A cockpit according to Charles Dickens

Around the start of the Masters (it may have been the first or second semester…) we were asked to do a pastiche of a famous writer. For mine I chose Charles Dickens, and the piece I was writing at the time (and currently re-writing) was Slip Jevans – Hero of the Union.

The pastiche is about the start of the Slip novel, but in the style (or my attempt at the style) of Charles Dickens.

So here it is.

It was a mite smaller than he’d expected, smaller than his solitary bunk on the Fearless, and more enclosed than the tiny toilet cubicles on transport ships; one might say that it was like a coffin with a seat, not a comfy seat; a seat built for purpose; with a dashboard of grey-slate plas-tech pock-marked with different coloured lights like a clear starlit sky; five panels of glas-tech giving a view of stars around him, partially blocked by the presence of cruisers and frigates, like whales and sharks swimming silently through the expansive cosmos while he was a minnow, trying to avoid them all. With a minuscule cockpit such as this it was a marvel that any pilot could be as lofty, or even as broad as they often were. The foot-well was tiny, enough space to dock both his feet, resting either side of the control stick that rose out of the deck like a solitary coral, dotted with red buttons like anemones; spools of wire ran behind the panelling, squirming through the gaps like trapped eels, bound together with zip ties; two large pistons, one on each side of his head held the cockpit, that hissed like serpents when the cockpit closed and again when it opened; the whole thing had a the look that it had been built for no other purpose than it needed to be there. The blunt hammerhead nose of the fighter gave it the look of the similarly named shark, with a long smooth body clad with heat proof panels, a precise mosaic of pieces; and the wings were fins, protecting its payload of rockets beneath; an air intake on either side, like gills, allowing the ship to keep moving; and the exhausts, tipped with fire like three straight candle flames, captured in a still picture, never growing, never shrinking. It was the one place, if truth be known, that he didn’t want to be.

It’s only today, on reading this back through, that I realise the description of the fighter is possibly better than it is in the novel… Back to the drawing board…

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