THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

…Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock…

YouTube Song

“The Stellar Explorer has entered into a descending orbit,” Celeste sense aloud. Her and Sam’s memorable first impressions of Eridanus, the then unnamed planet, flood in. “It is a shame that they cannot be fully conscious, to see the mist parting to reveal the towered cities.”

“Perhaps Ekcello will trust me to take them up in one of these ships, one of these days.” There is a hint of selfish motive and respect in his voice. Nothing would scratch his itch like taking one of these flying machines out for a spin, now that he knows them inside and out {Perchance to circle the Epsilon system at sub-light speeds, or reignite interest in physical space travel, or convince them to use their 5th dimension time-travel talent instead of suppressing it}. None of these notions are probable.

“Not a chance! He knows you know the way back to Earth,” his wife engenders reason aimed at her daughter.

“Do you think I would abandon you & Sammy? No, no, no, I would abduct you both first.”

Celeste cuts him off at the pass.

“Kicking and screaming you would. I’m not sure that we fit on Earth anymore. But I know it has crossed your mind,” she points to her own cranium. “You would make Earth a dominant space power within a year.”

She knows him all too well. —

— The trio steps to the side of the huge receiving doors and strain to catch their first external glimpse of Stellar Explorer. The pink sky parts and they gaze upon the sleek SOL cruiser, which outwardly looks like it had a few in-flight nicks. It is a handsome piece of aerodynamic design, bearing the proud flag of the United States of America on either flank. The mere sight of the Stars && Stripes opens the tear ducts of the elder McKinneys. Deimostra takes in the touching emotional display, now realizing what loyalty to country, and home planet, is all about.

S-E-x Look at that nickname, I love it!” Sammy Mac is tickled proud.

They stand transfixed as Stellar Explorer defies gravity in its low speed maneuvering which brings it to rest next to Explorer/NEWFOUNDLANDER. Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock, seemingly reluctant and clueless as to how and why.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 252


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 249

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 249

…To discover that we are alive and living, 10 light-years away from Mars is a radical notion…

Radical Notion by Stephanie Holznecht

#Why would they believe that our intentions are to deceive? They surely will know we mean them no harm# Ekcello is relegated to speculation, when telepathy fails.

“You must understand Ekcello that they will have no precedent from which to draw from. Earth is still at odds with the whole UFO issue, without specific knowledge or tangible proof of alien visitation.”

#This is not true. Our ancestors, from the days on the Mother Planet, did indeed make contact with the civilization you call Egyptians. The artifacts you saw on our Explorer confirms direct contact#

“Yes it does, but I can tell you that all those Egyptians viewed you guys as gods, another thing to worship and pray to. And you “gods” never returned in their lifetimes–

–Even as far back as fifty and eighty earth-years, possible alien encounters were explained away as anything but.”

#There are other worlds with universal mobility in faraway galaxies. We know this as truth#

“Thank you for sharing, but until the people of Earth shake the hands of one of you dudes, the only true superior being is the God of our Fathers.”

#We must trust that your sons will be as open-minded as the rest of their family unit#

“We had five years to sort out the possibilities of where we were going and we had your ship to give us some solid clues,” Sampson recalls.  “I can tell you that nothing would please me more, but Deke & Gus are going to freak… this I know as truth

The huge sliding door, which looks like it weighs a million pounds, yet opens like a floating bee, leading to the spaceship “NOT FOR SALE” showroom.

“Obviously your congenial author enjoyed Interstellar the movie… I saw it in the theater… but I wrote this book back in 1986, so you can see why it connected with me.” – Gwenny


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 249


page 224

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

The Eridanian Solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in…

The irony of death, as it concerns the space program, is that the numbers are bloated. Four people are killed every seven minutes by such ordinary things like ground transportation and only immediate family and friends bother to notice. Should you lose four lives in space, the detractors of exploration cry “foul” and the world mourns.

All able hands are on deck at Lovell Space Center, tethered together by the hope that Stellar Explorer would begin to come-about, to make the wide sweeping turn necessary to return to Earth.

That torturous fifteen minutes proves to be the longest q~u~a~r~t~e~r  h~o~u~r on record. If those with the most dogs in the fight, namely Roy, Francine, and Mindy McDonald, if they could possibly hold their breath the entire time, they may have.

The perceived passing of the next few digital ticks eclipses the previous ones.

But in this poignant moment, the loved ones of Deke & Gus McKinney, as well as awaiting world, exhale; emptied of any remaining dioxides and positivity. They draw another bated breath when the Stellar Explorer blasts through the heliopause and continues on without slowing down.

If those on Earth could only be comforted by the truth; that this perceived disaster had actually been averted… the Eridanian solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in and neither will they see the benefits from it, at least until that miracle can be properly sew into the fabric of the current timestem.

If that withheld truth be known, their flagging souls would have been buoyed by the fact that in thirty months, 2 1/2 years, The Space Family McKinney will be reunited once again!

Until and when that truth is revealed to them, scar tissue will form around a wound that is permanently deep and painful beyond belief.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 245


page 220 (end ch. 10)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 242

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 242

…Earth is preoccupied with logging time, whereas here, where near immortality reigns supreme, who’s counting anyway…

Celeste McKinney is a paragon of adaptability, whose hyperphysical exploits will be heralded widely as heroic in the planetary arena called Eridanus, part of the star system named Epsilon Eridani, somewhere south of Orion’s Belt.

She can rest assured that her sons will not perish… even though they would have without the help of the Eridanians.

Time and its passage is a matter of relativity. If you are situated on a planet you can mark and catalog passage of time by the revolutions of the planet you are on. Now a “day” on Eridanus will not be the same as a day on Earth. Similarly, if you wish to count the days it takes to circle the sun, you label that a year. In the case of Eridanus, not only does it orbit a giant molten planet, they all circle a pair of stars; the year thing tends to be a little complicated.

Planets

But Earth is preoccupied with logging time, whereas here where near immortality reigns supreme, who’s counting anyway? On Eridanus life is not measured by its length, but rather the quality of ones’ existence. This very disregard for counting, one year or one thousand is especially obvious in the case of this very different world, where one day is only 2.4 hours, yet one of its years equals ten on Earth.

It is a good thing that Deke & Gus will be ignorant of their unplanned trip to Eridanus and the time it consumes. Compare that to their parents and the sister they do not know they have in the flesh. That wayward wing of The Space Family McKinney had no idea where they were going or how long it would take.

But thanks to a makeshift molecular stabilizer, the proper star-drive tweaks and pre-programmed course, their relatively short-two-and-one-half year one-way-trip should be a piece of cake.

Their out-of-body benefactors, who did include a doting & relieved Mother along with 4 Masters of the Universe, have instantaneously returned to Eridanus, with plenty of “time” to prepare for the arrival of yet another pair of those wacky human beings of Earth.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 242


page 217 (end Ch. 9)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 241

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 241

…Celeste glides closer to her sons, takes off her wedding band, revealing the inscription “Sampson to Celeste 1/1/2000”…

Not THAT kind of wedding band / painting by Joan Zylkin The Event Painter

#They are about to exceed the speed-of-light threshold#, one of the technically trained expedition-ists thinks aloud. They are suspended just a few feet behind the now unconscious test pilots. Celeste’s heart is fluttering somewhere up in her throat, stomach filled by stampeding butterflies.

#This vehicle does not contain a molecular stabilizer. We must make the necessary modifications immediately#

Without the need of words or visible actions, the task of making the Stellar Explorer astronaut friendly is tackled head on.

While the technicians tend to the engineering inadequacies, Cerella handles the human aspects. One of the two such living, breathing humans shifts about uneasily, perhaps an internal struggle to fight the effects of his deteriorating body.

“Gus,” urges Deke McKinney, “wake up. There is something wrong here!”

Gus snaps awake to check his instruments, “Everything is fine. We have passed Warp 1!!!”

“But WE are not fine.”

“Oh my God Cerella, you have to do something or they will die!”

Cerella nods and motions for them to face-up the seated space travelers. She is aware that consciousness will be temporary, until the repairs take hold. Once the human DNA molecules are stabilized, the degradation will cease.

One minute Deke and Gus were interacting; the next Gus drifts away again. Deke’s last cogent visual contains the visage of their mother. Understandably, he believes he is hallucinating, until he sees the strange figure of another creature next to her.

Before Deke can speak, Celeste closes her eyes in attempt to speak to them telepathically, while mouthing, “It is really me,” in hopes that lip reading will take place.

“That cannot be you Mom! Hey Gus wake up, tell me that I’m seeing things!”

Gus does not stir, his body embracing the unconsciousness due to the shortage of sleep from the night before.

#I am going to curtail the level of bodily function in your sons# Cerella intends to perform the equivalent of suspended animation, the slowing of human metabolism, to stem further regression and shorten the perceived length of Deke & Gus’ trip to Eridanus.

In a last ditch effort to convince him that she indeed who she appears to be, Celeste glides closer to take off her wedding band, revealing the inscription Sampson to Celeste 1/1/2000”.

Cerella steps in to grant them some physical peace.

Deke’s stressed left lacrimal gland releases a tear. His last conscious second is used to mouth the words, “We miss you.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Chaotic Tears by Hollie Leffel

Episode 241


page 216

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 238

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 238

…Before they lapse into whatever fate awaits them, they reach across and bump their fists; someone had to do it and this is what we signed up for…

— As Deke & Gus prepare for SOL, all phases are not aligned.warp core

“SLAV, we are losing contact with the chrono-link. The ship is breaching the threshold, but it’s like we are watching it via remote hookup…,” Deke tries to explain what is happening.

“Gus,” he urges, “wake up. There is something wrong here!”

Gus snaps out of his funk to check his instruments, “Everything is fine. We have passed Warp One !!!”

Stellar Explorer2

“No, look at the chrono-link, it’s reversing itself, like we are being heading back in time.”

Gus’s image, or Deke’s perspective of his brother’s appearance looks like something their generation never had to put up with; the fading signal from an analog receiver. In the digital realm, when you are losing the frequency, things pixelate, stop and start and rearrange. In the cabin of the Stellar Explorer, everything is wavy, like seeing things through the delirium of desert animated air.

“Yeah, I’m not feeling all here, how about you?”

“… like our molecular structures our breaking down? Try engaging the emergency decelerator.”

“I can’t, my hand gets within an inch, they stop short,” Gus is straining against an unknown barrier. “It’s no use. Our bodies cannot maintain structure at these speeds.”

Atlas 9

“The 3 unmanned went off without a hitch! I absolutely do not get this?”

“That may be the key… unmanned… they didn’t know how the human body would respond when they broke the sound barrier either.”

“Or if man could stand the G-Forces of a Redstone rocket or Atlas 9  liftoff in the Mercury Program,” Deke recounts.

“Or what is was like to experience prolonged weightlessness.”

All of those barriers had been crossed without major incident.

But there is a theme developing at SOL: You can only make your best guess as to what happens, if you have not done it before.

“Well, if we cannot slow this thing down and our bodies cannot keep up, something has to give.” Deke’s assessment of the situation is simplistic, but consistent with the philosophy of the test-pilots that had blazed trails before, which means that they can only deal with what is directly in front of them.

But the faster SEx goes the behind-er they get. It is like there are two versions of the same movie playing at once. But which one is the correct reality and can both test-pilots survive the ordeal?

Before a waiting and wondering while, the McKinneys lose all control contact with the SLAV ship and as well as each other. Before they lapse into whatever fate awaits them, they reach across and bump their fists; someone had to do it and this is what we signed up for.


THE RETURN TRIP

Time distortion

Episode 238


page 280

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 237

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 237

…“Altitude 224.62, engaging vacuum induction, increasing isotope mixture to .759…

The final moments before the SLAV whisks the Stellar Explorer away pass quickly and is “put up or shut up” time. Fifteen years of R&D has dwindled to fifteen minutes of checklists. Nearly one-third of Deke & Gus’ lives have been spent in anticipation of this moment, now only a short ride to the outer atmosphere away.

Polite hand clapping grows into rousing cheers as the two deep-space pioneers climb the twenty stairs to enter the Stellar Explorer through the small side hatch. It is sleekly designed, more a side-effect of the speed it achieves, than the need for aerodynamics {no atmosphere – no friction}, but it can hold more than just the two pilots and makes less noise than an elevator door.

In contrast to that whoosh, the turbines of the generic SLAV will kick up its share of earthly dust, requiring hands over ears and on top of hats. It consumes every yard of runway one-niner to get airborne, much to the chagrin of the assembled, but not those of the informed.

All is calm in the control cabin of the Stellar Explorer, with no reason not to be, for if things go as planned, the jaunt to the edge of Solar System carries better odds than the favorite at The US Open tennis tournament. Las Vegas odds makers are taking bets that they will not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the predicted 30 minute window.

“I had Mindy put down a grand on at 9-2 odds,” Gus admits.

“Now how stupid was that? You are betting we have a headwind in both directions.”

“Not exactly. All we have to do is take our sweet time on the return trip.”

“I’m not sure they’ll pay off on that  Gus, when they find out who made the bet.”

“You can’t win if you don’t spin.”

“Enough of that nonsense, it’s almost time to light the fuse!” Games faces on, “Altitude 244.62, engaging vacuum induction, increasing isotope mixture to .759.”

“Five minutes to peak fusion, star drive ready,” Gus adds as he had done in the innumerable dry runs, “phase modes aligning, emergency decelerator on standby.”

Unlike the Enola Gay after it dropped its payload, the unnamed SLAV crew slows to an orbital stop to witness this milestone achievement in person. The Stellar Explorer is only visible for a blink-of-an-eye. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 237


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 233

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 233

…Matchmaking is rampant… on either end of the Milky Way…

“We are going to have the biggest wedding that Houston has ever seen!”

“Have you told Mom?” Deke speaks of the former First Lady of the United States of America, now Director of Programming for The Space Channel. “And I bet Braden doesn’t know his ranch is going to be overrun?”

“No, but Mindy hasn’t told her parents either.” Equal opportunity ignorance.

Gus McKinney has struck relationship-gold in the person of a bright, talented, drop-dead gorgeous, and most importantly girl of a fine Irish family.

“I don’t know about the McDonalds, but I know Francine will be thrilled; she introduced you to Mindy, correct?” Matchmaking is rampant… on either end of the Milky Way.

“Yes, on that same Christmas Eve evening, only at the Space Channel party, not the one where Maddox blew a gasket. She was about ready to leave when I got there, but Mom was hanging on to her for dear life.”

“Yeah, all of the sudden you disappeared from the great Galvy bash. You missed Braden doing karaoke.”

“I took a call from Mom at midnight and I promised I would drop by, she told me there was someone she wanted me to meet. I thought they wanted to interview me about the test flight.”

“S-n-e-a-k-y, I bet we will be hearing that story for forever!”

0200 has made it daily appearance and this time it is Gus who insists that he should hit the hay. He has two things to dream about:

  1. A safe flight out to planetoid Pluto and back
  2. Mindy McDonald will be waiting when he gets back

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 233


page 211

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 232

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 232

…There are 3 very good reasons for Deke McKinney to be relieved that his brother broke curfew…

“What time is it?” Deke McKinney asks, as his eyes adjust to the bright lights of the kitchenette, having been awakened from quality sleep.

“I don’t know, 01:30 I guess, why?” Brother Gus doesn’t think much about it.

“We’re going to dust-off the moon in six short hours Gus!” The elder of the pioneering duo does not want any puerile thing to interfere with their brush with the future of space travel. “Did anyone see you come in? You will be scrubbed from the mission if they find out you blew curfew… you know that Maddox {mission coordinator} has been waiting for you to screw up, he hates you, you know?”

“That sapsack? He’s been pissed since his girlfriend hit on me at the Christmas party,” Gus’ voice echoes inside their small refrigeration unit scouring it for a late-night snack.

“There is leftover steak in the vacuum chamber, you need the protein,” practical advice from one who knows. “I told Dad that we would douse the lights at 2100 {military time}.”

“I have three good reasons for staying out:

  1. “Roy hasn’t been President for 10 years
  2. The SOL test is a 15 minute trip around the block.”

“Hey Buddy, Roy Crippen may not be President, but he does oversee the SOL Project and as for that trip around the block comment, I wouldn’t take it so lightly. And that’s only two, what’s the third?” urges Deke.

“3. I asked Mindy to marry me,” he licks the cold beef fat off his fingers.

There are three very good reasons for Deke to be relieved:

  1. He had not been out partying
  2. He had disabled the security cameras
  3. Mindy McDonald has been a game-changer in his brother’s life

“We are going to have the biggest wedding that Houston has ever seen!”

This post dedicated to © Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) R.I.P.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 232


page 210

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 231

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 231

…“Certain family groupings on Earth seem to produce consistent numbers of like individuals; they are leaders, not followers, trustworthy and loyal, and the men are all extremely handsome.”…

Human Genome, Conceptual Artwork by Laguna Design

— As the time nears for the manned test of the SOL Project cruiser, the nerve endings of the concerned parties, which includes all but the criminally insane, are exposed, frayed, and on display. The tension slices through the engulfing fogs of Eridanus.

Though she would not be directly taking part in the hyperphysical expedition, Celeste works closely with Cerella, providing insight into the mental aspects and affectation, as they pertain to the two unsuspecting targets of this intrusion into the fabric of space and time. The fickle finger of fate is about to engulf her sons, who will certainly be confounded to the point of possible reactionary resistance, which would fall into the category of futile.

“No matter how fine-tuned that new translator of yours is, do not tell them that they are being hijacked for their own safety,” warns a mother who knows. “Gus used to hold his breath until he was blue in the face.”

#Why would a human willingly deprive themselves of oxygen?# Some things about mankind Cerella can never comprehend.

“Of course he would stop short of killing himself, but he will put up a titanic fight, if he thinks that their lives are in danger. Deke would consider his options; Gus McKinney may shoot from the hip.”ask-listen-learn

Cerella listens and learns.

“You know Cerella, you and Deke are nearly the same age, relatively speaking, physically, uh, well you must know what I mean,” not that a mother would ever play matchmaker for her son. Make that an intergalactic matchmaker.

#Is he like his father#, the inquiring mind of Cerella needs to know?

Mom does not know exactly how to answer that question. She is aware that Eridanians view Sampson as a square peg in a round hole, or maybe Cerella is speaking to physical similarities.

“I am sure Deke looks like his dad by now. And then there is that strong McKinney blood.”

#What#, is the telepathic equivalent that pops into Celeste’s brain.

“Certain family groupings on Earth,” explains the human bridge for diametrically opposed cultures, “seem to produce consistent numbers of like individuals. Sampson’s McKinney clan is such an example; they are leaders, not followers, trustworthy and loyal, and the men are all extremely handsome.”

#Do you mean pleasing to ones’ eyes# Aesthetics do seem to matter around the Universe.

“Consistently pleasant to look at and very talented when the lights go out…” Celeste stops short of a totally delicate topic of conversation.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 231


page 209