Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Five O'Clock Tram - #FridayFlash

“Sally, I told you to quit fussing with your sweater.”

“But the sleeves aren’t long enough.” Sally tugged at the bright red knit one more time in a futile attempt to stretch it. Her mother ignored her complaints and hustled her out of the car. The huge parking lot was filling up fast for opening day of the new amusement park.

The “Gateway to Other Worlds” promised live exhibits of creatures from other planets. Since that was impossible, speculation was rife about what they could have planned. The concepts had been kept under tight security so no one knew what to expect. One of the planners was a famous comic book author so rumor had it that he designed animatronics for the exhibits.

Seven-year-old Sally forgot her quarrel with her sweater as she was awed by one exhibit after another. They watched tiny Gorn at play, their purple fuzz dusted by mint green snowflakes that fell inside the protective dome. Another had giant butterfly creatures that came up to the window, looking like they wanted to speak.

Multiple domes portrayed life on a dozen different planets, their habitats authentically reproduced according to the guides.

At the end of the long day, Sally and her mother boarded the tram that ran through a series of tunnels, showing visitors the domes from the backside. It stopped in one dark tunnel and the voice system came on.

“Please exit to your right for the tram to the parking lot. We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay with us.”

A boy and his father stood in front of a dome, watching creatures that looked a bit like woolly mammoths. Their guide pointed to his watch and announced that it was five o’clock, the creatures feeding time. On cue, a chute opened, spilling several people to the ground. The boy watched a girl in a red sweater try to run before the mammoth bit her in half. Now her legs matched the color of her sweater.

“Those animatronics sure are realistic looking,” his father murmured.

The guide smiled at them. “Aren’t they just?”

©2009 Laura Eno