The Stumbler

The giant lumbered, milled in a wide circle. It’s bolted feet grinding stone into dust. Ralz gazed through crystal binoculars glinting in the sharp sunlight. A gleaming sparkle atop a dusty mesa.

“There he is,” said Ralz, “The Stumbler.” He passed the binoculars to Caz.

“He’s a big one, alright,” said Caz, whistling. “Just what do you plan to do?”

Ralz sniffed hard and sucked his teeth.

“Well… the way I figure it is… the reason he’s always stompin’ around in a circle is because the hydraulics in his left leg are shot out, right?” said Ralz.

“Right,” said Caz, intrigued.

“Well… the way I figure it is… if we can get that left leg straightened out, then he’ll start movin’ straight ahead instead of walkin’ in a circle,” said Ralz.

“Yeah, but how are ya gonna do that?” asked Caz.

“See that pillar of rock over yonder? He comes within fifty feet of it when he circles. If I can get a grapple on that bad leg and tie him up ta that rock, I figure he’ll keep on movin’ against that grapple until he falls. If we’re lucky, the tension on the filament will pull his leg back right,” explained Ralz.

“Alright, I’ll buy that. But what next? He’s just gonna get back up and walk off,” said Caz.

“Sure, but not before we get aboard,” said Ralz.

“Are you nuts? That thing is electrified!” said Caz.

“Yeah, but when he falls his shields go down for 45 seconds. All of the electricity gets rerouted ta the front of his body ta form a magnetic field that softens his fall. Afterwards, it takes about 45 seconds for his generators ta power back up ta full. All of his electronics will be down, including the locks. We can walk right in,” explained Ralz.

“Walk right in in 45 seconds or get electrocuted,” said Caz.

“I’d make it 40 just ta be safe,” said Ralz. Caz stared into Ralz’s eyes trying to determine whether he was crazy or just stupid.

“Okay, say we don’t get shot out the sky attaching the grapple. Say the filament holds and he falls. Say his leg twists straight. Say we get onboard without gettin’ crispy. What then?” asked Caz.

“Well, that’s where this comes in handy,” said Ralz pulling out a large, aged, rolled-up piece of paper. It crackled as he unrolled it.

“Schematics! Where in the world did you get a hold of this?” asked Caz, amazed.

Ralz sucked his teeth and smiled.

“I’d tell ya, but then I’d have ta kill ya, and I need ya ta help me get inside that big beautiful walkin’ rust pile,“ said Ralz. He ran his finger along the yellowing paper. “Right here on his back is the hatch. Shouldn’t be too much trouble gettin’ inside. I got a pound and a half of rubber explosive ta bust the rust. Once we get inside, it’s a long drop down a dark hallway. This thang wasn’t meant ta be boarded lyin’ down. We’ll have ta close the hatch, and attach ourselves ta the floor usin’ these electromagnets until he stands up again. After that, it’s a straight shot ta the core. An access ladder runs straight up ta the control room from there. Only problem is the control room rotates on the main gear shaft. We’ll only have 30 seconds to get inside every 5 minutes, and if we mess up the entry code, the access hall locks down and spins onto a gear tooth.”

“In other words, if we put in the wrong code we’ll be axel grease,” said Caz.

“Uh-yep,” said Ralz. “Ready?”


© Tyler M Deal. All Rights Reserved.

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