Margaret pushed around me and walked to the dock. I grabbed my gear and went after her. “Do you know anything about these engines?”
“What?” She glanced back and I saw a look of amazement in her eyes. “Don’t you know what this is?”
“The boat that will take us down the River Styx?” I tried humor and failed.
“Whatever, this is a sleeper. You live onboard. Why would we need a boat to live in unless we’re traveling far from here?”
“Guess we’re supposed to discover that.” I tossed my gear on the deck, climbed over the rail and helped her.
“What I need to know is how to use these engines.”
She looked at me and away. “There should be a starter switch.”
“What powers them?”
“Gasoline, I guess.”
“Okay to sound even more ignorant, what is gasoline?”
“Now you’re kidding and I’m not laughing.”
I walked to where I saw two chairs bolted onto the deck. “I’m not. I really do not know.”
“It’s a fossil fuel.”
“Made from fossils of what? And why destroy fossils?”
She actually sighed like she was dealing with either an idiot, or miscreant. “Okay I’ll explain once we are moving. This place really creeps me out.” She used her thumb over her shoulder to indicate what.
I sat in the deck chair examining the dials and switches. I found one that read starter. I pressed it and both engine roared to life.
Margaret was untying the ropes holding us to the dock. When she finished she sat in the chair next to me. I watched her slim hands as she began moving levers and toggling switched on and off. The boat reversed away from the dock. When far enough, she turned a small wheel, did something else with the levers and switched and the boat went into the lake and at a reasonable speed.
Ten minutes later, she went below deck. I heard her cheer, and watched her returned with two bottles of cold beer and sandwiches.
She ate and drank, swallowed and said, “Now about fossil fuels.”
I ate and listened to the strangest story imaginable. People actually pumped rotted plants and animals that had fossilized in the earth and converted the sludge into a highly combustible fuel.
“How long did this all take to first discover it, learn what it was and did, then process it and then create engines to burn it. Must’ve been decades and now you tell me fossil fuels poisoned the air and water too?”
She nodded, smiled without speaking and drank more beer.
“Did anyone back them think that the sun created endless energy?”
She shook her head still grinning.
I laughed. “People.” I looked into the distance, all sides around us, and saw nothing but water.
“Um, where do you think we are?” I asked.
She looked too and placed her bottle down. “Far away from that awful place with all those ancient weapons and dead people.”
Didn’t see that, but decided not to tell her.
“Now where do we go?”
She looked at a compass set into the panel before us. “This indicates we’re heading southwest.”
Where there may be nothing, I thought and leaned back.