Chapter Seven (of Ten)
He estimated that he had an hour at the most as he closed the gate behind him. After it closed he backed the car against it and turned it off. He thought about taking the keys out of it and either throwing them into the bushes, or just taking them with him, but then he figured that if they got that far, moving the car would be too late anyway since they would already be over the gate. They would either have to push the heavy gate open with the weight of the car along with it, or they would have to climb over it. The gate had no horizontal structural members for footholds, so it would be a difficult task. The thorny vines grew heavily over the concrete and brick posts, making it a bloody endeavor if they tried climbing those. Meanwhile, he ran to the building, each step causing a throbbing pain in his head where the bottle had struck him.
Trying to ease the pain, he put his hand against the wound and came away with a wet, sticky palm. He hadn’t realized he was bleeding until then. Diverting off of his path to The Planet, he went through the garage and picked up a heavy jack used for lifting the cars or their engines when needed. It was so heavy he could barely lift it with both hands.
He had used them before, mostly to shift blocks of stone, pedestals that had settled crookedly, making the garden statue on it to stand at an angle. They were actually house jacks, used to hoist houses so that timbers could be put under them for moving the house to another location. It had occurred to him to use the jacks while driving through the city and seemed his only hope of moving the tons of weight that the motor of “The Planet” possessed.
Running to the bottom of the spaceship, he opened the door at the bottom of the vehicle and closed it behind him for a final time. One way or another, it would never open again, whether he survived or not. He still hadn’t decided if he even wanted to live or not, but hadn’t had the time to deliberate the point with himself.
He carried the heavy jack to the motor room, quickly running out of strength along the way and having to shift it in his arms several times before getting there. When he finally set it at the bottom of the motor he had to stop and rest once again. His head was already blurry with the pain of his injury, his eyes were almost useless as they clouded over and went out of focus continually. It was fortunate that he had done the delicate work on the electronics before his excursion through the city.
He woke with Brad leaning over him, shaking his shoulder as he slept and nearly falling out of the wheelchair with the vigorous shaking he was giving Tim. A precious minute passed before he remembered where he was and what he had to do yet. It took precious seconds more before he could move his limbs efficiently.
“They’re at the entrance valve!” Brad shouted to the sleepy inventor. Whatever time he had until the mob made it to the machine had elapsed while he lay collapsed at the foot of the motor. He could hear the beating of something heavy hitting the thinner metal of the tube structure surrounding the entrance valve. It rang loudly and he could tell by its pitch that they weren’t hitting the thicker metal that surrounded the spaceship itself. But it worried him all the same. The banging of the exterior of his machine was only a matter of time. Gaining entrance wouldn’t be long behind that. It wasn’t built as a fortress, and he hadn’t sealed the space door yet.
He slid the jack along the floor and laid it on it’s side against a wall. As it extended it pushed on housing of the motor and began sliding it. He moved the jack and pushed the motor in another direction. His measurements were precise on paper, but he didn’t have that with him now, and five inches, give or take in inch would have to do. There was also no measuring device around, so even if he remembered the figure he couldn’t be sure he had moved it exactly that much. As an inventor such inaccuracies could nearly drive him crazy, if he had the time to think about it.
Sliding the jack on the floor a final time, to the back side of the metal block, he slide it three inches before he listened to the heavier pounding and a final thud as an explosion shook the massive spaceship. He crawled from behind the motor and was quickly overwhelmed by the crowd of wide-eyed and bloody people who had rushed into the room. Brad was already lying on his side on the floor, either struck by someone or knocked down by the blast of the explosion. His chair was twisted and thrown into a corner not far away from him.
Tim began swinging the jack handle wildly, bouncing it off of several heads before an earthquake tossed him to the ground with everyone else. He stood up quickly, but had lost the jack handle. Someone else had found it and he went down to the floor with a second bloody area on his head.