The Adventures of Rocket Girl

rocketeer girl

Pin by Kyle – Found at Pinterest

“I’ll burn my ass off if I use this thing.”

“Have a little faith, Keisha. The uniform is fully heat-resistant, and besides, the thrusters work in combination with the Barsoonian charge infused in the rocket pack, so the amount of energy required to lift a person is much lower than it would have to be in your world.”

“You’re a great one for faith, Isaiah, but like I said, it’s my ass on the line.”

“I see a year away from our relationship, as you have lived it, has done nothing to improve your manners or your language.”

Sixteen-year-old Keisha Davis opened her mouth and shut it again. He was right about several things. Only a year had passed since she had last seen him, but for the engineer, it had been two decades, and he was now pushing sixty.

She trusted that he was also right that the rocket pack she was supposed to strap on her back wasn’t inherently dangerous, at least not because the thrusters sat just behind her behind. In the movies, these things looked impressive, but they’d also severely burn or kill the pilot without the mother of all protective panties or a liberal application of one million sunblock.

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The Beggarman Goes Hunting

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves. (Credit: Public Domain)

Indian Territory – Oklahoma – 1880

The fact that he was a former slave was obvious because he was a black man of a certain age, but his clothes and his manner also marked him for a beggar and a thief on the run from the law, or at least that’s what it seemed.

Most folks thought they were safe from the law in Indian Territory. The region that would one day be known as Oklahoma was ruled by five tribes, the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw, all forced from their ancestral homelands because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The tribes governed through their own courts but only had authority over themselves. That meant anyone not of the tribes, from a scalawag to a murderer, could only be pursued by Federal officers and not local law enforcement once they crossed into Indian Territory.

The beggarman had walked twenty some miles that day and he had another ten to go. He ate some of the hardtack and jerky he carried in a ratty looking burlap sack while he watched the small fire burn in front of him. He’d brought a blanket to guard against the cold as he slept on the grasslands of the high plains, but that was all the belongings a man could see. None of that bothered him including being approached silently from behind.

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Metzger’s World

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

“…6:00 in the morning yawning and laying down next to you…”

“Come here, Kiara. About time you got home…wait. What’s wrong?” Travis Bridges pulled his wife close to him in their bed. It was six in the morning ship’s time but she’d just come off of her duty shift planetside at the Metzger colony.

Kiara buried her face in Travis’ chest and sobbed. He could barely hear her muffled words, “It was horrible, Trav. Chief Spencer tried to warn us, but none of us thought it would be that bad.”

“What are you talking about? What’s so bad about servicing the colony’s power distribution system? I mean, we do contract with the colony worlds in this sector to maintain their tech.”

“You don’t know about Metzger, do you?” She looked up. Her dark eyes dilated in the dim light were ebony pools he could swim in.

“I read the general briefing on the colony. They’re isolationists and a little xenophobic and…”

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The Man Over the Far Side of the Moon

Apollo 15

Photo of the Apollo 15 command module above the Moon piloted by Al Worden – Photo credit: NASA

Air Force Major Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnson watched the LEM drop away from the Command Module as he approached the terminator that would take him over the far side of the Moon.

“Hey, Zeke. You hearing what I’m hearing?” Colonel Clay Philips, the mission’s commander sounded like a kid on Christmas morning when anyone else would have at least been a little bit worried.

“I sure do, and I remember the briefing. It’s just interference.”

“That’s right.” Captain Brian Osborne, sitting in the LEM’s number two seat chimed in. “It’s caused by VHF radio interference between the LEM and the Command Module. Really does sound like alien music, though.”

Zeke laughed. “I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m out of radio contact with you and Earth for the next hour or so.”

“Not scared of those nasty old BEMs, are you Zeke?” Philips was laughing with him or was that at him?

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Dreaming of Arabia Terra

mars

Image: Wikipedia

Commander Amanda Nichols was disappointed as she opened the Mars lander’s hatch and saw that her helmet obscured much of her first view of the upland region of Arabia Terra. Major Terry Chang, the lander’s co-pilot who was standing behind her, always referred to the Martian terrain as “planet Nevada,” but for Amanda, the stark beauty and even the romance of Mars far outweighed a more objective observation.

This is supposed to be one of the oldest terrains on the planet, heavily eroded and very densely cratered, which is part of the reason NASA chose this part of the Arabia quadrangle as the landing site of the first human mission. There’s a distinct possibility of studying evidence of tectonic activity and even volcanism here, plus previous robot landers detected the likelihood of ice water under the surface.

To Amanda, the landscape before her looked like God had taken the ancient red crust, rock, and dust in her field of vision and etched, crumpled, and then pounded it, creating a texture and fabric that spoke of a life lived long and hard resulting in a face marked with character and even a hint of majesty rather than merely scars and age.

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Living in the Dystopia: When Fools Dare to Speak

king and heschel

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”

Proverbs 17:28 (NASB)

Every time you speak to someone you have the power to choose words that will strengthen, lift up, energize, elevate, inspire, encourage, enlighten, support, benefit, and help your listener in some way.

Misusing words to insult, hurt, belittle, slight, offend, disparage, put down, and cause needless pain to other human beings is a violation of the Torah prohibition against causing pain with words.

A lot of people don’t realize that it is an actual Torah violation to cause pain with words. Insults, putdowns, mocking, making fun of, and any form of non-verbal communication that causes emotional distress is included in this Torah prohibition.

When you use your power of words to make someone feel good, you are doing an act of kindness. You are elevating yourself spiritually and emotionally. You are making a friend or strengthening an already existing friendship. You are doing a great mitzvah. You are being a positive factor in someone’s life.

When people misuse the power of words to make someone feel bad, it is an act of meanness and even cruelty. They are lowering themselves spiritually and emotionally. They are making an enemy or strengthening hate. They are committing a serious transgression. They are being a negative factor in someone’s life.

Be careful not to cause pain with your words, and encourage other people to be careful not to cause pain with their words. This awareness is very important for parents and for teachers who serve as role models for their children. Those who utilize their power of speech in positive ways will have children who emulate their positive patterns.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin from
Chapter 46 of his book
Encouragement

I’ve written about this before in my short essay Living in the Dystopia: A Nation Divided. I recall the news stories and broadcasts from when I was a child, about the civil rights movement. Some stories were about peaceful marches and demonstrations, and others were about violence and riots.

And yet there was always the idea that through this process, things would eventually get better. People generally believed, especially as I graduated from high school in the early 1970s, that our nation would achieve an ever greater measure of racial equality.

Sure, it was a time of great unrest, uncertainty, and even fear, but I believed that when I became an adult, when I got married, when I had children, I would live in a time that was better for all people in our country, not just some.

What the hell happened?

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