Monday, June 12, 2006

Bridget's Peace

Bridget looked out into empty space. “This has got to be it.”

“What, Bridget?” Melody Whitman, the ship’s Captain, was checking dials around the cabin.

“Absolute peace.”

“I think lack of gravity has gotten to your head. You know the sky is full of meteors, dieing stars, space junk, and who knows what else. No peace up here.”

“Melody, when did you stop enjoying this beauty?”

“Girl, I think it was the first time I released a package of space garbage to burn up in the atmosphere. We’re simply traveling through a giant, flushing galaxy.”

“Sorry, I asked.” Bridget pushed her glasses up on her nose and turned back to her scope. “Lord, of all the people in the universe, why did I get stuck with this one?” An arc suddenly appeared on Bridget’s screen. “Hey, Mel, we have some space dust ahead of us.”

“Shields up, let’s put’er tail to the wind, er the dust.” Melody skillfully made adjustments to the orbiting ship and watched her instruments as small rockets fired to make the maneuver. “That worked well.”

“Oh, oh, look to port now.”

“Cool. Wow, Bridget, that looks peaceful for sure.” Sparks from their adjustment were showering into the lower atmosphere. “But, unfortunately, it means we lost too much altitude and I’m not ready to crash land just yet.” Melody turned back to her controls pushed a button and a gentle thrust moved their ship further away from the planet’s gravitational pull. “I think another couple of orbits will be about right, then we can make our fiery entrance.”

Bridget stood with a clipboard in hand. “Which reminds me I have to record the inventory.”

Melody shook her head. “Why? Who are we going to report to? Another couple of days and poof, we’re cosmic dust, burned up in the atmosphere.”

“You worry me. Mel, just what makes you happy? Mere destruction and violence? We’ve been on this trip for ten weeks and I haven’t figured it out.”

Melody laughed. “Does it matter? We left a perfectly good, albeit temporary, planet, for this hair-brained scheme.”

“The planet was in shambles, you know that.” Bridget frowned. “It wasn’t a scheme.”

“Oh, you think borrowing this heap was a well-thought-out effort?”

“Better than the alternative. I think we were meant to be on that supply run and away from our world. Besides, the planet imploded.”

“So, we blast into the wilderness with a couple of ancient charts, just to put off the inevitable. And you want me to be delighted?”

“Ever thought about personal peace?”

“Hey, I kept us alive for, lets see, seventy clock days, that’s not bad.”

“Seventy more than home.” A tear ran down Bridget’s pale cheek. “I think we are blessed.”

Melody shook her head and turned back to the controls.

The ship finally eased into its orbital path and the two women fell into the routine they had developed over the two months they had traveled together.

After an extended silence, Melody asked, “Old religion?”

“Faith, Mel. Faith that God will take care of us; and if something should happen, we are still in His hands, delivered into His spiritual kingdom.”

“You believe all that?”

“With my whole heart.”

“Interesting. So, lets say, we live through this landing and there’s intelligent life on that planet below us. Are you going to tell them about this God person? ”

“Not God person, our God and He would be theirs, too. And, yeah, that’s what I’ll do.” Bridget smiled.

“And I suppose you brought your bible with you?”

“I always carry my personal bible. Would you like to see it?”

“Sure, we haven’t got much else to do until I pull the plug.”

Bridget glanced out the porthole as she got up to retrieve the bible. “What is that planet?”

“I honestly don’t know, the computer just said possible life support and oxygen; one moon; third planet in a series of a dozen or so orbiting an older star.”

Bridget handed Melody the small bible. “You can keep this.”

“You’re okay, Bridget. Maybe I can pick up some of your personal peace techniques.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it.”

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Basic Instinct

Basic instincts would have made him turn around run, but somewhere in his bowels inner strength was building. He eyed the horizon as the sun broke over the nose of his ship. “Lincoln, you have to see this.”

Lincoln, his navigator, leaned back from this computer screen and looked at the bright glow coming through the protective glass. “Man, that’s something, wish Missy and the gang could see that, think I should wake them?”

“Heaven’s no man, then we would have to listen to all the technical mumbo jumbo, they just aren't needed yet. I figure we can leave them in the chamber until March; I’ll be ready for a break by then.”

“How do you do it John, I mean how do you find enough hope to keep on?”

John swiveled in the captain’s chair and faced his old friend. “You’d rather I just pulled a switch and headed this thing into the nearest rock?”

“The way you fly we’d miss,” Lincoln and John were used to some light hearted sparing.

“Very funny wise guy, come on up here to the con for an afternoon.”

“No thanks, long as you keep that reflector into the sun, I have power.”

“We have power.”

“I stand corrected. Anyway, we have had this thing running for eighteen months. We’re eating dried food, and watching the next crew sleep – what are you thinking.”

John watched Lincoln make a feather like adjustment to the ship’s track. “Like you, I guess, raised with a faith in God, I just always believed that God would lead me, and I have lived my life that way.”

“I have faith too,” Lincoln glanced at the screen, “faith that we can keep this thing in the vastness of space for about ten more years before the hydrogen cells quit providing water.”

“My inner strength comes from my faith in Jesus Christ; I just can’t lose that feeling.”

“That’s cool to me, but don’t you ever just want to push the self destruct button?”

“Not my choice, it’s His.” John pointed through the protective glass and into the sky.

“I suppose so, amen.” Lincoln watched dots cross his screen. “Hey man, did you ever hear of anyone else out here?”

“Huh uh. And we have traveled half a universe away from the old earth orbit; the explosion alone tossed us a light year away.”

“Come down here and look at this.” Lincoln held his gaze at the small screen.

John unbuckled his safety belt and stepped down the two step platform to Lincoln’s computer area. “Okay, interpret.”

“Too big for space junk. It’s gotta be another ship, or two ships.”

“Well, it can’t be rescue ships, nobody knows where we are, we aren’t even sure.” John felt his stomach suddenly churn.

The dots held steady on Lincoln’s screen. “Look,” Lincoln pointed at the first dot. “It seems to be getting bigger.”

“Whoever it is has seen us too I imagine. Any estimates of range, speed, all that stuff?”

“Hey, I’m not a cop with a radar detector. Keep the nose in the sun and I will see if the computer will figure it, give me a minute.” Lincoln turned to the computer keyboard.

“Okay, I’ll go back to the con, yell if you find anything, I can keep this sun in our eyes for a while longer I think, but I don’t want to burn any fuel unless we need to get away.”

“You’re paranoid,” Lincoln called. “Better call on some of that inner strength.”

“Don’t worry, the Lord and I are on one channel right now.” John spun the captain’s chair and tried to see out a side window. “Let’s go ahead and wake Jimmy – we may need some radio help.”

“Okay, I’ll ping his pod, it’ll take a couple of hours to bring him up.”

John looked at the cabin clock, a 24 hour timer. “Any estimate on when we can find out what’s on the scope?”

“Be several hours before I have more info." Lincoln stretched his six foot frame. “I’m headed to the back cabin. Be just a second.”

John stared out the window. “Lord, here we are in your space, in your hands. Lo though we walk through the valley of death we shall fear no evil, for thou are with us.” The force of the ancient sun broke though the glass and filled the cabin.

Two minutes later Lincoln approached the con, “Wow, now there’s some solar power.”

“Thank you Lord,” John murmured.

to be continued...

Mickey's Space

Five-year-old Mickey O’Toole ran into the living room. “Mommy, what’s space?”

“What an interesting question, Mickey. Actually, space has many definitions. Come up here.” She helped Mickey climb onto her chair and sat him on her lap. “See I saved this space right here on my lap for you. How’s that for a definition?”

Mickey stretched out his arms. “No, mommy, I mean big space.”

Sensing an opportunity do a Bible lesson with her explanation, Margaret O’Toole reached for pen and pad on the table. Balancing her wiggling son on her lap, she began to draw some circles.

“What’s that?”

“This is the way God sees our world. We are like little pebbles in the God’s sky – we’re a part of space. God formed our world like you make a snowball.”

Mickey giggled.

“He shaped all of the earth and the moon and the stars.” She drew pictures as she spoke.

Mickey pointed at the pad, “which one of those circles is earth?”

“Why this one right here.” Margaret used her pencil to select one of the circles.

“How’d people get on this circle?”

“Well, remember the earth is round, like your snowball.”


“Well, God picked a very special place right in the center of this big ball.” She pinched his nose. “Like your nose is in the center of your face.”

Mickey giggled some more.

“And He filled this place with trees and ponds and plants and fruit.”

“Were there big fish in the pond?” Mickey loved to go fishing with his cousins and Uncle Sean.

“I imagine so, great big fish, cause God also put in this place a man and a woman, named Adam and Eve.”

“Did they have an uncle to take them fishing?”

“No honey,” Margaret laughed. “Adam and Eve were His first people. God created them.”

“God created them?”

“That’s right, pumpkin, God just put them right there in that special garden because He loves people and especially people just like you and your sister, Mary.” She lightly tickled Mickey. Their old tabby cat purred at Margaret’s feet.

“Mommy, did God create Mr. Stripes too?”

“Yes, honey, God created all of the animals, plants, and people. Isn’t God really nice?”

“Where were all these animals and people?”

“They weren’t anywhere Mickey, God made them. He made everything in the Universe – His space.”

“Outer Space like T.V.?”

“Well, kinda, God made everything we see.” Margaret wondered where the conversation was headed. “Do you remember the song we sing in Sunday School? ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world, in His hands,’” Margaret sang softly as she stoked her son’s reddish hair.

Mickey snuggled tightly to his mother. “God’s really big isn’t He?”

“Yes, honey, He is so big that He sees everything, but He is also so tiny that He can be with every person’s heart -- and all they have to do is ask. That’s what we do when we pray. We talk directly with God.”

“Can we talk with God right now?”

Margaret felt a smile cross her lips. “Certainly, why don’t you start.”

Mickey placed his hands together. “Thank you God for everything. I think your space stuff is really neat. A men.”

“Amen,” Margaret softly echoed. “Okay, have we answered your question about space.”

“I guess so.” Mickey slid off of the chair.

“What else did you need to know?”

“Oh, I just want to know what Mary meant when she said for me to give her some space or she would punch me in the nose.”

Eric's Error

This account translated for the records of global destiny. So goes the record:

Fifteen Manchmen surrounded Eric as he stood with his back to the Kilon Ciff. Only two Manch moons earlier he had tried to negotiate his fate, even promising to marry a Manch woman, one with whom he had no knowledge, only that her protruding horns had pointed his direction when his ship’s computer misread its destination and landed on a Manch district rather than connecting with the nearby friendly asteroid X9.

“Your words are but blue fodder in sky, blessed only by a fictions spheroid occupying your blatant empty mind.” Manchmen cluttered their language with putrid adjectives, an act said to derive from the Boild Wars – years of words rather than swords.

Manchman were blinded by poor vision, Boild's own men were ill from galatic dysentery for 20 Arlon years. Hence the war continued.

Little did Eric realize but the woman he had absently (and blindly) proposed to was the daughter of the high priestess of Manch - a vestal virgin (the priestess, not the daughter). He turned to look at the depth of the cliff. His blink almost betrayed him; the bottom was less than a cubit away.

The near sightedness of the Manchman had transformed errant perception into reality. Obviously, no Manchman had dared to scale the cliff much less look over the edge.

"Adieu sweet love,” he cried; then jumped, ducking his head so to be covered by Kilon mud.

Tough words of the blind Manchman echoed over the cliff. "Shame, the fictious mobolite of ten thousand quids affected his miniscule obitor and resulted in such sifiling regrets."

A certain howling of a lonely Manch female joined the chant of the warriors and Eric buried himself deeper in the mud in order to escape the noise.

Although the recording of this report herein is ended, it is well to note, and is so appended, that upon arriving back on Litz, Eric's girlfriend refused to allow him visitation or to accompany her to church until the smell of Kilon mud was purged from his body. Scientific reports state that the odor may remain for years.

Vines of Orton

The vines of Orton were beautiful in the fall of the Orthian year; indeed, so beautiful that they suckered many a species to try the fruit, thereafter the species wandered aimlessly through space seeking relief from a burning desire to become a Phoenix and thereby torch themselves over the roof of an ancient cathedral. Luckily, ancient cathedrals existed only in the annals of fiction, much like the vaulted Phoenix.

The dark side of Orton featured a playground for the galaxy. Every diversion known under Orton’s two suns existed hidden beneath the Orton moons. Great convoys of Melmans to Xyonians found their way to Orton, much like the great pilgrimages of the years following the final peace.

Chip Slater knew the Orthian pull. Teenage memories of daring another Vacan to try Orton fruit proved tragic. The Vacan youngster had ripped a bright fruit from an early vine growth, consumed the fruit, all the while extorting his fellow travelers to join in the fun, but pay up the wager of the dare. Moments later his eyes began to blaze and he ran through the vineyard until he found a pool of Kayma mud. He then proceeded to swallow fistfuls of the blue sludge until he fell to the ground absolutely dead.

While Orton was a great landmark, and indeed was key signpost for any intergalactic traveler, its gravitational pull was to be avoided. Slater maneuvered his ship past the gravity of the sensual planet and set his course for Lizit, a Christian island in the Quatrant Galaxy. He didn’t really like the trip, but once he arrived he always wished he could stay longer. There was a young Vacan lady living on Lizit. When he last visited she had offered to show him the planet.

“I wonder if the offer still holds”. He set the controls to automatic and stepped back into the galley of his ship. He had not eaten in four turns, and although his mother had urged him to build his strength before the voyage he shunned her offer and consumed a bottle of woco milk, and then grabbed a bag of cookies from the replicator. His purpose was to deliver some of his father’s noggels to the priest of Lizit.

Long ago he and his father had chosen the economy model for Slater’s travel. Hence, there was not a lot of food storage available on board. Slater tapped the portable replicator. “I hope dad reset this thing.” The device sprung to life. “Great. Feed me.”

Slater rested a hand on top of the small device. He loved giving obtuse orders, just to see what would result. Seconds later the replicator shook and dinged. Slater opened the door expecting a huge hurring burger, but instead only a small black gooey glob lay on the plate.

“Hey, stupid, I asked for food, something that will fill me, so I can continue on.” Slater fumed at the arrogance of the inanimate machine.

Again the machine shook. Slater ripped at the door. A cross lay on a black book all set upon a satin cloth. Along side was a basket of crackers and grape juice. “Oh, I get it, I programmed in Lizit, and now we are getting nothing but church stuff. Okay, how about some real food.” The replicator whirred and produced a basket full of grapes, some Xeon cheese, crackers, and a pitcher of iced tea.

“That’s better.” Slater sipped the tea and munched on the grapes. He picked up the small book and flipped through the pages. His ship veered to the right, a normal flight correction move, but Slater, standing and reading, was jostled. “Ah, Lizit, the next stop.”

Moments later Slater rested the ship in a municipal area, paid the toll, and pulled out the map his father had sketched on the back of the replicator instructions. He also retrieved the instructions dictated to him by the young Vacan lady. His father's directions seemed too obtuse so he returned them to the napsack.

With the help of a Gorian cop he found the home of his young female friend. An older male Vacan opened the door. “Oh, I was expecting Marilia.” The man standing before him was dressed priest’s clothing.

“I’m her father. Welcome. Do come in.”

Slater was used to hospitality, after all he was a Vacan too, and manners with others, even non Vacans, were a rule in his society. But, he wondered if this man could be the priest to whom his father was sending an offering.

“Oh, sir, I am on Litz to deliver noogles my father picked from his vines, just earlier this week. I am supposed to give them to a Vacan priest. Might you be the same person?”

The older man smiled and nodded. “I’m the only one on the planet.”

“The priest, uh you, are supposed to get these.” Slater patted his backpack. “I am Chip Slater, by the way.”

“Really? Slater, ah yes, your father told me you might be coming. Your father and I were friends during our days at the university, and just last week we had communed during the Lurian Men’s Conference. He remembered the noogles, how wonderful." The priest turned toward the house interior. "Marilia,” he called, “Chip Slater is here to see you.”

“Oh, I wondered what the connection was". Slater handed the knapsack over to the priest. And the two of them walked into the living room.

“Ah, there’s a book in here.” The priest opened the knapsack.

“Yes, the replicator created it when I approached the planet. I looked through it, looked interesting. You can have it.”

“My young friend, I have one or two. You don’t know about this book then?”

“No sir.”

“Would you like to learn?”

Mirilia peeked her head around the corner and smiled at Slater. When she caught his eye she nodded affirmatively.

Slater looked at the teary eyes of the priest. “Yes sir. Can we start with the story of the priest named Jesus from the old planet?”

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