All posts by thecoastalquill

There is definitely salt water flowing in my veins. The sound of waves rolling across a sandy, shell-covered shore has echoed in my memories since I was very young. The ocean spurs my imagination and created my yearn to write. I don't always write about the southern US or the ocean but neither are ever far from my heart.

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

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

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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! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png
( 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?”

        “Well…”

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

        “Former?”

        “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?”

       “No.”

       “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.

       “Nothing.”

       “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.”

       “Always.”

* * *

       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.

       “Hi?”

       “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. 

       “Sir?”

       “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?”

       “Now.”

       “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.”

       “Wha—”

       “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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WU! ON “DR. PAUL’S FAMILY TALK”

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, “Pantser or Not to Pantser”.

Pantser or Not to Pantser

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 19,2019
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Marian Wood: Is there intelligent life somewhere else in the universe?

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.)  

Is there intelligent life somewhere else in the universe?

By Marian Wood

Our universe and Janet

Looking out of the window, listening to the other residents talking and laughing, Janet had had a long life. Often thinking about the universe, she was forty-five when the first man walked on the moon. The day was significant for her as all the family was huddled around the television knowing a new baby was due to be born any day. Watching the rocket take off, they all cheered, the excitement of later seeing them step out of the craft onto the moon’s surface was something they would never forget.

20 July 1969 — United States — Apollo 11 — the first manned mission to land on the moon. The two Astronauts — were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

* * * * *

Theresa’s story

It was on that day, 20th July 1969, with all the family sitting around, that my mum, Lisa, went into labour. I was born that evening, a healthy eight pounds of fun and hard work. Now at fifty years old, I have my own children, no grandchildren just yet. My mother was young when she had me and my grandmother seems to have the secret to long life.

However, I have maintained an interest in Astronomy and the universe. I will never land on the moon, but I enjoy looking at it through my telescope. My daughter Rosie will often join me, admiring its craters; it often looks inhabited. As if there are creatures playing in the pools, we can only imagine what it really looks like. Through what we have seen on television, the terrain appears to be rocky, not smooth. I would be interested to visit but I’m not sure whether I could really handle the trip.

Reading online, I’ve learned that there are many technicalities with landing on the moon, it is not as straightforward as parking a car. There are soft landings and hard landings. For humans this needs to be a soft landing, approach it too quickly then it is a crash landing. The moon also has gravity, so this also affects landing and taking off.

My visitor

With an interest in Astronomy, we like to look at the other planets and discuss the solar system and universe, but this is as far as we get. It’s a debate, a philosophical discussion of what is out there, is there intelligent life on other planets? We do not know. Do they visit us? Again, we don’t know, they could be walking among us, but we don’t know. However, there are times that I do question in my mind the words, alien or human? Shapeshifter or human? Yes, I read too much Sci-Fi, but there are days that I question whether it really is fiction.

I work in a small shop located on the main town’s high street selling bags and shoes, nothing exciting, but yesterday something strange happened that did make me think and question things. It was an ordinary cold Thursday in November, and a man walked in, tall, big ears, bald, wearing shorts, short-sleeve top, socks, and sandals. He looked out of place and said he was conducting a survey on shoes. Is this normal human behaviour? Who studies shoes? And if you did, would you dress like him? It was cold outside, and the heating was on in the shop.

Mind racing, trying not to think of aliens and how large our universe is, I did my best to help him. Questions on who is likely to purchase what? Age groups and gender. It was the highlight of my day and we have discussed him since. Surely, he was a normal human being with bad dress sense on a cold day.

Ziba’s story

It had been a long day and a quiet Sunday. We were all woken from sleep early one Monday morning when we heard what we thought could be thunder. Having explored other planets and the enormity of the universe, we had learned about the weather on Earth but had never heard anything so loud on the moon. The smell of fuel and the smoke was horrendous. Hiding in our craters, we watched as the two men wearing white bounced out of the noisy craft. They stayed for nearly a day; they talked on their radios and then left the following evening. We had a frantic nearly twenty-two hours hiding from them, not wanting to be seen.

We decided that we explore other planets around the universe, so why shouldn’t these humans be here? However, if they had seen us, I’m sure they would be wanting to study us as we study them.

Men on the moon

They didn’t seem to do much, they bounced around for a while and then got back into their craft. Before this day and since we have found devices which we assume come from Earth. However, if they want to find us, we are cleverer than that. Humans must never know of our existence; it is all part of a greater part of a higher plan. Whilst Earthlings go about their lives, they are always being watched. Is God a deity or is he one of us? Are we Aliens or are we God’s Angels watching over mankind? I’m not allowed to say but I do know that everything in life happens for a reason.

It is all part of a greater plan, man has to learn, and mistakes need to be made. Without mistakes, man could not move forward. At this moment in time we are entertained with Britain trying to leave the European Union, BREXIT they’ve called it. They have debated it for years now, will they leave? I’m not allowed to say but we have certainly placed some obstacles in their way, and we have a lady on the inside, keeping us informed of the situation.

Humans are interesting to study, they debate our existence, but for now, we are safe. If they recognised us amongst them, there would be panic; we might be locked in one of their zoos. I don’t think the human brain in 2019 could handle the existence of people who live on the moon, the planets, or somewhere else in our shared universe.

The shoe shop

Walking into Brearleys, I couldn’t help notice the looks that I received. I kicked myself for forgetting that humans feel the cold. I should have ensured that I was wearing warmer clothes, not shorts and short sleeves. Quizzing the lady on shoe habits, I think I got away with it and I bought myself some nice new trainers, I fit well into a UK size 10. Our master, Lorcus, sets us tasks that we need to carry out. Visiting Earth, taking surveys and entering into people’s thoughts is all part of what we do. We would never want to harm a human though it has happened by accident. Rogue workers who have inputted detrimental thoughts into humans’ minds, ending in a crime which wouldn’t have usually been committed. These workers were dealt with severely as we are there to help teach lessons in life, not to cause harm.

Visiting the care home (Theresa’s story)

After my experience with the bald-headed man, Rosie and I have decided that he was just an odd man with an interest in shoes. Why would he be anything else? There is only talk of Aliens living among us and I’m sure I haven’t just met one. Why would they be interested in our buying habits and shoes anyway?

So, I am now at the care home, visiting my grandmother with Rosie. She has said there is so much that we don’t know about the universe, why shouldn’t there be people living on the moon, hiding in the craters. She felt there were certainly others amongst us, maybe studying and conducting research. Her wise words to me are always,

“Theresa, love, you need to follow your gut. If you think something is wrong, then it probably is.”

I considered her wise words; she is ninety-five and full of wisdom and life experience. She’s only in the home because she is too frail to care for herself, but her mind is still there. We are wondering if she will reach one hundred. She is one of the eldest residents and right now she is fighting fit.

Aliens

So, are there Aliens among us? And do you think you would recognise one? My gut says there was definitely something not right about my visitor yesterday. However, I guess it is something that we can only debate over. We will only really know if one reveals themselves to us and really why would they? How would humans react? I think they know, and if they do exist then that is why they are hiding.

Sitting here now, holding my grandmother’s hand, she has now drifted off to sleep. Rosie and I are here happy in her company and enjoying observing the calm of the day. The care staff going about their work, supporting with toileting, eating and drinking. The little lady sat in her chair knitting, another drawing and a man with his head hung down, sleeping.

For now, we are all at peace in the world and that is how we want it to stay. If there is life on other planets and the moon, hopefully, they will never cause us harm. If we happen to find them, I hope we are just as civil.

Since the moon landings, man has learned so much, but for now no hard evidence as far as we know, of intelligent life. If there is life up there then they are doing a great job of hiding. If my visitor was from another planet, he appeared gentle and did not cause me any harm. I do wonder though, what will the next fifty years reveal? 

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Please visit Marian on her website: https://justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk

Lisa Criss Griffin: The Sentinel

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.)  

The Sentinel

By Lisa Criss Griffin

Eir felt the flow of his life force pulsate dangerously as he applied the energized memory patches into the sentient memories of the two beings he had come to regard as friends. They both stiffened in shock as the patches took effect, their eyes rolling up and backward into their heads as synaptic electrical activity was disrupted and rearranged. As their bodies slowly relaxed, Eir gently made sure they were both physically stabilized, properly geared up and all the systems on their spacecraft were functioning properly. He quickly returned to his normal state of energy frequency, fully engaged the launch sequence, and secured the spacecraft. He vibrated at a much quicker molecular velocity than they did, so he could not be seen unless he intentionally slowed down his frequency kinetics. Several minutes passed before the Lunar Module began to lift off of the dusty surface of the moon, the vessel abruptly separating from the cradle of landing gear as he watched. The spaceship surged upward amid glittering showers of sharply edged space dust crystals disturbed by the powerful engines, quickly rocketing back toward the orbiting Command Module to redock.

Eir was joined by another Sentinel as his human friends made their way back to Earth. The Sentinels were beings of light energy, entrusted by The Tribara to covertly protect the human beings on Earth. Due to their vibrational velocity, they were rarely experienced by the humans, even when they directly interacted with them. Over the centuries, they had occasionally encountered humans with a surprising sensitivity to their presence, which had resulted in various human cultural myths of extraterrestrial beings and eventually led to an entire branch of human research devoted to the subject. 

Over the last 100 years, human beings began to develop a surprising level of technology, to the point that several of them had visited the moon orbiting their planet. The Sentinels found this development very interesting, since humans were designed to be terrestrial beings until each individual’s time of transformation. Once human beings underwent the transformation, they were free to travel unencumbered throughout the universe as they wished, and became aware of all the other life forms created by The Tribara. The Sentinels always enjoyed the extreme beauty of a human transformation. The newly minted, rainbow-colored being of light that slipped from the terrestrial human shell during the transformation was dazzling to behold, and the Sentinels marveled at the extreme difference between terrestrial human beings and those who had already transformed.

Both of the two terrestrial humans who had recently landed their spacecraft on the moon had an uncanny ability to sense The Sentinels, and had glimpsed Eir several times as he performed his duties. They had begun to talk to him in the hope he would completely materialize for them. They were persistently curious creatures, and Eir had developed a fondness for them as he protected them from the frequent attacks of the Marahs, who jealously despised the humans for their enormous beauty after transforming, and their extreme favor with The Tribara. 

The Marahs continuously concentrated their energies on disturbing the mental health of terrestrial humans, sometimes with fatal results, since transformed humans were immune to all forms of their weaponry. Marahs were notorious for planting seeds of doubt, jealousy, offense, violence and self-loathing in the thought patterns of the terrestrial humans, and then they took every opportunity to fan the flames of whatever they had planted. Sentinels were much stronger beings and were able to counteract the curses whispered by the Marahs into the minds of the terrestrial humans, with combinations of ancient runes provided to them by The Tribara specifically for this purpose. Unfortunately, terrestrial humans were highly sensitive to mental suggestions by the Marah, so the Sentinels stayed busy.

It was not that Marahs hated the humans, they hated The Tribara for creating a new creature more beautiful and more highly esteemed by The Tribara than themselves. In spite of their fanatical jealousy and ongoing attempts to destroy or at least injure the terrestrial humans to mute the beauty of their colorful radiance after transformation, The Tribara had been most patient and understanding with the Marahs. However, there were strong signs that this era of tolerance was coming to an end, and the Marahs had been warned. Eir hoped The Tribara would put an end to it soon. It was always a difficult thing for The Sentinels to accept when the Marahs successfully destroyed a terrestrial human. But terrestrial humans were free to make choices, just as all the created beings had the ability to make their own choices.

Eir had just finished warding off a particularly offensive Marah when the terrestrial human called John Young looked him straight in the eye and said, “I know you are here, and I can see you a little bit. I would very much like to talk with you!” The other terrestrial human looked at John, and then directly at Eir. “I can see you too. Please stay and talk with us. My name is Charles Duke…what is yours?”

Eir sighed and mentally rolled his eyes. The last thing he wanted was to have to directly interact with these terrestrial humans. They were incredibly curious and demanding creatures, and Eir had never been seen by them before. Eir looked over at his fellow Sentinel Zakif, who simply shrugged. “Why not? Just apply a couple of energized memory patches before they go home so they won’t remember you.” 

Eir muted the Lunar Module’s communication system and began to slow his molecular vibrational velocity in order to sync with the terrestrial humans. The astronauts stared in reverent fascination as Eir solidified directly in front of them. “Shazaaaaaam!” Duke exclaimed excitedly. Young’s mouth had fallen open and his eyes bugged out as he stared in rapt disbelief at Eir. Eir gazed patiently at the men. “Well, what do you want to know?” The men just sat there staring at Eir, causing him to question the wisdom of his impulsive decision.

Charles Duke gathered his thoughts and blurted out the first things that popped into his mind. “Well, what are you? Are you the only one? What is your name? Why are you here?” Once the questions began, Eir realized it would be difficult to stop them. He knew how curious terrestrial humans were, so he looked around for Zakif, hoping he would help him out. Either Zakif was long gone or he had found a good hiding place to safely view Eir’s predicament. 

Eir settled in and answered the astronaut’s questions patiently, coming to the realization that the creatures were actually quite intelligent and somewhat charming. He found himself enjoying their company and began to ask questions of them. Eir asked about things he had always wondered about but never expected to know since Sentinels rarely conversed with terrestrial humans. The three of them talked the entire time the astronauts were scheduled to be resting, and they were all disappointed when Eir realized it was time to end their visit. It would only be a few minutes until their Command Module would contact them and communications with their fellow terrestrial humans would resume. Eir had explained to his new friends the necessity of using the energized memory patches at the beginning of their conversation, and eventually they understood the wisdom behind it. Both men had agreed to that stipulation in exchange for a chance to better understand the workings of the universe they were not aware of.

The two astronauts began to complete their final preparations for their return to Earth as Eir unmuted their communication system. Fellow astronaut Thomas Mattingly promptly contacted the men from the Command Module orbiting the moon, finalizing their plans to return to Earth. Both Young and Duke were careful not to mention the presence of the Sentinel to Mattingly, as promised. Once the astronauts were ready, Eir reluctantly produced the memory patches and carefully placed them above the heads of his friends. “Are you both ready?” Eir asked gently as he looked into the eyes of the two men. They nodded affirmatively and took a long last look at Eir, secretly hoping their memories of the Sentinel would not be completely obliterated. “Okay then,” Eir said with a catch in his voice. “You will immediately become unconscious when I energize the memory patches, but it will not hurt. When you wake up, you will feel incredibly refreshed and your craft will be successfully docked with the Command Module. Neither of you will have any memory of me or of our conversations. Enjoy the rest of your time on Earth, my friends. I look forward to seeing you both after your transformations.”

Eir began to energize the memory patches, saddened that their time together was over. It was a shame that they were not cognizant of the other created beings until their transformation was complete, but that was the way The Tribara had wanted it, and The Tribara was always right. Always. 

Zakif rejoined Eir as the reconnected spaceship pulled out of the gravitational field of the moon and into the beauty of outer space. “You did the right thing, Eir. The Tribara would be displeased if you hadn’t followed the directive concerning the memory patches.” 

“I know. It just seems like such a shame that these interesting, intelligent creatures are not fully aware of their fellow created beings sharing their universe while they are terrestrial humans.” Eir watched the spaceship as it receded into the darkness overhead. He suddenly noticed the ominous presence of several Marahs closing in on the disappearing vessel. “Come on Zakif, we have work to do!” The two Sentinels intercepted the Marahs before they could harm the travelers, fulfilling their ongoing mission to protect the terrestrial humans. 

Eir and Zakif returned to Earth, alert and watching for further signs of the dangerously jealous Marahs. It wouldn’t be too long before another transformation would occur, and the Sentinels found themselves looking forward to enjoying the overwhelming beauty they would have the pleasure of witnessing, once again.

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Please visit Lisa on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorlisacrissgriffin/

Stephanie Angelea: Pilgrim Station

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.)  

Pilgrim Station

By Stephanie Angelea 

For centuries, man has been obsessed with the universe. Is there any intelligent life beyond our own planet Earth? Do little green men walk on the moon too? Do they have to wear protective suits like we do? Is it safe to live in space?

Questions like those always fascinated two brothers and their best friend, Shad Quinton. They dreamed of reaching the fluorescent ball and it was now more than a dream. No more late-night telescopic meetings sharing the view through a tiny lens. They were going and they were all going together! The three-man flight crew waited patiently safely buckled under their safety straps ready to thrust out of Earth’s orbit en route to the moon.

“We are burning daylight. Successful detox and oxygen is stirred. We are ready to fly,” confirmed Pilot Kendrick Beyett.

“Affirmative. The count is T-6.6 seconds. 

Go for main engine start. 

T-0

Solid rocket booster ignition.

Three, two, one, liftoff!” commanded Flight Director Robin Schidt.

Kendrick Beyett released a sigh of anxiety knowing his brother Gavin did the same, them being born into the world identical twins.

Myra Beyett stood proudly by with clasped hands watching her boys launch into space. Her hair blew wildly in the gush of the rocket’s hot wind and her ex-husband smiled beside her. Recently divorced from him, Myra found herself tolerating him a lot better now that they lived apart, and they were both proud parents of honor students raising the kids to be strong and independent, including one orphaned classmate named Shad. His parents were both tragically killed in last year’s train wreck off Tanner Street, living two blocks down from them in a small friendly town called Pilgrim Station. With each new wind, the people held barbecues and gathered at festivals which were the most essential way of getting the straight facts off the local chain gossip.

No town wagged their chins better than the folks from Pilgrim Station. No doubt they suffered their differences but at the end of the day, they were all one big happy non-related family.

“I have control,” said Kendrick. “Gentlemen, we are now in space.”

“Wow. The view is amazing! All these years, I never imagined it to be so real and beautiful. We should have done this sooner!” shouted Command Pilot Gavin Beyett. 

“We weren’t old enough. You goober! Dear damn!” retorted astronaut Shad Quinton.

“Whew, that went better than I thought it would. Smooth as a baby’s butt and no engine hiccups like last time,” Kendrick commented proudly.

“Do you have to jinx us like that! REALLY!” Shad scolded, spouting sequencing sputter noises to ward off bad juju.

“I’m not jinxing us! I believe our fates are already written in the stars! You can’t change that from Earth in human form, bozo. See, there’s mine way off yonder by yours and Gavin’s by those two swirling stars. HEY! What stars are those near the moon? Are they new stars forming from dust? I wonder?” stated Kendrick.

“I don’t quite know. I’ve never noticed them before. They are bright, though!” Gavin replied. “What’s that vibration? Y’all feel it?” he continued, his voice stressed with concern.

“Yeah, yeah. Check your gauges, Shad!” hollered Kendrick.

Red lights began to flash madly in the cockpit and alarms blared throughout the shuttle. The turbulence shook them violently, slamming them against the hull.

“What did you do, Kendrick?” barked Gavin.

“I didn’t do anything!” he screamed. “I can’t get her steady, man, she’s all over the place spinning out of control!” Kendrick continued fighting the stick.

“Houston, we have a problem!” Gavin strongly alerted the Command Center. “Houston, we DO have a problem. Do you copy?”

The shuttle continued to spin violently, sputtering forward into the vast nothing of space towards the Moon.

“What now? The controls are frozen and we are losing oxygen!” asked Shad near tears, buckling himself back in his seat.

“Brace for impact! We are definitely going to crash this puppy!” wailed Gavin, holding on tightly to his safety strap. “I hope these hold up!”

“You’re worried about surviving the seatbelt when we are fixing to obliterate ourselves on the moon? Seriously!” yelled Kendrick. “Sometimes, seatbelts do more harm than good!”

“That is the MOST ridiculous thing I have ever heard come out of your ‘by-the-book’ mouth!” Shad shouted.

Deafening alarms howled and the cockpit filled with red-colored smoke. NASA’s shuttle neared the moon, breaking apart as it crashed down hard near the center of the crater.

“Are we dead?” Gavin asked weakly.

“I’m not dead. Are you dead, Kendrick?” Shad breathed a sigh of relief.

“I don’t think so,” Kendrick responded, patting his body.

“How in the Sam Hill are we EVER going to fly TO the Moon if we can’t even pass a game simulator at the nearest Space and Rocket Center!” Shad barked.

“Would you please drop the dramatics and pull your panties out of a wad! We will eventually get it right. I mean, we’ve gotten further than when we first started at the tender age of ten. We actually made it to the Moon this time! We CRASHED — BIG TIME — but we don’t blow up anymore after takeoff. There’s a great accomplishment in there somewhere!” said Gavin proudly.

A young man in his early twenties opened the hatch and popped his well-groomed head in.

“Everyone ok? No injuries this time?” the attendant asked with a smile.

“Nah man, we just crashed on the Moon and virtually died but we are, in reality, ok!” Kendrick replied aggravated.

“At least y’all made it past takeoff!” he laughed, escorting the teenagers out of the fake cockpit.

The trio bolted by other parents who were in the process of sending their children off into virtual space too and raced to a photo booth with black curtains. They quickly closed it behind them.

“Scoot over butt-munch! I want in the pictures too!” Gavin blew cramming his face into the preview box.

Snapshots shot out of the tiny slot beneath, boasting funny poses of tongues sticking out, pointed fingers behind heads, and poses with action figure shuttles with imitation gold pins they got from the gift shop. Gold pins for actually flying Into virtual space instead of virtually dying on Earth with silver pins.

“This is so cool! Let’s go ride the Moon Shot then get cotton candy and puke our guts out in front of girls!” Shad exclaimed excitedly. 

“You are seventeen, right? Will you ever grow up and act a little more your age?” Kendrick chirped. “I only ask this because, you know, you are seventeen with a cool car and all that generally requires a competent person behind the wheel who doesn’t act like a twelve-year-old. I would feel a whole lot better riding shotgun to the movies with you if you were a little more responsible,” Gavin joked, buying three tickets at the ticket booth.

“I second that!” Kendrick popped off smiling.

“I don’t act like a twelve-year-old! Maybe thirteen or fourteen but not twelve!” Shad squawked, laughing hysterically running ahead of them to the popcorn stand.

“Seriously, you think we will ever fly to the moon and touch the stars?” asked Gavin.

“Sure we will. We have studied and learned all we can about space. We are smart enough. Shad is a bubblehead but he’s smart,” replied Kendrick. “I can’t go because I’m diabetic but you two will for sure!”

“This has been a great day. I want us to always be close and bring our own children here every year to this Space and Rocket Center. We will even encourage our daughters to pursue an interest in space. Who knows, we may raise the next generation of rocket scientists,” Gavin boasted, throwing an arm around his brother.

“Yeah, I Iike that idea!” agreed Kendrick.

The following evening, after the late movie ended, Shad and Gavin left the theater excited in seeing the newest release of Keanu Reeves’s action movie. They both admired him as much as they did space.

It was a great night for them as they waved good-bye to a fellow student who worked there on the weekends, sometimes sneaking them special passes.

They had a great time, hating they had to go without Kendrick who had fallen sick after his sugar level raised higher than normal. 

Myra had given him a shot earlier in the evening with the stronger dosage prescribed by their family doctor but he still didn’t feel well, retreating to his bunk bed in the attic where he shared a bedroom with Gavin and Shad.

“Don’t worry, we will take you to see it next weekend.” Gavin slammed a hard high-five on his brother. 

“Ouch!” Kendrick winced in pain shaking his hand.

“Oh stop it! That didn’t hurt you,” Gavin joked as he and Shad ran out the door smiling.

The night was beautiful and clear and it was a night Kendrick spent several hours staring out the window at the stars and the blinking lights from planes flying passengers to God knows where. It was a night he would never see his brothers again, losing them to a car wreck only three miles down the road. Losing control of the wheel, Shad overcorrected and drove them into a large oak tree that had been there for at least fifty years. Both died instantly, never knowing what hit them. Neither had been wearing seatbelts, and the coroner stated in his report that it was probably a good thing because their bodies would have been torn apart on impact and the funeral would have most definitely been a closed-casket service.

The next weekend came and the new Keanu Reeves action film still ranked number one at the box office, and a movie Kendrick would never bring himself to see. He heard others talk about how good it was but how could it not be a great movie. It starred Keanu Reeves!

The next weekend came and all the family members had finally arrived from out of state and collected themselves to Pilgrim Station Cemetery. Sister Cam was the first female minister of any church around and many members left the entire town altogether relocating to areas where there were only male preachers.

Damndest thing to ever happen but the rest of the townsfolk stuck together and stood united behind Pastor Cam. She delivered the best version of a space and rocket funeral probably ever heard of in our world.

Everyone cried. Everyone hugged. Everyone stuffed their bellies and comforted their sorrows with the best country food any group of chefs could make.

“I wish Shad and Gavin could have lived and flown their shuttle to the Moon! They will miss out on their biggest dream and it was very important to them!” cried Myra, leaning on her ex-husband’s shoulder. 

Late that afternoon, Kendrick sat for a long while between their dirt-filled graves planting the pictures they posed for at the Space and Rocket Center like they were seeds. Beside each, he placed the small shuttle ships they bought at the gift shop with the grass-cutting money from old lady Trammel at the Beagle Club.

“Are you ok?” Kendrick’s father asked his son patting him on the back.

“Yes, sir. I just wanted to give them their stuff since I forgot to put it in their casket at the funeral home,” cried Kendrick.

“They can still dream their dreams of flying into space now that they have their ships and are laid to rest under the stars,” his father said, comforting him.

“They don’t have to dream. I believe they are already there and have front row seats,” said Kendrick looking to the sky where two swirling stars shined especially bright near the evening moon.

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Please visit Stephanie on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Angelea-Author-417653648839749/

Chester Harper: The Mission

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.)  

The Mission 

By Chester Harper

Leaving our beautiful, becoming overcrowded, blue and green planet, we were filled with optimism and excitement. Our most learned scientists had found a planet, only three systems from ours, that had atmospheric and planetary characteristics that made it habitable. 

Our mission, as a survey team, was to assess the planet for resources; observe any indigenous people, and evaluate for possible colonization. As we approached the planet, our scanning technology indicated many areas of possible habitation. We steered clear of all of these and set down in a beautiful valley full of flowering vegetation and snow-capped mountains in the background. Overall, it was almost as stunning as our home planet. 

After assessing the natural resources by taking core samples, and analyzing atmospheric and water quality, we were pleased with our findings. Pollutants were present but not in significant or irreversible quantities. Flora and fauna were abundant in all areas surveyed. The final analysis was to be of the indigenous people. 

We chose to land our ship in a large, plant-filled clearing in the midst of a large urban area. Our presence was immediately noticed by the natives. They could not approach our ship due to the large area our thrusters had burned into the landing area. We hated to mar the landscape, but we needed our thrusters to slow our descent and align our landing. It would be twenty-four hours before the area cooled enough for us to exit the ship and attempt contact. In that time, we would monitor the archaic transmissions we had detected upon landing. 

Analysis of the transmissions was very disturbing to our peace-loving minds. It seemed there were major factions that met in large meeting halls to discuss issues. We were unable to fully translate the language and relied upon physical cues provided during animated discussions, however, the factions seemed to be unable to agree upon any issue. While they sat in the meeting halls and conducted these disturbing meetings, other natives performed ritual sacrifices to their obviously bloodthirsty gods. Not even the unborn were safe from these sacrifices. It was soon apparent that our peace-loving civilization would never be able to assimilate into the current civilization and would not be welcome here. 

Sensors set off alarms within the ship. Natives in large vehicles, as well as natives on foot, had surrounded the ship. Analysis of the vehicles and the unusual metallic objects carried by the natives on foot indicated that they all contained explosives. For the safety of our ship and crew, we would need to leave the planet. Perhaps, in the future, we could return when the indigenous people had had time to evolve into a more peaceable civilization or, more likely, had destroyed themselves. 

As we fired our thrusters, unfortunately incinerating the vehicles and people surrounding our ship, we set our scanners to receive one of the stronger signals we had encountered. Focusing on this one signal and applying boosters to the signal, we should be able to monitor it for quite some time during launch. We would save all transmissions received for our scientists to analyze. Perhaps they could translate the strange language and help us interpret what we had experienced. 

This is a readout of the final transmission we received as we were leaving the planet’s gravitational pull: 

Today, in an obvious act of aggression, the unidentified aircraft that landed a little more than twenty-four hours ago blasted off from Central Park in an inferno that mortally wounded all of those within several yards of the blast. Peacekeeping troops that had surrounded the aircraft and were attempting communication with the occupants were all killed. It is unknown, at this time, the origins of the rocket. Russian or Middle Eastern origins have not been ruled out, although that is doubtful. It is unknown which countries possess the technology to have performed such a flight and such a heinous attack. Stay tuned for updates as they become available, and join us in remembering those courageous men and women who were lost today and their families left behind during this difficult time for our nation. This is Lester Holt reporting.

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Please visit Chester on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/C-W-Harper-Author-101485477895994/

Kelli J. Gavin: The Sky is the Limit

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.)  

Admin Note: A prompt can often trigger a personal memory as opposed to one that our muse conjures up. I think this month’s prompt especially evoked memories for many of us who were old enough to be aware of Apollo 11’s mission. Today, a personal recollection from a member inspired by NASA’s goals.

The Sky is the Limit

 By Kelli J. Gavin

Sifting through the pictures I have collected over the years, a few always stand out to me. There is a picture of my sister and me with our dog posing in our summer jumpsuits. Or the one of all of my grandmothers and cousins sitting in my front yard of my childhood home. While sorting the stacks of pictures I have held onto, I found a forgotten few from the year I was 14. The one I enjoy the most is of me in the forefront and my fellow teammates walking across the platform as we graduated from NASA’s Space Academy. At 14, I felt I had my entire life ahead of me, and everything that I wanted was mine for the taking. Also at 14, I realized that I would never work for NASA.

Space Academy was a wonderful experience and I felt I was able to learn so much from the instructors and other students. I enjoyed our missions and serving as a Mission Control Specialist and a Weather Analyst. I treasured the friendships I had made with kids from all across the country. I also learned a few important lessons that summer.

Since the age of six, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I quickly answered — an Astronaut. The idea of being in space and exploring planets, areas, and masses that had been untouched beforehand, fascinated me. I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about space exploration and the NASA program. I read books and magazines and requested more information from the school librarian and the librarian in town. They were both happy to oblige and loved that they were encouraging me in my journey to be a future Astronaut.

Not once did someone say — Kelli, you may want to choose another path. Not once did someone say — Kelli, so few people actually ever get to go into space. And not once did someone tell me that I should consider being a teacher, a nurse, a lawyer or weather reporter. And I am so thankful that they did not.

For me, it took saving money, working hard, and actually going to Space Academy to realize that I would never be an Astronaut. While there I was bombarded with knowledge I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around. Students were so incredibly intelligent, I found it difficult to follow along in conversations or to contribute. I also heard about the activities that some of the students were involved in. Robotics Club, Science Exploration summer camps, Science Discovery, Rocket Building, NASA Extension Courses, Electronics Creation, and the list goes on and on. I hadn’t participated in anything the other students had. I took voice lessons, traveled with choirs around the five-state area and enjoyed acting in plays. I discovered that some of these kids had five to eight years of science-related activities and summer camps already under their belts. I enjoyed Bible Camp each summer and hanging out with my friends and riding my bike.

Discovering that I may not be the most qualified student at Space Academy didn’t discourage me from working hard and participating fully in all of the activities while I was there. I loved every moment. I came to accept that there were other things I could do in life, I just wasn’t sure what they were as I had been telling people that I was going to be an Astronaut for eight years. 

As my dad and I returned from Huntsville, Alabama to my home in Minnesota, we had many hours ahead of us to talk in the truck. I told my dad about the instructors, the amazing things that I had learned and activities that I liked. I told him I had a fabulous time and that I really appreciated how hard he had worked to get me there. I also told him that I realized that being an Astronaut wasn’t actually a practical job for me when I was an adult. That I was so thankful for the opportunity but that I would have to figure out something else to do for a living.

My dad smiled and glanced over as he drove in the dark. “Kelli, I am glad you got to do this, too. Now you can concentrate on doing something bigger and better. I know you will figure it out. You have time and nothing to worry about. The sky is the limit. Continue working hard and start researching other fields you might be interested in. I know you will find something that you love.”

I was so confused. What was bigger and better than being an Astronaut? 

After returning home, I didn’t dwell on the fact that I was no longer considering working for NASA someday. I chose to dwell on what my dad said. The sky is the limit. To me, that meant I could be anything I wanted to be. If I believed for eight years that I could be an Astronaut, I quite possibly could work toward being something even greater.

I majored in vocal music performance in college. I went on to travel and sing until my heart was content. I became a Bank Officer, Lender, and Investment Rep. All three jobs I adored. I then realized I had accomplished all of my professional goals by the age of 27. I didn’t know what I would continue doing for the rest of my life. I became a Bank and Insurance Consultant which was very rewarding. Sixteen years ago, after having children, I started my own company and became a Professional Organizer. I love my work and discovering new methods of organization that help my clients reclaim their home and their lives. I now also work as Blogger and Writer. 

I have loved every single one of these jobs and positions. I also think that it was possible for me to explore, make changes and try many new things over the past 30 years because of the kindness and encouragement of my parents. Not only did they not tell me what I couldn’t be or do, they told me numerous times that I could do anything that I wanted to and that the sky was the limit.

Words matter. Encouragement is important. Parents who guide their children rather than dictate the course can make all the difference. And parents who loved me and trusted me enough to let me figure it all out on my own inspired me to believe I can do the same with my own children. 

Looking back at the pictures of my time at Space Camp, I do not dwell on what never became, or on what would be considered by most as an unattainable goal. I fondly remember the words from father as the jumping off point of discovering what I really wanted to do in life. And for that, I am forever grateful.

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Please visit Kelli’s blog: https://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-sky-is-limit.html

WU! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk”

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, “Do Your Research”.

Do Your Research


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 19,2019