“If you look out your port screen” Press said, “ --- that’s the one to your left – you’ll see what was once a vibrant downtown Chicago.
Music was thriving here years ago. Lord, I remember myself when I was a boy, I wanted so much to get to Chi-cago. It was pure then, and alive and
people made music and there was money and liberty and life. Yes, it was a grand time.”
Press nudged the hover into a lower oval orbit and said, “this is what was once called The Loop. Those broken down towers and buildings once were
full of people, who were full of wonder and hope. Too bad. It’s just too bad. It will be donkey years before people can set foot on those
streets without protective equipment.”
“I’m hungry” cried a voice from the back of the bus, “they said we’d be fed on this tour.”
“Yes’m, that’s true,” Press said, and we’ll be settin’ down the Damysus in Thermopolis, in the Free State of Wyoming, in just one hour
and change. Now y’all set back and enjoy the scenery, and I’ll point out various historic features as we pass by.”
The hover was cruising at an easy 1000 KPH, only slowing down when various features required an ellipse around them.
“Now ofta your right screen – that’s the starboard side for you nautical types – you can see the city of Tombstone Falls, which in the olden
days used to be called Sioux Falls. That muddy creek is the Missiouri, and while it doesn’t look so great, it is still to this day full of fish
and other life. I wouldn’t want to eat them fish, though, would you?” Press guffawed. “NOssir. You could when I was a boy, but not no
more. Not on any a’ the rivers, except maybe a few up in the northwest, like the Salmon or Lemhi or a few others. Up where the Wild Peoples
live. Doan worry though, we ain’t gonna set down anywhere near them, NOSSir. They ain’t safe. Not for us.”
“Now I’m going to turn off the running lights, so you all can see the wonder of the Rapid City glow. Can you see it? It extends outward for 550
kilometers in every direction. They said it took the brunt of more than 37 50,000 kt bombs, why there weren’t nothing left, as you can see, but
the glow to mark where it happened. Nothin’ grows down there, I can tell you. At least, nothin’ good."
As the great craft settled slowly down over the Thermopolis airfield, Press said, “this town was once a little spot named after a historic battle in
Greece a hella long time ago, but now it’s a major, major hub between points in the nation, and one atha’ few places out west what ain’t too
radioactive to hava good time. So, we’re gonna set down here for a few hours an’ let you all look around. If you want to stay for a day or
two, well, that’s okay, but be sure to check in with the Big Cheese in the travel hut, okay? Make sure before you leave, you test your TravelAlls,
because we’ll sound a rally when we’re 60 minutes from takeoff. ”
Press locked the Damysus into the berth and powered it down. When it settled in with a soft clunk, he opened the eight doors which led to
departure ramps, and watched the people flow down the ramps into the hospitality courts. He pressed his temples and poured a few precious
milliliters of coffeejo from the triturium vessel into a cup, and sipped it slowly, gazing at the vivid purple, orange and pink sunset. How
many more? How many more tours could he ride? He was 107 years old, and even with the reJuv packets he was given every week, how long could he do
Long as I can. Long as I can and a day. Because I can. Damn right. He took out his old guitar and began strumming a few chords,
working on a song he’d been playing with for a long time.
Lord, sometimes it seems I’ll never finish, but for Your glory to keep me moving forward.
“I feel the love, as it touches my soul,” he sang,
“down in the deep, dark parts of Old Mexico.
I wish you were still, right here by my side,
and you’d be alive, not washed in the cold.
Down deep in the heart,
where we once thrived,
awash in the rivers of Old Mexico.”
Press wiped a tear and sighed. It was a long time ago. So long ago. He had been dead for so long, along with everyone he ever loved. Press
settled in to nap until the all-board siren sounded.
Twenty-two passengers elected to leave and go on excursions branching out from Thermopolis, leaving 38 still aboard, and a crew of six. Everyone was
accounted for according to the flight manifests. The hover shuddered as it always did as it broke free from the magnetic chocks and slowly lifted to
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for choosing Hedy West Cruises for you historic vacation. Now, we’re a-gonna slow it down some and
enjoy the last remaining unspoiled natural mountains left in the Canamerican West. Now on both sides, you can see the majestic Teton National
Forest, and we’ll be turning sharp to what used to be due north to pass over Yellowstone. Look at all the discolored land and steam vents. Up
ahead is the Yellowstone Caldera Crater Array, which will take us seven minutes to cross at this speed. They say it will take dozens of years for
the air to clear, but I don’t know if they know what they are talking about, do you? NOSSIR.”
“Now, y’all move slowly to the right,” Press said,” – we don’t want to rock the ship do we? – and you see them little brown dots in the
forest? That’s the commune town of Weda’, which is a Shoshoni word for bear. Probably none of you has ever seen a bear, but let me tell you,
they was fierce and powerful creatures. This forest is a mix of three forests, the Salmon-Challis, The Payette and the Nez Perce-Clearwater. This
is the single largest range of unspoiled mountains in the en-tire Canamerican west. Ain’t it something? See alla the rivers and lakes? ”
All of a sudden, simultaneous with a sharp pop, a flashing light and warning beep, the mighty ship nosed upward sharply, then canted hard to port.
The electric engine droned with a modulating buzz and the great ship sheared off to the left and downward. Press struggled with the controls,
oblivious to the screams of the passengers. He countersteered and brought the ship level, but she was losing altitude rapidly. Up ahead and down
below, he saw a flat, sandy place alongside a river and wrangled the vibrating ship parallel with the winding river.
“Ahhh, ladies and gentlemen, we’re having some trouble with the stick, so we’re going to set down by this river for a little lunch. You make
sure both buckles are secured and we’ll all be fine.”
Press fought the stick, slowed the airspeed and set the foils wide and soft. He counterflowed the tri-jets as he approached the sandy beach, and
set the side jets to full for stability. Three short bumps saw the great ship slightly askew but settled into the pink sand. A quick scan
indicated elevated readings, but nothing life threatening, at least as long as they could get out of here in a few days.
edit on 24/9/21 by argentus because: spellin'