They were on a train. Zipper –loved- trains, especially steam locomotives. The others found humor in his love of steam-powered transportation, given his status as a steam –powered machine himself, but Zipper didn’t care. It was so incredible to watch the massive, powerful engines at work and think that he, too, had a miniature version inside his torso.
Zipper’s systems hummed as the locomotive’s whistle sounded, the train rattling through a small town out in the country side. He desperately wanted to return the call with his own whistles, to sing duet with the massive machine like he had back on the steamship ferries.
Eugene chuckled knowingly at the wonderous look on the robot’s face. He was about to make Zipper’s day. Every train engineer had their own flair when it came to the steam whistle, and this one happened to be one Eugene recognized. And old friend of his, from the war. An old friend who might just be willing to let a certain eager young somebody blow the whistle.
“Come on, Zip,” Eugene grabbed Zipper’s hand and tugged him to his feet when the train stopped for water, leading the robot down the aisle towards the next compartment.
“Where are we going?’ Zipper didn’t resist, trusting Eugene with whatever the older man wanted for him.
They walked through compartment after compartment, then skirted the edge of the tender car, finally reaching the head of the train.
“Eugene, dat you?” The conductor peered out the window, face black with soot, “Oi, how are ya?”
“Hey, Tom ya ol’ fart,” Eugene grinned as they climbed up into the compartment. Inside, several engineers were taking a well-deserved break from shoveling coal and looked up at the newcomers with interest, “I got somebody for ya to meet. Brand new member o’ the crew.”
“Well I’ll be,” Tom lifted his hat and peered at Zipper with interest, “Is that one of them robot things?”
Something inside Zipper grumbled a bit at being called a “thing,” but he didn’t let it show, “Hello! My name is Zipper.” He started his usual introduction, but got too excited to finish it, “Sir, would you let me sound the whistle? Please? I’ve always wanted to on a train.”
Tom raised an eyebrow, “I dunno son, we don’t let just anybody blow dat whistle. It’s an important job.”
“I can do it, sir!” Zipper said earnestly, “I’ve blown the whistle on steamboats for years.”
“Let the kid do it, Tom.” Eugene vouched for his friend, “It’ll just make his day.”
“Well, alright. You can stay in ‘til we get to the next station.”
“Thank you, sir,” Zipper grinned and tipped his leather cap as best he could. Tom couldn’t help but smile at the young robot’s enthusiasm.
Soon, the train had finished its water stop and was ready to get underway again. The smokestack chuffed loudly as the wheels began to turn, the whole train shuddering back into motion.
“Alright, son!” Tom called over the sound of the puffing steam, “Blow the whistle! Cord’s right over your shoulder!”
But Zipper didn’t reach to pull the cord. Instead, he leaned his head out of the cab, filled his bellows, and let loose the loudest whistle he could manage. The sound was a lower pitch than the locomotive’s own, but had all of the volume. A broad grin spread across Zipper’s face from vent to vent as he reached up and tugged the pull cord, sounding the locomotive’s own whistle before replying with his own.
Having drained his boiler, Zipper came all the way back into the cab and sipped from the water bottle that always hung from his belt, “Thank you for letting me whistle, sir!”
“No problem,” Tom replied faintly.
Eugene just laughed at his old friend’s astonished expression.