The Fire Altar (Hollow Earth Expedition ssn1 ep36c)

Thelonius and Celeste ducked down behind the stoves as a pair of Nazi soldiers thundered through the kitchen. The instant they were gone, Thelonius popped up to rummage through the kitchen drawers. He softly hooted in delight when he found a tray of silverware, and he immediately tamped a pouch of black powder into his blunderbuss and crammed a handful of forks in after it.

“What are you doing?” Celeste demanded. “They’re going to be back any minute, and you’re stealing silverware?”

“I am not pilfering, madam. I am preparing a mighty weapon which will strike supernatural terror into our enemy’s hearts, just as it did before.”

“You fire that thing again inside this zeppelin and you could blow us all up, you know.”

Ignoring her, Thelonius jammed in a cloth plug to seal the blunderbuss charge, and his weapon was then fully ready for action.

As he scooped more silverware into his pocket for later use, he noticed a set of dials. Unable to restrain his curiosity, he gave one a twist. Nothing happened. He gave the others a twist, but he still noticed no effect. Then he saw that a red light blazed within a small chamber beneath the knob. When he opened the door to the small chamber, heat washed over his face. He could see no open flames, only two red bars glowing like miniature suns.

“Amazing,” Thelonius’s brows furrowed in concentration. “The Na-Tzee tribe must worship fire, and this must be a religious altar.”

“It’s an oven,” Celeste commented dryly.

Thelonius nodded. “I will remember that in your primitive language, the word ‘oven’ is synonymous with ‘altar.’ But there is no more time for this. What we need is a distraction…”

A devious idea struck the chimp-man’s brain, and his domed lips pulled back into a smile. Swiftly, he took out one of the gourds in which he carried his blasting powder. He popped it inside the oven and closed the door.

“What was that?” Celeste eyed the oven suspiciously. “Is this how you gorillas cook supper?”

“A distraction, my dear monkey-woman,” Thelonius grabbed her wrist and led her at a run out the door. The gourd would insulate the powder for a short time, but soon the heat of the oven would cause it to explode. Fire, shrapnel, noise—it would make an entirely satisfying distraction.

“By the way,” Thelonius asked as they dashed through the hallway. “Earlier you said I shouldn’t fire my blunderbuss inside this zeppelin. Why was that?”

“Well, because it’s a blimp,” Celeste said as if he would know what that meant. “It floats because it’s filled with an explosive gas, for crying out loud. If there’s a leak somewhere and you make so much as a spark—BOOM! The whole stinkin’ place could burn to a cinder and fall right outa the sky.”

Thelonius peered back over his shoulder in the direction of the kitchen, where his gunpowder-packed gourd was currently roasting in an oven.

“Oh dear,” he allowed.



About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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