THE RETURN TRIP- Episode 85

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 85

…“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks….

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Identity by artist Nick Gentry

meanwhile-caption-001“T-minus 0:42 minutes, all systems are green and go for the second manned flight to Mars,” Braden King is giving the greater space community an update.t-minus-to-launch-001

In the case of Roy Crippen and Francine Bouchette, intercom chatter is their audible
window into the coming tight launch window, the many stars a’twinkling yet shedding not a useful light on this moonless night, on the grounds surrounding the New Mayflower.

“Everything is alright Roy, perhaps our suspicions were unfounded,” she states, swayed by the positive update so close to launch.

They are pretty far out onto the tarmac when he tells her, “Let’s not take any chances,” taking her by the hand and sprinting toward Colony Mission Control and away from Gantry #2, where the New Mayflower sits brightly lit, launch vapor pouring from its 450 stance.

As they are running, skimming a scant 2 feet above the flat ground a jetcopter sweeps onto the scene, without US Air Force markings and not with the friendliest intent.

“That is a Mil Mi-38 Hind attack helicopter,” charging through the pitch-black
darkness, beneath the radar of a non-military installation. It drops and blocks their further advance.

 

These interlopers know their targets, with the swift effectiveness of a SWAT team, more than 10 armed men leap from open doors, before it touches down. The head start gives them a decided advantage, securing the intended hostages with ease.

Roy’s initial response to capture is to wax heroic, but disadvantageous numbers fly in the face of logic; an automatic weapon held by a familiar face decides the matter and that is that.

“I knew he would be foolish,” the supposed leader of the force speaks in some mischievous blend of Hindi and English.

“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks.

“No!” Francine pushes aside the assault-weapon-wielding thug to come to the aid of her fallen new friend. Other than an ugly lump at the base of his skull, the stirring new-mayflower-001victim is not seriously injured.

“As you may have guessed, I am not Gurkhas Dhangotma; in fact, my name is not important. What does matter is that we have you and this female as hostages and we insist that you cancel that silly rescue plane to save your imperialistic friends.”

–  A rather simplistic description of the New Mayflower and its new mission.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Poster from THE RAID 2

Episode 85


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

..the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength.

singing-chef-vickie-wade

Singing Chef by Vickie Wade

 

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian}. Because I can’t read your lips.”

With his initial inhibitions decreased, two different colors are selected, Alpha Centauri-amber and dark matter-mauve. A longer rendition of what sounds like an alien remix precedes the arrival of his selection, again whooshing open, exposing a 2-dish assortment of steaming nourishment. It is unrecognizable, but it isn’t moving and is marginally aromatically tempting.

Cupbearer to the King

Again, with the aid of the air-water-food scrutinizer, “Enzyme modified something, xanthan concentrate, autolyzed extract, and hydrogenated disodium phosphorate. gobbledigook {you first}

“Where are the knives and forks,” Celeste asks pretentiously?

“Use your fingers until and when I can find the right colors to push. You know we cannot be sure how these guys consumed their food; for all we know they may stuff it into their stomachs through a navel valve.”

“Assuming they have navels.”

“Do you want to do an autopsy on one of them?”

“Not before we eat Sam… you don’t want me to lose my dinner, seeing I am eating for two.”

“Or more.”

“Stop yourself and eat!”

Describing the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength; to each his own.

“Eat, eat, there is plenty more!”

When cast in that subjective light, the food they sample aboard the NEWFOUNDLANDER is an acquired palate, as opposed to Grandma Sally’s home cooking. Overall the adage cliché “never look a gift-horse in the mouth” applies on this distant planet and you are going to run out of your own food.

Sampson makes mental notes of all his happy-finger combinations while using the magical-meal-machine, as he calls it. They can only hope to get better at working it… perhaps some Italian? —

— Energized and ever curious, the two-remaining visitors on Mars press on to the depths of the alien ship…


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

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ediitors-notePlease note that I wrote this book  in the mid-1980’s (before updating it). 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

he proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!

water-digital-artwork

Water Nuclear Bomb by Dimitar Krstevski

The Space Family McKinney continues to explore the “NEWFOUNDLANDER”.

In one such alleged crewman quarters, Sampson, going on the assumption that no harm could come out of testing switches or push-buttons in the privacy of one’s own room, decides to do just that. There is a lighted checkerboard panel on a wall, right next where one would sit and well—not work, so this would be the time to experiment.

He chooses two such buttons to push, one colored black-hole-blue, and the other
galaxy-green
. Seconds later, there happens a fanciful flickering light in combination with a whimsical whoosh; a small opening opens to reveal a sippy cup type container filled with some sort of liquid.

Celeste watches her husband’s foray into technical tryouts, shrugging as he removes the vessel from the alien cube, “It’s your hand dear.” The opening closes as soon as the sippy and its clear fluid is removed.

Evidently the liquid is meant to be consumed, yet this is no time to be reckless even though thirst and hunger are high on the list in the unenviable sport of survival. So instead of two gulps and hope for the best, Sam uses the same versatile sampling device he used to analyze the air, in order to break down the elemental composition of the benign smelling liquid.

When the handheld monitor turns green he proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!”

“What do they add to it to make it smell so inviting; there must be more to it,” armed with the crave-driven sagacity of a pregnant lady.

“Purified water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and a negligible amount of sodium minerals,” he specifies. “The nutrition label reads: CRISP, FRESH TASTE, FILTERED THROUGH a STATE-OF-THE-ART PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND ENHANCED WITH MINERALS FOR a PURE, FRESH TASTE THAT CAN’T BE BEAT.”

“You made that up, you can’t read gobbledigook{Newfoundlian}.”

gobbledigook{bottoms up you chicken},,” translates to bottoms up. He lifts the liquescence to his tentative lips? bravely?, partaking in the alien brew. It is on the warm side, though the container remains at the ambient room temperature of 820 F, as long as it doesn’t burn on the way down.

gobbledigook{Try some} {try some},” he submits it to Celeste for her assessment.

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian} . I can’t read your lips.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 65

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 65

…Celeste would have laughed had she not popped her light on, fearfully recognizing the cause of Sam’s fall, “That is a body!”…

surprise-leonard-filgate

Surprise by Leonard Filgate

“Damn!” Sam galumphs into spread-eagle prostrations. “Maybe we should be using the helmet lights,” he taps the side of his head to do so, to light their way and expose the upright-cancelling offender.

“Whooaa!” he springs to his feet like a wrestler scoring 2 points on a lightning-quick reversal {and low gravity}.

Celeste would have laughed had she not popped her light on, fearfully recognizing the cause of Sam’s fall, “That is a body!”

dead-alien

Sampson backs off a few steps, so they can both see a space traveler of unknown origin, who had met his doom several steps from the entrance. The not-of-this-neighborhood being had the rough configuration of a human; a pair of legs and one arm… at his side and the other onyx-black-001extended out, as if to retrieve a black object, like they found minutes before.

IT must be a device of some kind, though either she or Sam could get theirs to so much as light up. While Sampson inspects the spaceman, Celeste further fondles her gizmo, hoping to solve its mysterious function. Had it been a ray gun, she would have blasted everything around her, but gladly it was not.

They area is spared laser fire, but she finally gets it to do something, somehow causing a momentary digital Related imagesound, hummmm in the key of C, “Hmmm! Come on, work you dumb thing!”

Then, without notice or noise to that matter, what they had guessed to be the front door, opens in a flash.

“Looks like you found the invitation Cel,” utters Sam as they must do something other than stare.

star-crossedUpon further review, this must be the star-crossed vehicles version of an airlock, but it didn’t do either of these guys any good, “Bodies two and three,” he point to the floor.

But as fast as the outside door opened, it closes itself.

Celeste, who could apparently operate her black oval, coaxes the set of parallel and perpendicular lines to open the interior door, followed by a rush of pungent air from inside. It seemed so unlikely, but after all these unknown years, this ship still had some operational time left in the tank.

The combination of gasses inside looked good to the mass spectrometer, but something about the Martian environment caused these life forms to expire and caution needs to displace curiosity. “Oxygen is at 20 big ones Cel!” 20% is surplus good.

Near proper amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen gases are present, along with 2 inert and 1 unknown, defying classifications on the current Periodic Table.

“I believe it’s safe to go inside, what do we have to lose,” states gambler Sam, revealing his new what-to-we-have-to-lose state-of-mind.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Keep Track of Your Progress

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 62

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 62

…There is no use in sitting around and doing nothing. Let’s go out and earn our per diem…

little-green-man-001

“I wonder which one of us would be considered the UFO,” Celeste muses

“From a pure Martian perspective, it is “their” planet right, I would think that both of us would considered
Unidentified; I can’t read their markings or they, ours.”

In a just-in-case moment of weakness, Celeste has set-to chronicling this whole drama for the sake of posterity. If it comes down to the sad scenario of NASA coming upon them too late, at least they will be able to share in their final moments, complete with the tearful goodbyes.

Image result for marco poloMarco Polo would sure have liked having visual evidence of the Far East, instead of being railroaded by the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Did you know that they accused him of heresy?”

“Which is one of the reasons that Catholicism only exists in a shrinking number of mostly 3rd world countries. You can’t fool all the people all the time.” The God-fearing commander of Earth-on-Mars is full of perspective, seeing that without a relationship with the Creator, they would truly be lost. “What do you say Mrs. McKinney? Should we see if those new pressure suits fit—–you know, nose around a bit?”

“I shall name that Planet after the God of War.”

Ever since ancient astronomers had deemed Mars a undisputed planetary neighbor, there has been speculation about whether there is life on the so-called Red Planet. It has become readily apparent, here in 2030, there is concrete evidence of intelligent life. That it may be from elsewhere in the Universe would be a tad humbling, if it were not for the fact that whoever sent this intergalactic machine here, were/are not infallible, if not forgetful or careless.

There is no use in sitting around and doing nothing. Let’s go out and earn our per diem.”

“…Which consists of an exclusive ground level suite at the Mothership Hilton and a lunch voucher to spend at the Little Green Man Café; can’t beat that with stick?”


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

…No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner…

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

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In the moments following that breathtaking {not in a good way} flash of light high above the Martian atmosphere, several seconds elapsed before the ominous explosion could be felt. It was as thunderous as any blastoff of an old Atlas rocket.

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Tree Blowing In The Wind by Janell R Colburn

If the cornea singeing light and the eardrum piercing sound were not enough, the shock wave that swept down to the surface got Tycho to rockin’ as if it were a 150 yr. old oak tree in a tornado. Sampson had all he could handle in stabilizing the lander during the 20 second maelstrom.

Even after these unpredictable twist and turns, light and darks, the real scope of their predicament does not sink in until after the dust settles. It is Celeste who verbalizes the obvious, “My dear God Sam, we are castaways!”

During those ensuing minutes, Sampson was giving pause to that very topic. “Yeah shit happens,” he is ultimately logical and is sifting through the best path to survival. “We can’t leave the surface, we’d waste fuel, we cannot produce enough gain to get a decent signal out past Deimos and we have to conserve oxygen for life-support.; other than that we’ve got it made.”

No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner.” He assembles movie humor in the face of unspeakable despair.

“Ancient pop culture will not help our options……. which are?”

“If I know Crip, he has the Mayflower on the pad, ready to go and if he is on top of things, he will give that buggy a boost….I left him with some propulsion improvements to work on, while we were out here in the peace of deep space.”

“How long do we have and when can they get here?”

“We should be able to hold out for a month or two. Fortunately we grabbed that extra fuel and food meant for those amateur lab-rats… I mean colonists of Mars City. I believe the New Mayflower can get here days before we have to go out and forage for food. And surprisingly, we can manufacture enough water and oxygen with what we have to work with outside our door.”martianpotatoes

“I knew I should have packed more Mark Watney Potatoes for a longer stay.”

“The way down was slick, it’s the return trip that will be the bitch.”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”…

broken-signal

Broken Signal by Carlo Formisano

“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen.”

The remarkable power of a single laminated business card is opening doors Afridi did not know he would be walking through. Now, whether or not -whoever picks up- at Lovell Space Center or Galveston Launch will be as receptive, that remains to be seen. If and it is a big IF he can pull it off, Afridi will be breaking Image result for radio transmissioninto the secure frequency band used by the Space Colony mission; highly irregular and extremely illegal.

Rashid the Turkish METEOR Radyo-master gives the earnest scientist a quick run-through of all the pertinent buttons and switches of the equipment, then leaving him to the fate of the frequency. He is fairly sure that the station’s anonymity will be untraceable; thereby absolving it of culpability. Unless, that is, if this guy saves the world, in which case he would gladly share in the glory.

Aldona looks back at Fatima, who throws him a good-luck kiss. He then takes a deep breath and initiates his long-range pirate transmission.

“Mission Control, come in. This is an urgent matter,” he urges in his bifurcated English intonation.

meanwhile-caption-001

“What was that? I don’t recognize that voice,” Sampson is distracted, “did you hear that Crip?”

The Mars landing sortie was supposed to be a private party.

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”

“I was thinking the man has a Jupiter accent,” chimes too kool for his spacesuit Sam.

“There was a large solar flare a couple days ago, probably a piggyback transmission,” Celeste speculates.

“Let them take care of that Cel, let’s get closer to this thing,” Sam’s eyes are trained on the forty foot high blinding-lightunnatural object that had stolen their attention, before they were rudely interrupted.

As they move in, a blinding flash engulfs the landscape, bright enough to light the already daylight Mars landscape. Horrified at the unsavory possibilities, Sampson McKinney switches to Tycho’s skyward monitor, perhaps to catch an incoming meteor. Debris is pelting the ground around them.

“What in God’s name!?” That could have been voiced by anyone of them.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 45


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