Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA

Host Paul W. Reeves of “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA has provided many interesting and informative interviews with authors, some members of Writers Unite!, who have impacted the world of writing. We will be posting these interviews periodically so that you can enjoy listening to the experiences and advice these authors offer.

Join host and WU! admin, Paul W. Reeves as he talks with award-winning and best-selling author Sue Coletta from a show broadcast on December 12, 2018.

Click to listen to the podcast of the radio show interview:  https://pod.co/impact-radio-usa/author-sue-coletta-12-12-18

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SUE COLETTA, a prolific, award-winning, and bestselling author, called in to tell us about her life as a Crime Writer.

From her Website: “Sue’s passion is crime. She’s a proud member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Kill Zone, which is home to 11 top suspense writers and publishing professionals who cover the publishing biz, marketing how-to’s, and the craft of writing. Each day, they open the doorway into the world of the working writer. You can find out more about the Kill Zone in About me.If you’re a crime lover, like Sue, join her Crime Lover’s Lounge, and be the first to know about contests, giveaways, new releases, and have secret access to the lounge. Inside, folks crack crime puzzles against the best in law enforcement. All the cool kids hang at the Crime Lover’s Lounge.”

For more information on author, Sue Coletta, and to order her books, please visit her website at: https://www.suecoletta.com

Also find Sue on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SueColetta1/

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Host Paul Reeves

A product of the Detroit area, Wayne State University, and Eastern Michigan University, Paul W. Reeves, Ed.D, has spent over 30 years as a professional educator and musician, as well as his work as a radio talk show host and author.

IMPACT RADIO USA provides the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Launched in the spring of 2017, their goal is to keep you as the most informed Internet Radio audience. Click on the link below for the station’s complete show lineup!

(click on the LISTEN NOW button)


WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “”The Hook”.

The Hook

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday September 27,2019
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D. A. Ratliff: T – Minus Zero

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

T – Minus Zero

 By D. A. Ratliff

A muffled rumble reached his ears as the deck beneath him trembled. Eric Chandler paused to take a shallow breath then continued his task, as there was no time to worry about the increasing frequency of the strikes. The defense shield will have to do its job. There was much to do.

Glancing at the display on his pad, his chest tightened.

L-Minus 101:06:52:12 

T-Minus 06:52:12

Time was ticking. He tapped the comlink tucked behind his ear. “Brad. Status of the last transports?”

“The remaining transports have departed the space station and will arrive in five hours.”

“Cutting it close, Brad.”

“Yes, sir but with the tremors, they had issues with the last of the downloads.”

“Did they get everything?”

“Yes, sir. Upload of all data world-wide is complete, backed up and downloaded to the fleet.”

“Good.” He took a breath. “As soon as those transports arrive, we need to close down the base. It will be time to…” He stumbled, steeling himself to say the words. “It will be time to say goodbye.”

Eric sat quietly, staring at the wall across from his desk. It was a moment before his chaotic thoughts allowed him to focus on the only thing adorning the wall. An old photograph enclosed in a glass case filled with preservative argon gas had hung in a place of honor in his office for nearly twenty years. Intentionally, the photo hung on the wall until it was time to depart.

He picked up a metal case resting on the credenza behind him and approached the photo, each step harder than the next. This was the moment he had dreaded since the project began. The day it ended.

Unscrewing the brackets holding the glass case, he held the frame in his hands. A smile touched his lips, a luxury he seldom had time for any longer, as he remembered the day his grandfather presented him with the photo.


All he wanted was a double scotch, and the rapping on his study door annoyed him. He should ignore it but his days of ignoring anything ended at ten that morning. He opened the door to find his grandfather.

“Eric, may I come in?”

“Of course.” He stepped aside and his grandfather, carrying a small metal case, entered. “Pops, you want a drink?”

“Yeah, today more than ever.”

He poured Pops a double and they settled into the overstuffed leather chairs in front of the roaring fire in the fireplace. They sipped their drinks before Pops spoke.

“There is nothing that can be done?”


“Then you must lead the people of this planet to safety.”

“I’m an astrophysicist, not a superhero.”

“This morning, on that podium, the leaders of Earth’s governments and the Global Space Agency unanimously chose you to prepare us. They realize your capabilities, as do I.”

Eric rose and stood before the fire, gazing into the yellow-orange flames. “As you know, we launched the Melcor Array into orbit around Pluto with the hope that the instruments aboard would give us warning of exactly what we discovered, a threat to Earth. Four years ago, Melcor’s telescope spotted the object, and we couldn’t believe it was true. How could an object that large hurtle through space at such speed? GSA launched a probe from the outpost orbiting Europa as soon as possible and we learned what we were dealing with.” He turned toward his grandfather. “There is nothing we can do to stop it.”

“The President said we have twenty-four years before the end. You can do this.”

“Pops, I…”

His grandfather raised his hand to stop him. “I have something for you.” He opened the case and removed a photograph in a glass box frame. “This is one of the last original photographs of the launch of the original space agency, NASA’s, Apollo11 mission to the moon. The first time we ventured onto another world, our own moon.”

Eric smiled. “I remember this. You showed it to me when I received my scholarship and I was worried about the path in front of me.”

“A president of the United States several years before had challenged the US to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. They rose to the task.” He held the frame out to his grandson. “I told you then with technology that we would consider primitive, they accomplished this monumental feat. Brave men and women entered the space program and these pioneers gave us the opportunity we have today to save humanity.”

Eric took the photo from his grandfather. “I am not as brave as these men were.”

“Yes, you are. I want you to keep this photo with you, where you can see it as you lead us to safety.”

“We have had nearly two hundred years to develop better technology, but is it enough?” Eric’s eyes glistened with emotion as he looked at his grandfather for an answer.

“It will have to be.”


The darkened room was silent except for the soft slow beep from a monitor suspended from the ceiling. Eric Gardner sat next to the bed holding his grandfather’s hand. His wife and young daughter had retreated to the corridor to give him time alone. A gentle squeeze to his fingers told him his grandfather had awakened.

“Hey, Pops, you’re awake.”

“You shouldn’t be here. You should be with those you can save.”

His grandfather’s voice was weak, his words slurred, and Eric fought back tears as he responded. “I can save you if you will let me.”

“You want to put me on one of those cradle ships?”

“We can put you into suspended animation and you will wake up on New Terra. There is no need for you to refuse treatment. Treatment can occur while you are in hibernation and when you wake up, you will be healthy and with us. With me.”

His grandfather scoffed. “I am 117, I have lived my life. And I need to remain here on Earth with your grandmother and your parents. We lost them too soon.”

“Pops, please, I can’t…”

“Yes, you can. Now…” he struggled for breath. “Tell me the latest news.”

A rumble outside the hospital echoed through the room, signaling another impact to the city shield. The meteor strikes had been increasing drastically, and Eric knew that time was not only dwindling for his grandfather but for them as well.

“We are continuing to build AI cradle ships and then send them to the Lagrange point to wait for the fleet to assemble.”

“What a find that was. Young Dixon should receive the Nobel for his discovery.”

“We were lucky to find such a large and stable Lagrange point in the large Magellan Cloud, giving us the ability to conserve power while neutral gravity holds them there.”

“Luck is by design, son. Mankind never stopped looking for answers through four world wars, the plague of 2138, even this news. We kept going.”

“If your team hadn’t developed stardrive, we would be doomed.”

His grandfather shook his head. “Not just my team. The advances in AI technology allowed us to create android units that now monitor the population on the cradle ships.” He paused as breathing was a struggle. “Remember this. The people of Earth rose to the task and did what they had to do, just like those people at NASA who put men on the moon.”

His grandfather fell silent and Eric and his family sat with him until the end. The sun was rising as they left the hospital for the final time. In the pale morning light, he could see it. The giant rogue planet that would be their demise was now visible as a tiny black dot. It had slowed, as they expected when it interacted with the gravitational pull of the solar system, but its path was clear and straight, and Earth was in its way.


L-Minus 101:01:07:29 

T-Minus 01:07:29

Eric stood in front of the huge viewport in the main gallery of the lunar base. There was a low buzz of voices behind him, but he tuned them out. His focus was on the last transports arriving from the space station as they disappeared into the enormous hangar bay of the Adventus. Now the only people left, the Terrans, as they had chosen to call themselves, were those on the moon base and shortly, they too would be gone.

Brad, his second in command tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the metal case containing the photo. “Time to go.”

“The artifacts? The lunar module base, the flag?”

“Got them all, even managed to secure the boot print. One of the techs said it was too important to leave. Sprayed some sealer-crete on it to keep it intact. We are taking as much history as we can. Stored in the vaults with all the other treasures of Earth we could bring with us.”

He turned slowly looking over the assembled members of his team who were waiting with their families to depart. “Yes. It’s time.”


L-Minus 101:00:05:06 

T-Minus 00:05:06

Once a beautiful blue orb, the constant bombardment of meteors had shrouded the Earth in thick clouds of mottled gray and tan shades. There was nothing left to save but Eric Chandler’s job was far from over. There was a civilization to rebuild.

He turned from the viewport and nodded to the captain of the Adventus, who ordered the comm officer to open a ship-wide channel.

“We have accomplished our mission. The successful extraction of the peoples of Earth before the arrival of the rogue planet we named Mortis for she is truly an agent of death. Today we leave the only area of space we have known to join the AI Cradle ships where millions of our fellow Terrans hibernate. We had expected to take more with us but the bombardment by the debris field preceding the planet was greater than we anticipated. So many died before we developed the shield technology to protect them. We must never forget there were more of us that are not here.” He paused as emotion overcame him and he began to tremble. Swallowing hard, he continued.

“A quick update, the AIs report that the cradle ships are safe, and the defense arrays are in place to protect them. I am also happy to report that we have located two Goldilocks planets in the Large Magellan Cloud. Both look promising and advance crews are on their way to establish which is the better option for us.

As we depart the only home mankind has ever known, we should remember how we arrived here on this moon nearly two hundred years ago. A group of pioneers risked everything to reach out to the stars. Today, we do the same. Godspeed to us all.”

The ship’s crew and passengers remained quiet as time ticked down until the Adventus’s huge engines roared and they broke lunar orbit for the last time.

T-Minus Zero


L-Minus 00:00:25:53 

In its soothing digital voice, the slightly human-looking med-tech android unit M-2156 motioned for Eric to rise. “You are medically cleared for hibernation, Dr. Chandler. Your chamber is being prepared.”

“Thank you.”

The AI nodded and withdrew. Eric turned to his wife and daughter who were with him. “Are you certain you want to watch?”

His daughter touched his face. “Pops would want us to be with him at the end.”

He hugged his daughter and wife and they left sickbay for the assembly hall where they would watch the final moments of Earth.

The captain had lowered the lights and the Adventus was at station-keeping outside the solar system they once called home.

No one spoke as the cameras in orbit about the moon revealed the scene. Earth was being torn apart as the enormous planet neared. They had watched for days as the gravitational pull of the huge planet had broken Earth apart. Now as Mortis struck what was left of their old home, a concussion wave littered with debris hurtled toward the moon.

The screen went black.

Earth was no more. 

L-Minus 00:00:00:00


Eric Chandler stood by as his wife and daughter entered hibernation. The Med AI attendant turned to open his chamber.

“Dr. Chandler, you may enter now.”

He climbed in and while the Med AI attached tubing to the ports in his chest, he pointed to the metal case sitting beside his chamber. “Keep that safe for me.”

The AI nodded. “ I will do so, Dr. Chandler.”

The chamber hissed as it sealed, and he became drowsy as the hibernation drugs took effect. He managed a smile as he thought about the second image now resting in the metal case. An image of the Adventus as she left lunar orbit downloaded from the lunar base cameras. 

Another group of adventurers taking a giant leap for mankind.        

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FYI:  NASA Definitions

L- Minus: The countdown time to mission completion in totality.

T- Minus: The countdown time to completion of events within the mission.

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Please visit D. A. Ratliff on her blog at        https://thecoastalquill.wordpress.com/

Lynn Miclea: Rescue

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  


by Lynn Miclea

Alicia stared at the special communications receiver. Why wasn’t he calling? Her husband had been at the lunar outpost for four months, and he had always called every day or two, even if it was just for a couple minutes at a time. But now it had been a full week without Drew calling at all, and it worried her.

Was he okay? Was he injured? Sick? Did he need help? Or was it a simple malfunction of the Earth-Moon-Earth device? The EME communication device had worked well until now. Moon bounce, the radio communications technique based on radio waves, had been reliable, and the slight echo delay didn’t bother her at all. What had gone wrong? There were two other men with him there at the space station on the moon, but none of them called. Her stomach churned with anxiety.

The scientists at NASA were frantic at the lack of communication from the space station. They continually tried to reach the men. After forty-eight hours with no contact, they finally received a brief message by Morse code using the landing lights at the landing pad, but then nothing. They tried everything they knew, but could not reach them and they heard nothing else. Now desperate, three days later, they contacted Alicia and brought her up to date.

They let her know what was happening and, as she had been trained, they asked her to be on standby for going to the moon if needed. Everyone was deeply concerned, and it intensified her own fears. If NASA had lost communication with them, there could be a real problem.

She had been working closely with Drew on all the schematics and configurations for fixing and improving the in-situ resource utilization unit, or ISRU. She knew his work inside out. And she had been trained and cleared as an astronaut as well. She desperately needed to go there. She was his partner in all aspects of his work, in addition to being his wife. If he was in trouble, she had to help him.

One day later, NASA called again and requested that she go to the moon, and she immediately agreed. She was the right person to go. If he needed help, whether with the work on the ISRU, the processor unit, rovers, robots, hydroponics, EME device, any of the other equipment, or even with something personal, she was the best person after Mitch and Steve, who were already there working with him.

After spending one full week in isolation to make sure she would not bring any diseases with her, the day was finally here. She felt nervous and fidgety. Anxiety flooded through her system. She desperately hoped Drew was okay. She hoped all three men were okay. She packed her research notes for what he was working on, food, change of clothes, and medical supplies. She sent an urgent prayer that her husband and his two colleagues were fine and not injured.

Gray clouds threatened rain on the morning of the launch, but they cleared by early afternoon, and the launch was on. Why was she so nervous? Something had to be wrong. She just felt it. She tried to ignore it, but the anxiety was insistent. She needed to be there as soon as possible.

“10 … 9 … 8 … 7 …” She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes. “… 4 … 3 … 2 …” She gripped the armrest and squeezed. “… liftoff!” The rumble and shaking seemed to rattle every cell in her body, and the pressure was intense. Once it eased, all she could think about was her husband.


Once the shuttle was set down on the moon in the preferred place, she double-checked and triple-checked all the components on her spacesuit and oxygen tank. Everything seemed to be okay.

Exiting the shuttle, her breathing reverberated in her ears, accompanied by the whoosh of her blood. It was incredibly exciting walking on the moon — a real thrill, and something she had always dreamed about. She wished she could enjoy and savor it instead of being in a hurry. Her steps were awkward and slow, and with the thin atmosphere and low gravity, each step bounced her up in the air. She almost fell several times. She tried to do hops like she had been taught, and that helped. She struggled to control her steps, doing the running hops, for the short distance to the modular station where Drew and the other two men worked. Please be okay, please be okay, she kept repeating to herself as she hopped forward.

After what seemed like a long time, but must have been just a few minutes, she entered the entry port to the building, closed the door to the airlock, and punched in the codes. She then shifted from foot to foot waiting for gravity, atmosphere, oxygen, temperature, and other necessary conditions to shift to Earth normal.

Finally! Alicia quickly peeled off her spacesuit and attachments, opened the door, and ran into the main lab of the module.

“Drew?” She looked around. Where was he? “Mitch? Steve? Drew?” Her voice grew louder and desperate.

There! Drew was slumped over one of the processors. Racing to get to him, she tripped on something but caught her balance. A pencil lay on the floor — that’s what she had tripped on. She ignored it and rushed to his side.

She quickly glanced around the room. Mitch and Steve were lying on the floor. Dried foam was around their mouths, and their faces were blue. Dead. What had killed them? Whatever it was, Drew had it too. “Drew!” she shouted to his pale, sweaty face. At least he was still alive.

He moaned, licked his lips, and opened his eyes. His pupils widened as he saw his wife in front of him.

“Drew, what happened? What is wrong?”

He moaned again, tried to speak, and coughed. He pointed to the computer.

Alicia wiggled the mouse and the monitor lit up to show a document on the screen. Her eyes quickly scanned it, catching key words — sick, weak, fever, coughing, headaches, EME communication out.

“Drew, what happened to you?” She squeezed his hand and then felt his forehead. He was burning up. “I need to get you home. You need medical attention.”

Drew’s head nodded slowly. “Wa… water…” he whispered hoarsely.

“Yes, of course.” Alicia ran to the small kitchen area, filled a glass with water, and brought it back, holding it to Drew’s parched lips. “Here, drink a few sips.”

He struggled to sit more upright and sipped the water. Then he collapsed back onto the chair, his breathing rapid.

Alicia searched through her medical supplies. She knew she had brought antibiotics. Where were they? There they were! She took a few pills and brought them to her husband. “Drew, take these. They will help you.”

She held the back of his head as he sat forward slightly. She pushed the pills into his mouth, and he sipped some water and swallowed. Then he sighed and leaned back.

“Drew, did you finish the work on the ISRU? Did you do what you came here to do? Is it all done? Did it work?”

A flicker of a smile touched Drew’s lips. “Almost,” he whispered. “Last phase. Almost done. I couldn’t finish. Lost focus… couldn’t concentrate…”

Alicia moved to the computer. Drew’s notes sat next to the keyboard. She skimmed the notes and saw exactly where he was. She searched the folders on the computer. There. He had entered all the calculations and made the modifications except for the last part. It was so familiar — they had worked on this exact part together. And she knew precisely what was missing.

For the next hour, Alicia moved between the computer and the processors in the lab. She adjusted the parameters, checked the feedback, added the necessary computations and set the data input the way it should be. Almost done. 

She ran back to Drew and gave him more water. He sipped it, coughed, and then rested.

Back to the processors. She entered the correct specifications for each module and each component. Made adjustments for the solar cells in the solar arrays. Another hour passed. Sweat dripped down her neck. Almost done. The last segment in the final sector … click. Done!

A loud humming filled the room. It worked. It was now complete.

She knew the EME communications needed adjustments to the linear polarization in the antenna to get the moon bounce communication back up and running, probably due to interference, but she couldn’t worry about that now. She had to get her husband home.

She returned to Drew. His skin was clammy. “Drew,” she murmured. “Hang in there. I’ll get you back home. Stay with me. Please.”

Drew moaned and his head rolled back, his breathing shallow and rapid.

“Drew!” Alicia rubbed the back of his hand and patted his cheek. A low groan came from his lips.

She hefted him up, got him to the bathroom, and helped him relieve himself. She washed his face as he leaned against her and shivered.

“We have to get you home. Have you eaten anything?”

He did not answer. She searched the kitchen area and grabbed a few containers of water, juice, and soup. 

“Let’s go,” she said, urging him forward. “We need to go home now.”

She got him into the airlock at the entry port of the building, closed the door, and dressed him in his spacesuit. Then she put on her own. She checked all the settings multiple times and turned on his oxygen. She saw his breath fog up his mask. She made another adjustment and checked the settings again. Time to go. Did he still have time left? Would he make it back to Earth alive?

Alicia punched in the codes, waited, and then opened the door to the outside. Holding his arm, she pulled Drew after her. He stumbled forward, leaning on her. A small rover was just outside the door. She helped him get in, and then she scooted behind the wheel and drove it away from the module. It slowly tracked over the lunar surface toward the shuttle. Almost there. Finally reaching it, she turned off the rover, got out, and helped Drew out. He was so weak. Her hands trembled as she punched the buttons at the entry to the shuttle. She stamped on the ground with impatience. It finally opened. Yes!

Once in the shuttle’s airlock, she set the controls and waited for everything to reach Earth specifications. Then she took off both their spacesuits, got back into the navigation section of the bridge, and buckled them into their seats. Drew moaned, and she gave him another dose of antibiotics and some water. “Hang in there, Drew. We’ll be home soon. Please hang in there.”


Drew lay in the ICU bed at the hospital near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory just outside Pasadena, California. Fluid dripped into him from the IV next to his bed. He lay listless and pale, an oxygen mask over his face.

A doctor entered the ICU and approached the bed, his white coat hanging open and a stethoscope around his neck. He nodded to Alicia. “You’re his wife?”

“Yes. How is he?” She stood up, her body shaking.

“He has bilateral pneumonia, also known as double pneumonia. Both lungs are affected and are inflamed and filled with liquid. He also is in the first stage of sepsis, moving toward severe sepsis, which is dangerous and can be fatal. We are treating him aggressively with antibiotics, corticosteroids, fluids, and oxygen, and we are checking vital signs every hour. He is not yet in septic shock, but I will not lie to you — he is in critical condition. He can recover, but he can also go downhill. We will monitor him and do our best.”

Alicia nodded and bit her lip. “But how could they have gotten sick there? They were in isolation before they went.”

“I don’t know.” The doctor’s voice was soft. “Possibly there was something they packed and took with them that had been contaminated and they didn’t know. But whatever it was, we will do our best to help him.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“And it was a good thing you brought him in when you did. He might not have lasted much longer without medical treatment.”


Two weeks later, Drew was discharged and went home. Still weak, he reached for Alicia’s hand as they sat across from each other at the kitchen table. “Thank you, Alicia. I can’t believe I’m still here.”

“Drew, I barely got to you in time. We were lucky. You didn’t have much time left.”

“And my two buddies — Mitch and Steve. I hated seeing them so sick. There was nothing I could do.” He shook his head, tears in his eyes. “I watched them die,” he added softly.

She searched his eyes, compassion welling up in her. “I’m so sorry. That must have been awful.”

“What about their families? Do they know?”

Alicia blinked against the burning in her eyes. “Yes. NASA is notifying their families.”

Drew took a bite of his chicken sandwich. “I couldn’t even call out for help. The EME communication system went down, and I didn’t have time to get it fixed.” He chewed and then swallowed. “Besides, the three of us were not feeling well by then, and we could barely focus. And the job we were working on was much more of a priority.” He waved his arm at her. “How did you even know I needed help?”

“You stopped calling and I just knew. I knew something was wrong. I felt it.” She sipped her iced tea. “And I couldn’t get there fast enough.”

“And my work on the ISRU — you finished it?”

“Yes. I could see exactly where you left off. I knew what needed to be done. It’s all finished.”

His eyes lit up. “And? Did it work?” He took another bite of his sandwich.

“Yes, it did!” She bit into her sandwich. “It worked perfectly, just the way we expected. You did almost all of the work, you got really close, and I simply finished it. But it worked exactly the way we thought it would. You are a genius.” She smiled and took a big gulp of iced tea.

Drew chuckled. “I was almost a dead genius.”

She laughed. “Almost, but not quite.” She reached over and squeezed his hand. “Welcome back to life, Drew. You have a second chance. And I’m so proud of you.”

He smiled. “I’m proud of you too, Alicia. You completed the work. That was so important. That lunar outpost needs to be a viable base of operations for a long time, and what we were doing was critical.” He pursed his lips. “Not to mention you saved my life.”

“I’m glad I got to you in time. It was close. Too close.” She thought for a few moments. “We’re a good team. And it sure is good to both be back here on Earth.”

“You can say that again. This is the most beautiful planet in the universe, and it is so good to be back home.”

“And still be alive.”

Drew laughed. “Yes, being alive is a good thing.”

Alicia leaned over and kissed him softly. “Welcome home, sweetheart.”


Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/s4htbd-rescue

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/ 

Jenny Booker: NASA Calling

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

NASA Calling

By Jenny Booker

The distant sound of ringing woke her up — it wasn’t her alarm clock as she tried hitting out at it, but yet that noise continued and in realisation it was her phone.

“Who can be ringing at this time?” she thought, glancing over at the clock and picked it up.

Unknown number, it read across the screen.

“Hello?” she said, pressing the green button while stifling a yawn.

“Ms. Bethany Trill?” a male voice boomed back.

“Yes that’s me — can I ask who this is?” she said worriedly with the sudden change of atmosphere.

“This is calling to let you know your presence is requested at NASA.”

“Really?” she stuttered, amazed and unsure of how they got her number and what they wanted her for.

“Yes we will fetch a car for you in one hour and then you will be briefed — thank you,” a quick response replied.

Then the sound of silence.

“What on earth is going on?” she muttered, wondering if she was still dreaming.

She pinched herself too, then regretted that. Shaking her head, she stretched and went downstairs to grab a strong coffee pondering what they wanted and getting more nervous as the hour passed.

The doorbell rang just in time for her to glance in the mirror to check if she looked fine for where she was going.

“Ms. Trill?” the guy asked.

“Yes,” she said looking at the car they sent her — how fine!

The journey took ages and she felt tense as they arrived at the headquarters. Stepping out of the car, the cool breeze cooled her down.

Walking into the building she was greeted by three men and a lady all shaking her hand and thanking her for coming at such short notice — she wanted to say not like she had a choice but declined as they looked like they had never seen sarcasm before.

They led her to the lift and she saw that one of the men pressed a hidden button before the lady shoved a paper to her face asking her to sign it.

“What am I signing? Why am I here?” she stuttered getting a bit frustrated.

“It’s a confidentiality agreement and as soon as you sign it you will understand, Ms. Trill,” the other man said.

Hesitant, she grabbed the pen and felt like she signed her soul away before the lift opened to reveal a grey corridor and white suits hanging up next to the door.

“Please put this on,” the man who pressed the button asked.

She put on the white suit shaking, but the lady smiled and asked if she was ready.

“Ready for what?” she muttered.

Then the door opened to reveal why.

“You are the best scientist, are you not? We need your help,” the lady said then paused looking away.

“The rocket that we sent off came back a few days ago and as you can see our astronauts also came back…” she trailed off.

In front of her were three men, but not as you would expect them to look like.

“We need you to help us in finding a cure and as to what happened — we have a team for you next door,” the lady continued and now looked at her with hope and desperation.

“Right!” was all she could find herself saying in a high voice.

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Please visit Jenny on her blog: https://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com

Calliope Njo: Do Things My Way

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Do Things My Way

By Calliope Njo

“Liftoff in five, four, three, two—”

I rushed into the office when I overheard. “No, wait. It can’t take off. Not with the threat of exploding.” What did I say? This was not my time period.

“You’re getting your dates confused,” Commander Atterwack said.

That’s always been a probability, but after getting yanked into the room by John, we double checked everything. He went into hiding while I had to discover a means to make things right. Why did he even work here?

She smiled. “No one had been appointed for a time fix during this segment.”

“But Commander, it ended in failure. History was changed and this launch never took place because of an explosion. That blast made trips to outer space an impossibility.” Strange what one remembers during a dispute over coffee.

She raised an eyebrow. She strolled to the viewscreen and remained there for a minute before turning around again. “If what you say is correct, then someone must set matters right. I need a report within the hour.”

“Within the hour? Ma’am, you’re talking about three days worth of analysis and this is not something that could be accomplished wham-bam fashion.” John should feel lucky I’m here and not him. It would take me three days to persuade him to work on it. “Time must be taken to carefully—”

“All right. One day and no further argument. My decision is final. Dismissed.” She waved me out.

I stepped out into the corridor and leaned against the wall. Strange how a white shiny wall turns colors when stared at. Eyes closed, I stayed there a moment before opening my eyes and continuing back to my office. Work had to be done.

Proper history recorded Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Something happened, and the rocket launched a day early with only Buzz Aldrin.

I did French Neoclassical Period not the Cultural Decade. She needed me to come up with a report. Orders were orders though and needed to be followed without question.

I opened with a short enough video of each occurrence, long enough to demonstrate the events. Then an analysis of proper history, though with this crowd, that wouldn’t be necessary but I did it anyway. I forwarded a copy to John out of courtesy.

A full day to accomplish and evaluate the report before submission. Not enough time, but I believed I hit all the crucial points. I hoped she would only tell me my imagination got the best of me and not tell me to write a report about it. Teach me to open my big fat mouth. I got to remember to bring skin glue the next time my mouth decided to work without brain function.

I sent it to her, via robomessenger, in the hopes she wouldn’t blast my door open and behead me. Maybe I panicked over nothing and she would laugh and be done with it.

Instead of pacing, I worked on that case that involved Marie Antoinette. History wanted to change to make her a peasant instead. Something about how the peasants stole her fortune. That needed more research before going out into the field.

About to ask for a meal, Commander Atterwack walked into my room. Straight lips and narrow eyes were never a good sign with her. It meant she was confused and no one wanted a confused commander. “I see your point. After review, I have no choice but to send a team to investigate. That action alone may mean that this agency could never exist. We can’t have that. What are you working on now?”

“The Marie Antoinette case.”

“That’s not relevant. What is more relevant is this.” She pointed at it as my report showed up. “Something happened. As in all matters, if this doesn’t get fixed then history will be altered. We can’t have that. Find as many holes as you can and plug in actual facts so the squad can better get the historical events as they were supposed to happen.”

“Yes, Commander.” I bowed my head.

I watched until my door closed before I vidcommed John.

“Yeah, Cat. What?”

He answered. I’m amused. The name’s Caitlin not Cat by the way. “John, since this is your time span you should be the one to present any updates to Commander Atterwack.”

“Yeah, but, I’m busy.”

I heard a video game. “Sure you are. I have better things to do than to cover your ass before it gets blown up to smithereens. You know that’s what she would do to you so my suggestion would be for you to get to work.”

“Yeah but, I’m almost at—”

“If you wish to lose your job, go ahead. Keep playing that game like a five-year-old and don’t pay any attention to me. After all, it’s not like I’m your mother. The commander.” Take the hint.

Something hit the wall. “All right. Fine. I’ll get to it. Anything else?”

“No. Not a thing.” I hung up.

How he got that position I’ll never know. I doubted if he would ever get to it.

We talked to each other through the rest of the day. I did my report, and he worked on his. Both of us reported to Commander Atterwack, and she laughed, surprised her son worked. She would have rather I did it, but after I explained to her that I didn’t want to make any unnecessary assumptions, she nodded and accepted the report.

“I’m going to bed,” John said.

He had plans to go to bed. If it were me, I would be scrambling to be sure all points were covered before tomorrow. He had ideas about sleep.

I nodded, smiled, and walked in the direction of the food room. I needed something to eat, but what, I had no idea. None of the pictures looked appetizing. I opted for a cup of stew and hoped for the best.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I switched side to side until I got up and started thinking. I must’ve missed something. You don’t defy orders. He had the responsibility to find out what took place. How could you accomplish that sleeping?

I walked to the central computer. “Alpha Omega 3-5-3. Show me—” No. That wouldn’t be right. I turned it off and walked away. If he wanted me to know what happened, he would tell me.

The next morning, about four pots of a caffeine boost went into my body. Shocked that dents didn’t appear in the walls, the thought of walking around came to mind. With my luck, I’d get lost.

I turned on my computer in the hopes of getting something done. Not being on the central system allowed me room to make a lot of mistakes and theories without being looked at. I opened the To Be Refined file when John walked in.

“I don’t know. I just don’t. You. Her. The both of you got something up your stinkin’ ass that I don’t know anything about. I’m done. You realize, I studied to become a designer of virtual worlds. All of this was her idea. Not mine.” He walked out.

Before anything could be suggested he left. Commander Atterwack should have been notified, but I didn’t. What was she going to do? Thoughts about what he yelled ran through my mind.

It could’ve been exhaustion, but it only took a couple minutes before nothing made sense. That was my cue to get some slumber.

Something kept bothering me so sleep didn’t come. Didn’t Ol’ Mr. Sandman want to return from vacation? Of course not. Stupid question.

John yelled that he studied to create virtual worlds. That took a lot of study under a collection of different categories. Maybe he worked on the report the wrong way. Quick fix to this problem, work on it from his perspective.

Not sure how long it would be before I collapsed on the floor sleeping, I vidcommed him. He answered on the fifth ring. “What?”

“Hello to you too,” I said, as I tried to listen to what that background noise was. “I’m going to make this short. Maybe—”

My door opened and he walked in. “What?”

I didn’t ask. “Maybe you’re going about this from the wrong perspective.”

“What other perspective? There is no other perspective. If she didn’t—”

“Hold on before you talk about a murder plot out loud. Sit and listen.”

What did he do? He sat on the floor with his legs crossed and looked up at me. Wouldn’t a reasonable adult find a chair? He could have the chair to the right him instead of sitting on the floor.

“Anyway, you mentioned you wanted to produce virtual worlds. With that education, you can identify holes and come up with a feasible plan to help solve that issue. All the information you require is inside the central computer. That will give you all the info you need to build a world that this history is all about and create a world that possible solution could help fix. With a lot of work and creativity, you can do this. You’re twenty-five years old. Be an adult and do your work dammit.”

He stood up and left the room. No bye, no thanks, he up and left. Before my mind packed a bag and left my brain, I went back to bed. Sleep or no sleep.

The next thing I knew, someone patted my shoulder. “Hey, wake up. Will you wake up? Cat!”

I sat up. “John? Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night?”

“It’s thirteen-thirty. Anyway, I did it. I turned them in and she loved them. She told me she was proud. We did it.”

Huh? Wait… “Oh. Congratulations. See, you could do it. Why don’t you go and get what’s his name and celebrate?”

“I’m going now.” He waved me towards the door.

“I’ve got a few things to do.” One of which will cause me to do something I hadn’t done since I was five.

“Oh. I’ll wait.” He sat on the floor.

He and that floor. I swear, there had to be a story about that. I didn’t have time to figure that out and walked as fast as possible to the wet room.

Sure enough, he still sat there when I emerged. “I didn’t know you would be here.”

“Hey, why don’t we go to the Third Tower? They’re supposed to have that new place. Can’t wait to try it. And she said, I could create my own team. Oh man, I can’t believe this really happened. I’m so excited right now.”

He had the biggest smile on his face, not that he didn’t earn it. It had to be good if he got that kind of praise from her. Well, maybe a little while wouldn’t hurt anything. Everybody needed a chance to have fun. I’ll work later.

Work later? Did I think that? Oh no. maybe if I bribed the health center director he would give me a stay-awake shot or something similar to help me get that report done.

He walked ministeps in place. “Well, Cat?”

“Well what?”

“Are we going?”

“I guess. And the name’s Caitlin.”

“Right.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me behind him as we went out to celebrate. I’ll make an entry later about the experience.

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Please visit Calliope’s blog at https://calliopenjosstories.home.blog

Paula Shablo: In Living Black and White

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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In Living Black & White

By Paula Shablo

Pamela was nine years, two months and twelve days old when the Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy. “I’m writing it down in my diary,” she announced, scribbling in the battered little book. “When I’m old, it will be history!”

“We’re watching it on TV,” Rob scoffed. “It’s not like we’re there in person or something.”

“Quiet, you,” Tim scolded. “Just appreciate that we’re able to watch it in living black-and-white.”

Minnie, Pamela’s little sister, giggled at Pamela’s friends. “That’s funny, ‘living black-and-white,’ Timmy!”

“Yeah, I’m a laugh riot,” Tim agreed.

“I can’t believe your mom let us in this early,” Scott said. “My mom about had a hissy fit that I was going out before breakfast, but our TV is on the fritz, and I didn’t want to miss it.”

“Yeah,” Tim said. “Our ‘what I did this summer’ themes are practically written.”

Pamela rolled her eyes. “I hate those things.”

No one disagreed with that.

Dora and Ronnie, the littlest siblings, showed no interest at all in the television screen, which featured a long view of the launching pad accompanied by a droning voice talking about preparations and the countdown that would soon commence. Minnie was bored, but was determined to hang out with Pamela and her friends as long as they allowed it. Mostly, they didn’t, but today was different. It was history.

“So,” Rob speculated, “the Jupiter Two launches in 1997…”

“It’s just a TV show, Rob,” Tim scoffed.

“But it could happen,” Pamela argued. “First the moon, and then — who knows?”

Scott shook his head, dubious. He and Tim were really smart, especially about science. This had not stopped either of them from watching shows like “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek,” but they were both quick to point out that none of the technology in those shows was anywhere near being available in 1969. “I don’t think we’ll even make it as far as Mars by then,” he declared.

Pamela sighed. “I want to go,” she said. “Even if it takes until 1997 and I’m an old lady like Will Robinson’s mother.”

“Ooo, yuck!” Minnie cried. “You can’t be a little old lady in space!”

The boys laughed, but Pamela was indignant. “I can so!” she said. “I can do anything I want!”

“Shhh!” Tim said. “They’re starting the countdown!”

Pamela’s mother heard that, and came to sit on the sofa and watch as the children, all seated in a semicircle, too close to the television, began to chant: “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! ONE!! BLAST OFF!!!”

There appeared to be a pause, and the ship was engulfed in smoke. It seemed to hover just above the launch pad, eternally frozen in time.

The children exhaled loudly as it took flight and rose into the air.

There came a lot of excited chatter, some in the room, some from the TV.

For a short whil,e they were able to watch as the cameras followed the flight path into the sky, but soon Apollo 11 was too far away to see.

Pamela felt exalted and let down at the same time. She could see that her friends likely felt the same way. Tim was flushed, Scott was pale, and Rob was fidgeting enough that it seemed he might launch himself at any moment.

“Well!” Pamela’s mother rose from the sofa, and brushed her hands over her skirt and apron. “Wasn’t that exciting? Who wants waffles?”

They all did, and followed her into the little kitchen. Pamela felt antsy with anticipation. “How long until they land on the moon, Mom?” she asked. “Dinner time?”

“Oh, no.” Her mother shook her head. “It will take a few days.”

Tim and Scott nodded knowingly, but Rob and Pamela both jumped up and yelled, “What?”

“It’s really far,” Tim explained.

“But, rockets are fast!” Rob protested.

“Which goes to show how really, really far it is,” Scott replied.

“Oh, wow,” Pamela sighed. “Now what?”

Her mother put a plate of waffles on the table and said, “Now, we wait. We wait, and we pray that everything goes right, so those men come home safely to their families.”

Over the next few days, Pamela and her friends ate their meals and played their summer games, but mostly they lay on their lawns and watched the sky, wondering what was happening up there.

It was a Sunday, and the fathers were all home. Pamela and her family found themselves gathered at Rob’s family’s house, along with Tim’s and Scott’s families. Rob’s family had a color television set, but everything was broadcast in glorious black-and-white.

“Living black-and-white!” Minnie cried, and Tim laughed. He sounded a little hysterical.

Everyone was nervous, even the grownups. They were drinking alcoholic drinks, every one of them.

The children sat too close to the set, clutching bottles of cold Dr. Pepper.

There were plates of chips and crackers and cold cuts, but no one was eating them. No one spoke much, and rarely above a whisper, as they all listened to whatever was allowed to be said over the live broadcast.

“I think they’re keeping something from us,” Scott’s dad whispered to the other adults, and they all sipped their drinks simultaneously.

Whether or not that was true, it was finally announced that the Eagle was setting down.

Pamela was nine years, two months and sixteen days old when the Eagle landed on the moon, and a few hours older than that when Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface, declaring “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

She wrote it all in her diary. When she was old, it would be history.

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 Please visit Paula on her blog: https://paulashablo.wordpress.com/

Roger A Legg: Apollo 17

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Apollo 17

By Roger A. Legg

He looked at the picture as the rocket slowly climbed into the sky. The roar was getting louder as Apollo 17 inched its way into space. Storm had watched this photo a million times. But it always fascinated him how something so small started all this. The rocket finally cleared the top of the picture and was about to reset when Storm’s teacher stepped up behind him.

“Amazing isn’t it?” Mr. Anderson asked.

“I guess,” was all Storm gave back.

“Didn’t your great, great, grandfather fly that mission?” Mr. Anderson asked.

“Yeah,” Storm said and wished he could walk away. He hated being asked that question. Like he had anything to do with it. It happened so long ago that it was in the history books they had to study each year.

Mr. Anderson looked down on the boy. “You probably get that a lot.” He paused to allow the moment to pass. “Let’s get down to the far end. I hear they have a tree now.”

Storm turned from the picture. “Yeah. I’ve seen it already.”

“Really. How big is it?” Mr. Anderson asked with fascination.

“Well, maybe three meters,” Storm said, not really wanting to encourage a conversation about anything. Especially with the teacher. It was hard enough being the first minister’s son, but also being the teacher’s pet. Well that just wouldn’t do. He would have to push this pretender away just like all the rest.

Mr. Anderson didn’t want to push too hard on the first day back to school so he walked away to look at a few more interesting artifacts from Earth. Some fossils and arrowheads from a place called Wyoming. Then over to the Mastodon and Saber-Toothed Tiger on display. It was the largest collection of Earth Things ever assembled in one place.

Storm went to the far wall near the entrance. The cold, stone surface felt good against his back. He would do his best to stay here while others roamed around to look at all the things that were no more. Some of these items were the only ones left in the whole universe. The last kangaroo or ostrich. None of these things were alive. No, some were stuffed, and some were just representations of the real thing. A vast room full of stuff to remind us of what we had lost. Or gained, depending on how you wanted to look at it.

From his left a girl leaned against the wall as well, and without turning to him said, “Hey.”

“Hi Tera,” was all Storm said as he stared out into the room.

“Father said that you needed to mingle more,” Tera said softly so no one else could hear.

“They’re all just pretenders,” Storm shot back.

“But they vote,” Tera said. She pushed herself off the wall and stepped in front of Storm. “They vote and we stay put. Or they vote and we have to move again. I for one am tired of moving.”

“You’re going to move eventually.” Storm was referring to her going to university.

“That’s different. I want to go there.” Tera stiffened.

“Because that muscle-headed brute is going there.” Storm was trying to push her away as well.

Tera smiled and turned to leave. Just as she left, she said, “You could do better than that ragged old bitch you hang around.”

That was Tera, always digging. Most likely dad sent her over because he is under some diluted idea that she cares for her little brother. But she’s just like all big sisters. Mean, self-centered and totally stuck on what others think.

Casandra wasn’t like that. She cared for him. Not who his dad was or that being his friend would make her better. No, she just loved to be with him. She loved heading to the surface where they could watch the stars and if it was late enough, maybe even get a glimpse in the telescope. Storm wished he was with her and not stuck here in the museum. What is with this place anyway. Earth is dead. After a few hundred million years, we puny humans managed to destroy it in, what, twelve thousand years. Now we wander the solar system in these astromech cities. Just a few hundred million inhabitants from a world of billions. And we are going to do the same thing to them as well. Use them up and discard the waste. We haven’t changed and maybe we never will.

Storm’s mood darkened still. He just couldn’t understand why people refused to change. Refused to accept that things were finite and that eventually they ran out. Oh, sure we had fusion power and we could actually move our great cities around like blundering boulders, but this place was only going to support us for a few thousand years, then what. Where would we go? Mars? They’re all dead there too. The virus was so contagious that it killed everyone in a matter of years. Almost half a billion people. Titan? We still don’t know what dwells in the depths of that moon.

Oh stop it, Storm rebuked himself. What could he do about it? He was only sixteen.

Mr. Anderson returned. “That was amazing. It’s huge,” he said with a grin across his face. “And it’s still growing. Imagine that.”

“Yeah, imagine,” said Storm.

“What’s eating you?” Mr. Anderson asked.

At first Storm thought about ignoring the question, but if he truly wanted this pretender to go away, he might as well unleash his anger and make this pretender sorry for trying. “Well you see. We humans took a beautiful and vibrant planet and turned it into a cesspool of rotting waste and rot in just a few thousand years. And now we roam around in these rocks acting as if this is the greatest life ever. Hell! We have to make an appointment to sit on the grass and have a pick-nick and marvel at things that use to grow wild, like trees.”

“Wow,” was all Mr. Anderson said.

He would leave soon. Or so Storm thought. But he just stood there pondering his student’s words. Then after a few minutes, he said, “You know it’s still alive.”

Storm didn’t know what he meant and if he responded with curiosity, he would never get rid of him. But the words kept playing in his mine, “Still alive.” Still he kept his cool. Mr. Anderson could not be talking of Earth. It was dead and brown. They showed it to us in their books. But what if? What if it was a lie? Should he take the bait and ask what was still alive? No. He didn’t want this pretender to think he cared about something. No… but what if it were true?

Mr. Anderson didn’t say anything more. He was going to wait for Storm to come to him.

Storm finally caved. “What is still alive?”

“The Earth.” Mr. Anderson delivered his message and was free to leave. He suddenly took interest in something on the far side of the room and walked away.

Storm watched him. He wanted to know more, but that would mean he would have to pursue that pretender. It must be a trick. Earth was dead. Or at least that’s what he’d been told all his life. He looked at Mr. Anderson, who was looking at something in a case. He never looked back. He knew he had placed the hook deep in his mind. He didn’t need to come to Storm any more. In his mind Storm would come to him.

Storm fought off the ideas that were pushing him to pursue Mr. Anderson. It was a lie and that was that. But that night his dreams were violent. They had to escape the city, but no one knew where to go. The other cities were overpopulated and would not take them in. Their supplies would only last about a year. Certainly not long enough to build a new city. Then a blue planet appeared in his mind. Not brown, or red or grey, but blue with white swirls. It was so inviting. They set their course and headed to the blue one. As they approached missiles started coming at them from orbital platforms. Someone else was already there. And they weren’t friendly. Storm woke up with a shock. Could it be?

Storm got up and put on his coveralls. He needed to go for a walk. Maybe he could get a glimpse in the telescope. Or maybe he could sit on the grass. It was late and most would be sleeping. He grabbed his pad from school and walked out of the apartment. He was going to try the telescope first, well maybe second. He changed his course and headed to the lift. When it arrived he pushed level 12. The lift went down, way down. When it was done, he left. This place was dirty and smelled of oil, filth and mold. It was the lowest of the worker levels. Everything else was machinery. The very bowels of the city. Storm didn’t like to spend much time here, so he quickly typed something on his pad and walked towards a large grey structure. By the time he got there a small door opened and Casandra stepped out.

“I was hoping you’d call,” she said with a smile.

Storm just grabbed her hand and pulled her along. She didn’t fight him but was confused by the silence. They quick-marched back to the lift. He hated being down here and he hated that she was. But again, there was nothing he could do about that. They made it to the lift and were on their way when Storm finally explained himself. “I need to check something, and if it’s true, I want a second pair of eyes to confirm it.”

Casandra thought that this might be “The Night,” but it sounded like it might be something else. Or was it. She had put on her clean jumper and neglected to put on any undergarments as they would just slow things down. But now they were going up. All the way up. Even in her best jumpsuit she would stick out up there. And the fact that this coarse garment was rubbing on all her tender spots only made her more self-conscious of her lack of fineries. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a lot of people up there and no one would take notice of her. Storm certainly didn’t take notice of her. He just grabbed her hand and pulled her along. Not looking at her much or even talking. They were headed in the direction of the observatory.

About halfway there Casandra had to stop. Her jumper was uncomfortable, and she needed to adjust it. The crotch was riding up and she had to adjust it. Storm looked annoyed. And had a questioning look on his face.

After a second attempt to pull the offending garment from between her legs, she looked at Storm. He looked angry. He didn’t understand why she was keeping him from their destination. She needed him to slow down and understand her predicament. She took a quick look around and saw that they were alone and out of sight of the cameras. She then reached up and pulled the zipper down on her jumpsuit just far enough for Storm to see that she was not wearing a bra, then zipped it back up again.

Storm was shocked, pleased but shocked.

“I thought,” she said.

“Oh,” Storm said, not knowing what else to say.

“But,” she asked.

“Oh.” Storm still couldn’t say anything else. His mind was racing about all the possibilities. But was this the time? He had to choose. The thought of trying to do both in one night crossed his mine, but which would be first? And where?

The fact that he hesitated so long annoyed Casandra. “Forget it,” she finally said. Then asked, “What did you drag me up here for?” with a heavy emphasis on the drag.

He stammered at first. “I needed…” His mind was still lamenting the lost moment. His body was screaming at him for its loss or perceived loss. But slowly his mind was pulling out of the tail spin she had put him in. “I need… to see something on the telescope.” He stepped closer and put his mouth to her ear. “I heard a rumor that Earth is alive.” He pulled away.

She was shocked and a little angry.

He looked at her in confusion. “What?”

“My mother thought that you would… well, take me,” Casandra said.

“Your mother?” Storm was really confused.

“Forget it,” Casandra said in a huff.

“What?” Storm realized the moment was gone. He was not prepared for what she was saying. And could not grasp why her mother would have anything to say about it. Not that she couldn’t be her mother, but what did she mean by taking her. There was more than sex implied with that statement. He was only sixteen, well almost seventeen, but the idea of setting himself up as an individual and applying for an apartment was the farthest thing from his mind right now. However, the idea of sex had an appeal that his brain was not willing to let go of so quickly. Sure, he had thought about it with Casandra, but he enjoyed their friendship and sex seemed to be there, but not in the forefront. Then there was the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, as his father would not approve. Who needed the drama? He certainly didn’t, so it was, in his mind, shelved. But seeing the bareness of her chest between her breasts was so exciting. She had offered herself… to him. He needed to say something to fix this. He just didn’t know what to say. He needed to think. “I just wanted you to see something I was told about. I needed a second pair of eyes I could trust.” He paused. “From someone who wouldn’t lie to me just to win my favor.” He paused again. He wanted Casandra to know that he trusted her. That when it came to honesty in both emotions and in facts, he depended on her. “I need you.” He stepped closer, hoping that she would not step back or turn. She didn’t. “Right now, I need to see this and then we’ll talk.”

She didn’t say anything but nodded her head “yes.” She was still embarrassed. Self-conscious of her attire and wanted to go back to her apartment, but she would follow. She would put his needs above her own.

Storm slowed his pace despite the desire to get this over and sit down and talk with Casandra. He needed to confirm what he was told and what his dreams were nagging him about. “Was Earth still there? Were they being lied to?”

The trip to the observatory took about fifteen minutes as Storm had shortened his stride twice to accommodate Casandra and she had to stop and adjust her jumpsuit once more. Needless to say it took a great deal of concentration for Storm to keep his mind on his objective. Casandra may have been the offspring of workers, but she was beautiful by most measures, she just kept it hidden with her oversized outfits of black and grey. And kept her hair oily and over half her face so as to obscure her beauty. For the most part, it worked, except to him. He could see it. However, what drew him in more was her intelligence and honesty. He loved that he could depend on it. Now more than ever he needed it.

They reached the observatory and found it empty. Storm brought up his pad and made a few notes. He looked in the telescope to see where it was pointed. He needed to adjust it so that it would sweep across a certain area of space. But first he needed to figure out where it was and how to get it to sweep in a certain path. From the looks of it, it was pointed out of the solar system, so the first step was to swing it almost one hundred and sixty-seven degrees and adjust its altitude by twenty-eight degrees. That would put it in the general area he needed to start with. Once the coordinates were typed in, he let the whirl of the gears move the massive optical device. He consulted his pad again. He needed to know where the planets were right now and how he could move the telescope to move across that spot. This was such a tedious activity and so unnecessary except for the fact that the telescope was programmed to block Earth from its observers. They didn’t want people to lament over it. It was gone, no reason to long for it, so they just erased it. Which was a complete contradiction to the museum. There they showed off all the dead things they once had.

Once the telescope stopped, Storm typed in the next set of coordinates. This time he placed the camera on his pad over the eye piece. Let it focus and then pushed the record button. He had Casandra hit the execute button on the star drive. The telescope moved. It swung past stars and rocks and Mars but kept moving. Storm asked, “Can you increase the magnification by six?”

He did and the objects on his pad got bigger but moved faster. “That’s perfect.” Then he adjusted the frame rate on the pad to maximum and waited. Suddenly the picture went black and then a few seconds later it returned to the stars zooming across the lens. Storm stopped the recording. Saved it and then rewound it. He went back to a point, one half second before the blackout. Then frame by frame went forward. Ten frames, fifteen, twenty-seven, thirty-six. Then there it was. Just at the edge of the frame. A blue smudge. He typed in a few commands that cropped that area of the picture. It was very blurry. A few more commands and the pad compensated for the speed that the object was traveling at. When the image was done rendering, it clearly showed a blue planet with water and swirling clouds. Still a little out of focus, but it was clear enough. His father had lied. They all lied! Earth was still there! Not brown. Not used up. But blue with oceans and white swirling clouds!

R.A. Legg 

all rights reserved.

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Please visit Roger’s blog at https://ralegg.blogspot.com

Shannon Schilling: Planned Heights

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Planned Heights

By Shannon Schilling

Fire blazed from underneath the rocket, a plummet of smoke evacuated from below. Nothing compared to the intensity and verification of a successful launch. The photograph was an original caption of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, complete with slightly curled corners and withering edges, naturally displaying the desaturation of time. The picture lay pinned against the side of Jeffrey’s desk.

  “Dad, that’s really old?” Noah’s father looked over from his screen to notice his son’s eyes firmly preoccupied below.

“Yes, Noah, 1969.” Jeffrey kept looking down. “Your grandma gave that to me as an inspiration, surely, to always pursue greater heights.” Giving a smile, he briefly reminisced about the President Kennedy speech, often framed for him as to discourse aside the launch. Words which emphasized the modulated account of exploration itself.  

        “But,” Noah reviewed his thought. “I don’t get — I don’t get why you don’t have it up where you can see it better?”

        “What’s that?”

        “Isn’t that the point? Or am I wrong?” At 14 years old, Noah was already grasping motivated function and authority. “You really want to be President, don’t you?”


        “You could be the President! President Jeffrey Starks, former NASA engineer.”


        “Dad, you can’t work for NASA if you’re the President.”

        Jeffrey sighed and grinned at his son’s uniformed logic. When he was around Noah’s age, Jeffrey’s mom had repeatedly remarked on the idea of both her sons pursuing the Presidency. Michael was older and probably a bit more stable, and Jeffrey was satisfied with being the smarter of the two. 

        “Have you been talking to your grandma about this?”


       “Why don’t you go now. I’m sure you have schoolwork to get done,” Jeffrey said. Noah nodded aggrievedly, leaving the upstairs office and passing up the chance to argue anymore.

* * *

       Noah’s mom walked in the front door just as he touched the last step down the staircase. 

       “What’s wrong dear?” Sarah dropped her vintage charcoal grey suitcase at the front and slipped off her heels.


       “Okay honey, is your father home? Did Kevin drive him to work today?” 

       “I don’t know, Mom. Do you want me to stay home from school to make sure?”

      “Sure honey, in your dreams,” she said, smiling and ignoring the boy’s sarcasm. “How is debate club going?”

       “Not bad, I guess.”

       “It’s a good chance for you. Make sure you believe in what you say.”

       “That’s the easy part.” Noah watched his mom smile and cautiously carry herself up the soft beige carpeted staircase like she was heading into a sudden November arctic storm. Not an entirely far-fetched hazard, living just outside of Washington, D.C. Noah’s stomach grumbled, inducing his feet to glide across the marble floor and explore the kitchen.

* * *

       Upstairs, Jeffrey sat at his desk fiddling with a replica space shuttle, seemingly searching for authentic answers in a secluded space. Sarah peeked in the scaled-down workroom, tapping lightly on the door.

       “Everything okay, dear?”

       “Yes, of course. Come in.” Jeffrey threw down his miniature space shuttle and waved his wife in the room.

       “What you thinking about, honey?” She went over to his chair and sat comfortably on his lap. “If Noah bothered you, I’m sorry. But he’s a sarcastic teenager.” 

       He shook his head and gazed into her indigo eyes. She adeptly clasped her arms around his neck, responding to a desirable message. 

       “Sweetie, tell me your thoughts,” she whispered.

       “Okay, honey, I need you to move.” He placed his hands on her hips and effortlessly lifted her straight up. 

       “Careful,” she protested and sat in the other chair. “I had to explain ‘climate control’ in a way to apologize to people today.”

      Jeffrey was eagerly opening up a file on his computer screen. “Look at this; it’s my university yearbook.”

       “Yes, dear.”

       “Yes, I’ve been looking through the pages and reviewing my accomplishments.”

       “I’m sure there are many.”

       “Not just math, physics, I excelled at giving speeches as well.” He flipped through the pages onscreen quicker than Sarah could single out a cohesive conclusion. 

       “I’m sure you are confident, sweetheart.”

       “Am I confident enough?”

       “Enough for what?”

       “Sarah,” he clasped her hand. “I think—”

       “I know,” she smiled.

       “I think I want to be the President.”

       “Jeffrey?” she said. In her heart, knowing a decision like this is not something you naively think about but wondered if it was just a self-setting for a hubristic belief. 

* * *

       The deep yellow and red-orange leaves, crisp autumn foliage sheltered over the city streets, some hovering with the wind, some resting amongst the frost. The sight was breathtaking to Kevin. His view at least was winsome, even if it was from inside his SUV.

       “You’re lucky you caught me before I left,” Kevin prematurely appeased his passenger.

       “What’s that?”

      “If you hadn’t called, I was going to take my bike out.”

       “So, we’re both lucky.” Jeffrey grinned.

       “Not at all, still nice out.”

       At this point, Jeffrey received a memorandum on his email from the director; in all likelihood, Kevin did as well. It gave an abbreviated version of the lack of money for unfinished projects and a redistribution of funds.

       “You should read this when you get in.”

       “From Mr. Briddle, sure.” Kevin eagerly changed lanes, almost passing his exit. “On what? Christmas party plans?”

       “On lack of funds.” 

       “You’ve got that look in your eye, you see, it’s haunting.”

       Kevin promptly pulled into the multiple-level parking garage and went to their usual spot near the elevator.

       “I appreciate the ride,” Jeffrey said.

       “Hey, that’s why I’ve got a licence.”

       Jeffrey disregarded Kevin’s sarcasm. He had to reach the director, right away. Jeffrey thought about sending a quick email to allot his pursuit, but would instead contour a personable connection. Gliding up the stairs two steps at a time, Jeffrey almost instantly faced a clash once he reached the decided floor.

“Hello, Mr. Starks! How good it is to see you this morning,” he said. The employee gave a manufactured smile, entirely not engaging any eye movement, but with awkward mouth muscle distortion. The office was sunlit and exposed, glass walls and floors made Jeffrey feel like knowledge was never ceasing.

       “Yes.” Jeffrey shifted. His entrance now blocked any further into the director’s office. “I’d like to see Mr. Briddle, please. It’s urgent.”

       “No, I’m sorry, Mr. Starks. You’ll have to make an appointment.”

       “I’m sure it will be alright.” Jeffrey didn’t mind waiting, but he felt pressured by the interaction and assertively went with the sense of being in the middle of a confrontation.

       “Sir—” the secretary held out his arm.

       “Really, it will just take a moment.”

       “I cannot allow this.”

       Just then, the motion-activated security camera at the top of the office door flashed on, the lock disengaged.

       “Please let Mr. Starks in, Matthew.”

       “Of course, sir.” 

       Matthew gave an impudent reach in front of Jeffrey and opened the translucent door for him.

       Upon entering, Mr. Briddle was finishing up a meeting with his person in charge of ergonomics, Nancy.

       “What can I do for you, Jeffrey?”

       “Mr. Briddle—”

       “Please, call me Robert.”

       “Robert, I had an epiphany yesterday, and I thought I should share it.” Despite being surrounded by glass, Jeffrey had a sense of discreet conversations that took place in this room.

       “Thank you, Nancy. You’ve been very helpful.”

       “Sir, Mr. Starks,” she said. Nancy put away her papers and got up smiling. Her eyes were glancing over Jeffrey’s composure as she walked away briskly.

       “Robert,” Jeffrey secured his attention again. “What is your number one concern?”

       “Presently? I’m concerned with your reasons for abruptly coming into my office, naturally.”

       “I know you have others who can work in my position,” Jeffrey continued. “Look at Kevin. He’s intelligent, hard-working.”

       “I’m hardly unobservant.”

       “I’m wondering what can be done to help the space agency; where do you get assistance?” He looked around the unveiling magnificence surrounding the room’s connection to society.

       “We get it right from taxes. You know that, the White House.”

       “That’s where I want to be!” Jeffrey blurted out. His hands were waving in the air, carving a half-moon around Robert’s face. An illuminated phone vibrated on the desk.

       “I have to take this,” Robert said. Jeffrey meanwhile ran his hands through his blondish-grey hair and turned his back. “Mhm, yes.”

       “I’m sorry to barge in here,” Jeffrey resurrected from silence.

       “You should be.” Robert ended his call. “You are going to your job today, yes?”

“Yes, of course.”

       “Think about your family’s future.”


* * *

       Sarah hung up her phone and stared at the screen; her thoughts crippled with concern over the loss of another sponsor. She placed her device down on the table, firmly holding herself together to restructure another route for exposure. From reviewing her list of former sponsors, including those from environmental agencies, to dipping into the new pallet of a concerned citizenry, she deliberated over her judgement to educate about climate control first. 

       “Melissa?” Sarah caught the attention of her co-worker before she stepped out the door.

       “I’m sorry?”

       “We’ve just lost Alabama’s Agency for sponsorship,” Sarah said.

       “I don’t get it either.” Melissa gave an exhaustive sigh, brushing back her black curls. “Think we can educate anymore?”

       “We don’t have the power,” Sarah said. “We have the evidence, now more than ever. We have polar-orbiting weather satellites able to map the effects of pollution and clearly showing human destruction.”

       “So, I’m going to get us some power!”

       “I’m sorry?”

       “Lunch, honey. Want anything to eat?”

       “No thanks, I’ll just have more coffee,” Sarah said. She glanced at the messy mound of papers on her desk. “I still have phone calls to make.”

       “Your choice.” Melissa subtly stepped through the door, ready to head to one of the available eateries on the first floor. 

       Sarah looked over at her phone and read a text from her son: Hi Mom, debate club tonight…Environmental break-down! She stared at the wind, picking up speed outside her window and wondered just how much her son grasped the reality. Trustfully, balancing the thought with the realization hurricane season was almost officially over.

* * *

Jeffrey was elated to have his car back from the shop, even if it meant having to pick his son up from debate club that night. He entered the prodigious high school in a cozy pair of sneakers, hoping to catch the last few minutes of a good argument. Quietly walking into the double classroom, Jeffrey stood at the back, secluding himself behind rows of grey desks. He noticed his son standing at the front, not under the least bit of intimidation.

       “All you know is that the weather in some places is warmer,” he said. The wavy hair was falling in the freckled face of the boy arguing with Noah.

       “I know that we are to blame!” Noah responded.

       “What are the facts?”

       “It’s a fact of nature. If we don’t stop destroying our climate, then everyone is going to destroy each other!” Noah paused and looked at his dad, standing near the door. “My dad is going to be the President, and I assure you, it’s going to be a high priority.”

       Seeming in unison, the people in the classroom turned their heads to face the back. There were a few smiles, but more curious stares beyond computation.

       “Hey classroom, please keep your attention towards the front.” Jeffrey smiled.

       “What about overpopulation?” he said. The adversary pushed away his carrot locks while being quick to point to another undeniable scare.

       “That’s just going to speed up climate change!”

       “Yeah, well, well.” 

       “Jacoby?” the classroom teacher broke in.

       “What? There’s more to say! I can say more!” His whining signalled a close.

       “That’s a good practice, students,” Mr. Mandleson continued. “Until next week then.”

       Noah ran over to his dad, who remained standing at the back, smiling and faintly clapping his hands.

       “Dad! What’d you think?” Noah practically leaped over the desks.

       “I think you’ve got your work cut out for you,” Jeffrey said.

“Yeah, I know. About what I said, though?”

       “Let’s go now. We’ll talk in the car.”

       “Mr. Starks, is it true?” someone asked. The boy stood proud, fixing his dark coat neatly then black toque on his head.

       “Sir, I have not decided,” Jeffrey conceded. 

       “C’mon dad, we’ll talk in the car,” Noah moaned.

       “Do you know what you’ll run as?” another voice interrupted.

       “Oh, I’m probably Independent right now.”

       “Independents don’t win,” someone crackled. The voice came without a face.

       “He said we haven’t decided yet!” Noah blared out.

       Jeffrey jovially led Noah out of the classroom, messing up his hair in the process.

       “You really want to win, don’t you?” Noah was the first to break the silence once in the car.

       “I really want to know more about this ‘over-population’ concern.” Jeffrey smiled. Noah looked out the window and knew to stop pushing.

* * *

       Jeffrey cast a peek over his coffee mug. Not necessarily preparing himself to take a sip, but paying attention to how the vibrations modified the trembling liquid. He sat inside his white office with the wooden door wide open. Brazen behind his desk with the computer on, Jeffrey was finishing up evaluating aircraft propulsion during the rocket launch. 

       In his form of focus, Jeffrey knew by the end of the day he should have done this required paperwork for the agency. Although, the engineer couldn’t help but wonder why the director called him this morning, right as he opened his office door, for a second opinion on these papers. Then again, Jeffrey always took pride in having remarkable predictions.

            He was interrupted by a knock and a stealth look inside his door.

       “Have you heard yet, Jeffrey?”

       “No, Patricia. What’s the news?”

       “It’s Kevin.” She held her phone tightly and silently waved at him.

       “Patricia, what’s the matter?”

       “He was in a motorcycle crash. He’s alive, but in ICU.”

       Jeffrey instantly got up from his desk. He grabbed his coat hanging on the wall, rigorously pressuring Patricia to give him all the information she knew.

       “I don’t know much.” She paused. “I heard from Lynn down the hall. Happened on his way to work.”

       Jeffrey was already heading to his vehicle, barely listening to her last words, but cautiously assuming control. He rolled out of the parking garage and made it to the General Hospital in record time. Jeffrey began thinking it was likely his brother who phoned Lynn and wondering why it wasn’t himself who was the first person notified. He and Michael weren’t exactly on good speaking terms, not since their father passed away. Jeffrey had hoped to hear good news from Kevin recently during their morning commute. Jeffrey was the one who introduced them, nonetheless. The bright sun was beaming within the indiscriminate bearing, and he tried to gather his attention. 

       Upon entering the hospital parking garage to the hospital, he sent a quick text to Michael to ease any tension before his appearance in the ward. To Jeffrey’s surprise, when he passed through the doors, he saw his brother crippled in the chair.


       “Jeffrey,” he said. Michael’s hand quivering with devastation as he tried to sip from his styrofoam cup. The unit was partially silver mixed with green cushions to give some life.

       “Coffee good here?” 

       “Don’t try to be light with me. I can’t believe this happened,” Michael said. He closed his eyes. Jeffrey wondered if he was searching for the right words to say.

       “Been a while, that’s right,” Jeffrey added.

       “Jeffrey, why do you think I’d even want to talk about things with you now? Look where we are!”

       “Still can’t keep your composure, can you?”

       “Out!” Michael stood up, facing Jeffrey and pointed at the door. Just then the triage nurse came in to tell Michael that Kevin was stable, but needed to have surgery that evening to repair his broken radius and ulna.

       Feeling out of touch in not being shared the current circuit of information, Jeffrey discreetly passed through the sliding doors.  

       Jeffrey sat in his electric car, allowing the heat to distribute itself before backing out. He took that time to think about his fortune and what is to be. To realize the impact of his future in a way that he would be unable to turn back. Life has a way of tweaking with its structure before settling in. Now Jeffrey needed to find his guidance again.

* * *

       “You’ve got to stop barging in here like this, Jeffrey.” 

       “I want you to know how serious I am.”

       “You’re off on the wrong foot then.” Robert closed his computer screen and gave Jeffrey his undivided attention. 


       “Jeffrey, you need to respect everyone like they are the most critical voter out there.”

       “I know, Robert. I need you now. I need you to understand.” He looked across the glass room, imagining now if he was anything more than an engineer.

       “Help me to get on the same wave as you, Jeffrey!”

       “The future is what’s important.” Jeffrey looked outside at the afternoon combustion beginning to grow.

       “That’s what we do here,” he sighed. Robert intended to keep the positivity flowing. 

       “I need time off.”



       “Now is not a good time, if,” Robert said. He peered over his papers. “If you’re planning a leave.”

       “What’s that? But it was okay if I wanted to pursue the Presidency?” 

       “Kevin has just been in an accident. We need you here now, Jeffrey.” Robert was dead serious.

       “I’m sure you have people lined up, eager to familiarize themselves with authentic NASA rockets!”  

       “I have you. You are authentic.” Robert rested both his palms on his desk. “Now go, sit your ass down in that chair, or do something bigger for your country.”


       “Oh yeah, I’m a Democrat right now.”

       “I think I’m an Independent.”

       Robert pulled his glasses off as he nearly collapsed, laughing. “Let me know when you choose.”

       “What’s that?”

       “Research, Jeffrey! Research,” he said. Standing up now to wave his protégé out of the room.

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Vanessa Ravencroft: Not Even Noticed

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Not Even Noticed

By (c) Vanessa Ravencroft

Nurlag felt content as he sank beneath the heated mud. Only his breathing nostrils remained above the surface. It was just like home in the sacred sulfur swamps of Naelfin-Go.

He thought to himself, It is good to be the First Nestling aboard a StarShip. Only he was privileged to take a mud bath whenever he wanted.

Just as he was almost completely relaxed and on the verge of sleep, the deck plates vibrated in the rhythmic oscillation of General Alarm.

He climbed out of the basin as fast as he could, dismissed cleaning and dressing with an angry grunt, but he took a moment to drape the cape of Command around his green-scaled shoulders before he made his way to the ship’s Control Center.

Jeflag, second in command, turned as he saw his Highness enter and curled his spiked tail in the appropriate honor position, and faced Nurlag.

The First Nestling scanned the readouts and displays with a fast gaze and then said, “Pray to your life-giving Egg protector that this alarm is warranted!”

Jeflag colored his throat skin white to signal utmost devotion and subordination, even though he felt purple with anger.

“Your Magnificence, the hasty, but of course completely tactically sound, retreat from the Battle at Harvan you ordered seems to have caused a significant miscalculation during our Trans-Dim Jump. We are in unknown space more than 200 Utrepon away from known space!”

Nurlag did not miss the hidden sarcasm and critique of this unworthy Hulam-mollusk. “And this is reason to disturb me and raise Alarm? Are you so incompetent? Simply reset the course and go back.”

“Your Magnificence. We are only one-half Utepron away from a seemingly insignificant and uncharted solar system that has three gas giants, perfectly suited to replenish the fleet’s fuel supply. I was about to order our fleet to enter that system and refuel because without it we might not be able to make it back with all units.”

“Again I fail to see a reason for you to raise alarm. I expect you are trained well enough to handle such a menial task yourself!”

Unable to ignore the bits of mud slowly sliding down the scaled skin of his superior, Jeflag said, “Your Magnificence, you will commend me for raising alarm! I ordered the standard survey when our sensors picked up this!”

He held a plastic sheet printout right before the yellow eyes of Nurlag.

The yellow eyes squinted and squinted again. “This cannot be true! Have the results been confirmed?”

“All ships with long-range scanners confirm that there is the largest deposit of ‘Three-hundred-Twelve’ on the third planet ever detected.”

Absentmindedly, Nurlag flicked a scale-cleaner maggot along with a glob of mud, off his right arm. “That much ‘THREE’ cannot be natural. Did we stumble upon a secret depot of the Panesi?”

“That is why I raised the alarm. They would never leave such a huge treasure unguarded!”

“Right you are! We better leave and inform the First Nestling-of-All, then return with a huge strike force.”

“That would be a wise course of action, however, we would have to leave two-thirds of our fleet behind as we are very low on fuel.”

With that much Three, Nurlag could buy anyone and anything. Raise his house to uncontestable importance and himself to the First-Nestling-of-All! “How many Panesi units have we scanned?”

“None!” responded the SIC.

“Is it a trap or did they hide it in this unimportant unexplored far-away-from-any-traffic-lanes system and deem it safe?”

“It might be so, your Magnificence. We cannot detect the slightest Trans Dim Energy activity anywhere.”

Nurlag commanded an impressive fleet. True he had lost four of his battleships and several Destroyers to the Panesi, but that did not mean they were helpless. “Send the Avrigar closer, but I don’t want the Commander of this ship to get too close, just close enough to observe and check that planet out.”

Seven hours later the Avrigar reported that the planet was occupied by beings that looked like Panesi but seemed to use primitive pre-astro technology. This report cemented Nurlag’s resolve to take all that THREE. He was now convinced that this was a remote Panesi colony with little protection, but the Panesi were cunning and caution was also warranted. So he ordered Fighter craft to be launched to do a close observation.


NORAD-Cheyenne Mountain Colorado

The Canadian specialist, stationed in front of the high-resolution computer screen that depicted the radar scanning results of the Northern Hemisphere, saw it first and went through the proper motions to raise alarm. “Two unidentified objects are closing on North American Airspace and they were fast and came from the general direction of Europe and Russia.”

The Cold War was officially over, but NORAD still watched the skies. Especially after the 9/11 terror attacks. The North Koreans, terrorist groups by the dozen and a host of unfriendly countries could launch some form of aerial attack at any time. Most of the military hardware of Russia was still there and pointed at the US and no one could say for sure who would have the finger on the button tomorrow. The NORAD alert was sent to the closest Air Force base and interceptors were scrambled.


Enivag forced his space fighter down into the atmosphere of the planet that seemed to have a lot of water. He was accompanied by four other fighter craft and signaled two of them to go around that globe the other way, so they could cover more ground and gather more intelligence.


Four F-22 Raptors screamed into the sky, kicking in their after-burners. All attempts to communicate with the two bogeys had failed so far and they were still on a direct course to Washington DC…

Captain James Scott, call-sign Wild Card had orders to shoot if the unidentified objects would not identify and continue their course. There would not be another 9/11 if he was in the air.


Enivag went lower and flew over a vast body of water towards a larger landmass. He hated water.

His sensors warned him of high energy search beams using an electro-magnetic spectrum system. He snorted into the voice pick up, “Seems these Paresi have not even Dim scanners! It’s going to be easy!”

Enivag was quite surprised as his scanners detected four fast flying machines, already close enough to see them. Computronic analysis explained that they were equipped with some sort of primitive, but quite effective, stealth measures.

At first, the native flying machines had no armament at all. Suddenly a compartment opened and chemically propelled projectiles accelerated with impressive speed. He laughed again. Primitive missiles against his highly sophisticated energy shields, what a joke! He didn’t even try to evade.

Enivag’s craft and his wingman exploded almost simultaneously as AIM-54 missiles penetrated the shields meant to deflect energy beams.


Commander Illuitsh dreamed of the old days when the Soviet Army was the pride of Mother Russia, feared and respected. He still hated the Americans who, with all their arrogance and decadence, brought the old system down without firing a shot. When his radar operators reported two fast flying high altitude objects not identified and not responding to any hails he suspected them to be American spy planes. This was still Russia and this was still spying! He would show them what he thought of that and ordered the craft shot down if they did not respond.

Illuitsh was elated and very proud of the flawless launch and result of his Antey-2500 surface-to-air missile battery as he watched two burning aircraft tumbling out of the sky. Two American Imperialistic spies had met their fate.


Nurlag was furious as he got the report. Four fighters had been lost. Yet no Multi Dim energies were recorded. No Paresi ships left the planet to search for more attackers. Something was very wrong with this blue planet.


The Avrigar hid behind a meteoroid awaiting further instructions from Nurlag. Losing four fighter craft and not detecting any high-energy weapons was very strange.


Lt. Highwater was excited, despite the long trip from Earth, first in the cargo hold of an Atlas rocket, then separated from the rocket and launched in a very small two-man craft towards Luna. Operation Space Force was much further along than the public knew.

He shook the hand of Captain Kyle Mason, the station commander. “I am so proud to be here, even though I can never tell my son I was on the moon.”

Mason smiled with a sad expression in his eyes. “That is the price we all pay. Let’s go to command and control. We are about to commence!”

Highwater raised his eyebrow. “Thor is ready? I thought we were months off!”

“Dr. Heinlein made the final adjustments and we are ready and expect the green light from CIC any time now.”

“I am not completely briefed. I was told the project is so secret that I would get the complete details only here.”

Dr. Heinlein showed unveiled pride as he said, “Originally developed by the National Ignition Facility and known as the Petawatt Laser because the prefix ‘peta’ refers to a quadrillion, Watt. Thor is composed of four such Petawatt Lasers. We are about to fire it against a small asteroid target. We hope to eventually have a system that can protect Earth from catastrophic event asteroids.”

Or vaporize entire cities with the sun-like heat of fusion bombs but without radiation, thought Highwater, but he didn’t say that aloud.


Hiding behind an asteroid was a time-tested tactic. The Captain of the Avrigar was as cunning and experienced as they came and he knew why his First Nestling wanted that planet.

He too saw the sensor read-outs and knew only too well how ambitious his First Nestling was. There was enough ‘THREE’ on that planet to buy the loyalty of every Admiral and Fleet commander; enough of this precious commodity to make everyone in this fleet a very rich Nestling. All indications pointed towards a primitive civilization, no spaceports, no multi dim activity. The sensors indicated that the ‘THREE’ was not located in one spot but spread all over the planet, in the open. Most planets had some ‘THREE,’ but maybe two to three flugs, just barely enough to fill a boot. Down there was enough to fill every cargo hold in their fleet to the brim and they would have to come back to get the rest!


Dr. Heinlein checked the read-outs one more time, fiddled with his PDA, tapping the screen with a little plastic stylus in a nervous frantic manner and returning to look at the readouts.

Then he shoved his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, took a deep breath, and nodded to the Commander. “We are at peak and ready to go!”

Commander Mason replaced the receiver he held in his hand and said aloud, “Green Light! Commence firing protocol; we have permission to fire Thor!”

With military precision and routines drilled many times before, the small crew inserted keys, read codes, punched buttons and repeated orders.

Almost fifty meters above them, inside a small crater, a sliding door opened. Fine moon dust glittered in the unshielded bright sunlight. A metallic contraption on an articulated arm rose to the surface and turned, slowly aiming at an invisible target in the perfectly black sky.

Mason barked, “Insert Fire Keys.”

Two specialists removed special keys from boxes they had previously unlocked and inserted them in special switch sockets. “Fire System Keys inserted,” came the reply.

“Rotate keys to position one. Commence Final Fire Countdown!”

“T-5, T-4 …”

A beam, invisible to the naked eye since all photons were directed and could not reach the eye, slammed with unimaginable force into the small frozen rock, vaporizing it almost instantaneously. The Avrigar ceased to exist at the same moment.


“How was this possible? How could they destroy the Avrigar?”

“We are still going over the data, Your Magnificence. It looks as if the primitives fired a directed energy weapon at the asteroid and our Destroyer. It was just a primitive laser, but I know of no species that ever developed anything of that magnitude. We cannot explain how they detected our ship without any scanning activity!”

“Primitive? You say a bunch of primitives destroyed one of my ships and killed Commander Hur?”

“Our scientists analyzed the gathered data we have so far and we concluded that these primitives have no contact with the Paresi and are not even aware of the ‘THREE’ on their planet. It is scattered all over!”

Nurlag’s barbed tail slashed across Jeflag’s face. “You impertinent Hulam-Mollusk. It is I who draws conclusions around here, not you or low-class scientists who could not claw their way out of a nest of one-year-olds. I will teach those primitives a lesson! They shall know my name and I will let only those live who become slaves to carry the ‘THREE’ into my cargo holds! I will feast on their flesh and evaporate their oceans.”

Nurlag no longer paid any attention to the bleeding SIC and commanded, “Signal the fleet. We will land on that red planet and prepare for full planetary assault!”


Professor Neugruber of the Max Planck institute stood on tip-toes behind his lectern as he addressed other physicists and scientists assembled before him, to appear a little taller and more important.

His English was heavily accented by his native German. “Vereehrte Kolleg … I mean Honorable Colleagues. I am here before you to announce our greatest breakthrough in Antimatter research. In association with our Swiss colleagues at CERN, we have developed a new Anti-Matter production process and we hope our new system will once and for all solve the growing energy needs of our planet with a virtually infinite energy source.”

He activated a projector casting a computer image onto a white surface behind him. The assembled scientists could see the little mouse pointer dashing aimlessly across the projection screen.

Neugruber found the correct desktop item and clicked it. A series of computer animations appeared and he continued. “To test our new system we had to deploy it in an environment somewhat similar to Earth but safely removed from it.”

One of the assembled scientists raised his hands. “Dr. Sikh here, University of New Delhi. I followed your research quite closely and I am very impressed by the progress, but my colleagues and I find it very dangerous too. This prototype could be more powerful than you perhaps anticipate. Due to the cascade effect that brings it into the Near Chaos environment.”

Neugruber smiled but it was a cold smile, he didn’t like to be interrupted; he continued without answering the question. “For this reason, we are testing the first Anti-Matter explosive device ever ignited by man. We are aware of the dangers, this is why we sent our system to Mars. We chose Mars over the moon due to environmental conditions. Venus’ atmosphere made any testing there impossible.


Nurlag’s Fleet had landed on a reddish planet, only one orbit removed from the blue occupied globe. Here he would set up refining equipment to generate fuel from local ice and make repairs and then he would attack those Primitives with the vengeance of an unleashed Mud Demon.

One of his subordinates reported. “First Nestling, I am receiving an energy signature consistent with the electromagnetic emissions coming from that blue planet.”

“What kind of energy?”

“It seems to be a message. A communication of sorts. I am running it through the linguistic analysis process.”

“Ah, they noticed us and want to discuss their surrender!”

“First Nestling! The translation is complete. It is a mathematical sequence!”

“Let me listen to it!”

It became silent in the Command room. Then a mechanical voice could be heard: Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven…”


Professor Neugruber did not know if he should be proud or hide behind his desk as the first test results came in. Someone said, “Dear Lord!” But most of the assembled scientists and press representatives stared silently at the screen behind Neugruber.

The scientist of India stood up and pointed his finger. “That device of yours ripped a hole the size of a continent into Mars!”


While the scientists argued, environmental groups protested and military planners already dreamed about Anti-matter bombs in their arsenals, no one noticed that Earth was almost invaded.

The First Nestling among All, never knew what happened to Nurlag’s fleet and suspected the Paresi.

Meanwhile unaware of all their Galactic Neighbors, on a little unimportant planet on the fringes of the Galaxy a race of aggressive primates continued to fight among each other.

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Encyclopedia Galactica Supplement:

NORAD – North American Aerospace Defense Command

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is the bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, utilizing mutual support arrangements with other commands. Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.

F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is a stealth fighter aircraft. It was originally envisioned as an air superiority fighter, but is equipped for ground attack, electronic attack and signals intelligence roles as well. It is widely considered the most advanced fighter currently in service.

ANTEY 2500

Belongs to a series of Russian long-range surface-to-air missile systems by the Almaz Scientific Industrial Corporation all based on the initial S-300P version. It was developed as a system against aircraft and cruise missiles for the Soviet Anti-Air Defense branch of the military, but later variations were also developed to intercept ballistic missiles.

The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is an ultra-high power laser research device currently under construction at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, California. The device’s main roles will be exploration of inertial confinement fusion and, through these experiments, exploring the science/physics underlying nuclear weapons for the United States.

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