A glance at the crowd showed Bodil that all attention seemed to be directed to the left and down the avenue of aircraft, whoever they belonged to, towards the way she and Victor had just come from. Bodil followed their gaze, looking vaguely upwards. She expected to see, something. Vertibirds? She had seen huge ones that could carry many tons of cargo. The noise, though, suggested some new kind of aircraft, maybe the big brother of the flying wing design she had seen float past her window in her dream. However, when it did come into view, slowly descending and following the line of the broad avenue towards them, the sight of it exceeded her expectations in the spine tingling jaw dropping way that, up until now, had been reserved for the best of the best archaeological finds.
Getting over the original wtf moment, it took a few seconds for the professor to determine the scale of the thing coming towards them. Her brain was telling her that it had to be a hundred metres in length at least, which made it twice as long as any commercial airliner she knew of and much bigger than the biggest of the vertibirds. But it wasn’t just the length of the aircraft that tingled her tingly bits. If it was a hundred metres long then it was easily forty metres wide and twenty metres high. And it was wingless. She had no idea how it was even flying. Whatever the technology was, it was beyond her.
Bodil managed to drag her eyes away long enough to turn to Ellie, as if for confirmation that what she was seeing was real. Ellie, though, sat stony faced. A thin, tight lipped mouth under the blank black stare of her ever present sunglasses. At that moment Bodil would have given anything to see the other woman’s eyes. To get some idea what she was feeling. She turned back to the approaching aircraft.
Now the slowly moving bulk of the thing was so close that Bodil could actually feel its presence. Like some great whale from the oceans it floated above them. The crowd behind Bodil had gone quiet now, awed into silence by its closeness. The white hull shone in the sunlight and, what Bodil had first assumed to be broad stripes of contrasting black paint that ran most the length of the fuselage, were revealed to be black glass. Bodil’s breath caught in her throat as she made out the dim shapes of people behind the glass. The whole effect reminded Bodil of nothing less than a cruise ship approaching a dockside. But instead of tugs nudging the great white hull Bodil saw crackling blue cones of electric fire flickering in and out of existence along its length.
The forward momentum diminished and the whole ship floated downwards as the bow edged into the area of the vacant square, directly in line with the stairs of the presidential stand. Then there was a loud hiss and the whine of motors and three enormous landing legs slowly extended and kissed the concrete. The ship had berthed. Cheering erupted again behind Bodil and across the square, the presidential stand, too, joined in the excited applause.
Dozens of figures now began to emerge from the squat concrete buildings to the west and south of the square and run to the ship. Vehicles, too raced across the concrete and the base of the docked vessel was soon surrounded by a cloud of service personnel taking care of the needs of the new arrival.
As the applause and the cheering subsided, Bodil turned to Ellie.
“This,” She waved a hand in the direction of the leviathan. “That, is incredible.”
“It's certainly impressive."
“Impressive? I’ve never seen anything like it. Who built it?”
Ellie drained her water glass and waved it in the air.
“I believe it was built by a company called Saud-Kruger. You won’t have heard of them.”
The waiter appeared and Ellie asked for beer. He turned to Bodil. The unfolding events called for something considerably stronger than water.
“Whiskey please. A large one.”
The waiter disappeared and Bodil was about to ask another of the many questions that were starting to build up behind her teeth. But Ellie was no longer looking at her. She was looking towards where the front landing strut led down from under the bow of the ship to the ground. She was smiling too.
Bodil looked too. At fifty metres away, and in the shade of the hull it was difficult to make out the figures descending the steps that were integrated into the structure of the strut. She reached for her binoculars and brought them to bear.
The electronics of the binoculars compensated for the variable light quality around the targeting reticule.
“By the Mother’s shiny silk knickers… What is that?”
((Still writing, but I reached my optimum word count so this seemed a good time to do a post. As an aside, and absolutely nothing to do with anything, I was talking to my daughter about my grandson. Even though he is only one year old we got onto the subject of school and my daughter and I were reminiscing about her schooldays and how much things have changed... Then she asked me what it was like when i was at school. It was hard enough for her to believe that when I was in junior school (7 to 10 year olds) we wrote with pen-and-nib which we dipped in ink wells that were built into the desks. As the term wore on, the ink got lighter and lighter as the huge ink bottle that the ink monitor filled the ink wells with each morning was continuously topped up with water. Like I said, that was hard enough for her to take in but when I told her that in the classroom cupboard we still had school slates... that was when she had a genuine jaw-dropping moment. I'm not even sixty yet. Surely I'm not unusual in remembering this? Oh well, back to my weekeend of fun, wearing my fingers out on the keyboard. :D