Lost in Space
“Roundup!” called Mr. Magee from the downstairs living room. The house erupted with pitter patter from every direction. The girls: Riley, Lish, Hallie, Donie and Erika came rushing downstairs from their imperial sized room where they had been constructing a fortress out of pillows, towels and linen, of which Mrs. Magee specifically told them not to use the linen.
From the opposite wing of the house, a series of doors whipped open flushing out several more children. The boys: Fletcher, Hudson, Ray and the youngest of the bunch: twins, Gula and William all spilled out of their respective rooms colliding into each other at the top of the stairwell.
Everyone came sliding into position like a well-coached football team. Arranged by size, Gula and William were standing in front while the girls positioned themselves in-between the twins and the rest of the boys.
“We’re headed to the National Air and Space Museum,” declared Mr. Magee. “Everyone into the Super-Mag.”
The Super-Mag was the family van. Named after the World War II B-29 Heavy Bomber, The Super-Fortress. The family van was a 15 seat monstrosity. Transporting a family the size of a small army was only doable with the help of the Super-Mag. Everyone settled into their customary seating arrangement while Gula and William buckled up in the back right corner of the van.
“If you don’t let go of that iPad soon, your hands are going to slowly absorb into the screen and you’ll become a Cyborg,” taunted Gula directing his comment towards William who was playing Imperial Galactic Starfighters on his iPad. After a short pause Gula continued by saying, “On second thought, it would be awesome having a cyborg brother. Keep Playing.”
Gula was the energetic and athletic twin. His actual name was Patton in Honor of a WWII general (Mr. Magee was a WWII fanatic) but everyone called him Gula after a playful fairy tale monster, The Gula of the Black Sea. It was quite a fitting name for him.
William chose not to respond to his brother’s sarcastic remark. He kept his focus on Imperial Galactic Starfighters. In William’s mind, video games were more than just trivial distractions to pass the time, they held an entire story within them. Video games required problem solving, creativity, and hand eye coordination. Maybe not as much hand eye coordination as Gula’s favorite hobby; Football, but they were a worthwhile hobby to William.
The Super-Mag came to a rolling stop as it wedged into a parking spot. “Alright guys, you all know the drill. Stay together and absolutely no roughhousing with each other inside the museum,” stated Mrs. Magee. “Leave your iPad in the car William,” trailed Mr. Magee. Right as Gula was about to chime in with yet another sarcastic remark Mr. Magee cut him off, “No footballs either, Gula.”
As the Magee family strode up to the entrance of the Museum, two massive automated sliding doors opened showing the family into the lobby of the Museum. Mr. and Mrs. Magee purchased everyone’s tickets and ushered their children through the revolving portals leading into the first exhibit: NASA’s Space Exploration. The vast exhibition contained various rovers, capsules, drones and spacecraft. It was a looking glass into the colossal achievements of the United States Space Program but to Gula and William it was a limitless playground.
Gula nudged William, pointing to an oddly shaped aircraft in the far corner of the room. “Will, Look at that airplane! It almost looks like the Super-Mag. We should ask Mom and Dad if they’ll buy it for the family. Let’s go check it out!”
“That’s not an airplane, it’s a space shuttle!” shouted William as he ran to catch up with his twin brother who was already in full sprint towards the shuttle.
“It’s humongous!” exclaimed Gula. As William caught up with his brother he noticed yellow tape strewn across the door that led into the shuttle. Hanging on the door was a sign that read “Keep Out”. Gula quickly categorized the sign as only a suggestion of exclusion and was already looking for another way in.
“A hatch!” Gula ducked below the shuttle’s outstretched wing where he discovered a small entryway just underneath the belly of the aircraft.
“Gula, do not open that. Mom and Dad will never let us see the light of day if we get lost from the family.” Gula hesitated, thinking of the consequences his twin sibling had just stated. He backed away from the hatch, though only momentarily subdued.
The corners of Gula’s mouth rounded, forming a devilish smirk that was aimed right at William. “What are you doing with your face?” questioned William, dubiously.
“I’m opening this hatch and going in. If you leave me, I’ll get lost from the family. When you go back to Mom and Dad they’ll ask you if you know where I am and you will have to explain why you left me alone.”
“No. Gula, I am going back to find the family… WE are going back to find the family! If you open that hatch, we might even get kicked out of the museum!” asserted William.
Gula shrugged off William’s lackluster of a threat. Ignoring him altogether he walked straight up to the miniature door. Putting his hand on the Hatch’s lever, he looked back at William as a sign of provocation.
“Don’t do it, Gula,” pleaded William.
“Are you gonna come explore this spaceship with me or do you want to go back and play Imperial Galactic Spacefighters?”
“It’s Starfighters and yes, I’d rather go back and play my game.”
With no hesitation this time, Gula flexed his hand, gripping the lever as he twisted it ninety degrees downward. The Hatch gave way, exhaling a puff of dust as it opened.
“Were in,” smiled Gula.
Before William could give more reasons as to why they should not enter the spaceship Gula was well inside, twisting knobs, pushing buttons and opening compartments. “Will, do they have spaceships like this one in Imperial Galactic Spacefighters?”
William slipped through the hatch, “It’s Starfighters and no, I.G.S only has alien spacecraft. This is a human ship.”
“You’ve got to admit, this is pretty awesome! Right?” boasted Gula.
As William was about to answer he heard a clicking noise come from behind him. It was the Hatch. It had swung shut. William hurried over to it pulling on the inside lever. It was stiff, unwilling to budge the ninety degrees Gula had turned it on the way in.
“It’s locked!” groaned William.
“What do we do?” Gula’s smirk was long gone. A look of concern had replaced it.
“Think. Think!” William urged, “In imperial Galactic Starfighters there’s a mission where you have to sneak into the enemy’s ship and steal the codes to their cosmic cannon.”
“This isn’t a videogame, Will. Get serious. Were trapped inside!” Gula started to sound like he was regretting his decision to enter the shuttle. “We are going to be in loads of trouble when Mom and Dad realize we’re gone.”
“There must be another exit somewhere. Look around,” directed William. “I don’t see one, but there’s a ladder that goes up to the next level.”
“I don’t think we have a choice. Let’s check it out.”
The twins started up the ladder, encased by a narrow cylindrical tube. As they reached the second floor they entered an even larger cavity within the shuttle. Inside this cavity was two metal legs with rubber wheels attached. “We’re in the cargo bay,” said Will. “We need to find the Flight Deck. It’s probably straight above where we are right now. From there, we’ll be able to see outside and signal for help.”
“How do you know so much about this ship?” asked Gula.
“The alien spacecraft cockpits in I.G.S are right above their landing gear. So let’s hope this ship is similar.”
Searching for a way out, the twins failed to find any means of an exit.
“Look,” said William pointing to the ceiling, “there’s another hatch up there but no ladder leading up to it.”
“I don’t see a ladder…but I do see a way up,” responded Gula.
Before William could ask, Gula climbed on top of a metal casing that surrounded part of the landing gear. From there he reached for the edge of what looked to be part of the ventilation system. He was a space monkey. Even William, watching safely from the ground, laughed at the sight of his twin brother scaling the inside of the shuttle.
“What are you laughing at?” Gula asked as he neared the Hatch.
“You look like a chimpanzee climbing all the way up there. You’re really good at it.”
“Thanks,” replied Gula, “It’s similar to the climbing wall we went to for Physical Education class last week. Let’s just hope this Hatch leads to the shuttle’s Flight Deck.”
With his right hand holding onto a piece of silver piping that lined the interior of the spacecraft, Gula reached for the hatch’s lever using his left hand. He twisted the lever and the hatch thrust open. Gula kicked his foot up through the open hatchway, reaching with his left hand to position himself inside the doorway. He was through the opening in mere seconds.
“Hey!” called out Gula. “There’s a ladder up here that I can drop down to you.” Moments later a ladder slid down through the hatchway reaching William at the bottom.
“You were right,” admitted Gula. “The Flight Deck is right around the corner. Let’s see if we can signal to someone in the museum to help us get out.”
The fuselage was quite small. There was only enough room for two seats which were equipped with various straps and buckles that acted as complicated seat belts. Positioned in front of the seats was a control panel littered with a multitude of buttons, switches, and levers. Everything on the control panel screamed ‘Push me, twist this, flip that switch.’ Gula immediately complied. He pushed a huge yellow button in the center of the panel, flipping three green switches just above that. It was a theme park of imagination.
“Will, we are flying a NASA spaceship right now! Even if we do get in trouble for sneaking onto a spaceship, I can’t think of anything more fun to do inside a museum!”
In utter agreement, William sat back and smiled to himself. “Yea. This is much, much cooler than Imperial Galactic Starfighters.”
Gula continued to act like he was steering the shuttle, pulling on the joystick which rest in between the two captain’s seats. “Prepare to land on the moon, Captain Will,” he joked.
William smiled. He studied the control panel, his eyes locked onto a button which looked to be of considerable significance. “Countdown to landing!” William laughed.
Housed in a clear, square casing was a bright red button with an exclamation mark pictured on it. He reached out to his right and flipped open the plastic casing. “Five, Four… Initiate landing” he cheered, pushing the button.
A soft creaking noise stirred about the Flight Deck, startling the twins. “What button did you press?” asked Gula.
“I don’t know but it did something. Let’s go see.”
The boys spun out of their seats and walked back through the fuselage. Curious, Will noticed a crevice of light that was gleaming through the shuttle wall. “Hey, look its another hatchway. That’s what the button was for!”
“Emergency exit!” shouted Gula.
Gula pushed the hatch open, seeking a way out of the shuttle and back down to the ground floor of the museum. Popping his head outside the hatch to look around, he swiftly popped his head back inside again.
“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” he asked Will, whose facial expression seemed to take a turn for the worse.
“Ummm, the bad news first,” responded William.
“We are extraordinarily high up and I see no way of getting down from here.”
“So what’s the good news then?”
“The good news is, there is no more bad news,” laughed Gula half-heartedly.
“What can we do?” challenged Gula. “What would you do in Imperial Galactic Spacefighters?”
“Sorry, Imperial Galactic STARfighters,” Gula exaggerated.
“Well there must be an emergency kit somewhere with supplies. We may be able to find something useful in that kit.”
“Yea!” exclaimed Gula. “I saw one stuck to the back of the captain’s chair, inside the Flight Deck!”
They grabbed the kit off of the seat and clicked its lid open. Rummaging through the box, Gula pulled out a curled up rope. “This! This is it. We can tie off the rope to the hatchway and rappel down the side of the shuttle to the ground,” explained Gula, enthusiastically.
“Are you crazy!” retorted William
“Listen,” said Gula trying to calm his brother down, “we’ve been in here for a long time. If Mom and Dad haven’t noticed we’re gone by now, they are sure to notice any minute. We’ve got to get out of this spaceship and back to the family as fast as possible. So here’s what I’m gonna do; I’m gonna use this rope to slide down the shuttle to the ground. If you don’t want to come with me, good luck finding another way out.”
Gula didn’t wait for his brothers response. He walked towards the hatchway, knotted the rope around a sturdy fixture attached to the inside wall of the shuttle and climbed out.
“See you at the bottom.”
“Wait!” yelled William. It was no use. Gula was descending down the shuttle leaving behind nothing but a wisp of air. His feet touched down softly, letting go of the rope. William’s head was swiveling back and forth, looking to see if anyone had noticed his twin brother rappelling down the side of the spacecraft. He seemed overly cautious to do the same.
“Come on!” mouthed Gula, staring up at William. William grabbed hold of the rope and decided it was better to go forthwith than to hesitate and allow fear to plunge any deeper.
They had done it. The twins successfully escaped from the shuttle they had originally snuck into. “Where’s the family? Do you see them?”
“We better find someone who works here and tell them we are lost,” William replied. “Let’s go back to the museum lobby.”
The twins made their way back to the front of the museum, passing the same gizmos and gadgets they saw on their way into the exhibit. Pointing towards a woman wearing a red collared shirt with the NASA logo on the front, “That person looks like they work here. I’ll ask them,” said William.
Just as William was opening his mouth to catch the attention of the staff member, Gula grabbed his arm. “Look! The family! They’re walking out the front doors. They must have gone through the rest of the exhibits without even knowing we were missing! Let’s catch up to them!”
The doors of the Super-Mag opened, gliding down it’s tracks to expose the inside of the fifteen seater. The twins came barreling in from behind, bulldozing their way through the rest of the family. Climbing over the first two rows of seats, Gula and William settled into their corner of the Super-Mag. With the exception of a few groans and complaints about their rugged entry into the van, the family was oblivious to their disappearance.
The Super-Mag rolled out of it’s parking space the same way it rolled in, slow and methodically.
“Hey,” whispered Gula, “can I play Imperial Galactic Starfighters with you?”
William grinned and handed his iPad to his twin brother.