Mongrel: Travel Is on the Menu
|Boat from mysailing.com.au similar to Mr Boatman's whose is a few feet longer....|
In the Monster-Moored universe, the natural uneven rate of progress allows for the existence of wooden boats and spaceships in the same story.
Tardi stood in the boat, swaying to its movement as though he surfed, and watched the only person waiting in the jetty transport park, a square-edged blond leaning against a hoverole done out with numerous SoHAB Security logos. A grey SoHAB Security uniform with creases and ironed-flat planes added to the squared effect. Neil, I assume. Though not looking nearly as teary as one would’ve expected.
The boat swung expertly alongside the jetty. Shad sprang out to loop the painters, front and rear, over the bollards. But as Zebe stepped onto the jetty, the man was right there to take her into his arms, with him now crying lustily.
Mr Boatman shrugged and exchanged a wry glance with Tardi and Shad.
They unloaded their packs and Zebe’s suitcases.
A row of ten-storey buildings lining the square adjacent to the boat harbour interrupted the direction, northwesterly, where Tardi peered to see the weather. The air was unseasonally warm. He wiped a swath of clammy sweat from his face. Sheep-wool white clouds gathered and regathered in bits of the horizon visible between the buildings. “That storm is just sitting there,” he said. “No grey yet.”
“Working up to an east coast low,” Mr Boatman said. “I’m off. I need to get the boat under cover.”
“Let’s get into the vehicle,” Shad said. “People staring. You or me, I don’t know.”
As Tardi and Shad approached with the luggage, Zebe pulled loose from Neil. “They are my friends!” she said as if there had been some resistance to them already.
“Her attitude a total turnabout from when we were in the boat,” Tardi said.
Shad grunted agreement.
Zebe cried, Tardi saw. But who wouldn’t at a meeting of two bereaved parties.
Neil raised his blond eyebrows but allowed Tardi and Shad to stack the bags in the boot and climb into the back of the hoverole. Zebe slipped into the front where Neil joined her after he openly checked the vehicle’s hatches and paintwork for new scratches.
The-man-himself drove rather than letting the vehicle drive itself, Tardi noted with professional curiosity.
“Have you organised your leave yet?” Zebe said.
Shad and Tardi all ears.
“I was waiting for you, Zebe,” Neil said. “Xanthe always organised me.”
“I don’t organise grown men,” Zebe said. “But I’ll make an exception this once. Take compassionate leave. They owe you. Wave them the licence-to-marry. In their faces if it requires that. Have you got carpentry tools?”
Neil nodded. Shook his head. Yes. No. “What do they eat?” He gestured into the back with a head-shake.
“We eat normal, Mister,” Shad said. “And we have red blood racing round our arteries just like you.”
“We’ll stop at the mall on the way home,” Zebe said. She turned to face them, not looking at either of them, just over their heads. “Could you two stay in the hoverole?”
Times are going to be very merry, I don’t think. “Of course,” Tardi said for Shad and himself.
On the parking lot, Zebe shrugged from under Neil’s proprietary arm.
“He wants organising while at the same time he expects to rule?” Tardi said.
“She’s confused, I think,” Shad said.
“Well, who …” Tardi said. Then, “Sorry. Me having the last word again. Rowan hated that so much.”
“Ace totally bamboozled a girl called Rowan that time we all went to the Bruns drinking house to ride the storm,” Shad said, reminiscing.
“We were meant to have broken up,” Tardi said. “And she kept trying to tack us back together. I pretty well ignored her stories about Stormies. What do you mean, riding the storm?”
“Back in history some when we weren’t Stormies yet, an ancestor died trying to ride a storm. Saving all that lived across the water. All coming after him, we call ourselves Stormies to honour him.”
“You’re doing it again. Getting me interested in the next level,” Tardi said.
“Too bad I haven’t Amble’s story. Amble lived between three dot time and five, I think. I always got the idea it’s a grownups-only tale because the old one in our village never told it with kids around and cackled the whole time telling it. People came home red-faced with unhealthy merriment is what Ace used to call it.”
“Is that right?” Tardi bristled about Ace. “Seems to me all you need to do is travel round some, asking everybody you meet what they know. There’ll be a thousand different facts that winnowed down some will give you the story.”
Shad looked at him. Agog. “This is your second sight, Cuz?”
Tardi shrugged. “Travel is on the menu, courtesy of the monster. All you need to do is contact our kin along the way. No second sight needed.”