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U.S.S. Starship Treehouse
Chapter VI


By nightfall, they were all on board. Grandma and Timothy sat in the two forward seats, while Amanda and Sam brought up the rear. Amanda was busy trying to figure out how to get a seatbelt on Sam Cat. Sam, clearly unenthusiastic about the procedure, was not being all that cooperative. He appeared to be more interested in checking out the smaller control panel Timothy had erected between the two rear seats.

Grandma glanced over at the books Timothy had gathered for the Starship’s library.

His selection included "How Things Work", Volumes I through IV, the "Readers Digest Guide of What To Do In Case of An Emergency", and "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy". She smiled to herself. Those would do just fine.


The access hatches were all secure and the ladder was stowed inside. The side hatches were open so that they could see where they were going. The velvet sky peeking through the leaves above them was brilliantly alive with sparkling stars.

Timothy flipped a switch and the computer screen came to life, filling the cabin of the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse with a soft green glow. He turned a switch and the window fan mounted in the floor began to rotate.

"Ignition," announced Timothy.

There was dead silence.

"Nothing’s happening," complained Amanda from the back seat..."What's the matter? I thought we were going to visit outer-space."

Timothy looked stricken. Mr. Sam Cat leaned forward and put a paw on Grandma’s shoulder, as if to reminder her of something.

"Oh my goodness," said Grandma with a sigh of exasperation, "What kind of a crew member am I anyway? No wonder nothing’s happening. I apologize Timothy. I forgot to engage the FTP Transfer Protocol!"

"F-what?" Timothy tried to remember whether the book had covered this part. He was pretty sure it hadn't or he'd definitely have remembered it.

Grandma slipped her long gold chain up and over her head and let it unwind. Putting the chain with the red arrow-like shape back on, she took the remaining blue half-circle pendant in her hand and inserted the jagged edge of the unusual key in a shiny blue slot in the console. Above the slot were the letters FTP. "Flight Timing Phaser Transfer Protocol", she explained. "Different chapter."

"Got it," Timothy said.

"Yours goes there," said Grandma to Timothy, nodding at a glowing slot in front of Timothy marked SYSTEMS READY. He slipped his own thin gold chain from around his neck, then took the same green rectangle which had opened the bookcase and inserted it in the green slot in the chickenwire and aluminum foil console in front of him.

"Uh...Right." said a slightly puzzled Timothy over his shoulder. "That’s what we forgot, Amanda."

Timothy looked at the control panel again, frowning slightly. He was pretty sure those two slots hadn't been there this morning.

"Ready?" Grandma asked Tim. He looked over at her and nodded. "OK, then," she said, "Together now, Timothy, on the count of three... One-two-three." And they both turned their keys at the same time.

There was a quiet rumbling sound and the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse began to vibrate ever so softly. Suddenly the cabin instruments sprang to life, alternately flashing and blinking and humming and beeping.

A detailed map of the solar system began to come into focus on the computer screen in front of them. It wasn’t the fuzzy picture the screen had given off before, it was detailed with brilliant colors and it looked to Timothy as if what he was seeing was a live satellite shot.

Timothy looked about in amazement. The whole interior of the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse began to change around him as he sat there.





The flea-market instruments morphed into a sophisticated transparent control panel which gave the Starship's passengers an unobstructed view of the starlit sky.

The floor-mounted window fan began to pulse and glow, revealing its’true identity as a sleek, self-contained intergalactic space propulsion system. The raggedy car seats became soft, form fitting flight chairs.

"This is more like it!" announced a delighted Amanda.

"Holy cow!" said Timothy quietly.

"Where are we going to go?" Amanda asked

Timothy glanced at his Grandmother.

"Point to the planet you want to visit," she suggested. "The computer will feed the coordinates into the navigational system." Timothy nodded.

"Do you know where you want to go Timothy?" she asked.

He leaned closer and peered intently at the screen, examining his choices.

"Sure do," he said. Then he took his finger and pressed lightly on the larger of two deep blue colored planets which appeared to be located on the outer fringes of the solar system.

 


"We're going to go right...... there