Northrup St. John was determined to be an aeronaut. It was his destiny, as he had assured so many over the years.
Though man had not flown since Icarus, many were sure – Northrup included – that the species that conquered baser elements could gain dominion over air through the marvels of modern technology.
Northrup would happily explain to anyone in earshot – his wife chief among them – that it was simply a matter of finding the right combination of several key factors. Material, propulsion, buoyancy, motor function, et cetera. He wouldn’t be like all these other crackpots with their flying deathtraps.
Northrup had figured out exactly what everyone else had missed. Nature had already created perfect fliers. From insects to birds, of course, right on to the most important – the bat. Man’s own flying cousin. His wife hated them.
Northrup had carefully studied the mechanics of the bat’s flight and created a machine that mimicked it in human scale, with a motorized portion manipulating the wings in the same manner as a bat’s flapping. The design was foolproof.
After eleven months of making sure the specifications and fabrication were perfect, finally came the big day. The Chiropter – so named to give homage to Northrup’s mammalian muses – was wheeled to the top of a large hill. Northrup’s wife watched from a safe distance, in the unlikely event that some mechanical failure might occur. Northrup cranked the engine.
As the Chiropter actually began ascending, Northrup’s heart leaped. The mechanisms were all functioning as expected. It was working. He was flying.
Then he noticed one of the machine belts had a chink missing. It tore through the engine, pulling groaning chaos as it went. The Chiropter began its descent far quicker and more violently than he’d hoped.
His wife ran to the wreckage. Pliers were already in her hand, and she pried apart the vehicle at its weakened hinges. With her help Northrup pulled himself from the wreckage and collapsed into her lap. She reassured him that now he would finally be able to spend time at home, on the ground, where he belonged.
He watched his dream burn while she cooed and clucked over him and smoothed his hair.