switched them off, sir, the communicator confirmed.

I’m gonna kill Dougie when I get my hands on him. Then the flight director appealed to the room. But why? Why? But the room remained silent because everyone there wanted to know why, too. Tell the cabin crew to keep this to themselves. On no account must the passengers get an inkling anything’s wrong. As for the early launch... Oh, God! Tell... tell them... tell them it’s for security reasons. Yeah. No one ever has to explain what they mean by that.

Everyone was watching helplessly as up on one of the two big screens that had shown the space-plane on the launch pad, they now saw it streaking straight upward, its blasting booster engines accelerating, reaching for beyond the roof of the sky, determined to break into outer space sooner than the control room wanted them to. Down the length of the plane as though down the spine of a book the company’s name was gleaming in black and amber lettering against the bright white background of the craft itself: Gaelactic Space. Beyond the plane lay the deep blue of the sky, empty of cloud. What a beautiful day for it!

Soon, the communicator had some good news. They’re communicating again, sir.

The flight director growled into his microphone, Dougie, you’ve got some explaining to do. And why can’t I see your face yet?

The cockpit’s array of small monitors and hundreds of dials, switches and buttons was suddenly visible again. An astronaut in a grey spacesuit was sitting in the commander’s seat, looking less than half the commander’s size. His visor was down. The other seat was unoccupied.

The flight director asked cautiously, Dougie, is that you? You look... have you shrunk?

The communicator said, Sir, this astronaut is attempting to communicate with us but they’re not speaking English. It sounds like...

The flight director’s brow crawled with deep, wriggly lines. You’re telling me my space-plane’s been hijacked?

No, sir. I’m telling you this astronaut’s talking... well, gibberish. Or else, there’s something the matter with the connection. But if so, we can’t see why.

If he’s a hijacker, you’d think he’d at least have the decency to speak English. Let me listen.

For about thirty seconds, the flight director listened, his half-cigar dangling from his lips. His conclusion was, This idiot’s drunk! We’ve dozens of billionaires on this flight, the mission itself is space aviation history, our expenditure is in the billions, and... and now we have a drunken fool of a hijacker controlling the plane. The director swept his hands upwards dramatically, as though appealing to a higher being. How’d he manage to slip past security, dispose of our astronauts and take manual control of the plane? He glanced up at the screen. Oh, dear God! The drunken fool’s gonna take it into space.

The communicator suggested, Sir, I think you should look closely at the hijacker.

I am. I am.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say...

You’d say what?

But she no longer needed to say another word as everyone could now see the face of the astronaut as he turned to the camera and stared directly up at it. The face behind the visor was rather hairy with a round and prominent, pink and hairless snout and big, dark, intelligent, soulful eyes. The flight director stared straight into those eyes and winced with the uncanny sensation that those big, soulful eyes were staring straight back at him, seeing him. He blinked, rubbed his own eyes. He swallowed his half-cigar again, and it went down smooth and easy as a slice of soft banana. This time it stayed down.

I would’ve preferred hijackers, he gasped.

*

Before lift-off, Monkeynaut Quinn had turned on the warning light to let the cabin crew and passengers know they must double check their seatbelts were fastened and also secure their helmet visors. Now, the monkeynaut, in complete control of the space-plane, was busy steering it into outer space on its exact pre-planned flight path.

The monkeynaut’s eyes and paws moved with complete knowledge, skill and experience over the cockpit’s many controls and monitors laid out before him, either side of him and above his head. Occasionally, he glanced at the photo of his dad he had pinned next to a panel with several altimeter gauges on it, or through one of the small cockpit windows where he could see the earth shrinking away below him.

Once the space-plane, flying at a speed close to twenty-five thousand twenty-four miles per hour, and whose powerful three main engines were burning liquid hydrogen fuel in combination with a liquid oxygen propellant at a temperature of three thousand Celsius, had risen to eighty-five kilometres above sea level, Quinn let out a long sigh of relief, despite the fact that the G-force had his spine pressed against the backrest of the seat. But the monkeynaut suffered no discomfort; only joy as he always felt when on a mission into outer space.

And Quinn had been on many space missions. The spacesuit and helmet he wore had been specially designed for him over seven years ago along with many others he had worn over his career.

The landmass of the earth below was growing in broader detail as the space-plane crossed the Karman line one hundred kilometres above the earth’s surface which meant the space-plane was now officially in outer space.

Quinn thought he could hear a faint banging above the noise of the engines and the general vibrations of the plane. Were the two human astronauts awake already? He thought they would’ve stayed unconscious for the whole journey. He’d strapped them down, anyway, because of G-forces during acceleration and then weightlessness once acceleration stopped in outer space. He didn’t want them floating dangerously about all over the hold. He’d also lowered their visors for safety’s sake.

And then, almost before he realized it, it had come up so fast, the space-plane was approaching the one hundred and eighty kilometre point,

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