Last Week on the Disapprovers: The crew attempts to drop off the last group of rescuees at their shelter, but the facility is abandoned. The Disapprovers decide to bring home Penny, Ava, Lincoln, Sammy and Quinn. They speculate that the hoomins will adopt them and are proven correct.
Ava and Penny were settling in just fine. They hit a snag a couple of weeks into their new lives when the shock and upheaval of the bust started to dissipate. Their emotions bubbled up, and they struggled to reconcile their new surroundings and reality with how they had started in life. Why would something good happen to them, just like that, out of the blue? Pancake turned the argument on its head and asked them why would something so horrible have happened to them - like going to a lab - right after they were born? They talked, and we listened. I tried to keep them busy with Abby's and my upcoming excursion, our little 'vacation'. I thought that a bit of 'occupational therapy' would do them - and us - some good.
Zeus had finished the plans for the jetpack prototype, and we were scratching our ears over how to translate his blueprints into reality. Of course, we didn't really have any 'real' blueprints, so no trees died for this exercise. But we stared at the laptop, pondering his CAD. The concept was solid, but coming up with the materials to pull it off would take a lot of hard work and conniving.
Then, one morning, Zeus didn't show up. We thought he was sleeping in because he had stayed up late working on the CAD drawings. That was not the case. Freddie said old age got to Zeus; he was at the rainbow bridge now. We were stunned. We knew he had lived the very best life a ratty like him could have lived, and we were glad that he had seen the bust through to completion, but that only intensified my feelings of loss. I felt sad for poor Freddie. He lost two of his best friends within such a short period of time. We didn't let him hang out alone.
I finally broke down one evening and asked Izzy to print out a profile view of the jetpack plan. I sat looking at the fresh printout. I sniffed it, and it reminded me of a new book, fresh off the press. I even took a bite of the sheet. It tasted like - well - like paper. Your average, cheap, twenty-pound stock. I wish it had been a real piece of drafting paper, with sharply engraved pencil lines and eraser smudges. I wished it had a real, hand-drawn signature from Zeus. I kept staring at the fine lines, delicate arrows, and measurement markings. I loved it as a piece of art.
I dropped a big, fat raspberry into my carrotini. It splashed, and a few drops landed on the paper, quickly soaking in. Something wet and salty fell out of my eye and smeared the drawing even more. I took a quick, hard gulp of my carrotini and almost choked swallowing the raspberry. To be honest, I didn't care for the design of the rig. I just missed the banter with Zeus about it. The marrow in my old, creaky bones, missed the comfort of spending time with an old friend.
I was grateful that everybun let me be with my thoughts for awhile; no bun tried to cheer me up.
Later on, Ava and Penny grabbed the drawing and put forth an argument about how most of it could be done. They were right, but I didn't say anything.
Right then, I envied Penny and Ava. To them, Zeus was one of the crazy ratties that created the little tornado of ours — the bust from the lab. They probably couldn't tell Zeus from Izzy or Lincoln. They knew we had lost a dear friend and were very respectful of that, but they didn't have the bond with Zeus that grew over time and got stronger with every step through the adventure. Now, I thought that they were very lucky, indeed.
A couple of days later, I decided that we weren't going to build a jetpack. I would want it to be perfect, but now, I thought that we didn't have the time to finish it and to make it perfect. I asked Freddie if we could reuse some of the parts from the design, such as the anchor gun, which is a small, pistol-like gizmo that would shoot a small grapple hook on a string. It is used, you know, to tow yourself if you are stuck, floating, in the middle of a "room." "What about a small bottle of compressed air?" I asked. Frankie wasn't too crazy about that but, in the end, said, "If you can work your way back to the port, that's all that matters." We compromised and decided to visit Singularia and go on our "vacation" in the preview mode first. He was happy with that. Or, maybe, he didn't feel like arguing with me.
That night, another nasty, winter storm was rolling through, and snow was piling up, trying to swallow the house. The lights went out, and the house became absolutely quiet, except for the grunts of the gas furnace. We called it a night, and I snrugled up to Abby under a double blankie. Our hoomins would be staying home tomorrow, and I couldn't wait for the day-long cuddles.