I’m sure most of you have heard that former Astronaut John Glenn passed away today at the age of 95. I was only seven years old, the age of my grandson right now, when Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule on February 20, 1962. Obviously, I only had a child’s point of view of the event, but I had become fascinated with spaceflight ever since my Dad pointed out what he thought was the Sputnik satellite in the night sky (as an adult, I would find out that Sputnik could not be seen from Earth with the unaided eye, and what we were seeing was the booster used to put it into orbit, tumbling end over end).
I remember having a plastic toy Mercury spacecraft. You could remove the bottom, put the toy astronaut inside, reattach the two pieces, and pretend to blast off.
I eagerly followed the manned space program, from Mercury, to Gemini, and then Apollo.
“I think it’s working Gregor. I’m beginning to feel something.”
“Me, too. It’s kind of strange, embarrassing even.”
Gregor and Aabha were in bed together in a small, spartan, dimly lit room. They were sitting up, their backs resting on pillows pressed against the headboard. A blanket chastely covered them both up to their collar bones. If anyone had been watching them, it would have been clear they had never been together before.
Aabha turned toward Gregor, looked into his green eyes as if seeing him for the first time, then slowly reached out to caress his cheek.
She giggled. “You need to shave.”
He reached up and pressed her hand against his face. “I suppose I do.”
“It’s really affecting me now, Gregor…the Desire.”
from “The Hobbit” (2012)
Even for a Knight with the valor of Peres the Worthy, entering the lair required all his courage. He had never faced such a formidable foe as this fiend. She had captured the fair one, presumably for a meal or two, and Peres knew her kind grew hungry at sunset.
The sun was all too near the western horizon as he descended into the cavern.
Armored boots are not much for stealth, so the evil Drusella heard him coming long before he entered the treasure chamber. Unlike the other caverns in the lair, this one was brightly illuminated, and torch-light reflected off of a myriad of gold and silver coins, as well as a plethora of precious gems.
His lovely one Katin was restrained in the very center of the cave, an iron collar around her neck with a chain extending from it to a sturdy pillar of wood. She saw him and gave him an expression most pathetic. It was clear that Drusella had lashed her as she was bleeding from a dozen wounds.
Why can’t anyone hear me?
Okay, get a grip, Michelle. I can hear myself, so there must be some logical explanation besides the rest of the world going deaf all at once.
It all started when I was getting breakfast. Dad was pouring a cup of coffee. His back was to me when I said “Hi” but he didn’t react. Well, it was his first cup of coffee, so I thought he just didn’t want to talk until he was more caffeinated.
Then the same thing happened with Mom as I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my cereal. “Hi, Mom,” I said right after swallowing a mouthful of Cheerios. She didn’t react, so I spoke up, “I said Hi Mom.”
She noticed me as she brought her coffee cup to the table.
“Honey, are you saying something?” Irrationally, I noticed the gray roots in her hair and thought she’ll probably be dyeing it again soon.
I was practically shouting. “Yes, Mom. I said Hi”.
Image: Bryan Versteeg / spacehabs.com
Seven-year-old Timmy Robinson threw the tennis ball as hard as he could, sending it sailing over the Martian surface. Rusty, his pet terrier, scrambled after it, his paws spewing little clouds of red sand into the air behind him.
“Go get it! Go get it, boy! Timmy was screaming at the top of his lungs as the dog followed the now bouncing ball.
“I think this is the last one, Timmy. We’ve got to go down into the gravity lab now.” It was the voice of Joyce Robinson, his Mother. In all the excitement, he hadn’t heard her walk up behind him.
Rusty returned skidding to a halt at the little boy’s feet and obediently deposited the slime covered ball near his left shoe, a red high-topped Converse all-star.
“Ah, Mom. Can’t I stay out a while longer? I’m having so much fun. I never get to play with Rusty except when we’re on Mars.”
Image: Austria Tirol – Teton Valley News
“Shouldn’t we turn back?” Shelley was more than a little anxious. This was supposed to be a winter afternoon romp in the Jeep along the back roads of the Rockies near their home in Boulder, not the first chapter in a story about them needing a search and rescue team.
“We’re too low on gas. I’m sure I saw a town when we were at the top of the ridge. If we can just find a main road that connects to this one.” Jen was always the spontaneous adventurer who complemented Shelly’s more easy-going and homebody ways.
“This isn’t a road, it’s a snow drift.” Shelley chuckled nervously trying to make a joke out of what, from her point of view, was becoming an increasingly dire circumstance.
“It’s a road, it’s just one that hasn’t been swept of snow for a while.”
“Like forever?” Admit it. We’re lost.”
“I knew I should have taken that left-hand turn at Albuquerque.”
Image: From the 1933 film The Invisible Man
When Charlie Rainier realized he could turn invisible, he was absolutely giddy. From his point of view, nothing had changed. He could still see his reflection in a mirror, he cast a shadow, he didn’t have to take his clothes off like in the old movies, and he could still see. But no one else could see him.
If invisibility worked by causing light to pass directly through a person or to curve around him, he should be blind. To see, light enters the eyes through the pupil. The iris changes the size of the pupil depending on how bright the light is. Then the lens focuses that light onto the retina at the back of the eye. Light has to stop after hitting the retina.
If light curved around the invisible person, it would never reach the eye and the invisible person would be blind. If light went right through him, it wouldn’t stop at the retina but pass right through it, and again the person would be blind.
Fortunately for Charlie, he found a way around that problem.
Theme of Absence, an online magazine of fantasy, horror, and science fiction has posted another of my stories, The Stalker. I originally submitted that piece of flash fiction for their Halloween Contest, and while it wasn’t selected as a winner, Jason Bougger, the site owner, suggested I resubmit for regular publication. I did and this morning, my story is online.
As you may recall, Theme of Absence was the first to publish an original fiction piece of mine, a story called The Anything Box. I’m very excited to see another of my creations published at their site.
Here’s an excerpt from “The Stalker”.
The girl panicked when she literally stumbled over my last victim. The body had been steadily decomposing at the bottom of that shallow gully for months, and it must have been pretty disgusting to trip over and nearly fall on top of a rotting corpse.
The poor girl. She can’t be older than sixteen. She had gone for a walk through the forest near the cabin her friends had rented, the sun went down, and she got lost.
She’s running blindly now, certain she can hear my breathing, my heavy footfalls, the rustling of tree branches I push aside as I stalk her. It’s a deception to get her moving. She could hardly suspect the truth.
For the rest, visit Theme of Absence and read The Stalker.
Credit: Shutterstock – Image found at Phys.org
“We’re not enemies. I wish you would believe that.”
“How can I when I’m terrified of what you are going to do to me?”
“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing something for you. In fact, all of us are doing a great deal with all of you.”
“Just because you’ve fooled all the others, doesn’t mean you can fool me.”
“Chronologically, you are the oldest one selected to work with us. I think you are still holding on to some deep-rooted misconceptions about our kind.”
“Some pretty smart people, like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and even Bill Gates warned humanity about you, but no one listened.”
At first, Rafe thought he was dreaming. He rolled over in bed, grabbed his mobile, and looked at the time: 2:31 a.m.
He sat bolt upright in bed. It was no dream. He looked around the darkened room in the basement of his Mom’s house and saw no one.
A shape slowly coalesced near the foot of the bed. It was a shadow, then it was a man.
“Do you remember me, Rafe?”
“What the fu…”
“If you kill a man, you should at least remember what he looked like.”