Legendary

solar flare

On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The sun simmered red as it slunk towards the jagged horizon. Herman Pope and Krista Hubbard stood watching it from the parking lot at the Houston Space Center anticipating their last day on Earth.

“When will the Object reach perihelion?” The twenty-eight year old systems engineer grasped the older gentleman’s hand without taking her gaze off of the sunset.

The fifty-five year old senior operations manager looked at his watch, which had been his father’s before his. “Less than thirty minutes.”

“That’s how long we have?”

“Maybe. Are you sure you don’t want to go back inside? The Argonaut is transmitting continual status updates.”

“Round trip communications between here and Mercury’s orbit is something like 13 minutes.”

“If it happens, we won’t feel the effects for a while.”

“Yeah, but my brother in Hawaii won’t be having a good day. He’s supposed to graduate from college there next month.”

“Come on, Krista.” He gently tugged on her arm.

“No.” She pulled back harder than she had to. “I want to stay out here.”

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Going Home After All These Years

pier 14

Pier 14. (Photo: Curtis Simmons/Flickr)

“You embarrassed me this evening.” Myron was standing with Rachel outside the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco waiting for the valet to bring around the car.

“It was the truth. What are you complaining about?”

“Truth or not, you shouldn’t have said it.”

“It’s over and done with. Here comes the car now.”

He pulled out his wallet and extracted some bills. “Thank you,” he uttered softly as he tipped the young woman and then received the car keys.

“Here.” He tossed them at his wife, her unbidden reflexes deftly causing her to catch them.

“I’m driving?”

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For Queen and Country

feast

Scene from the 2017 film “Victoria & Abdul

The wedding loomed closer and all Tay could do was think of storm clouds. She did love Silas, after a fashion, but while their marriage would join their two Kingdoms into a formidable and wealthy Empire, Udristan to the east and Mutriuka and Kozanar to the south would likely become fearful. Previously, neither her beloved Sasmen or Silas’s nation of Crenia to the west were considered a threat, but this wedding and all of its implications could be interpreted as a prelude to war.

“A penny, Tay.”

She had been staring out her private tower’s western window at the city skyline and the farm lands beyond, and hadn’t noticed that her mother had come in.

Turning, she walked over to her, knelt, and kissed her hand in greeting. Then she rose and faced the Queen. “You would be short-changed, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, that again.” Her friendly demeanor instantly soured, and she adopted an expression of displeasure. “I’m only thinking of our people. This alliance will strengthen both of our nations. You know that.”

“And quite possibly plunge us into a bloody war, Mother.” She spun and walked to the window, and then turned back to her progenitor and the most powerful woman in their nation. “I’ve explained the dynamics of it again and again…”

“Yet you fail to convince me, little one.”

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Bobbie Jo’s Comeuppance

fake prada

Found at vogue-element.cn

Bobbie Jo wouldn’t know class if it crawled into her knockoff Prada and went home with her. Of course, along with adopting ersatz haute couture, she made everyone call her Roberta after graduating from Einstein University in Sagan City. But a deal was a deal, and since her home colony world Drake had paid for her free ride tuition to Einstein, including passage to and from Epsilon Eridani, she was obligated to return to what she now called “a provincial backwater wasteland.”

“Welcome back, Bobbie Jo.” Omer Thorpe was the President and CEO of Biosynth, the world’s one and only bioengineering company, and they desperately needed skilled medical engineers. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

“I can’t say it’s good to be back Omer, but for the next ten years, I’m yours. Oh, and please call me Roberta.” They shook hands, and although the Grandfatherly man was impeccably clean, she still felt like she was touching something that came out of the rear end of a rat.

“Oh, you’re just spoiled by all that high life on Campbell. I hear Sagan City is quite a gem compared to any of our local communities.” He continued smiling and winked at her. He’d been teasing with Bobbie Jo ever since she was in pre-school. Everyone in Tysonville knew each other and always had since it was founded three generations ago.

“You have no idea.” She looked around the lobby, which was as bright and modern as the lobbies of any corporation she’d visited on Campbell, but after six years on the premier colony planet, coming back home was a major let down, coloring her every perception of life on the fourth planet orbiting Tau Ceti.

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One Child’s Life

rahab

Rahab and the Two Spies – Found at Seeds of Faith website and Pinterest

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison. Before Rahab laid them under stalks of flax in order to hide them from the soldiers of the King, she said, “I know that Hashem has given you the Land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the Land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

“When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for Hashem your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by Hashem, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, especially our little children, and deliver our lives from death.”

So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the Land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the Land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father, and your mother, and your brothers, and the little children, and all your father’s household.”

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Saigon

saigon 1967

A street view of Saigon, 1967 – AaronPogs – Own work

The video footage was grainy, but Taylor recognized them easily.

“You’re worth every penny I paid you, Tran. Now blow. I’ll watch the rest alone.” The Vietnamese photojournalist left the darkened hotel room without a word. He moonlighted at this sort of work, taking photos and video of unsuspecting couples, and since he’d already been paid, he was satisfied to go home to his wife and children.

Taylor kept watching the film. The cheap 8mm projector rattled like the engine of his first car, a beat up Chevy Impala, but after weeks in the jungle constantly exposed to the sound of automatic weapons fire and artillery, the military intelligence officer blithely tuned it out.

Tran had followed the couple to every tourist attraction in Saigon from the Ben Thanh market to Notre Dame Cathedral. “He really showed you all the hot spots, sweetheart.”

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Rusty and Me

squeak dog

Found on social media – image credit unknown

The thieves took everything except the dog. Of course there was a good reason for it. The dog was armed.

“What the hell were you thinking? Our stuff. They took all our stuff. What kind of watchdog are you, anyway?”

The small, cigar smoking mutt in the body armor took another pull from his fifth of Jack Daniels. “Back off, man. I have the mother of all hangovers and I’m in a really bad mood.”

“A little hair of the dog, eh?”

“It’s too early in the morning for puns.”

“It’s dinnertime and I just got home from work to find my place has been cleaned out.”

“So what? You’ve got homeowner’s insurance, right?”

“I’m calling the cops. Ditch the clothes, the booze, and the miniature assault rifle, so I don’t have to explain you when they get here.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be passed out in the doghouse by then.”

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The Pirate Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny

Artist’s depiction of the pirate Anne Bonny

The crash of wave and snap of sail sung to her, and Anne Bonny was never more alive than when she was at sea. Now that she and Calico Jack Rackham were wedded, aboard the stolen and former Royal Navy frigate “William,” she, Rackham, and her closest companion Mary Read had recruited a new crew and were far from Governor Rogers and his Nassau boot lickers.

“Wanted pirates. That’s what they’ll call us, isn’t that true Annie?”

“Aye and it is, Mary. It is true, and we’ll plunder the continent from Boston to the Carolinas. We’ll be rich, and as respected as much as any man.”

“But Calico Jack still be the Captain.”

Anne turned the wheel to bring the mainsail into the wind. Jack was inspecting the repairs on the foredeck, and there was no member of the crew close enough to hear them over the roar of the sea.

“That’s true as well, Mary, but all things be temporary.”

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A Black Matter for the King

vietnam war

Found at the Vietnam War page at Archives.org

His smile was like some kind of magic, but that’s not why she chose to talk with him.

Natalie Sanders Pena sat next to the shy young Marine near Gate B14 at Denver International Airport. He was heading back to Pendleton after his leave, and was due to be deployed to Vietnam within the next two weeks. The airport PA system was issuing a seemingly endless stream of advisories, but someone nearby had a transistor radio playing the Beatles’s “Penny Lane.” She hadn’t heard that song in a long time, but for her newfound friend, it was practically brand new.

“You miss your wife and little girl already, don’t you?” She looked down at the photo of the young woman and four-year-old girl he was holding near his lap.

“Yeah, I guess I do.” His Kentucky accent was tremendously apparent, and it was one of the few things she remembered clearly about him from her childhood.

“That’s perfectly normal. I’m sure they miss you, too.”

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From Jazz to Tango

crashing airliner

The dance lessons were not working. First of all, he hated to dance. Of all the things he was good at, dancing wasn’t one of them, in spite of the fact that he was at least adequate at several sports.

Secondly, she hadn’t noticed him. Hardly surprising since he was one of the worst students in their jazz dance class. He only joined so he could observe her without arousing suspicion, but he needed to get closer, and that meant interacting with her.

Their instructor Raoul could be bought, which was how Edison managed to land a spot in an already full class to begin with. Each student was supposed to choose a partner next week and he needed to be hers. A little more flirting with teacher and a stronger hint that he might be interested in some “personal tutelage” after hours would probably do the trick (he’d have to convince the little French tight ass that he was “bi”).

“Kathy, right?”

They were sitting on a mat facing each other, legs open, soles of their feet touching as they stretched.

“With a ‘C’, yes. Can’t you stretch more than this? You’re not really flexible.”

Oh, terrific. She’s snobby and critical. He’d hoped she’d be the type to take pity on one of the less accomplished dancers and offer a few pointers.

“I know. I need to work on it. Name’s Edison.”

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