Disclaimer: All material of familiarity is owned, copyrighted, and otherwise credited to the parties to which it belongs, that being Roald Dahl, who penned the book from which this story and its chapters are adapted, and perhaps Warner Bros. Studios for the production of the film adaptations of Dahl's book. This story merely borrows the characters for use in a different reality...
CH I: The Great Glass-Catastrophe
Those who remember the story of Charlie, Mr. Wonka, and the marvelous chocolate factory of Mr. Wonka's, will also remember that Charlie Bucket and his family traveled to the factory to live there and so that little Charlie could work with Mr. Wonka in the factory. Yes, Charlie Bucket had been overjoyed, as his whole family had, to find that their luck had finally, finally changed. Half-starved by poverty and the coldness of winter, the four old people (still in their bed), Mr. Bucket and Mrs. Bucket, and Charlie, looked very much to adjourning to the magical factory where Mr. Wonka assured them there was plenty of things to eat, aside from candy, of course. However, things didn't go according to plan, and Mr. Wonka had a grave problem to fix, as well as an interesting opportunity before him…
30000 Feet over the Atlantic Ocean
"Good afternoon, this is your captain speaking. It's a beautiful day for flying…the sky is mostly clear, scattered with a few clouds. We may feel some turbulence, but it's perfectly... what the hell is that?"
In the cockpit of the 747, the pilot and copilot looked aghast through the plane's windshield, both of them staring with wide eyes.
"Peter, did I just see what I thought I did? A flying box with people in it?"
"Either that, sir, or we're both seeing things…I knew we should've gotten another hour of sleep, and maybe a thermos of coffee, but…"
The pilot wasn't listening, still mumbling confusedly to himself. "It wouldn't be possible, not at this altitude. They would suffocate, and I didn't see any kind of propulsion system…"
After a moment, they each shook their heads, deciding to keep this to themselves. The pilot never noticed he had left the intercom on for the duration of the conversation.
What the two bewildered men had seen was indeed a flying box, the same one that had taken Mr. Wonka, Charlie Bucket, and the whole Bucket family out of the tiny house, and into the air, destined for the factory. However, there was a misunderstanding between Grandma Josephine and Mr. Wonka, resulting in an irreversible problem.
"Now look what you've done!" Mr. Wonka said, floating about.
"What happened?" Grandma Josephine called out. She had floated clear of the bed and was hovering near the ceiling in her nightshirt.
"Did we go too far?" Charlie asked.
"Too far?" cried Mr. Wonka. "I'll say we went too far! You know where we've gone my friends? We've gone into orbit!"
They gaped, they gasped, they stared. They were too flabbergasted to speak…save for Grandpa George, who uttered a nasty word, though no one heard him.
"We are now rushing around the earth at seventeen thousand miles an hour," Mr. Wonka said. "How does that grab you?"
"I'm choking!" gasped Grandma Georgina. She put her hands around her throat, as if she were drowning. "I can't breathe!"
"Of course you can't," said Mr. Wonka. "There's no air up here." He sort of swam across under the ceiling to a button marked OXYGEN and pressed it. "You'll be all right now," he said. "Breathe away."
"This is the queerest feeling," Charlie said, swimming about. "I feel like a bubble."
"It's great," said Grandpa Joe as he put his hands behind his head, reclining in the air. "It feels like I don't weigh anything at all."
"You don't," said Mr. Wonka, chuckling. "None of us weighs anything-not even an ounce."
"What piffle!" said Grandma Georgina, flailing her arms as she struggled to right herself. "I weigh eighty-five pounds exactly!"
"Not now you don't," said Mr. Wonka looking away to hide his smug grin. "You are completely weightless."
The three old ones, Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, and Grandma Josephine were trying frantically to get back into bed, but without success. The bed was floating about in midair. They, of course, were also floating, and every time they got above the bed and tried to lie down, they simply floated up out of it. Charlie and Grandpa Joe were hooting with laugher. Grandma Josephine threw them a glare. "What's so funny?"
"We've got you out of bed at last," said Grandpa Joe.
"Shut up and help us back!" snapped Grandma Josephine.
"Forget it," said Mr. Wonka. "You'll never stay down. Just keep floating around and be happy."
"The man's a madman!" cried Grandma Georgina. "Watch out or he'll lixivate the lot of us!"
Meanwhile, thousands of meters below, two Oompa-loompas punched furiously at their keypads, glancing anxiously to the monitors before them. "Damn, damn, damn…" once muttered continuously, sweating profusely and looking like he might pass out any second. The Loompa beside him, though considerably calmer, was obviously not too happy either. "Mr. Wonka is going to have our hides for this, not to mention our jobs and payment. I told you we shouldn't have gone for a cocoa break right when Mr. Wonka was leaving. I told you we shouldn't have left the consoles. Now look what has happened! Our leader is stuck in orbit!"
"I get it, I get it!" the other sighed miserably. "Now all we can do is hope that we can get him back down, and that he might have some mercy on us later."
The first Loompa nodded grimly, but was distracted suddenly by a flashing on the console. "Hello…what's this?"
The Loompa next to him leaned over to look. "Proximity alert. The Glass Elevator is not alone up there!" He slapped his forehead suddenly. "Of course! The Space Hotel!"
"The Space Hotel," he repeated, growing suddenly more excited. "Launched by the ol' US of A. Perhaps the 'accident' isn't so bad after all."
"What do you mean?" the other cried. "How can this not be bad?"
"Look," his companion said, lowering his voice to a whisper, "you and I both know we could be written up for this whole mess. But what if, in reality, we weren't being irresponsible? What if this wasn't an accident, and we were actually trying to give Mr. Wonka and his passengers the opportunity to see the Space Hotel?"
Realization dawned on the other Loompa, and he calmed slightly. "Good idea…I mean, you're absolutely right. It was a good idea to give them…" he winked "…the opportunity of a lifetime!"
His companion grinned, but froze when the voice of Wonka came through a speaker somewhere. "Operator, I hope you have a good reason for letting us enter orbit!"
The Loompas flinched, but one swallowed, hoping his voice wouldn't betray his discomfort. " Mr. Wonka, sir…Operator One here…I apologize for this inconvenience, sir, but Two and I…"
"Inconvenience!" Mr. Wonka's voice was angry, but quiet, and the operators would just imagine him, hunched over the Glass Elevator's tiny communicator in the far corner, the winner of the Golden Ticket affair and his family watching the candymaker extraordinaire in bewilderment.
Please, sir, hear me out."
There was a pause, and the operators feared the worst…
"Very well. Speak."
Operator One swallowed, fighting to keep his voice level. "If you will remember, Mr. Wonka, today is February first. As well as being the day of the Golden Ticket Tour, today is also when the United States is to send a vessel to the Space Hotel."
"Gadzooks!" Wonka cried on the other end. "Great sniveling snozzwangers! You're right!" He paused for a moment to muse. "If we could get there before the Commuter Capsule, we could get these starving people some decent food…surely the United States wouldn't mind. Just eight hungry people…couldn't put a dent in the food stores up there…" he turned his attention back to the communicator. "Alright, how close is the Hotel? I don't have proper scanners in this thing, so you'll have to direct me."
"Aye, sir. " Operator Two grinned at his companion. Perhaps this would work out after all.