THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 211

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 211

Shangri-La is one proper adjective attached to describe Utopian perfection, though there is nothing on Earth, mythical or real, to compare it to…

NEWFOUNDLANDER follows in behind the withdrawing cover and as it descends to the altitude of an intercontinental supersonic transport, the planet of their fancy is revealed in its entire splendor.

“This is the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on,” Celeste puts her hands to her chest, to contain her rapidly beating heart.

“My God Celeste, I believe we have discovered where Heaven is.” Put an X on this spot for further reference. It’s is one thing to have seen Mars in person for the first time, quite another to observe the incomprehensible.

Eridanus2 - Copy

There are no clear-cut continents or oceans below, or any typical land features for that matter. In the place of familiar geography, spiraling cities, on invisible stilts, rise randomly up into the pastel pink skies. The majestic lofty perches are scattered about the planet surface in no particular pattern. Nowhere to be found: sprawling industrial complexes, its attending pollution, gaudy interconnecting roadways for wheeled vehicles or skies plugged with crisscrossing contrails trailing flitting aircraft.

Shangri-La is one proper noun/adjective attached to describe Utopian perfection, though there is nothing on Earth, mythical or real, to compare it to and no word in the English language can do it justice.

Come to think of it, even the NEWFOUNDLANDER, now making an aerodynamic approach to the nondescript terra firma of this enigmatic sphere, looks strangely out of place. Yet it appears to be coming home like a long-lost relative or the family black sheep welcomed back with open arms, no questions asked; The Parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15):

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

The largest of these towering edifices opens its low-level gates, in order to swallow the NEWFOUNDLANDER. The sliding door of giant size draw apart slowly and you can almost hear the creaking of the glides due to a drought of inactivity. The ship lumbers in, after the gap reaches its full extent.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 211


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 209

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 209

…The McKinneys are relieved when their space-taxi whooshes past the ominous molten maelstrom and subsequently an uninviting barren exo-world that looks like it would make a great prison planet

The NEWFOUNDLANDER continues to hurtle toward the planetary system which must surely be their final destination. The ship with a remote control mind uses all the right moves on its approach, like it had done this very move before. A skilled navigator himself, SamImage result for speed of light gif sincerely hopes so, because he is beginning to feel uneasy with the speed at which they going at this late stage. That scary mega planet is looking large and larger, its red-hot surface churning like the gates of hell… and they have barely dipped below SOL.

Born to go fast and built for speed, Sampson and Celeste are in white-knuckle mode, each in their own way, praying that the NEWFOUNDLANDER would slow down! Imagine being a passenger in an auto without a steering wheel whose brakes have failed and that would pretty much sum up the situation.

Little do they realize that due to the orb’s enormous mass, the illusion of proximity is just that, an illusion? At a half a million miles out, the stardrive that had relentlessly propelled them past several other stars without a pit-stop begins to back off, freezing the white dots of light behind them. An example: Earth’s sunlight will catch up to the Epsilon Eridani solar system in another year or so.

They are relieved when their space-taxi whooshes past the ominous molten maelstrom and subsequently an uninviting barren exo-world that looks like it would make a great prison planet. Once the sub-light deceleration has taken full effect, and you can DreamySkies-blue2-(Magical)definitely notice the difference.

The only possible landing point is the third largest member of this unique triumvirate, a misty looking sphere, the size of which is hard to judge. There are no clues as to what lays beneath the cloaking shroud; no hints to its close-up appearance.

Instead of knifing through the planet’s pea soup ionosphere, to allow that anxiously awaited first glimpse from on high, the NEWFOUNDLANDER nestles into an orbit above the vaporous barrier.

What lies beneath the clouds & mist?


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 209


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 207

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 207

…“What do these people look like Mommy?” asks the pupil who has become a sponge of curiosity…

“They will be expecting a reproduction not a response. Boy, are they going to be in for a shock when they find out who they’ve been “jamming” with, probably thinking that their crew had tinkered with the out-of-office message; We’ve Gone Fishin’! Sammy Mac toys with the possibilities.

Here's How To Actually Study For All Your Finals | Tick tock, Tick tock clock, How to memorize thingsAbout fifteen minutes passes without further tonal interaction. The builders of the NEWFOUNDLANDER may be mulling over the unusual way their ship is responding. If there is any doubt in their minds about malicious behavior, Celeste has tempered that. Pity the people who are expecting an empty cabin, on one of their vintage 4000 year-old spaceship models.

Indeed, judging by the intervening musical bantering between Celeste and the home base, these people have to know something is amiss. Did they expect a crew member to have survived millennia, when he could have flown home on his own?

Sometimes they would attempt to mimic and other times they would throw out some more ornate orchestration. Everything they send out has a distinct classical flavor, like they had stepped right out of the baroque era on Earth, like four centuries hence.

Celeste does her best to parody Beethoven or Vivaldi, with her skills and endurance tested at musical message central. She does not dare leave the console during these exchanges and it is apparent the responder(s) do not sleep much or take breaks.

***LATER IN THE YEAR THEY CORRECTLY BELIEVE TO BE 2035***

When the amount of days was less than the months of space behind them, the tension and excitement is compounding. The dueling concertos had stopped, substituted with occasional honks, toots & beeps.

As part of her space-schooling, Deimostra was learning to do the simple 3-note stuff. “What do these people look like Mommy?” asks the pupil who has become a sponge of curiosity.

“We can’t be sure exactly dear, but they would most certainly be classified as humanoid at the very least, but they are definitely far more advanced than us.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 207


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 206

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 206

…Celeste listens more intently this time and she was able to reproduce the incoming communication to the note, using the NEWFOUNDLANDER digitized instrumentation…

Image result for digital music gif

“Yes and no… I mean recorder, a 12th Century version of the flute…a musical instrument.” Celeste contends.

“Is this a coincidence or could it be that this music is an attempt to communicate with their spacecraft?” Sam’s theory is not revolutionary considering the time they spent on the subject of the overt melodious sounds of the NEWFOUNDLANDER leading up to this seminal moment.

“I knew their use of the diatonic scale was more than fanciful fluff and this confirms it!” She spirits to an apparatus on which she had been secretly experimenting during her private time, “This synthesizer is actually the communication console.”

“Have you been fiddling behind my back?” His attempt at humor masks his openly jealously over his wife making a breakthrough discovery.

“This is no different than you nosing around the propulsion and navigation stuff and besides, you have never shown the barest inclination towards music Sam. Don’t feel left out.

“And before you turn this around a make fun of me, consider this; before I met you, becoming an astronaut was my second choice.  I actually auditioned for 2nd violin at the New York Philharmonic. I could be safely back on Earth, playing Vivaldi at Avery Fisher Hall. But instead I am second fiddle on a spaceship without a rudder.”

Avery Fisher Hall

(Take that!)Equalizer GIFs | Tenor

“There should be a musical response, if it is a form of communication. I’m going to defer to your expertise.” Sam knows better than to make-too-lightly when Celeste is passionate.

As he surmised, a very similar melodious passage is incoming. Celeste listens more intently this time and she was able to reproduce it to the note, using the NEWFOUNDLANDER digitized instrumentation.

“I made sure that there was enough difference in my melody. They will know this isn’t an echo.”

“Great observation! They will be expecting a reproduction not a response. Boy, are they going to be in for a shock when they find out who they’ve been “jamming” with, probably thinking that their crew had tinkered with the “out of office” message.”

About fifteen minutes passes without further tonal interaction.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 206


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 205

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 205

…great pains have been taken to restore the spacecraft to how they found it (minus the dead space-guy dudes) approx. 5 years ago…

For all the tragedy and misfortune that the Space Family McKinney has endured, most astronomers worth their salt would give over the left side of their brain for this opportunity.

This, “plain dumb luck” as Sammy Mac puts it, renews the group vitality. The Sammy Mac tag is a well-earned nickname, born out of sure bravado and worn like a merit badge. Before the sudden disembarking, the McKinney family unit had been sentenced to a potential lifetime on that barren red sphere, with only their resourcefulness as a survival skill. Badge awarded: Planetary Exploration.

They likely will never know that fate actually interfered and whisked them away from a New Mayflower rescue. Perhaps it is just as well.

So now comes the chance, however up-in-the-air, to actually have other beings to interact with; to share knowledge and history, keep company or perchance complete a rewarding life. That which was out of reach 5 years ago has been broached in the unlikeliest of circumstance.

To erase any possible doubts as to their intentions in their awkward capacity as stowaways and reflect positively on their culturally civil nature, great pains have been taken to restore the spacecraft to how they found it (minus the dead space-guy dudes).

“How are we going to explain the absence of their crew?” Celeste wonders while she and Sammy tidy up.

“Hopefully they have already guessed the fate of the expedition, seeing that it had gone on so long and returns only by the grace of automatic recall. If these folks bury their dead, we can show them the pictures of their Martian graveyard. If they do not bury their dead and consider the practice barbaric, then we didn’t see anyone on Mars alive or dead!”

From out of nowhere, a new sound filters into the bridge of the ship named by them, NEWFOUNDLANDER. Celeste is quick to identify it, “That is music played on a recorder! Why didn’t I pick up on that earlier?”

“Recorder, as in recorded music?”

“No I mean recorder….a 12th Century crude version of the flute… a musical instrument.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 205


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 202

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 202

…“Well Earth has gone from pyramids & chariots to satellites & spaceships since then.”…

Two months later in their truly incredibly unlikely journey, following-up their ongoing “home schooling” of Deimostra, as a family they tackle the issue of just how they could exchange information with the Newfoundlanders. Simple drawings surely must be the most effective way to impart the essence of a civilization, but blank paper is unnecessary in a digital world; a challenge with a budding artist for a child.

“I told you not to launch all those message(s)-in-a-bottle to your mother,” Sampson jousts in his sarcastically upbeat style. “It just occurred to me that these people have already seen Egyptian artwork, so they already know something about us.”

“Well Earth has gone from chariots to spaceships since then.”

 Another avenue of interaction, the recurring theme on the NEWFOUNDLANDER, is musical composition. Every single day of their 4+ year trek they encounter distinct individual tones, spanning six octaves in range, all of which seems to make their world move & shake in a unique and mystifying fashion.

“I will be sure not to hum the wrong song. Green Day may mean something degrading or vulgar,” he editorializes.

“Nothing we have heard is true “melody”, so thankfully my classical training may be useful.”

“Yeah, well if they happen to have 88 keys on some instrument, we can’t push our luck; Chopin and Liszt may not be their cup of tea, any more than Punk Rock is.”

At times, increasingly lately, she worries about Sam’s ability to take anything seriously. Every conversation is an occasion for sharp and increasingly pointed wit. Some of it is genuinely funny and serves to ease the tension of deep-space flight, but on the other hand, much of the so-called levity is biting and coarse, the kind of stuff Sigmund Freud would have concerns about.

Celeste is not Freud, though even she had the skills for it, it is not a good idea to psychoanalyze, when you are not sure what the cure is. One thing she is positive about is that her Mission Commander has been overtaken by the impotent role he is playing in the course of the NEWFOUNDLANDER excursion. Perhaps she should have agreed to let him tinker with the navigation, but at the time, it made sense to take the careful course of leaving well-enough alone.


THE RETURN TRIP

Message in a Bottle by jrivadulla deviantart.com

Episode 202


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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


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

…Systems on the NEWFOUNDLANDER that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus…

Chorus by Jacob Rowan

The Space Family McKinney, Sampson, Celeste, and Sammy are strangely content with whatever fate befalls them, but not long after that adorable-Mars/moon-namesake joins the 4th planet party, the NEWFOUNDLANDER seems to be having other ideas. Several times in the recent past, Sampson noted sudden, uncharacteristic computing activity. It seems random and spontaneous, not as a result of anything they or he was doing, but it is incremental in its frequency.

“Here it goes again Sam! Are you sure you didn’t bump something over there?”Celeste is concerned about the electronica noises distracting Sammy from feeding time, courtesy of one of her two milk-filled nursing stations. It is the only dispensary aboard this ship that is certified Grade A.

“I keep telling you that nothing I am doing around this musical chatterhouse is causing any of this. I would not risk upsetting the status quo, although I really think I getting that steering thing nailed.”

During this current cycle of beeps, boops, bops, pops, and hums, the whole ship comes alive at once, in the familiar key of A. Systems that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus. It is like the ghosts of its former crew were manning their stations, which was impossible.

When the unmistakable whine of the ship’s propulsion unit, that magical mystery miniature module in the bowels of the lower deck shakes the control bridge and the sheer awesome power is being harnessed and directed with purpose, Sampson acts instinctively.

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control.


  THE RETURN TRIP

No Control by Güneş Yılmaz

Episode 161


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

…What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes, akin to a trip to  a corner store in New Orleans

French Quarter Corner Store by John Boles

— After he had escaped from a treacherous country, had his family risk their lives fleeing to Turkey, managed to  contact the Space Colony Director with scandalous information, only to be shot by an assassin’s bullets while being flown into the United States, poor Aldona Afridi is not an yard closer to applying his trade.

SOL-logo

But now the renegade turned research scientist has been assigned to the SOL Project: the independent foundation, with significant ties to NASA that is dedicated to achieving space travel at the speed-of-light threshold and not a mph less. With the recent stranding of personnel, some 3+ months distant and without a lifeline, efforts have been redoubled in the quest of 670 million miles per hour.

Do the math. What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes. What is presently classified as a time-sensitive mission would be akin to a trip to a corner store in New Orleans.

Another comparison may apply to the situation on Mars. Unknown to anyone on Earth, the NEWFOUNDLANDER would have taken over four years to reach this solar system, assuming that they came from the nearest star.

Such are the daunting numbers that face a small grouping of scientists that does now include Aldona Afridi; and he feels well-favored to have the opportunity. He is making a good wage, not a fortune but sure beats the United Korean blood money by light-years.

His family is safe, though the Afridi family name has been changed. Meet the Fitch’s:

  • Father: Fletcher Fitch
  • Wife: Madonna Fitch
  • Daughters: The Fitch girls

How easy are things when you are under the protection of a benevolent Federal Government such as this? You get an undercover makeover, govt. housing and a new outlook on life, just like that.

Fletcher and Madonna Fitch have that new look, new wardrobes and names that they had no choice in getting.

And still, life is good… so far.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 153


page 145

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 144

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 144

…Before we get sidetracked by sonic overload, I was trying to tell you – that I think I could fly the NEWFOUNDLANDER back to Earth…

Sonic Overload by Caleb Brown

“Your title as Commander is hereby revoked. We are on an alien spaceship and you cannot make anything work around here without my help.”

“That is true, but the rent is paid off ‘til the end of the year and the groceries are free.”

“Money for nothing and the chicks for free.. and the music IS free, that’s right, the slightest gesture sets off some out-of-this-world sounds.” What humans refer to as musical notes and reverberations, the Newfoundlians use a form of communication. “I really miss my Justin Timberlake Collection.”

“You do have a sexy back, but I do not miss that guy… Galactic Static is more my taste.”

“How did we ever stand each other’s taste in music, long enough to get married?”

“Before we get sidetracked by sonic overload, which we can’t turn off, I was trying to tell you that I think I could fly this thing home.”

“And pass up the rescue mission without them seeing us? And when we land, if you can land it, can we convince our own people that the NEWFOUNDLANDER means them no harm,” she teases. “We would probably be shot down by air defenses, thinking we were an incoming Korean bomber.”

“But Korea is harmless, remember what President Sanchez told the world?”

“The New Mayflower expects to find us more than half-starved and happy to see them, so lets let them be half-right.”

“Good point Lt. Cmdr. McKinney, but I still may try to fly it back just to prove I can.”

Try is the operative word Sam. You are light years from understanding their technology and probably 20 light years from the folks who do.”

“I hate it when you’re right.”

“Always right and when did you finally come to that brilliant conclusion?”

“But, but, but… with me and a crew of three, I think I could get us back to Earth!” Right now, he would be 1.5 short of that.

“Let’s just concentrate on studying these beings, their technology, and find out where they came from. We have the time to have a complete dossier prepared, in the 2-odd months we have left. We can ‘present it as a present’, this incredible discovery, to the world; Perhaps the greatest contribution to the world since the wheel or fire.”

“I was thinking the microprocessor, but you are right, let’s get to work.”

She was right again. They have all the time in the world; the difference being that Mars is currently their world and the word “time” means different things to different people.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 144


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