of real actual present-day (2018) flying car
The buggy hummed as it slid up the wall. The floor vibrating under my feet told of an engine underneath. The brassy fists moving around the rails outside made a sliding sound I’d heard lying in bed in the Tween house. Trying to fall asleep, that mysterious metallic whining constantly stopping and starting kept me company.
When I was four or five I asked Hen every day. “What’s that slipping sliding squealing in the night?”
She’d say things like, “A Fetcher bringing the groceries.”
Or, “A Fetcher fetching a breakfast for someone working through the night.” Or the Fetcher would fetch their shoes. Or bring their kite, if became a windy night. Towards the end of her patience, I asked purely to hear what she came up with. The Fetcher fetching old bread for feeding to hungry ducks was one of her last stories.
I turned in the confines of the guide rails by my sides. Across the divide, wide rectangular openings came into view at the top, the buggy slid up, and they disappeared below. A fly-car swooped between the two buildings and entered the highest opening.
A cacophony of sound erupted from there.
I startled, then distinguished between emergency sirens, hooting of vehicles and shouting by people. The fly-car caused all that upset? I grinned. Out came the fly-car. Swooping down between the two buildings, it re-entered by the lowest dark door I could see. If other people could make mistakes too, I decided, I’d be alright.
Clunk! The buggy stopped, bouncing a little. The door stayed shut. A large hook, like a crane hook, dangling from a many-stranded steel cable, coming from where-I didn’t-know, and snagged a fist near the wall.
The hook slid around the fist until it sat securely. I leaned towards it from my place between the guide rails, tracing the path of the cable leading from it with my startled gaze. Mist and cloud above.
Clunk. Clunk. The fists on the outside of the buggy being hooked? I turned following the sounds. Clack! I held my breath. Clack!
This was happening to my left, the second fist near the wall. I ran quickly to that corner. Had to see what was happening.
“Passengers stay in their places, please,” the buggy said.
"I promise I'll stay here," I said distractedly.
Clack. The hook hit the fist. Did not engage. Swung back for another try.
I breathed relief.
Uh-oh. The little lever that was meant to be pressed back and spring forward to close the circle, hadn't. The fist sat loose in the lower wider arc of the hook.
The cables tightened. I strained to see up through the slow-moving cloud. I saw a huge … A huge crane beam with a housing on top? The structure, whatever it was, hung above and at right angles to the building.
Looking something like the robotic cranes that once upon a time carted shipping containers from ships to the shore, and onto trucks and such. Building complexes such as ours, Hen said, installed them to lift elevator buggies from one side of the divide between buildings, to the other.
The buggy began to rise above the top of the building. Or rather, the right-hand fist slid free from the rail.
The left-hand fist rolled in its hook. Slid free. The buggy floor tilted down! Help! I slid too before I had hold of the guide rails again.
A quick look. The fist looked skewed. It didn’t fit well around the top of the rail. And probably me weighing down that corner of the buggy tightened the skew of the fist.
The other three hooks clashed and clattered. The buggy juddered.
Was that the other three cables jiggling the buggy? Maybe to see if they could loosen it? My hands were slippery with cold sweat but I grabbed a further guide rail to make wider hold, my feet in a wider stance to balance against the shocks.
I grew dizzy watching the roof of the buggy swaying a tiny distance again and again from the crippled fist as the crane, by way of its cables, tried to fit the loose fist back onto its rail. The two sets of couplings at the bottom of the buggy squealed and resisted being moved back and forth. Would they bend as well?
The crooked fist groaned, then twisted on its shank like on a loaf of bread dough. Hen again, that I knew that. But metal? Twisting like that? Not possible.
I should get out of there.