|The Inventions of Michael Flannigan|
The Spacey Inventions of Michael Flannigan
Emily Chesley and Michael Flannigan first met Harry F. Ux at Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, in 1895. Ux shared Flannigan's interest in the sciences, and in keeping his bowels pristine.
The lad was also the youngest son of the Perth County peanut baron, Sir Oliver S. H. Ux (1); but the son had proved uninterested in the peanut business started by his father, or indeed, anything remotely connected to the legume industry.
So Harry F. Ux had left Perth County to study the natural sciences at Oberlin College(Emily's alma mater), and there got an interest in the workings of the human gut, which had brought him to Battle Creek. While there, he had actually helped Flannigan build The Systematic Anti-autointoxication Device, which had proved so popular at The San.
In 1898, Emily had to depart London for South Africa.(2) She was concerned about leaving her aging and increasingly dotty "uncle" alone with only the housekeeper, Miss Beasley, to look after him. Then she remembered Harry-F. She wrote to Ux, who was working as an itinerant sausage-stuffer in Cleveland, and asked him to help look after her uncle. Ux was thrilled at the invitation. Not only was he a great admirer of Flannigan's inventions, in the intervening years he'd become a huge fan of Chesley's fiction too.
When he arrived, he was disappointed that Emily had already headed off for the Boer War. However, he quickly set to helping Flannigan with his work, which at the time was focused on the development of the Comet Suit. Perhaps it was Flannigan's current obsession with comets, and perhaps it was young Harry-F's fascination with the short sketches about the space-ingénue Ermila Chunt and the United Cosmos Craft Truculence, which Emily had left lying about before her departure, but whatever the reason, the young Ux and Flannigan created a number of apparatus which are still quite baffling to this day.
1) It will be of interest to Chesleyan scholars to note that it was Ux senior who put William Thudworth St.John-Smith, Poet of Spidgy-on-the-Thames, out of the peanut business shortly before his bizarre death in 1906. [back]
This was not a device, so much as an attempt to create a self-sustaining ecosystem on a small meteoroid. It was actually quite remarkable that Flannigan was able to successfully embed the human boys in the lump of rock; unfortunately he was unsuccessful at including plant life, water or oxygen.
After several attempts, (and a baker's dozen of asphyxiated twins) Flannigan gave up the dream of tiny planets inhabited by small children. (Thought it is thought that French author and aviator, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, may have somehow got his hands on Flannigan's notes for the invention before writing The Little Prince.)
Harry F. Ux was fascinated with the "Death Ray" used by the heroine in Chesley's unpublished short story, "Fargle's Revenge". He prevailed upon Flannigan to invent something similar. Where the Death Ray in the short story was capable of disabling massive space ships at great distance, Flannigan's invention was not nearly as impressive. Based on the idea that sunlight can cause actinic dermatitis , Flannigan thought to use the same principle, but to increase the effects a thousand-fold. What he actually created was the world's first sunlamp. While the ray did not cause "death", it was capable of giving anyone standing in front of it a massive sunburn, even while fully clothed. It took the young Ux several weeks to recover, and several more to work up his courage to ask Flannigan to invent something else.
This was the last invention on which Harry was able to collaborate with Flannigan. When he read Emily's short story, "Flying Buns of Boggle XII", the impressionable youth was determined that he too would "jet through the air with the power of a thousand cannons on his back." Having provided the inspiration to Flannigan, Ux soon found himself standing in an empty field at Carling's Farm, wearing the world's first Rocket Jersey. (Ux had insisted on testing it himself. They had run out of other test subjects with the failed Tiny Planet Device anyway.)
Phenias Hornblatt, who was also the only eyewitness to record the infamous Thong Bank incident, and who was later on hand to watch the first test of Flannigan's Vehicle for Dropping from an Enormous Height and Splashing About in Rapids, was also at the launch of the world's first manned rocket:
Ux's body was never recovered, and some Chesleyan scholars have hypothesized that he may have been the first human being to actually orbit the earth.
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