A short tale of 'what if..'
Author's note: this story came about because I was discussing canon with another TB writer, and had the idea of writing the most non-canon story I could think of…
I'm not sure if I should use the standard disclaimer, as I don't know if these characters belong to Carlton plc or not. But they don't belong to me. I wish they did…
The lounge of the Kansas ranch house was crowded and noisy. Everywhere groups of people were talking, with occasional outbursts of laughter. Scott spotted Virgil sitting in a corner, digging into a plate of food, and went over to sit beside him.
"Second helpings?" queried Scott.
Virgil blushed. "Thirds, if you must know. Don't tell the wife – she's already threatening to put me on a diet."
Scott looked at his brother with a critical eye. Virgil had always been the stocky one of the family. Now, in his late twenties he was definitely starting to look chubby. "You should get more exercise, little brother," he said, deliberately using the old childhood nickname.
"Yeah, I know. Trouble is, what chance do I get, stuck in front of a computer all day?"
"How's the job going?"
"Oh, it's not too bad. I've just been given this project to design a new cargo plane, which should be quite interesting, but sometimes I wish I'd chosen a career which allowed me to work on the machines themselves, not just the design. I just feel I'd like to get my hands dirty once in a while, y'know?"
Scott nodded, "Yeah, I know the feeling. As I move up in the Air Force I spend less and less time flying, and more on administration. Sometimes I watch the young pilots taking off and envy them in their new planes."
Virgil looked across the room. "Ï wonder how Dad's going to take to retirement? I can't see him pottering around the garden or sitting chatting in the local bar. It's a shame NASA doesn't let their staff stay on a bit longer."
Scott followed his brother's gaze to where their father was standing in the middle of a group. "No, he certainly doesn't look sixty, does he? At least now he and Mom should have more time to make those trips abroad they've always been planning to take."
"Or he could go into business for himself. He's been talking about doing it for years."
Alan came up to the sofa where two men were sitting. "Move over, guys" he said, and sat down. "Enjoying the party?"
"Well, we know you are," replied Scott. "I saw you chatting up that little redhead."
'Hey, you can't ignore talent when you see it." He paused. "It's a shame John and Gordy couldn't be here tonight."
"It's a long way to come from the far side of the moon," replied Scott, "and sometimes I think John believes that the stars wouldn't shine properly if he weren't there to keep an eye on them."
"True," continued Virgil, "and Gordon might not be a long way away in miles, but when you're five miles down at the bottom of the ocean, you can't just pop back up for the evening. Besides, it's not as if we've ever been a really close family."
"You know, that reminds me," said Scott hesitating, "I had this really strange dream recently about all of us. We were all living together in a house by the sea – in fact I had a feeling we were on an island."
"What!" exclaimed Virgil. "Share a house with Gordon and Alan? No way!"
"No, we were all there," continued Scott, "except John – I think he was away somewhere. Mom didn't seem to be around either, and there was this odd, nerdy-looking guy with thick spectacles. Alan, you had a girlfriend, Chinese, I think she was."
Virgil laughed. "Isn't that typical. Even in Scott's dreams, it's Alan who gets the girl!"
"You see, Scott, even your subconscious knows my reputation!"
"Yes, but the weird part was this. There were portraits of all five of us along one wall. We were wearing blue uniforms, but I didn't recognise the organisation. Somehow I knew we all flew fantastic machines – planes and rockets - except for Gordon, who operated a one-man submarine."
"That should please him – he's always wanted one," said Virgil. "What were these craft like? Did you see them?"
"Mine was a beauty." Scott's eyes gleamed at the memory.. "Sleek, fast, responsive."
"Hang on, Scott," said Alan, laughing. "It sounds more like you're describing a girl than an airplane!"
"Ignore him, Scott., this sounds fascinating. What was mine like?"
Scott turned to his brother. "Yours was a huge transport plane. It had a removable centre section to carry the cargo pods. These craft were concealed all over the island. Mine was hidden under the swimming pool."
"The swimming pool! Good God, Scott, I'd hate to think what that says about the state of your subconscious! Come, on, Mom's been looking at us twice already. We'd better go and mingle with the guests."
The following morning, somewhat bleary-eyed, Virgil sat at his computer. What had Scott said? Removable pods to carry the cargo? That sounded similar to the old container trucks of the last century. Using that system, the cargo could be readied before the plane came into land, thus minimising its time on the ground. He started to draw, his interest growing. A couple of hours later he sat back and looked at his work. Well, she was no beauty, but she would do the job. On impulse he pulled down the 'colour fill' tab and selected green.
As for the rest of Scott's dream – well that was just too weird.