THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

…“Tough pickle, very tough pickle, Saied,” the taxi driver states the obvious…

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“There are others who want me dead.” claims Aldona Afridi.

“Lucky for you, I stayed on this side of the Bosporus. So someone is after you, I don’t care that you are a criminal, I like you. How can such a nice man be in such a pickle? I will take you anywhere you want to go, no charge.”

“I do not know where to go… I mean I know where I want to go, but there one continent and an ocean to cross to get there. You see, I have valuable information for the Americans, but cannot seem to talk to the right people.”

“Tough pickle, very tough pickle, Saied.” Mehmet stops to decide whether any of his connections could possibly assist this pathetic man and his mysterious dilemma. “What do you have to trade, maybe I can find a way……stolen jewels, smuggled drugs, American dollars?”

“I only have this,” Aldona reaches for his left ankle.“

“That is a nice shoe, but the people who might help will require more.”abdullah-ashtaar-001

He hands his 3×5 “key to Istanbul” over to him.

“OOOooooo, Abdullah! This is better than money, a favor cashed in.”

“But what does this get me?”

“Who do you want to talk to and where?”

He gives over a meaningless name in a place in the United States.

“Oh really, you will need more than a telephone for this. Get into my taxi you Afridis, I think I know a way to talk to Galveston Texas. Hang on now.”

During their excursion through Istanbul’s maze-laden streets, Mehmet Ali explains where they are going. It turns out that he knows the operator of Turkey’s state owned radio station, his brother-in-law actually and if anyone could make this long distance connection, he could.

Three mosques, two idled street markets, and 20 minutes later, Mehmet and his passengers motor up to a dj-001building, topped off not with a dome but several antennae of different configurations. It is still early, 2:30 in the morning early, but this is a station that does not sleep.

103.00 METEOR RADYO FM utilizes the tallest spire on a deserted building with a sole lonesome announcer (Abad the Mad Morning Turk) at the microphone. There is a citywide buzz about the fracas at Sultan Ahmet Mosque; dead bodies always generate high audience participation.


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Episode 43


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight  free-for-all.

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With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! They will not leave until they have found me.”

Fatima stares at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ceiling, where the Deming and the staff are/were sleeping.

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight,  free-for-all.

Fatima Alfridi stares at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ceiling, where the Deming and the staff are/were sleeping.

“May God bless their souls,” is all Aldona can say, in this free-for-all, all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves shake-up.

His timing is good, in this case only fair, considering his run of uncanny luck. Upon seeing that the assailants failed to leave a “trailer” to protect the rear; the Afridis show exceptional speed in streaking out the back door, one after the other, to parts unknown.

Parts unknown are a sure thing. Had they waited for protection from US official guard, they would be facing no future at all. Perhaps if they had the powers-that-be listened and taken his story at face value, both they and Afridi would be winging their way to Galveston Texas.

So, without concrete direction and armed only with the Ashtaar business card {the key toabdullah-ashtaar-001 Istanbul}, these four hunted people, throw caution to the wind and head for much needed anonymity. “Us against the world” is not a strange feeling to Afridi, though one he thought would vanish once they reached the American Consulate. But they did not make it and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is now awash in conflict, innocent participants in a fight for now distant outer space.

Amid the smattering of near-distant gunfire and the rushing stream of sirens, a Mehmet Ali Erim driven something-or-other joins the chaotic scene, Mehmet having worried about Afridi’s safety. From out of the shadows Afridi cries out, “Mehmet, Mehmet,” jumps in front of his taxi, lest he not notice him. Taxi drivers are not notoriously good drivers and the man’s actions cause him to panic, depressing the accelerator instead of the brake. With little time to react, Afridi is thrown up onto the hood.

“Are you mad man? There are better ways to hail a cab than this,” helping the dazed man off turkish-taxi-001his front windshield.

“Aldona!!!” Fatima and the girls rush to the scene.

Mehmet begins to piece things together, “My friend from the train station. Hey, did not things work out with the Americans?”

“We had to leave—THEY have found me.”

“The Americans? You found them. I am confused. I think they believe you.”

“There are others who want me dead.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 42


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

…A sole window allows Afridi to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

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Turkey Night Wallpaper (Istanbul) by alisarikaya

And so it is that the Afridi’s are a family unit again, after a harrowing month on the run. At least they have each other, away from evil powers bent on jealous destruction.

Even still, Aldona Afridi will not rest easy.

Back with his three dear ones, he continues his tirade in the form of a letter. He struggles to find the words camel-to-water-001that will open up the correct ears & eyes. If only they would come to their senses.

Points be made or not, Afridi decides to let it go, roll with the flow, having done everything in his power to express his concerns about Space Colony 1. He recites a Talibanistani Proverb: ‘You can lead a camel to water— but he won’t stop drinking.’ It has little to do with his quandary, but he does thirst for swift resolution.

Now would be a convenient time to rest his weary soul, post-New Orient Express excursion aside, he finds a deep sleep elusive. In its stead, he is content holding his bride close. His mind strays to several options and back, unable to resolve a single one of them.

Image result for flashing 12:00 clock gifSo he retracts is arm, as not wake anyone and he inches off the bed. A sole window allows him to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

After watching a steady stream of headlights at this early hour, wondering who may be out this late/early, two very long speeding black cars come to a halt outside the mosques gates. His initial reaction is one of relief, anticipating the arrival of those in authority; the Ambassador and the CIA are ahead of schedule!

He fumbles in the dark to find the clothes given him by those nice folks that allowed him to get this far. He efforts not to disturb the others, running a comb through his untidy black hair to look as professional as possible.

The intent of the visitors at the gate seems curious though. If they have peaceful plans, their actions are quite hasty.

An explosion, of sufficient intensity to bring down the perimeter fencing of the Muslim place of prayer, lays waste to anything within 30 yards.

Before the smoke can clear, six armed men sprint to the buildings many steps. Afridi warns his family, “They must be after me…….get dressed quickly, children please be quiet as a mouse! They must believe this room is empty. He ushers one and all into a hidden nook, behind a false curtain.

Sure enough, those cars did not carry peaceful men of diplomacy. Automatic weapons spray the room without respect to its occupants or their business. Once determined empty, it is on to the next and the next.

6 pairs of feet scamper across the marble floors, then up the granite stairs.

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! Those men will not leave until they have found me.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 41


page 39

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 39

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 39

…“It is not everyday that a Talibanistani family shows up on your doorstep, with strange warnings about powerful lasers and killer satellites.”…

ArtStation - Laser Beam VFX, Aran Anderson (With images) | Visual ...

meanwhile-caption-001“Fatima!” shouts Aldona Afridi to his wife, as he sees her pass by the room in which he seated uncomfortably. He raises enough of a ruckus that consulate personnel moving her are forced to reunite them — at last. He does not understand why they are being handled so awkwardly.

To this point Afridi is not impressed. This vaunted democracy operates similarly to his totalitarian homeland. His original theories, when he set his defection in motion, had the Americans welcoming him immediately as the hero he really was going to be, thereby acting on his whims at once. Instead he is left only with the knowledge that his family had completed their escape routes. Surely this is wonderful news, but definitely shy of his altruistic goal.

“Aldona!” If her husband was having his doubts, imagine what his wife was thinking; alone in a strange land with 2 little girls and left to try to explain a sketchy version of Afridi’s story.

“Fatima,” Afridi echoes, embracing her as close as he was allowed! In the back of his mind were thoughts about his newfound “friend” in Istanbul, Mehmet Ali Erim. He is brushed aside like a swarm of Tibetan Sandflies.

He grasps her shoulders at arm’s length, checking for signs of torture; such were the low sights he was now setting for their ordeal. “They are not acting on my information, Fatima. Every minute is crucial yet they are sitting on their hands!”

Perhaps they do not believe you. It is not everyday that a Talibanistani family shows up on your doorstep, with strange warnings about powerful lasers and killer satellites.”

Does his wife now doubt him, as a crackpot delusional dreamer?

He turns away from her, wondering how such a noble cause goes so unheeded. But he should not doubt Fatima’s devotion, yea confidence in his reasoning; she comforts her frustrated mate. “I am told that you must wait for the American Ambassador, he is on his way from Ankara.”

Image result for far fetched“And don’t leave out the CIA European Chief,” adds Elliot Deming as he enters the room. “They are in charge now, going through the proper channels to sanction your farfetched story Mr. Afridi.”

“It may appear unbelievable on the surface, but I swear I need to speak with Director Crippen. He will distinguish of what I speak.”

“How do you know Roy Crippen?”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 39


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 37

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 37

…The Space Family McKinney, most recently of Mars, peers jointly out onto the planet outside…

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Illustration by Legendary outer space conceptualizer Chesley Bonestell

The Mars landing fracas adds ½ mile, bringing them closer to the Tithonius Peninsula, but the averted disaster has raised everyone’s pulse x 2. When Tycho’s four pads contact Martian firma, they sense that it sinks down a bit, not like on Earth’s Moon where scientists had predicted 18 inches of moon dust when only 4 was present.

Heartbeats recede to mission norms.

A hazed yellow sun looms an hour above its dawning and even though the rays were reaching out 150 million miles, the equatorial latitude takes in enough radiation to raise surface temps to a balmy 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

my-project-23-001The Space Family McKinney, most recently of Mars, peers jointly out onto the planet outside, from opened viewing portals, with all the bluster settling down around them. Though their ground level perspective is less lofty, it does not temper their excitement.

Mars’ eerie serenity has the feel of an Old West ghost town. It has the feel of aged stillness, devoid of activity. Pay attention and you can imagine the passing of occasional tumbleweed. Listen closely and you can hear the sounds of a creaking one-hinged saloon door. Feel the wind sweeping down dusty streets. All that is missing are cobwebs and the ancient strains out of an out-of-tune piano, played by a shapely blond beauty bedecked in silk and sequins.

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Artwork by Veenenbos

“The red sky is going to take some getting used to,” Celeste admitting her blue bias, “with nothing out there but craters and sawed-off mountains to break things up.”

“New things are popping up all the time. How about my landing skills? They are going to program that one into the simulator.”

“And we better improve that approach angle, seeing we are going to be doing it every two weeks for the next 8 months.”

A fresh voice joins in,I hate to interrupt, but you have but 12-odd hours of daylight to burn… and the matter of soil depth consistency is an issue.” Roy Crippen is getting itchy, along with a developing stress rash.

“Sounds like a plan Crip! What would we do without you?” Sampson quips.

“You would fly straight into the side of a foothill, that’s what.”

Vertical-001“We saw it,” Celeste relates her end of the story.

“It’s time to drop the wheels and see what we can see. You can be the backseat driver, Crip.”

The newest “manned” Mars Rover’s batteries are fully charged.

“Don’t mind if I do. I need you to keep that thing upright. The tow truck is 50 million miles away mars-roveryou know.”

“Cel is driving that buggy.”

 “That will drop our insurance rates!”

“I believe you are breaking up, can you repeat that wisecrack?”

“All right Sam, just check in before returning to the Colony.”


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Episode 37


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 35

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 35

…”As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on to the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”...

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Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, both the turbulence and blinding sand lessen the closer they get to the surface. As the drop to 30K and finally 5, the landmarks resemble those in the mockups, not unlike driving thru a town you have passed thru before.

“Things are improving steadily Mission Control, descending the final 5K… and there you go…the dunes of Mare Erythraeum, one peak in the range…” He stops to look over to perspectiveCeleste, asking, “Am I seeing things?”

She gives him a “I see the same thing,” nod.

“I repeat. One mountain in the range of 20 thousand in elevation appears to have clouds encircling its summit.” He double checks his visual.

“That is water vapor, 22.5 RHp,” Celeste confirms.mars-mountain

The unexpected is fast becoming rule rather than the exception. Earth is unusually mute, as co-eyewitnesses to an unexpected development.

The Master and Madame of this eye-popping peepshow continue their thrust-by-thrust description of this brave new venue. “As we fly to zero latitude and zero longitude, on the Plain of Xanthe, the horizon vista is psylastic!”

dictionary-definition-001“Psylastic Sam?”

“The P is silent.”

“Now you are making up words! I will add that to the Red Planet Dictionary, you concentrate on the landing,” Braden King exhorts.

“When you spot Syrtis Major, come about to begin final approach of Tithonius Lacus,” adds Roy Crippen.Related image
In the background, the upcoming New Mayflower  colonist mission geologist is babbling on about the water vapor. Nothing, none, zero, not any of the earlier observations has posited that gaseous forms of water were present on Mars.

Onsite observations are off the charts, Colony Control conversations titillating, and the possibilities innumerable, but Roy must  set the subjectivist notions aside to keep abreast of the landing.


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Water Vapor by Danielle Nelisse

Episode 35


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 33

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 33

“We are there to colonize Mars not conquer it.”

conquering-the-suns-empire

Conquering the Sun’s Empire – Illustration by Harry H-K Lange

ediitors-notehttp://dreamsofspace.blogspot.com/2012/06/conquering-suns-empire-1963-part-1.html

Ordway, Frederick I and Wakeford, Ronald C. Illustrated by Lange, Harry H-K. Conquering the Sun’s Empire. New York : E.P. Dutton and Co. 128 pp. 23 cm.

Above is a link to a book about man’s exploration of the solar system from 1963.  It is filled with truly beautiful space-art by Harry H-K Lange. Mr. Lange was involved with some of the concept drawings for the film 2001, as well as illustrating W. Von Braun’s book about the history of rocketry. He worked with Frederick Ordway on a couple of books but these illustrations are very special and not many have seen them.

back-to-our-regularly-scheduled-program

Roy Crippen, whose ears would perk up if he would get a whiff of Aldona Afridi’s story, is 6402.83 miles from Turkey and stands about as much of a chance of hearing these vital facts as a VW Beetle does winning the Daytona 500.

The Love Bug

Herbie the Love Bug

As of this moment, there is a fraction of an hour separating the lander Tycho and the planet surface.

As on any world – in any star system, the sun also rises, at some point, every single revolution. Space Colony 1’s landing bay doors open to a sight completely foreign to those familiar with Earth’s view point.

“This looks like Beijing China right before it was evacuated due to acute pollution, back in 2025,” Crippen deems it a surprise, even though the “little rovers that could” have sent back Martian vistas for decades. TheChina smog newest views are far from pixel-perfect. “Is the camera-port blocked by something?”

The refracted rays are distinct in their paths and the fuzziness of those beams trigger wonder from home.

“Our reception deteriorates the higher the sun gets you guys. Can you improve it on your end?” Braden King relays the wishes of Colony Control, who without a good visual cannot help the McKinney’s with any efficacy.

Image result for reception gif“The problem is not in our transmission or your reception, King; what you see is what you get,” Sampson is in like disbelief.

“Speculation?” Crippen prompts.

“There are extremely high concentrations of particulates that have suddenly become airborne; nowhere to be seen yesterday,” responds Celeste McKinney, while frantically taxing the Colony’s database for plausible comparisons.

“We will keep you advised,” Commander Sam keeps the line moving. “Hang on to your hairpiece Braden, I am feeling that will be one for the books!”

“Stop yourself McKinney,” King grumbles. “… hairpiece my ass.”

Tycho

Tycho lifts off the deck of the hanger bay, like a large spore spurting forth from a very large mushroom, so does an offspring eject from the mothership; banking immediately to gain a course which will unite it with a predetermined spot on the Martian surface, some 160 miles below.

The Martian lander is a practical, not tremendously aerodynamic, as its pilot soon discovers, here in the rigors of space. He won’t be taking part in any airshows with this thing. And they would be dead-meat in a dogfight.

“Fortunately there are no hostile forces to challenge us,” he can dream, can he not? “On course and stabilizing.”

“We are there to colonize Mars not conquer it, Braden urges with a grin. “Remember our manifesto, ‘To be cordial and respectful to any life form we encounter.’”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 33


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