THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 56

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 56

…Mamma Celeste McKinney never requires much of an excuse to hang around those crazy kids…

“I am not feeling well.” Ordinarily that isn’t a problem. But this is spoken by an Eridanian, specifically from Cerella who never complains about anything. She directs her concern in the direction of Deimostra McKinney, the closest thing to a contemporary she has on Eridanus.

“You haven’t been eating Deke’s cooking have you?”

“I have, but I am used to that.”

“You didn’t get too close to Skaldic? You don’t want one of those nasty viruses from a Null, right?” The 1st Earthchildofspace is being sarcastic.

“No Null contact.”

“I don’t have a clue and seeing there are no real doctors here, I’m going to ask my mother.”

Mamma Celeste never requires much of an excuse to hang around those crazy kids.

“You do look a little worn down Cerella. Have you been taxing your mind lately?”

“A tax is a form of monetary penalty. I do not see the relativity.”

“Okay, my mistake. I thought the Earth colloquialisms had left me.”

“Sammy Mac has them all.”

“So true,” for no other reason she puts her hand on the place a human stomach would be. A pleasing vibration emanates to her palm, in the key of A. “I don’t know much about Eridanian physiology, but I’m detecting something “extra” inside you.”

For all the perceptiveness at her disposal, the patient doesn’t get the “extra” reference.

Related imageAfter exchanging quick forth & back glances, Celeste and Deimostra start dancing around like they have ants in their pants. There are no ants on Eridanus, but there is one pregnant Princess.

For those in the know, there are few secrets on this world. Deke takes the news right from the top of his blood relatives’ thoughts. His wife is pregnant with an intergalactic reproductive miracle. This is not a run-of-the-mill ordinary new life brewing.

Back on Earth

“What are you smiling about all of a sudden?”

Prez Roy sees no reason for Gus’ suddenly unexpected joyous countenance.

“I don’t know, something just came over me.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 56


page 59

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 256

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 256

…Definite signs of skepticism waft through the pink mist of Eridanus…

Junior Skeptic #57 cover

It isn’t long before Deke notices that Gus is discussing time-travel with a very different looking girl.

“Doesn’t that girl talk like she’s not from these parts?”

“It’s us that’s not from these parts and now that you mention it, she does look like she is from San Francisco or maybe New Orleans… yeah, I’m thinking Mardi Gras.”

“Boys, you are definitely alive for real and 10 light-years from Earth—–you were right when youorion guessed Epsilon, Gus, in Orion’s Constellation.” Father Sam tries to center their thoughts on the present.

“There is no way we could have come this far on SEx! Even if we would have had enough fissionable material, it would have taken ten years.” He looks over at Deke. “Hell, you haven’t aged a minute.” He looks at Sampson and Celeste. “And how did you guys get here, sweet Jesus, you don’t look a day older than us!”

Definite signs of skepticism waft through the pink mist of Eridanus.

“How did you get off Mars for that matter? The New Mayflower reported that Tycho was empty, it was like you evaporated. We even had a f*****g memorial service for you!” Gus is having the most trouble wrapped his mind around the concept.

Cerella decides to give up her attempts at communicating in the official language of the United States, her mind drifting directly to Deke McKinney, while Sampson leads them back to the Spaceflight Expository.

Deke is intrigued and receptive, taking Cerella into his cerebral depths, respectfully speaking.

Dad does his best to explain things to Gus while pointing at it like it was his own, “This is the ship we named NEWFOUNDLANDER, they call it Explorer here. Your mother and I stumbled on it, buried in 40 centuries of Martian dust and it came from these people,” he points at Cerella like she built it.

“Without it,” Celeste adds, “I hope you realize that we may not have lasted long enough to greet the New Mayflower.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 256


page 229

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 226

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 226

…Sammy Mac, that pretentious Earthling, has mastered the art of changing the tone of a conversation with the Supreme Elder of Eridanus on a dime…

At times like this, Celeste will listen; merely listen for positive signs of sanity in her man.

Out of a combination of boredom and sarcasm, Sampson starts whistling the slow, soulful, deep-south 19th Century slavery tune, Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

Ekcello must have been snooping, whisking in behind Sampson’s rendition of yet another strange sound from a likely strange source.

#What is that curious music you produce Sampson McKinney? I did not know you could musically communicate#

“It’s called whistling Ekcello old man. If it tickles your ears, well if you have ears, then your senses, I have a million more like it…” He jumps into the, Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Sammy Mac, that pretentious Earthling, has mastered the art of changing the tone of a conversation with the Supreme Elder of Eridanus on a dime, before it has a chance to start. Whenever he did this, the Eridanian man of meditation’s expression takes on #Now where was I?# look, extremely unsettling for one of such intense concentration.

On track once again, Ekcello emotes in his lyrical style, #You have two male offspring#

“Yes, Deke & Gus,” Celeste steps in to address an issue never far from her heart; quickly and longingly in her audible voice.

#The High Council has begun to journey back to your Earth and its yielded disturbing revelations concerning their future#

Suddenly Sampson grasps Ekcello on Eridanian terms, “Are they in some sort of trouble?” he wonders aloud.

#Only in the sense that they are in the forefront of a flawed space vehicle propulsion project#

“They haven’t abandoned The SOL Project!” A proud papa speaks of children he never had a chance to see grow up. “I knew my boys would become astronauts!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 226


page 205

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 193

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 193

…For the guys, Rising Star is an opportunity to swap boy-stories; huge lies, exaggeration, triumphs and conquests

For teenage girls, it is exchanging: huge lies, exaggeration, sedition and gossip…

“Are you clear on what to do Susannah?”

“But I really like Deke McKinney, Daddy, he’s out-of-this-galaxy!”

“He is four years older than you. Do you really think Crippen would let him date you if he knew you were jailbait?” The deceivingly aged girl has become a pawn in the 2032 Presidential election. “All I am asking you to do is to have your phone on speaker when you are fighting off his unwanted advances.”

“But…”  Her job is to make sure they would not be uninvited.

“Get him to kiss you and the whole country will hear you fight him off.”

“But what if he won’t kiss me?”

“Then pretend you are horsing around, just get us some audio. Don’t you want your father to get that ambassador job for the European Union… can’t you see yourself studying at the University of Bologna or your mother doing what she does best?”

“Shopping?”

“We’re talking shopping, hosting dinner parties… you know, Italy on the taxpayers tab.”

The “Catch a Rising Star” Dance is a long standing tradition at the Space Academy. It is a somewhat frivolous reward for an intensive course of study that requires ultra-serious dedication. The Academy takes the place of a regular high school education, which both Deke & Gus McKinney have signed on to, the former having completed his studies with honors.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a pretty girl or handsome guy on your arm when the big night comes along. Just about every female pledge is wondering who the Dashing Deker (his academy nickname) is bringing to the dance. And much to the chagrin of his female fly-girl classmates, he is bringing that out-of-state girl he has been seen with, riding on his jet cycle and his favorite quarter horse.

For the guys, Rising Star is an opportunity to swap boy-stories; huge lies, exaggeration, triumphs and conquests. And that they do and do and do, instead of dance, dance, dance.

Which the girls don’t like one bit, so they do what teenage girls do best; huge lies, exaggeration, sedition and gossip.


THE RETURN TRIP

Not on this planet!

Episode 193


page 172

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 190

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 190

…“This country just isn’t ready for a henpecked president…

“Braden tells me that Deke has been dating a girl and he has asked her to “Rising Star”. What on earth is that?” It is Francine‘s job to at least have some clue about the boys’ social life.

“Good for Deke! I was wondering when a girl would turn his head!” Roy beams.

“So he takes a girl to a planetarium to watch the stars? Wouldn’t his convertible be better for that?”

Space Academy“No, no, silly, it’s the big fall event at the Space Academy. I remember taking Becky Bartman… she was a cute filly from Plano… oh wait, I get it.. Rising Star is a dance Francine.”

“Does Deke even know how to dance? And Braden needs to be in town that week, because who knows where in Florida we will be.” Francine knows what’s what with campaign logistics. “Has this girl been vetted?”

“She’s a date, not a democrat!”

“How do you know she’s not?”

“Teenagers are not political creatures and Sammy Mac raised his boys right. I trust he’ll be a perfect gentleman.”

“Will she be a perfect lady? Have you met her family?”

“It sounds like he just met her, give it some time. If the girl interferes with his Academy work, I’ll step in.”

“Okay, you’re the president of our family, but I’m appointing myself vice-president of girlfriends, since you didn’t have the guts to make me the real Veep.”

“The country just wasn’t ready for a henpecked president; Hispanic, Black, Female, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, did I say Democrat ???? , but not henpecked by the #2. I’ll have my hands full with the one I got.”

“Fine, I didn’t want Char’s job anyway, so I will settle for nosy First Lady.”

“There you go, knock yourself out!


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 190


page 179

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 189

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 189

…“Sweet Susannah is 15 years old and Deke McKinney doesn’t know it…

The Freelove (for President) campaign, even though it is leading by all  polling accounts, is having a hard time gaining any further traction, as September bleeds into October. Incumbency has its advantages, though complacency is an inconvenient byproduct.

“I think we need to muddy the water a bit,” offers Skip Chandler, the Freelove Campaign Strategist. “I have been doing a little digging on that oldest McKinney boy Deke.”

“What do you mean by “digging”,” Sylvia Freelove asks of her chief aide?

Space Academy

“Well he has asked a girl to be his date for the Space Academy “Catch a Rising Star” Dance.”

“He is an all-American 19 year-old male, what is unusual about that?”

“Well she happens to be the daughter of one of my former colleagues in the House.”

“So?”

“He’s a Democrat.”

“So are most New Mexicans.”

“She’s not going to be 16 until December.”

“My daughter has dated an older guy, that’s why they invented birth control.”

“Sweet Susannah is 15 years old and Deke McKinney doesn’t know it. Her daddy told me that because she skipped two grades, she is a senior, but that “hick hunk from Houston” thinks she is or about to be 18.”

“That’s all fine and dandy Skip, but what does all this have to do with muddying the waters? Those McKinney boys were probably raised on the silly notion that you wait to have sex until you get married.”

“Absurd isn’t it? And just like that squaresville Crippen; out of touch and morally pious he is.” Skip Chandler speaks for his new-ageness, as well as his boss’ immoral belief system. “They have gone out on a few dates, but Congressman Daddy tells me she is getting bored with him. I think we can fix things so that we can claim that Deke forced himself on her……at the dance, in public and the poor innocent Susannah ends up with a torn dress and a broken heart.”

“That is quite a story you have there. But that seems a bit risky at this stage of the game.”

“We could use an “October Surprise” Sylvia. If we can’t touch Crippen or Walker, why not go after his step-kids? It will make ol’ Roy look like a bad parent.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 189


page 179

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 186

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 186

…Charlotte Walker gets things done, Gus and if that means she puts the fear of God into a few fence-sitters, so be it…

The conquest of space and time are not the only things that dominate the events of 2032, in the ambitious brains of Deke & Gus. The upcoming Presidential election in November has captured their imaginations and currently commands their attention.

The latent bubbles of youth rise to the surface when it comes to their Uncle Roy and his running mate Charlotte Walker. Not that the spirited would-be-VP has replaced newly-minted-mother Francine in their hearts or lives; it’s more like a healthy slather of Sriracha Aioli on their Corn Flakes.

“This is better than when the Texans went to the Super Bowl last year,” Gus gushes out an equate-able comparison.

“O yeah?! How many kids can say they have the President for a stepfather,” counters Deke who is just as excited about being on the ground floor of a presidential campaign; second only to having stepfathers x2 (Roy & Braden King) and a fox for a stepmother (Francine).

“Shouldn’t you guys be getting ready for the family portrait? You’re too old to have Francine dress you,” Roy injects some reality into the moment. “Charlotte and her family have been in-and-out of the studio for an hour by now.”

“She scares me Uncle Roy.”

“Are you talking about Francine or Charlotte… I won’t tell.”

“Seriously? She can scare the hide off mountain lion!”

“I am glad you are not the campaign manager. Charlotte gets things done, Gus and if that means she puts the fear of God into a few fence-sitters, so be it.” As a note, Roy’s poll numbers have surged since he announced his running mate. “I need you two to be the best campaign ambassadors out there.”

“Is Francine going with you when you go to New York?”

“Probably, but what does that have to do with anything?”

“Because, because that means Braden will insist we stay at his house.” Gus used to have a crush on ‘that news-fox on channel 13’, but now they are a newly-minted family unit and all this in/out – home/away is hard for him to adjust to.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 186


page 176

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

…Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met

edgar-wallace-entertains-a-few-of-his-acquaintances

by HENRY MAYO BATEMAN

These past 2 action-packed days, from the point when the McKinneys attached the deep-space Chronicle to Space Colony, then go and pile on the current theatrics, will distort a person’s concept of the passage of time. Plus or minus 48 hours have drawn 2 days out to what seems to be a week, weaving and knitting every second into a patchwork quilt…

By the grace of God, the succeeding identical period of 48 hrs. streaks by and King Ranch logobefore you know it Wednesday 9 January 2030 A.D. has arrived. For visitors to Braden’s King Ranch, they are treated to the atmosphere of 19th Century American Old West, the date and place chosen to celebrate the combined birth of Deke McKinney, born 6 January 2015 and Gus McKinney born 11 January 2016.

The event was conceived out of love by the ranch’s owner to ease the pain of separation, for both children and parents alike. If everything had gone “according to space-birthday-001Hoyle”, Sampson & Celeste would have been back aboard the Colony and through the miracle of accelerated space communication, they would have been linked to the party by voice and by sight.

Regrettably, Mom & Dad are otherwise occupied.

barbecue_pin_up

Gus’ BBQ Fantasy Guest

Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met. Friends, relatives, well-wishers and those pesky party crashers have gathered at King Ranch. The menagerie gathers around BBQ hour, which could be any random time of day, and has a few surprise guests; Grandma Savta Bergestrom from Sweden (the country) and Aunt Sassy McKinney, Sampson’s crazy Scottish/Irish sister from Great(er) Britain.

The turnout of GLF and LSC personnel is impressive, with the boys having grown up in front of their eyes as they tagged along with Mom & Dad over the years. Admirals and Generals have reason to be jealous of this Who’s Who crowd. There are two late arrivers to the festivities: ??? + ???


THE RETURN TRIP

snows-bbq-jon-flaming

by Jon Flaming

Episode 95


page 90

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 59

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 59

…The wave of rage in the McKinney boys subsides, washing back into the Sea of Frustration…

frustration

Sea of Frustration by Carl Russell

The McKinney siblings are beside themselves when a frenzied Braden King storms into the room. He had hoped to break the bad news in his own way, not by a flat footed surprise from a television station.mckinneys-of-space-001

15 or 16 year old boys are not famously effusive with their outward expressions, but they both run to their surrogate parent (King). He douses the televiewer, now rampant with Space Colony speculating speculators; the fact that their Mom & Dad out there on Mars, for the love of God.

Gus grabs the controller/headset from Braden and out of sheer frustration fires it toward the video screen. The irregularly shaped wireless object glances off the target, breaking into pieces, coming out on the short end of the impact.

Not satisfied, the younger McKinney makes a run at a vase for another crack at it, but his efforts are thwarted by Deke, who tackles with a good form tackle from around his thighs, “Mom and Dad are not dead Gus, so cool your jets!”

The wave of rage subsides, washing back into the Sea of Frustration. In the calm waters of the moment, each of the three seeks comfort in their own way: If no man is an island, then why is grief so singular a burden.At the sight of emergent strength and character in young Deke, King lets the scene play out.

How proud Sampson would be, to know that his oldest boy is asserting himself with levelheaded self-control. A tear breaks loose from the outside corner of the guardian’s eye, the thought of father & son separated by fate and space.


THE RETURN TRIP

frustration2

by Michelle L. Boettcher (Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of growing up)

Episode 59


page 56

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #55

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #55

…Father and I have petitioned the courts of both Gadsden and Leon County to allow Abigail to be a permanent part of our family…

And Abigail makes three Ferrell kids

Martha Ferrell has taken this family aspect to the next level. She chooses this warm and fuzzy outing as an opportunity to spring some exciting news on all but her husband. “Children, I want to sit down on this bench,” pointing to the one outside Simpson’s Drug Store.

Abigail sits dutifully on one end, with Agnes charging to the spot next to her, leaving James for the other end and none too pleased. He rarely strays too far from Abbey’s side. His sister manages to do what Mother has not been able to do; separate the two young and taken hearts.

Abbey, as is her nature, creates a compromise. She unseats herself, scooting Nessie to one side, while placing her in the middle. Done.

James’ version

“Thank you children… Abigail. It is important we be civil. We have some wonderful news for us all.”

The Ferrell “children” are thinking along the lines of the family gift; maybe a new wardrobe for Agnes or a champion thoroughbred to James’ liking. Neither is the case.

Father and I have petitioned the courts of both Gadsden and Leon County to allow Abigail to be a permanent part of our family. Abigail Smythwick Ferrell. How does that sound?”

Well you could have knocked James over with a hummingbird’s feather. He has pictured (in a young man’s fancy) Abbey owning the Ferrell name by marrying her into the family, certainly not as a step-sister.

Agnes is overjoyed. The big sister she always wanted; sharing beauty tips and boy secrets and clothes… well maybe not clothes. That would require a full-time seamstress.

Sisters

Abbey’s version

Abigail’s emotions fall somewhere in-between. She too has had private aspirations on being a Ferrell, again as a wife, not an adopted sibling. Womanly dreams aside, her feelings of group membership are unmistakable. She has also seen enough of Southern relations to hold hope that certain moral stigmas can be conveniently negotiable. “I would be rightly proud to consider myself a Ferrell.”

At closer examination, without a blood relative on the North American continent and few inherited friends of her father, her choices are none. Plus, she is near enough to Sumter South to have a hand in its future; quite a land holding for one so young.

“Consider it done,” assures matriarch of the family, whose involvement in Campbell matter has turned out to be a life changing experience.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #55


page 51