Chapter 6

 

At the Hotel – Surprise Meeting

 

Liza’s cousin Hercules at the moment did not think about how to smuggle a hamster into a hotel but he passed the town of Glencoe and drove on along Loch Leven.

"Laddie, shouldna we've got off there?" Lt. Scott asked – the officers by now were all awake again.

"Ay, but I'll tak ye t' few miles t’ Ballachulish, tha’ does nae matter now", Hercules replied.

"That's really very kind of you", Kirk gratefully said and Hercules snickered.

"Yer name's Kirk, but ye're no Scotsman. Laddie, ye're in Scotland, we’re kind folks."

"Yea", Dr. McCoy nodded. "We've seen that all day long. – Do you know some hotel there where we may stay overnight?"

"Sure", Hercules retorted and gave no further explanation.

The road ran along the lake, the view was breathtaking and Lt. Scott waited for Ballachulish-at-the-Bridge. But it did not come, at least nothing looking like the Ballachulish Scotty knew. But when Hercules slowed down and stopped, the Chief Engineer’s jaw dropped.

"Th-that's the hotel!" he stammered and Hercules turned round.

"Ay, laddie, tha's the hotel. I use tae deliver goods here an’ know t’ manager. Let's see if we get rooms fer ye. I'll come with ye. – And see tha’ this hamster’s not seen."

Hamstilidamst got the strict order not to make a sound and Captain Kirk stuffed him into the wide sleeve of his sweatshirt. He grinned in the direction of Lt. Scott whose mouth still stood open. Kirk wondered whether Scotty had been here before. It was an elegant old building like a manor. Situated at the lake, the view was overwhelming, even if it got dark by now.

In the meantime Hercules conferred with the hotel manager. There were no single rooms for the Enterprise-officers but they could get two double bed rooms and Kirk nodded. Time to have the quiet of a room and to be among themselves. Up to now they somehow had managed but a few things really had to be done and discussed now.

"Ay, Laddies, so that was that", Hercules grinned. "I'm on t’ road again."

"Laddie, stay fer a whisky", Scott begged, but Hercules shook his head.

"Nay. I've gotta get hame an’ wi’ the van. Been a pleasure tae meet yer."

They said good-bye, asked him to give their regards to Liza and waved. At this the Captain felt some movement in his sleeve, then Hamstilidamst's head peeped out.

"Off with you", Kirk said and nudged the pet. "We're going to our room now. You may get out then."

"Anything to eat there?"

"I am quite baffled which quantities of nourishment a hamster can take in within relatively short periods of time", Lt. Spock remarked who well remembered the box of oat biscuits.

"I guess he knows best", Dr. McCoy said. "However, we'll get you something when we've got our rooms. – Who shares with whom?"

"You'll share a room with Scotty, Bones", the Captain decided. "I'd just need you to roast each other half the night, Spock and you."

"I also like roasted peanuts", Hamstilidamst hopefully said.

But on another nudge of Captain Kirk he hid in the sleeve and only moved again when the cuff was widened and Kirk looked in.

"Get out. Here's a tray with tea and coffee and shortbread."

"Who would want tea and coffee?" the hamster asked, scrambled out of the sleeve and fell on the biscuits.

"I wouldn't mind some tea", Kirk retorted. "How about you, Spock?"

"The caffein will affect your sleep, Sir."

"Nothing will affect my sleeping. And don't call me Sir."

"Sir?" Spock retorted, baffled.

"What kind of Sir would I be here, eh? – Just imagine you patiently explain something to me. I don't know whether you ever noticed it but in such cases you do call me Jim. Could you bring yourself to do so?"

"I will do my best, Sir – Jim."

"Jesus, not Sir Jim!" the Captain grinned.

"I am not Jesus, as you well know”, Spock said.

Then he sat down on the bed, fetched a flat packet out of his trouser pocket and opened it. Hamstilidamst, having done with all the shortbread on the coffee and tea tray, became curious what Pointear was doing and climbed onto the bed. Spock looked up for a moment.

"Hamstilidamst, I would advise you not to handle any of these components."

"Hum?" Hamstilidamst asked.

"Leave your paws off the stuff Spock put there", the Captain translated.

"What does he do with that?"

"He assembles a tricorder."

"Sure he does", Hamstilidamst replied in a knowing voice.

Tricorder sounded somewhat important. He'd no idea what Pointear was doing there but it looked intriguing. Tiny parts were placed with a pincette into a box. That Spock worked with racing speed.

"With this unit I can scan and examine and great variety of things", the Vulcan explained as he positively noticed the vivid interest of the hamster.

"Could you scan and examine me?"

"Certainly."

"And what do you know then?"

"For example that you are a golden hamster."

"Gosh, you know that anyhow", the pet snappd. What use was a unit telling you things you already knew?

"If I did not know that you just have been eating biscuits again I could find that out with this unit."

Hamstilidamst blinked in surprise, then he turned round because the door opened and the two others came in. The Scotsman looked at everything, walked over to a second door, opened it and looked into the next room. Grinning, Dr. McCoy sat down on one of the beds.

"What is it?" Kirk asked.

"He'd been here before", the Doctor replied drily.

"Guessed it."

"Ay, Captain, I'm knackered ", Lt. Scott said, leaning at the wall. "Tha's t’ same hotel I visited five years back – fishin’. Ye'd nae believe it. It's still standin’!"

"Mr. Scott", the Vulcan said, closing the now assembled tricorder, " in the south of this country you will find the circle of Stonehenge. It has been standing there for six thousand years. I see no reason why a hotel should not last three or four hundred years.”

"But me getting’ here wi’ ye now…"

"Well, yes, let be now", Kirk interrupted. "Do take a look at this water boiling machine or whatever it is. I don't get it working."

"Tha's a wee thin’ fer me", the engineer drawled. "I get dozens of space ships runnin’, a water boilin’ machine isna any problem."

"For sure, that's why we took you along", McCoy grinned.

As Spock just now was doing nothing of interest for a hamster, Hamstilidamst climbed down from the bed and joined the Scotsman.

"Computer!" Scotty ordered. "Boil the water."

"He's been here before indeed", Dr. McCoy nodded. "When he was here, it worked like that."

"Cable, Mr. Scott?" Kirk asked. "Down there at the, er, socket and here at the machine I connected this cable."

"There was nae cable when I was here", the Chief Engineer grumbled. "P’rhaps there's nae power."

Lt. Spock pointed the tricorder at the cable and informed that there was power. Hamstilidamst was delighted. Now he got the functioning of the box. You could search and find things! Then he looked up to the bewildered Scotsman. Could it really be true that an engineer did not understand this? Well, chief Botchy was better after all.

Hamstilidamst took a run-up and jumped against the red flip switch at the water boiler. He hit it at the right spot so that a light went on in the switch. In his back the officers roared with laughter.

"I don't believe it!" Captain Kirk bawled. "We've got to learn a lot in this time."

"And by no means we must ever forget our hamster", McCoy added.

"I assume that after this extraordinary effort Hamstilidamst needs some sustainment", Spock said and Hamstilidamst discovered that after all this Vulcan was not as boring as he all the time had thought him to be.

After this rescue from tea-emergency the officers splashed out. Captain Kirk in person went to fetch a bowl of things a hamster liked best. The men went to the dining room to take a late supper. Hamstilidamst munched until he was tired and fell asleep.

When he woke up the room was pitch dark. He heard snoring and as he by now knew this noise, he was not frightened. This was his time, he felt very enterprising but there seemed to be no enterprise at hand.

He immediately began to miss his friends. Certainly on the space ship there was much more fun. And he had to sit in the darkness and nothing at all happened. Then he saw that the curtain was moved by a soft wind. So the window had to be open and Hamstilidamst made his way to the windowsill. The upper window had been pushed open a little, the lower one did not reach much beyond the windowsill. He would take a look for something interesting outside.

"Hooty?" a voice asked when he stretched his nose into the fresh air. "Hooty, is that you?"

"No, this isn't Hooty. My name's Hamstilidamst."

"Hamstilidamst?! But that is not possible. How did you get here? You all have travelled home to Hamsterton."

A slim hamster came out of the shadow and Hamstilidamst squeaked delightedly:

"Daby! – What are you doing here? We had a lot of adventures and really terrible things happened. And now I'm here all alone with some humans. I show them how euqipments work."

"Do come with me, you must tell me immediately. – I'm looking for my cousin Hooty. Did you see another hamster here?"

"No, I didn't. – What does your cousin Hooty do here?"

"She owns a penthouse here. As President Balthasar was mindless enough to get himself a flight ticket without my assistance, I am most uncertain whether he ever will be able to return. Well, so I'm paying a visit to my cousin at this place."

"What does she own?" Hamstilidamst was bewildered.

"A penthouse. That is a house on the roof of another house. Do come with me, you may take a look."

A house on top of a house – that sounded most interesting. He followed Daby through a dazzling number of ventilation shafts until they emerged at a windswept corner on the roof. This hotel house seemed to have quite a lot of gables and they crossed two of them until Daby pointed ahead with her paw. Really, close to one of the many chimneys stood a beautiful little house.

"You see, it really is convenient. In winter Hooty has a central heating. And the view from here… I could envy Hooty, really."

"It truly looks great", Hamstilidamst said, impressed.

If some human had been here, he could have given an explanation. Some time a craftsman had forgotten his wooden toolbox up here. With the help of befriended hamsters Hooty had erected a roof over the handle of the toolbox and built in doors and windows. There hardly could be a better accommodation for a hamster. The separate cases now were three comfortable rooms, the biggest one was used as living room and supply store.

Daby and Hamstilidamst sat down to a choice of cheese as was to be found at the hotel kitchen. Then Hamstilidamst reported how they had got into space with the funfair turbo pegtop and met the big, strange star ship coming from the future. He did not tell her that he had been afraid to stay on the space ship but proudly said that he had the task to guide the astronauts through Scotland.

"But why are they here?" Daby asked.

"Want to be guided through Scotland."

"Hum", she said. "Would you mind very much if I accompany you to the hotel room and listen what they are talking about? Afterwards we might hold council."

"They do understand us, too."

"I know that your friend Frido mastered Hamstish a little, but…"

"No, we're right chatting. They've got a u-ni-ver-sal translator."

"Oh!" Daby ejaculated who did not know either what that might be. "All these occurrences are quite extraordinary, don't you think so?"

"Sure! – Completely extraordinary", he admitted though up to now he had not thought the matter somehow special.

"I shouldn't be surprised if this a very big and secret matter."

Her eyes sparkled delightedly. If there was one thing she was really good at, it was to declare matters to be most secret. Universal translator or no universal translator, tomorrow she would listen to the talks of the astronauts to find out whether there was something extraordinarily secret.

As President Assistant, Daby perfectly knew how to handle secrets. About the great idea of BANTACH she only spoke in vague hints and surrounded her boss and herself with secretmongery. Balthasar had no inkling how very secret he was. However, Daby worked in the administration and yearned to participate once in her life in a real secret secret.

So the following morning she was sitting under Captain Kirk's bed while Hamstilidamst made a tour to the kitchen. She listened to Kirk's snoring and from behind a leg of the bed watched excitedly how the other one, the one with the strange ears, left the room very early.

She decided that all this was very mysterious, almost cunning. When Hamstilidamst re-entered the room with a loud somersault through the window, she hissed:

"Need you be that noisy? I'm just watching most interesting happenings."

"Do you?!" Hamstilidamst asked. Excitedly he looked about him, but with his best will he could discover nothing more interesting than the sleeping Kirk. "I brought you something to eat."

"Now really! How can one think of food in such a situation?!" Daby was shocked and munched away the cracker.

"O-o-o-oa-a-a-a!" it sounded above them and the mattress bumped. "What's the time? Spock? – Spock!"

"I'm not here", Daby whispered. "I am absolutely not here. You've never seen me, got that?"

"Why that? I do see you and you are right here." Hamstilidamst was bewildered.

"Who squeaks… Oh, our waterboiler-hamster", Kirk's voice said.

Then the mattress bumped once more, he leaned out of the bed and looked under it. Daby pressed into the shadow of the bed-leg and was absolutely not there.

"When is breakfast?" Hamstilidamst loudly asked and hurried from under the bed for if Kirk carried on like that he soon would discover Daby who did not want to be here.

"Good morning, little glutton. First of all I'll take a shower and shave… Ouch, I don't have a razor! I can't show myself outdoors like this."

"Why don't you hide under the bed? That's the place to go if you don't want to be seen."

Kirk began to laugh and laughing disappeared into the bathroom. So he did not hear the furious whisper coming from under the bed, stating that Hamstilidamst was the silliest idiot the world had ever seen. He could by no means agree to this because the silliest idiot he knew was the mayor.

Then the door opened and Spock entered. He carried a small plastic sack so that Hamstilidamst ran to him happily. Plastic sacks were carried for buying something and if someone bought something there also went some food with it.

"Good morning, Hamstilidamst", the Vulcan said politely.

"Anything to eat in the sack?!" Hamsters did not hold with politeness on an empty stomach.

"Following yesterday's experience I compiled a statistic about your daily consumption in relation to the day ahead of us…"

"Grrr", Hamstilidamst gnarled. "Stop talking operas!"

"Begging your pardon, but operas are not talked, they are sung and I by no means…"

"Spock, that you?" came Kirk's voice. "Where've you been?"

"Shopping, Sir – Jim."

"Does your shopping include a razor by chance?"

With a sound close to a sigh Spock emptied the contents of the plastic sack onto the bed. From one side Hamstilidamst fell on it, from the other Captain Kirk. The one found a box with biscuits and a bag of peanuts, the other an electric razor, tooth brush, deodorant and a digital camera. Both gripped what seemed substantial to them at the moment. Halfway back to the bathroom Kirk turned.

"What do you need that thing for?"

"That – thing is a camera for digital photographs. By means of a modem it can be connected to a computer."

'"And?"

"I checked whether a connection to the tricorder is possible. It is possible."

"But…"

"S… Jim, in this time we will meet things unknown to us. If we are unable to describe them, we may take a photo and have it analysed by the record-file of the tricorder. I will be able to adapt it accordingly."

"Ah! – Tell me, Spock, how do you manage to talk that posh before breakfast?"

Hamstilidamst, busy with opening the peanuts-bag, threw Kirk a glance. He was quite right. Even the mayor at his best was not able to do that. Now he got the bag open at last and with such a bounce that the peanuts spread on and in front of the bed. He goggled after them and saw that from behind the bed-leg a paw dashed out quickly, grasped a peanut and was gone again.

"Tidy – that – up!" Kirk said and now really disappeared into the bathroom.

"No problem", the hamster retorted, jumped down from the bed, shoved the peanuts together and under the next bed.

Spock watched it and concluded that this action was the basis for the expression "to hamster", the gathering and hoarding of supplies at a certain place to which one could return in case of a hungry feeling to…

"Morning! Anybody got a razor?" Dr. McCoy came rumbling in.

A short time later the officers – all shaved – went down to breakfast. The two hamsters enjoyed their own meal of nuts and biscuits. Daby chewed quickly, her look directed into some distance. Then she stared at Hamstilidamst with big eyes.

"It's quite obvious, isn't it?"

"Hum?" Hamstilidamst asked and gulped down a big bite of biscuit.

"It's about secret units."

The hamster took another bite, chewed and looked at her big-eyed. She might be right. Up to now several units had come across which either he did not know or the humans did not know. So he nodded expressly.

"What does one do with secret units?" Daby mused.

"Perhaps they're for the space ship? That's from the future."

"That is well possible. – Unfortunately we have now knowledge in which way the secret units are to be used on the future-space ship. Certainly it is very dangerous."

"Perhaps they are testing them here?"

"Hamstilidamst, this is most clever of you!" Daby cried. "And certainly the most important unit for the future-space ship is without any doubt the razor."

"Why?"

"They all were wild on it, they all tested it. It needs be substantial for them."

"Sure. – Without razor Kirk had preferred to hide under the bed before he went outside."

"Are they good or bad people?"

"They always got me something to eat."

"This might mean they are good people. But it might also mean they want to lull you and really they are bad people."

That was too deep for Hamstilidamst. Up to now everyone who fed the hamsters had been really kind. Perhaps Daby was a little wacko after all?

In the meantime the Enterprise-officers regaled themselves with a lavish breakfast. The Doctor predicted stomach cramps as they were no longer used to such kind of food in their time. Kirk however feasted on fried eggs with bacon and tomato and Scott filled his bowl with porridge for a second time. To the strict vegetarian Spock nothing much except toast and jam remained and so he asked Dr. McCoy for an exact description of the ingredients for porridge – then he tried it.

Never a Vulcan would have admitted that he felt anything. Included was the conviction that a meal served the substantion of the body and nothing else. So he never would have admitted that he found anything tasty. When he got up to fill his bowl with porridge for a second time the three others looked after him and grinned.

"Is there any shop close by or where did you buy the things?" Kirk asked when Spock sat down again.

"He can't answer, his mouth is full", McCoy remarked.

"Perhaps he learned from our hamster", Kirk nodded.

"There is a room in this hotel where a few necessary and very many unnecessary things can be bought", Spock said, not willing to be roasted.

"Well, then I'll go fer somethin’ unnecessary tae tak along as souvenir", Scott said. "Ha, I'll show them if I come back here in our time."

"You won't, we're not here", Kirk said curtly.

"And who are we if we are not here?" Dr. McCoy asked.

"Your are literally nobody. You don't even have an identification."

"Then I'd better behave."

"Generally speaking: by all means", Spock retorted. "We are scientists who, following the test reports Professor McTinker published, pay him a visit."

"The question is: Where do we visit him?" the Captain said. "Nowhere in our files there is an exact address of him in this time."

"What I read ‘bout him, he'll be rather a fogey", Lt. Scott said.

"Does that mean that fogeys do not have an accommodation in this time where one could visit them?" the Vulcan asked, slightly baffled.

"Nay, laddie, tha’ means that everybody knows him here anaway. What are t’ odds tha’ we just might ask ‘bout him here in t’ hotel?"

"First I would be grateful if you would not call me laddie, Mr. Scott. Second: Four scientists who are to have a date with Professor McTinker should know his address."

"Take it easy, people", Kirk said. "We'll just set out and ask for the way. That shouldn't be a problem."

Lt. Scott wanted to start on the double, but Spock reminded them that he had to fetch the tricorder from their room. Moreover he was not very confident that Hamstilidamst in the meantime had done no mischief and damage to the room.

He could not know that by now there were three hamsters in the room. Daby had insisted on keeping watch. Hamstilidamst was to go to the penthouse to see whether Hooty had shown up by now.

However, he went astray in the ventilation shafts and this way found Daby's cousin. The flap of a shaft had slammed and was stuck in a way that no single hamster could open it. In vain Hooty had cried for help, had lived a horrible day without nourishment and was close to starving.

Finally she had heard somebody coming and again squeaked for help. Hooty, pushing with her last strength, Hamstilidamst pulling with all his strength from the other side, had succeeded to open the flap and he had taken her to Daby, the peanuts, and the biscuits.

Hooty had caught a terrible cold. When she caughed, it sounded "oot oot" like the old hoot of a car.

"Oh, you're one of oot oot the hamsters Daby oot oot told me so much about. I'm glad oot oot to meet you. And you oot oot rescued my life. Daby, he really rescued my oot oot. I'm so very oot oot…"

"Dear Hooty, rest your voice a little. We are on the trace of a very secret matter. It would be terrible if they would make us out only because you always have to cough."

"Oot oot!"

"You see. So I propose that Hamstilidamst takes you to the penthouse while I'm watching here. In case the secret carriers leave the hotel, I'll take up pursuit"

"Nope, no deal!" Hamstilidamst objected. "I'm here officially. They take me along everywhere 'cause I know my way."

"Dear Daby, you are surrounded by oot oot secrets. That's much too oot oot for me, I don't want to partici… oot. Some cheese will be good for my oot oot, so I'm setting out for home. You need not oot oot accompany me."

Now the two hamsters felt guilty because they wanted to leave sick Hooty to herself, but anyhow it was too late. The door opened, all four officers came trampling in. Hamstilidamst darted from under the bed where they all had been sitting.

At Hooty's first cough Daby jumped at her and held to her little mouth so they would not be noticed. But there was not much danger as the humans babbled loudly and obviously wanted to leave again immediately.

"Well, our hamster seems to have been good", Dr. McCoy said. "Where… Oh, there you are. We're leaving you behind, we're going to look for someone."

"I can tell you all ways. In Ballachulish there is a long bridge over water. I've been here before!"

"Mmmmm", mused Scotty. "He's quite right, t’ bridge’s there. But hae we tae cross t’ bridge? I bet ye've no idea where Fergus McTinker’s livin’ – or hae ye?"

"You must – you have to…"

"Enophelet", somewhere behind him came a whisper.

"Yea, sure, take the telephone!" Hamstilidamst blared, relieved.

"Woa ey, telephone book!" Dr. McCoy was impressed.

"Ye've got Scottish forefathers, pet!" Lt. Scott cheered. "Tha's our way o’ thinkin’."

"His consideration corresponds to the logic of this time in a way that he well might have Vulcan forefathers", Lt. Spock remarked.

"Are you ill?!" the Doctor asked but before the Vulcan could answer, Kirk shooed them all out of the room, saying:

"Porridge makes tolerant, Bones, didn't you know that? Here is your tricorder, Spock. Hamstilidamst, where are you? Of course we take you along."

The door closed, Daby gave Hooty free who indulged in several minutes of ootootootoot. Soothingly her cousin patted her fur, thinking feverishly. All the morning the men had tested the razor, now they were looking for someone. There must be a connection. How she would have loved to go with them to find out the secret!

"Daby, I know Fergus McTinker ", Hooty panted.

Still patting Hooty, it took Daby some time to understand what her cousin just had said. Her eyes grew bigger and bigger.

"Do you?! Say it again – do you really?"

"Two of my friends oot oot who built the roof for the house are living with oot oot…"

"What are their names? Can you tell me the way? I'm so grateful to you."

"Their names are Bummy and Balla and they…"

She could not go on. The coughing did not stop. Now Daby could be attentive, take her to her house, prepare something against the cough. She mixed warm water with honey, this being good for the throat. Hooty was very grateful and when she was able to speak again she explained the way to Bummy and Balla who were living in a shed beside the house of Fergus McTinker.