Trigger’s Fantastic Flight
Part 3 — Trust the Tom-tom
Günter stared down at the plain and sea below, his mouth agape.
‘Could you navigate?’ I had been waiting to ask that question for weeks. ‘I’ll let you do the return trip, promise.’
‘Where is the computer?’ Gunter seemed to be at a loss without the standard navigation computer. ‘Does not the car’s navigation computer do that?’
‘Oh, Trigger is too old for those computers. The Tom-tom’s there on the windscreen, can’t you see? But I don’t trust it, I do like to double-check with a map and also the topography radar system here on the dash right in front of me. There should be a map in the glove-box.’
‘Surely the Tom-tom is sufficient.’
‘Well, actually, I think there’s not enough satellites going around this planet, and the Tom-tom GPS signal keeps fading in and out. Besides, the voice is annoying and tends to lead you astray.’
Just then, the Tom-Tom’s voice spoke up, ‘Please drive north—on the sea…’
I locked eyes with Günter. ‘See what I mean?’
‘How do you know all this?’
‘You trained me, remember?’ I smiled. ‘Although I do make most of my flight decisions by instinct, as you may have noticed.’
Sighing with a shake of his head, Günter opened the glove box and out came a book. ‘Adelaide Street Directory,’ he read.
‘Adelaide? There must be a map of the Pilgrim Planet.’
Günter filed through the glove compartment. He tossed each item to the back seat. Out came used tissues, fossilised sandwiches, a mouldy banana peel, an empty bottle of Strongbow Cider, a dry pen, ‘Dear John’ letters all screwed up, a deck of cards, a green frog stuffed toy, and an apple core.
‘No map, Holly.’ Günter shrugged. He looked so cute when he shrugged. Stop it, Holly! He’s just a friend.
‘Never mind, we’ll be led by instinct.’ Then I remembered. ‘That’s right, the map’s in my backpack.’
‘So that is where your instinct travels?’ Günter quipped. He rummaged through the clutter of the back seat and retrieved not the back pack but a brown knitted teddy bear with white button eyes. He examined it. ‘How did you know the car was there?’ he asked with a sideways glance, his eyes as blue as the Pacific Ocean, captivating me.
‘I didn’t, it was just there,’ I answered simply.
‘How did you know how to drive this car and fly it?’ he asked. ‘I did not teach you.’
I stared at the sea ten thousand metres below, on this planet, the colour of violet. We were so high up the gulf appeared like a swathe of crushed velvet.
‘I must have studied a programme for Trigger when I was going for my IGSF pilot’s license.’ I had no idea but had to tell him something. ‘Anyway, on Earth, one car is much the same as another. Although this having the driver’s seat on the right-hand side takes a bit of getting used to. When I drove in Melbourne, Australia, I kept groping on the left wrong side for the seat belt, and when I put the indicators on, the wind screen wipers go on instead.’ A few bugs splattered across the windscreen. I flicked a switch to wash the windscreen and the indicators flashed. ‘Whoops, I’ve done it again!’
He persisted. ‘And fly, how did you know?’
‘You’ve flown one plane, space craft, whatever, you’ve flown them all, I guess.’
‘I do not believe it. You talk about me having to be real. What about you, Holly Mueller. Are you really her?’
‘Who else would I be?’ What a strange question?
We descended to a height of three thousand meters above sea level. Although the occasional air-pocket jostled us, the descent was smooth.
Without answering, Günter put down the bear. He sucked in his lower lip and hunted for the map. He retrieved the map from the backpack, strapped the harness on again, and then, without looking at it, rested the sheet on his lap.
‘Well, what does the map say, Captain?’
‘What? This paper chart speaks now?’
‘No, ‘course not,’ I laughed. ‘But you can read it.’
Gunter glanced at the paper and turned it around. His eyebrows knitted together as he studied it and flipped it over. Then turned it. Folded it. Flipped it again. Opened it up and spread it across his knees. ‘Just wait…no…’ he gazed out the window. ‘Yes…no…you have to…no…’
I suppressed a snigger. ‘Having trouble there, Captain?’
‘No,’ he snapped and turned the page once again.
‘Sure?’ I leaned over and rotated the map aligning it with the landforms below. ‘There.’
Gunter snatched the chart from my fingers. “I can navigate.’
‘I don’t know, looked like you were having trouble. Did they have maps in the Seventeenth Century?’
‘Naturally, but this one is particular bad. I think a French one.’
‘The French wouldn’t be happy you said that about their map-making skills.’
Gunter shrugged. ‘When I sailed the Pacific with my father, we had such maps. We navigate. But this map, no good.’
‘Deal with it, it’s all we’ve got.’
‘Very well,’ the Captain grumbled, ‘but do not blame me if we lost get.’
Apart from the occasional comment related to navigating, he was silent for the rest of the trip. His quietness seemed reasonable to me as I began a soliloquy of my flying experiences and adventures.
We glided over vast expanses of blue grass lands, mottled grey savannah, exotic animals that from the height of flight looked like deformed ants, and sea with the hue of lavender reflecting the purple sky. As we approached land, we encountered no clouds, nor the mist of magnetic dust.
We approached the beach near the Convent two hours after taking off and used a wide area of silver sand as a landing strip. I glanced at the woollen bear. ‘That bear looks like Mr. Bean’s teddy bear!’ I remarked enthusiastically.
‘Mr. Bean? No, this bear belongs to my son, Phillipe,’ Günter answered quietly.
‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ The hairs on the back of my neck prickled, and I had the urge to scratch there. But my hands gripped the steering wheel; I needed two hands to land Trigger on the sand.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Painting: Calm on Ocean Beach, West coast Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2018
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