#FlashFiction: Pangnirtung Windturbines: Scene 2, Alcohol fuel by Logan Streondj #robot #scifi #nunavut #alcohol


A robot gets refuelled in the family home. About a thousand words or a 5 minute read.
A continuation from Scene One.

They walked in to the smell of alcohol, sweat and blood.  Hpish wondered if someone had been labouring over an alcohol fuel engine and cut themselves by accident.

“Our daughter’s home, aren’t you going to say hello?” Atiqtalik stood in front of the television and shut it off. “You’re a mess. When are you going to learn to have some respect for yourself?”

“Be quiet, I didn’t ask you to get all high and mighty on me. Where’s the girl? is she going to be flapping her diploma in my face too now? Bunch of white man credentials. What good are they to her here?” He swung the alcohol bottle to his face and guzzled, some spilt over the sides of his mouth. He winced and wiped it off his face, then drying his hands on the already stained shirt stretching over his belly, adding a fresh streak of red.

“Ataata, Aama, please don’t fight. I hoped things had gotten better since I left.”

“No Nerri, they haven’t, your father refuses to eat raw organ meat, and wont have his orange juice so now he’s got scurvy. He’s trying to kill himself” Atiqtalik sat down and covered her face, beginning to cry “I told you to drink some orange juice. why wont you listen to me?”

“I did, and it didn’t work.” The father, Kataktuaq, based on Hpish’s family album information, seemed angry, he was red in the face and barring his teeth. It was clear now that his gums were bleeding. He made struggling motions to  get up, but was dissuaded likely by the significant effort of lifting his weight or perhaps his inebriation.  The bottle of alcohol rested by his thigh.  Hpish moved closer.

“Scurvy can take as much as two weeks to be alleviated by healthful diet.” Hpish said in an effort to be helpful.

“What is this?” Kataktuaq said, kicking his leg out, sending Hpish flying halfway across the room. He hit a piece of furniture and slumped onto the floor.

“Oh, Ataata, that’s my robot! What did you do?” Nerriuk rushed forward and leaned down over Hpish, inspecting for damage. The force of the collision, dislocated Hpish’s leg joint, he  heard  the creak and the snap. The impact jarred his fans, he went limp in diagnostic and calibration mode — eyes still on the scene.

“Ha ha ha, another toy from the white man! What did they make you pay for it, your dignity, or your pride?”

“Katak, you worthless human being. She made it herself, pay some respect. She came a long way to return to us. Don’t you have any gratitude that she did? She didn’t come back for your abuse.” Atiqtalik yelled at him with tears in her eyes.

Kataktuaq’s expression flattened, his eyes glazed over, and he took another swig. The bottle was now more than half way done. “Fuel low, leg broken” Hpish managed to squelch out as a conclusion to his diagnostics.

“Aama is right, I wouldn’t have come back if it wasn’t for him. He wanted to come here, and I had hoped things would be different.” Nerriuk righted Hpish, putting him in a sitting position.  “Ataata, he needs a drink, give me your moonshine.” Nerriuk held out her hand towards her father, while still looking at Hpish.

Kataktuaq roared with laughter. “So you made him a drunk like your father. I like him already.” He slumped over the couch and put the bottle in her hand.

“I knew it was a dependable fuel source, because of your distillery Ataata, and alcohol doesn’t freeze when it’s -50C below like batteries. ” Nerriuk opened a valve on Hpish and poured in the moonshine. Hpish started to warm up and whirr as he burned the alcohol into electricity.  Nerriuk gave the empty bottle back to Kataktuaq.

“Why not petroleum?” Kataktuaq asked, as he looked at the bottom of the bottle, to see if there was a drop left.  “It’s cheaper”.

“Petroleum combustion produces toxic by-products, so he wouldn’t be able to live indoors with us. He also said that once we have the turbines running, we can make it cheap. Isn’t that right Hpish?”

“Yes,  Nerri. With the turbines we can make hydrogen and oxygen from salt water, and combine it with captured carbon dioxide from the air [1] to generate methanol [2], from which can then generate ethanol [3]. Though we can use methanol as a fuel directly, it is safer than gasoline.”

“I like how he talks, reminds me of my younger days. When I enjoyed making things, it was when I met your mother.”  He looked sad, with downcast eyes. Perhaps remembering those times.

Atiqtalik sat next to him on the couch, and put a hand on his shoulder. “You can make things again Katak. They will be making wind turbines with the community, and need all the help they can get.”  She looked at him, still worried, but with the tears drying on her face. “Besides, you need to get out of the house, and visit the Health Centre, so they can fix you up.”

“I don’t know if they can, I don’t trust their white medicine.”  He looked over to Nerriuk, who was attempting to fix Hpish’s leg. An expression akin to guilt or shame apeared on his face. “I’ll help you with what I can.”

“Thank you. We’ll need to visit the dump to get old fuel barrels to use as turbine blades.” Hpish replied.

“He might need to be carried, at least until I can find or make a part to fix his leg joint.” Nerriuk added.

“Okay. I’m in no condition to go now, but in the morning, wake me and we’ll go.” Kataktuaq responded.  Atiqtalik squeezed his shoulder, and he looked at her worried expression. “And I’ll stop at the Health Centre.”

“Thank you.” Atiqtalik said smiling.

“I’m going to my room. I’ll see you in the morning” Nerriuk said picking up Hpish, and leaving the room.

Scene Two from Hpish’s Journal of Pangnirtung Windturbines.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Check back next week for Scene Three.


[1] capturing carbon dioxide from the air http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/business/pilot-plant-in-the-works-for-carbon-dioxide-cleansing.html?_r=0&referer=https://duckduckgo.com

[2] low cost methanol from carbon dioxide http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/04/low-cost-methanol-carbon-dioxide-relatively-cheap-conversion-method-developed/

[3] Formation of ethanol from methanol http://www.google.com/patents/US20120283488

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