Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

There was no more line left, so they untied coils and coils of it from the still sleeping yeti and secured Gerhardt with that. He scrambled up again, let a little gas out of each balloon, and fastened the net closer to the ship.

They sank closer to the river’s rushing water, and were on their way for a while. But before another ten leagues had passed, they were stuck again.

“What else can we pitch?” Claire asked, thinking aloud.

They looked around them. They had thrown all the rugs and blankets out the windows for Ulrik and the boiler crew back on the surface. They had tossed out all the furniture when they’d run aground in the tunnel.

“Water!” Annabelle seized a small barrel. “There’s plenty of water now, let’s dump it. There’s another one over there.”

The second barrel proved not to be water, but a sharp-smelling, eye-watering alcohol.

Sake,” Adolphus said. “It can go, but the boiler chaps won’t be pleased with us.”

They dumped both barrels and a crate of machine parts that Claire had stashed as being potentially useful, but it was not enough.

“We can’t toss the gas tank,” Claire said, “or we won’t be able to refill the balloons when we need it.”

“If we die stuck in this tunnel, we won’t need more gas!” Adolphus countered.

Water seeped in through the floorboards, sluggish but sure. Water is patient, far more patient than children, for it has all the time in the world.

“Blasted monkeys! Why isn’t this hull sealed?”

“Language, Adolphus,” Claire said. “The hull isn’t sealed because they built an airship, not a submarine.”

Annabelle and her sister closed the windows. The windows didn’t seal any better than the hull, and on the starboard side the glass was all broken out.

“I say, leave me a bucket and I’ll bail out some of this water,” Gerhardt, ever practical, started heaving river water out of the broken windows.

They heard a terrible coughing, slamming stutter, and then ominous silence as the engines died in the flood. Now the sagging balloons were the only thing between them and the river.

“How much do you think this craft weighs,” Mirabelle asked no one in particular, “compared to the volume of water it displaces?”

“You mean?”

“Sink or float?” Bettina said.

“I wonder how close we are to the end of the tunnel?” Claire was not addressing any of her siblings, but Adolphus and the twins answered nevertheless.

“Could be miles, yet!”

“It could end in an underground lake!”

“It could end in a waterfall, and we could plummet to our deaths!”

“Not if we still have gas, we wouldn’t.”

“You’re the one who wants to let all the gas out, Adolphus.”

“We’d get unstuck if we did!”

“We might sink if we did.”

“We might not!”

“Would you three keep it down?” Gerhardt said. “I’m trying to figure the rate at which the water is seeping into the hull, and I can’t hear myself calculate the D’Arcy-Weisbach  friction coefficient.”

“What we need is weight versus displacement,” said Mirabelle.

“But that won’t matter,” Gerhardt replied, “if the hull is so unsound that the water reaches the smashed windows.”

“We should detach the balloons,” Adolphus said. “Let’s just get unstuck.”

“Oh sure, let’s just drown!” Annabelle snapped.



This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is Stuck! and the next is Where is Claire?
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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