Up and Away - Chapter 01-10

Up and Away

 Chapter 1

 

Escape from the Madhouse

 

“He’s got a trauma, a bad cranial trauma. We don’t know what to do. He’s gapeseeding all day long and talking gibberish.”

“So what? He’s been doing so for years and nobody cared. What’s so unusual with that now?”

The head physician of the General Hamstian Hospital turned round slowly. Once more he glanced at the report in his paws and scratched his head. He had tried to put several questions to the sick mayor but after a few minutes had given up disgustedly.

“Are you closely related with each other?”

Flecki glared at the doctor, quickly cleared her throat and said: “For goodness sake, no. We are – distant relatives, but very, very distant. And we are here just for a visit.”

The head physician nodded. “Perhaps shock treatment is the only thing to help him. Go and see for yourselves. He is in room 18, together with Mr. Botchy.”

Flecki, Goldi, Dodo, Hamstilidamst, and Tealeafy hurried down the passage until they reached the said room. Flecki pushed aside Dodo who wanted to knock, and softly pressed down the handle.

There was a roar of: “Not in my backyard! I want another room or I’ll leave. If that guy once more asks me who I am, I’ll knock him…”

“Now, now, Mr. Botchy”, a nurse tried to calm him down. “Doctor said it’s most important for the mayor that somebody is here whom he knows and trusts.”

“Why don’t you ask his brother – this Balthasar?”

“Well”, nurse said, bending her head, “we realeased him last week already.”

“Then get him back”, the chief engineer roared. “Can’t be that difficult!”

Nurse Nursy shrugged. “We already contacted Daby, his assistant. Unfortunately Miss Daby has no means of contacting him. His last sign of life was a post card from New Guinea. Such a pity that after his release he tried to book a ticket all on his own. Now the fat’s in the fire.”

Chief Botchy turned to continue his nagging when he got sight of his visitors. “Ah, Flecki, Goldi, Dodo, Hamstilidamst, and Tealeafy, how nice of you to come. You must help me to get out of here.”

“Chief, might it be that you said the same yesterday to Sasy, Dasy, Tuffy, and Trample?” Goldi asked with a broad grin.

“That’s what he says to every visitor”, the head physician, who was just coming in, said with a reproachful glance. “We cannot permit this. Mr. Botchy needs much quiet, he’s still quite neurotic.”

“I’m not neurotic, damn your impudence! I just want to get rid of this bloody fool, got that?” the chief yelled, fell on the mayor and strangled him.

“O Sir, have we been introduced?”

“Hear that?” Botchy screeched. “Gone completely nuts, he is, I’ll smash his noggin, throw him out of the window, I’ll…”

“Doctor! Doctor!”

Another nurse entered the room, quite upset. Her white apron was torn and she looked rather dissolved.

“Quick, Doctor, Goulash-Frodo has escaped! I tried to stop him, but he overran me!”

“O my God!” the head physician groaned. “Goulash-Frodo has to be caught at once. Quick, Nurse Nursy, call in HAMPO and HAMFI. Nurse Finny, you come with me to search the cellar.”

“Goulash-Frodo?” Hamstilidamst looked at his friends. “Hasn’t there been something with that guy?”

“Why don’t you ask your pal Goldi?” Flecki purred. “Frodo was one of the hamsters at the famous goulash canon. He was unlucky enough to be too close to it. Since that time he is aggressive and does nothing but mischief. There just was an article in the Hamster Times about his last escape. Did you read it?”

The hamsters shook their heads.

“For a whole week they were looking for him. He had hidden at the building authorities and bound the chief of the office and hidden him in the cellar. Then Goulash-Frodo took over the management and nobody noticed it.”

“Well”, Botchy remarked, shaking his head, “there is no better hiding place for a madman than the building authorities.”

“When it became known”, Flecki continued, “that the application for an underwater power line was cleared, the building inspection commission got the idea that something was wrong.”

“He wasn’t that bad, Frodo”, chief Botchy mumbled. “He after all permitted the erection of the new parking block.”

Now the wailing of sirens became audible in the distance and the running of paws in the passage.

“Guess they’re busy enough at the moment”, Goldi grinned. “How about, chief, what do you think about a little trip?”

Botchy’s jaw dropped and he stared at Goldi with big eyes. “Yes”, he breathed, “yes, out here! The sooner, the better. I won’t stand this fathead for another day.”

“But he shall not, nurse said, doctor said he is to have quiet!”

“D’you call this noise here quiet, Dodo?” Goldi snapped.

“But then we have to take the mayor as well. Perhaps he’s just missing his familiar surroundings!” Flecki said, nudged Dodo and beckoned him to help the mayor from the armchair. Dodo gripped him, threw him over his shoulder and followed the others out of the door, while the mayor asked for a cup of tea with one lump of sugar only.

Without any problem the six hamsters plus the carried one succeeded to pass the security bars in front of the hospital. One escaped hamster was being looked for, after all, not seven. Without haste and suspicious movements they left the hospital behind them and reached the market square.

“And now? What now?”

“Now you may let him down, Dodo!”

There was a loud smack.

“A little more carefully would have been just charming, Dodo”, Flecki hissed and looked at the town hall thoughtfully.

Goldi joined her. “Do you think what I’m just thinking?”

“Yes”, Flecki said, “we’ll take him to his office. He can’t do much mischief there and nobody will be looking for him at the place, at least not during Hamstian working hours.”

Soon the mayor was sitting in his comfortable office chair and thoughtfully looked at the ceiling. “Looking at some landscape would delight the eyes”, he said with a flickering glance.

“View at the landscape? You’ll get it”, Goldi cried. “The wall must come down! I’m just going to get some explo…”

“Nothing of the sort!” Flecki cried. “We’ll have to go on more subtle.”

“But he only drinks tea”, Dodo remarked.

Flecki goggled at him. “What has shrewdness to do with tea?”

Dodo looked helpless, reddened very much and stammered that maybe he had not heard correctly.

“Our first question has to be: What now?” Botchy said when there was a knock at the door.

Helplessly the hamsters looked at one another. The mayor happily clapped his paws and before anybody could stop him, he bawled: “Come in, do come, bring in the sun!”

The Hamstian police! Could it be that they had been discovered that quickly? The chief engineer who was closest to the door, paused on his way. Unfortunately he was not quick enough to hold the door shut to win some time. It was too late and slowly the door opened. A hamster lady with two peculiar sticks in her paws came in.

“Welcome, welcome, what is your honoured name?”

“My name is Mamsy and I…”

“Wonderful, wonderful – did I already say ‘Welcome’? Would you like a cup of tea? Could someone bring the tea? What is your honoured name?”

“Mamsy, and I want…”

“Nice to meet you. Did I already say ‘Welcome’? Where is the tea?”

“I don’t want any tea. I want to complaint.”

“With or without sugar? Did I already say ‘Welcome’?”

Mamsy gave the mayor a look which stopped his grin. “I don’t want any damned tea and no damned sugar. Shove your welcome up your ass! I want to complaint!”

“Now, now, dear lady”, chief Botchy intervened, “the mayor is a little – er – stressed. How may we help you?”

Mamsy snorted and turned to Botchy. “The trash on the market square! Stones and rubbish everywhere. I just stumbled and fell during my Nordic walking!”

The chief engineer looked up to the ceiling for a moment while a small giggle escaped Flecki and Goldi. “Well, er, this debris, I noticed it, too. No idea who brought it there. Of course we’ll take care of the matter at once as this is a public nuisance, isn’t it, Mr. Mayor?”

“Erm, yes, really a nuisance without sugar. What was your name?”

“Botchy!” came a low growl.

“Erm, right, Botcher, do hand to the lady some of these things lying on this desk.”

“But Mr. Mayor, that’s the newest sickle coinage in gold…”

“Of course, of course, my dear, er, Dingus, whatsyourname?”

Chief Botchy did not reply to this question. Now they head quickly to get rid of the angry hamster lady before their cheat blew up.  He gave the mayor a disgusted look but that one was playing with a pen and did not appear to be concerned. Botchy took the gold coins from the desk and passed them to a beaming Mamsy. Then the hamster lady was gone.

“Where were we? O yes, food”, Goldi cried. “Mayor, you won’t mind us taking a look at your pantry, will you?”

“Perhaps we should go and fetch the others”, Tuffy proposed.

Tuffy was not in the best of spirits when she left the room to fetch Sasy, Dasy, Taty, and Trample. In the meantime Goldi had found something delicious and they spent the waiting time in a pleasant fashion while the mayor asked them their names.

“Are the police looking for us now?” Dodo asked, shoving a pie into his mouth. “That is, we offended the law, didn’t we. The doctor after all said…”

“Said, said. My, Dodo, that simply was a doctor’s advice. Moreover they have other things on their minds now.”

“Even if there’s trouble to come”, Flecki interposed, “we’ll make up Goldi as mayor and send him to the hospital. They’ll be ready to release him after three days latest.”

The door opened and panting Tuffy entered, followed by Sasy, Dasy, Taty, and Trample. In so many words Hamstilidamst told them what had happened. They were silent for minutes, then Trample said: “How about some shock treatment? When on opening the window I once fell out of the third floor I also was very confused. I was standing in the street, not even knowing who I am. Next moment a flower pot came flying, knocked my head and I was normal again.”

“Doc said something about whiplash, a flower pot won’t help there”, Tealeafy sighed.

“No flower pot but some good, sound spinning!” Goldi cried and watched the mayor who was animatedly talking to some pot plant on his desk.

“Look, he must have picked up something about Trample’s flower pot story! How about a washing machine?” Sasy hopefully asked.

“Not strong enough”, chief Botchy grumbled.

“Cement mixer?” Tuffi proposed.

“Too low rotation.”

“Throw him out of a moving car?” Goldi said.

“Too risky.”

“Shoot him up with a catapult?” Hamstilidamst cried.

“Might work”, Botchy nodded. “But where do we find one?”

“The turbo pegtop!” Goldi shouted. “We use the turbo pegtop! Push him into the cabin, full speed and up he goes.”

“That really might work!” Botchy cheered and hopped up and down.

“But how will the cabin go up?” Sasie asked and shrugged. “Someone has to unhitch it.”

“And what about the landing? He’ll need a chute for landing!” Tati objected.

“Right, we’ve got to have a real plan”, Flecki agreed. “We can’t leave him on his own, have to help him somehow. He’ll never manage to open a chute.”

“We’ll go with him”, Botchy decided. “We’ve managed all sorts of things, and if we stick together, we’ll manage this, too.”

“My cousin has a chute but he never used it before because he suffers from vertigo. I’ll get that chute!” Trample happily shouted.

“Dear chief, all this is a little dangerous, isn’t it? Do we really have to go all?”

“Let met put it like this, Tuffy: I fully do understand if someone does not like to join us. He who doesn’t will get a fresh outfit from me and runs as Goulash-Frodo through Hamsterton to distract police, fire brigade, and hospital. Did I make myself clear?”

“Okay, Boss, when do we start?”

If was past midnight when eleven hamsters crept to the funfair place. The biggest of them carried another hamster who held a flower pot in his paws. In front of the big turbo pegtop they paused. Some of the hamsters immediately scrambled into the cabin which had the form of a space rocket and was painted with red, blue, and yellow rings. The others busied themselves making changes at the anchoring of the cabin while another one fastened something at the outside of the cabin. Finally they all scrambled into the cabin.

“All ready, people?” the chief engineer whispered. “All belts fastened?”

“Yes”, it whispered back from all sides.

“So we can start”, Flecki whispered.

“Why are we whispering?” Goldi whispered.

“So that nobody notices what we are doing”, Flecki explained in a muted tone.

“But if the turbo pegtop goes off, all Hamsterton will fall out of their beds anyway, won’t they?” Dodo whispered.

“I don’t give a damn!” the chief hissed. “We start now. Hold fast!”

And indeed, there was no one in Hamsterton who was not woken up by the following noise. With a deafening sound the turbo pegtop started to rotate, faster and faster until there was a constant, shrill noise, passing the pain barrier.

“Release, chief, release now!”

“I hardly can move, Flecki, the centrifugal force is too strong!”

“I knew he grew soft in the hospital!”

Botchy reacted with a furious yell on Goldi’s remark and tried again. This time he succeeded and all of a sudden the terrible noise stopped and only the frightened squeaking of the crew was audible. The horrible press of the centrifugal force which had held them in their seats was over and replaced by pleasant zero gravity. All hamsters sat belted in their seats – except one.

“Dodo, you dope, why didn’t you fasten the mayor to the seat?”

“But I, er, I thought because he was to get treatment…”

“Nice mess it is and who’s to clean that up?” Flecki nagged and pointed at the mayor who was gluing at the cabin wall with a big bruise at his head. Beside him lay the smashed flower pot.

“His conversation seems to have run dry.”

“That’s not funny, Goldi”, Flecki growled. “Perhaps our whole project now is done for.”

“But I didn’t want that to happen”, Dodo wailed, “I only…”

“Just shut up!” the chief engineer hissed. “We now should see that the chute is activated. Tuffy, where is the rip cord?”

“Erm, Boss, the rip cord you mean?”

Chief Botchy reddened. “Be damned sure that I mean the bloody rip cord of this bloody parachute. You were to fasten the bloody rip cord so that we can reach it from the bloody window of this bloody cabin. Did you?”

“Sure, Boss, I did.”

“So?”

“D’you think, Boss, the adhesive tape had survived all this? I sticked the rip cord to the window with Scotch tape.”

“We’ve got to get at that darned rip cord and it’s loose now. Out with you and get it!”

“Chief Botchy”, Flecki cried in a shocked voice, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Tuffy will be blown away like nothing.”

“O yes? Our present plan is to fly and fly until centrifugal forces and gravition become one – and then, my dear hamsters? What do you think will happen then?”

“Eh, party?”

“Tuffy, another word and you’ll be the first one back in Hamsterton!” the chief barked.

“Erm, status report, First Officer!” said a well known voice in this moment.

The hamsters turned in surprise and goggled at their mayor. He was standing straight beside the smashed flower pot, had one paw behind his back and pointed at the chief engineer with the other one.

“Hum, I’m chief engineer, no officer…” Botchy stammered.

Flecki was the first to get the new situation and made a step forward. “Repair hamster Tuffy did fasten the rip cord wrongly. We will crash to the ground, Mr. Mayor.”

“Well, eh, so to say a pity, a real pity. Which crew members are present?”

Flecki named the hamsters present and the mayor nodded. Then he lifted his head and continued in a firm voice: “As your commander I tell you that we have survived much more dangerous letters – er – matters and that we will get out of this matter shaved – er – safe. The point is, as I point out to get the necessary tweedledee – er – tririllium of the Moss Beaver planet so that our friend survives.”

“What friend do you mean, may… - er -, Commander?” Hamstilidamst stammered.

The mayor-commander now put both paws to his back and scampered up and down a few paces. “Erm, our dingus of course – er – vegetarian friend from the Beta-Geranium-System who went astray on our panel – er – planet. If he does not get enough tririllium soon, he will die and all our galaxy will be destroyed.”

“Hey, that’s something new”, Goldi whispered and got a dark look from the mayor-commander.

“Any proposals, Goldi?”

“Lets throw the vegetable out of the window so it gets fresh air. Will feel much better.”

“So you are an expert for extra-terrestic beings?”

“Nope, expert for munching rather.”

“Fine, Goldi, I am herewith appointing you cook of this space craft and… Erm, what is it, First Officer?”

“He’ll munch down everything, Commander!”

“Then I decide that the fat one here and the small dingus there make up the security team to stop that nonsense. You are responsible for the safety of this ship!”

Dodo and Trample goggled at each other.

“What about me?” Hamstilidamst asked. “I for instance can read maps.”

“Aha, a navigator”, the mayor crowed. “And you, chief, will be the, er, machinist, Tuffy is your assistant.”

“And what about us?” Sasy, Dasy, Taty, and Tealeafy now chorused.

“Shut up!” Botchy suddenly yelled. “If we don’t think of something soon, you can scratch your crew off the Hamsterton market square, you loopy stiff! Insteady of jabbering here…”

“Security – arrest this masochist – er – machinist. For the time being he is… Erm, why is it so hot in here?”

Terrified, the hamsters looked at the cabin walls. Indeed it had become hotter and hotter during the last minutes and a smell of molten steel was in the air. With big, round eyes they stared at the mayor-commander who smiled at them charmingly. “Well, er, let me put it like this, erm, I never before lost a space ship, ladies and gentlemen. Today seems to be my first.”

And the hamsters panicked.