Do I really ever get stuck somewhere?

I know I normally don’t do this, but I’m going to put up the prompt so you can have some fun guessing:

“What if you were a movie character? . . . Now write me a post as that character.”

Hope you enjoy; this one’s for my Dad, who should not be surprised in the least by my choice.

January 17th, 1819 –

English: Cropped portrait of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clara and I brought the boys to Italy to celebrate the day of our fifteenth wedding anniversary. We came to meet Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and to have her sign a copy of Frankenstein for Clara. Frankenstein is one of her favorite novels, and upon meeting Mrs. Shelley she immediately went into the most insightful analysis I have ever heard of Doctor Frankenstein‘s ironic positioning in the novel; although I am positively amazed at how much she still surprises me after fifteen years of marriage, I must sometimes still remind myself that she is in fact a schoolteacher!

We had only just arrived in Vienna when the train’s boiler gave out and would not reignite. Refusing to let anything ruin our plans, I chose to let it sit until we were ready to leave. I realized that it may have been a mistake to do so when I took a closer look at the locomotive‘s engine and ended up tracing the igniter’s failure to over half a dozen different causes in the electrical system; after all this time I’m still working out kinks between the steam and the electrical, and sometimes it seems the two technologies will never integrate without giving me an awful headache at the most inopportune times.

So we have been making the most of being grounded in Vienna – the boys have been helping out at a local dairy farm, at my behest; there was some grumbling at first, but I reminded them that when I met their mother I was shoeing horses and fixing wagons. That did the trick. It turned their hormone-addled minds, as I hypothesized that it would, to the thought of mixing with the farmer’s lovely daughters. Boys will be boys!

Clara has been occupied visiting Mrs. Shelley – who knows her as Emily Von Braun, not to remind Mary of the recent loss of her daughter Clara – and mingling in Italian literary circles, leaving me free to repair the locomotive with Tyson to keep me company, so long as I give him a bone to keep him busy.

He sighed, closing the journal and setting the pen, a classy Arrow ballpoint engraved with his name and gifted to him by an old friend, in the groove along the book’s spine. He steepled his fingers, then rubbed his temples. . . there had to be a way to repair the final malfunctioning module in the train’s stabilization systems. There had to be something.

And there was. He had a revelation – a picture in his head – of what the repair would look like. Taking the lantern, he hurried across the old rented barn to the locomotive. He bounded up the steps to the interior, still pretty spry despite his nearly ninety years – thanks to the miracles of medical science. They hadn’t planned to spend more than a day here, so they hadn’t hitched on the luggage car; but if he was right, he would find precisely what he needed in the boys’ backpacks.

A few hours later he had a workaround in place, and all of the systems were operational. The boiler was igniting. The only thing left would be to fire up the engine and take it for a spin, but he only wanted to risk a single trip – destination: a well-equipped repair facility. His laboratory, preferably. There was a significant probability that the 1.21 gigawatt surge of electricity required to make the trip would burn out every one of the vacuum tubes he’d harvested from the boys’ homemade two-way video communication devices; that was unfortunate indeed.

But the flux capacitor would eat that up.

This post was prompted by this week’s What If? Writing Challenge. What if you gave it a go?

What if? Weekly writing challenge


  1. Very nice Rob. Doc is one of my favorite characters as well and I enjoyed the little extra story you provided for him. Hope we get a few more entries for the challenge, I thought this would be a fun one!

  2. I read your post the other day and had to have a think about it for a bit before figuring out exactly who you were writing as …. Lol …. this piece is really well done – because you captured the flavor and atmosphere of an era gone by very well. Great job 🙂

  3. Thanks! I tried to work in some trivia facts from the movies – I watched Back to the Future every day for months after we got it on video, and I have entire sections of it memorized. And he is definitely my favorite character. Worst conundrum was trying to imagine what he might name the dog that would have followed Einstein and then I decided Neil DeGrasse Tyson, because a little personality goes a long way.

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