Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chapter XVIII: Rescued?

Date: 1 November 1900
Locations: Ruined Camp, Wasteland and Jungle
Situation: More Discoveries
See Chapter XVII posted 28 May 2012 here:

Colonel Lawford And Romanov Captain Tumarkin
1 November 1900

Prelude To ACT 1

Lawford: "My previous narrative ended with Captain Tumarkin relating how two of his men captured and brought a gentle creature into camp on the evening of the 31st of October. This caused immediate excitement and alarm for Professor Grenville and his native workmen. Grenville without explanation appearing resigned to a terrible fate simply walked to his tent quoting verses from The Old Testament's Book of Job."

Tumarkin: "After the infant was brought into camp, we heard snapping tree limbs and trees crashing to the ground within the rivereine jungle nearby. The campfire fully illuminating us might as well have placed us upon a gas lit promenade in St. Petersburg. We fled the camp hoping to save our lives. What perils awaited us in the darkness did not matter. We had to run, but from what?"

Tumarkin: "The workmen fled in a jibbering panic. Most everyone else ran into the night too. The way was occasionally if dimly illuminated when scudding clouds allowed moonlight to brighten the way. Alexandra, Stirling and I drew our service revolvers covering the rout."

Tumarkin: "When we reached the escarpment barrier, everyone spread out within the hoped for security of cover offered by bushes and trees."

Lawford: "I could only poorly guess what Captain Tumarkin's astounding story would next reveal. He did not identify the creature brought into the camp but Grenville, it seems, thought it had something to do with Job's behemouth. However, the little animal though large was not of such size or demeanor as to strike panic in the hearts of the frightened mob. Surely it was something else."

"When Tumarkin recommenced his story, it was not about the troubled nocturnal flight from the camp but with what happened the next morning. For what occured during those terrifying hours of darkness, dear reader, we must imagine it or await the pleasure of the Romanov Captain. Meanwhile, he started by saying...."

The Next Morning

Tumarkin: "I mentioned we ran to the cover of trees along the escarpment wall in darkness. The next morning we observed two of those dreadful flying creatures Sir Richard previously encountered descending into our camp. Through my binoculars...."

Tumarkin: "I saw them float down into our ruined bivouac. The rasping sound they emitted was loathsome to our ears. We imagined their vulturous plans. Horrible. Unthinkable. Unspeakable!"

Tumarkin: "Arching their heads skyward, they called to each other in hungry excitement and satisfaction. Logically we could do nothing about their impending desecration."

Tumarkin: "Sir Richard though wanted to return to the camp, fire shots and scare them away."

Alexandra: "Might there be more flying devils en-route who might silently drop upon us in the open and carry us to our deaths?

Stirling: "Someone might still be alive. We are honour bound and must try! I will go alone if I must."

Tumarkin: "Then in an instant the pair of wretched monsters ascended disappearing down river."

Tumarkin: "The reason for their departure was due to...."

Tumarkin: "The arrival of Colonel Villainovich with some of our party crossing the river. They soon broke into open ground between the ruined encampment and our escarpment hideaway."

Tumarkin: "Never had I been so glad to see my countrymen. We were saved."

Tumarkin: "Colonel Villainovich with his escort saw and approached us."

Tumarkin: "Alexandra explained everything finishing with...."

Alexandra: "And Uncle, the infant was rescued by her mother. Realizing her baby was in our camp, she instinctively could only think of saving her offspring and perhaps punishing us. Yuri, Josep and Professor Grenville were crushed to death either by the behemouth or falling trees. After she trampled the Professor's tents, we heard mother and baby moving in the direction of the river away from us. Where they are now, we do not know. In darkness we continued our flight here where you found us, thank God."


Lawford: "A creature that could topple trees. How large it must have been! Pray continue your story.

Tumarkin: "Our Expeditionary Party did not stay long at the late Professor Grenville's archaeological camp."

Tumarkin: "His hired workmen were encouraged to join us and did so. They preferred the protection of our firepower to walking back to Dongolo virtually unarmed and alone."

Tumarkin: "Sir Richard Stirling was adamantly opposed to jouneying deeper into Terra Incognita again. In the end he accompanied us anyway."

Tumarkin: "A day later we crossed into a sulphurous arid region."

Tumarkin: Two small volcanic vents were the source of the odor.

Tumarkin: "Several hours later we came upon unremarkable ruins of an unknown age."

Tumarkin: "And there came upon another of the blood stones I mentioned earlier."

Tumarkin: "I remarked to Colonel Villainovich that it must be another marker pointing in the direction of our goal, the lost ancient city of Alexandrapour. We talked."

Villainovich: "We appear to be proceeding correctly."

Stirling: "Right you are Colonel. We, that is the Professor and I, came this way weeks ago before retreating to the camp where you discovered us. The vents were dormant then. They appear awakened now. Ahead lies more prodigous trouble as we earnestly  told you. I again strongly recommend you withdraw as well?"

Villainovich: "We shall move forward Sir Richard."

Tumarkin: "As we did so, the ground vibrated and deep rumbling sounded behind us."

Tumarkin: "Our rearguard turned about and stopped to observe...."

Tumarkin: "An eruption eminating from each vent."

Tumarkin: "We saw multi-coloured gaseous clouds begin to rise into the atmosphere. Lava rose within one of them without explosion or ejecta. Hastily we moved further away hoping nothing more severe would occur."


Tumarkin: "Fortunately nothing worse happened. Later that day...."

Tumarkin: "We camped beside a small lake surrounded by palms."

Tumarkin: "We discovered more ancient ruins. Colonel Villainovich and Countess Alexandra set the native workmen to digging. A small volcanic vent nearby was troubling but only light steam arose from it."

Tumarkin: "Nothing was discovered in the few hours left to us before sundown."

Tumarkin: "Alexandra thought our encampment enchanting but this was soon proved wrong because...."

Tumarkin: "When riding to the south I discovered unusually large and strange footprints beside the lake."

Tumarkin: "My escort and I rode perhaps a half mile in search of more tracks when I noticed...."

Tumarkin: "Our cavalry forming up on a hill behind us."

Tumarkin: "The reason? Native warriors previously hidden were moving toward our camp."

Tumarkin: "On they came. Bugles were blaring an alarm in the camp causing our soldiers to rush out of their tents."

Tumarkin: "We turned about to join the battle. Aroused crocodiles nearby viewed us with menacing stares. They crouched to spring upon us if we made a mistake or our horses foundered. Near the camp...."

Tumarkin: "Our cavalry let their horses go so every carbine was available to stop the surging tide of tribesmen. Yet this was of no avail as more angry natives rushed towards us. One body astoundingly charged into the chattering teeth of our Gorlov (Gatling) gun and...."

1) There are two chapters left after this.

2) The battle in Act 3 was a weeknight wargame fought on 27 June 2012 between Chuck L., Todd B. and myself. We drew colored dice from a box to determine sides. Todd drew the Russians whilst Chuck and I drew natives.

3) Rules? A Colonial version of Batailles de l'Ancien Régime known as BAR.

4) Chapter XIX will describe the battle with images and text along with it's shocking results.

5) Comments welcome as always below. Thank you for tuning in. See you next time after July 4th., 2012.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bi-plane Bucket List Flight


On June 23, 2012 one of my "Bucket List" wishes happened. I flew in a Stearman bi-plane on my thirty-third wedding anniversary. My terrific wife Dorothy found it for me. "The N2S Stearman was a primary trainer during WWII, many allied pilots during the war got their first flight time in the Stearman." Mine was originally built in 1942.

Walking To The Stearman

During my pre-flight briefing I was carefully trained and listened with heightened acuity as I was told how to actually fly, bail out and work the circular WWII-esque parachute. Instructions were also given at the plane where to step, grab and so forth. I was surprised to discover the exterior was mostly fabric. The pilot is standing on a black strip on the wing. No fabric here; wood instead to support weight.

Co-Pilot For An Afternoon

In flight I was given the opportunity to move the joystick and rudder pedals. At first I hardly moved them at all - almost frozen lest I over steer and send us crashing into the earth. That would have been hard to do since the pilot was behind me ready to take over the controls if I erred.

Adjusting Parachute Straps

When asked if I wanted to bank to the right I said yes. This involved moving the joystick to the right, pushing down on the right rudder pedal and also pulling back on the joystick to keep the nose up. Three things plus watching the horizon compared to the front of the aircraft. After banking to the right, I did the same to the left. It was easy but of course the first time I was extremely cautious but trusting in the pilot and the aircraft.

Thumb's Up.  Ready For Takeoff

Later the pilot did what I thought was a barrel roll. Not sure but that is what I thought he said over the mike. I declined the offer to control it. This involved banking a lot, pulling back the joystick to go up and then diving steeply flying in a tight circle. We did two to the left and two to the right. Exciting stuff. As I looked outside the aircraft my body was horizontal to the ground. I could not fall out but thought about it.

We sped along at roughly 2,000' averaging 80-85mph, it was a warm day and it was just marvelous. I thought you might enjoy the story and photos. Roughly a forty-five minute flight time.

Just lovely, isn't she?


Closing Remarks

1. To fly the Stearman or several other aircraft west of Chicago, IL USA, see:

2. What's next? Fly in Aluminum Overcast, a B-17 based in Wisconsin USA.

3. Comments welcome as always below.