Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve 2311

Up until an hour ago, Randy Hobbs was doing great. He had been visiting some friends at the Titan station that he hadn't seen in a while.

Randy had also been delivering some much needed care packages from family and friends and some crucial repair materials for the station. Randy was a professional transport operator, or in other words, a space trucker. He had been doing this for ten years now, and knew a lot of people out in the void as he liked to call it. That's why when he got the call for an urgent run on Christmas Eve, he said no problem. He knew if all went well it was only three hours each way at near light speed or N.L.S. to Saturn space.   So when he promised his family he would be home in time for Christmas morning, he had no doubts of fulfilling it.

Randy put the transport in auto pilot, sat back and enjoyed the view of Saturn and its many moons. "What a lucky man I am", he thought. "Friends everywhere I go, sights that only few have seen in person. Going to be with family soon, Yeah it doesn't get much better." Those good feelings lasted all of ten minutes, but were shattered when warning alarms broke the spell. Randy glanced at the flashing lights again hoping for a positive change, no such luck. The lights that had burned orange for most of the hour, now turned red and announced stabilizers 3-5- 7 [ IMMINENT FAILURE] At this speed he would shoot off course and into anything in his path before regaining control.

 “Just great!” he exclaimed out loud as he started the throttle down process.

It would take about fifteen minutes to reach a safe speed. After all you can't just slam the brakes at three hundred million mph. Until then he needed to be ready for some quick maneuvers.

“Well so much for getting home on time, an hour and a half turns to a day and half,” he said to the empty cockpit.

Randy watched the speed read-out drop, and kept his hands firmly on the controls. Then without any further warning the stabilizers failed. At first nothing happened, steady on course the rig flew.

Randy held his breath, watched his instruments and waited. Then slowly the rig started to yaw and roll to the right. He tried to compensate but was not having much luck with two thirds of  his port side down. Randy fought with the pitching and rolling ship for what seemed like hours, decelerating all the while.

Just when he was beginning to gaining control he caught sight of what? A ship? It can't be, not this far out of the space lanes, but he didn't have much time to figure it out. He was heading straight for it, fast.

Firing full reverse and star-board thrusters, the rig veered left and slowed just enough to avoid hitting the other craft full on. There was a light thud and that awful sound like nails on a chalkboard. Randy brought the rig to a relative stop ending that terrible assault on his ears, and just sat for a moment pondering what could have just happened. “Where did that ship come from?” Randy mused silently. “There was nothing on my scanners, no proximity alarms, nothing.” He looked at his scanner, still nothing, “That can't be right it, was working perfectly.” He mumbled to him-self.

The crackle of the comm. broke the silence with a much too happy voice. “Hello in the rig, how are you this fine day? Anyone hurt?” Was the long string of questions that come through speakers.

“Fine day, really?” thought Randy.

“Uhh yeah, I'm ok here, how are you?” He quickly answered

  “I'm just marvelous my boy, marvelous, it's a splendid night to be out among the stars.” The cheerful voice called over the comm.

“Wow this guy’s not right in the head or something, he is way to happy after what just happened. I've got to make this quick and get moving,” Randy thought as he watched a red colored transport very similar to his own, come to a stop next his.

“I'm sorry for the damage and any inconvenience I have caused you.” Randy apologized to the odd person in the red ship. “I'll send my contact info to you so we can get ya fixed up, all right?”

 “I've got a better idea, how about we dock and I'll bring some of the Mrs. hot coco and cookies over to share.” The voice suggested. “ Then we can talk things over then, what do you say Randy?”

 “Umm, I usually don't let anyone on board. I think it would be easier if I just sent the info to you and we get on our way.” Randy said then let the silence help tell the other person of his unease.

“Please Randy, its Christmas Eve after all, humor an old man.”  There was something in his voice was very compelling, and before he realized what he was doing, he had agreed.

 A few burst of the thrusters put the ships into docking position. A small bump and the snap of the locks as they engaged let Randy know it was time to greet his unexpected guest.

Randy left the small cockpit and went to the air lock which was located between it and the living quarters. The safe seal light glowed reassuringly as he opened the inner door lock. He then went to the outer door and cycled the lock. There was a brief hiss and a slight pressure on the ears as the two atmospheres equalized, the door began to opened. Before the door opened even part way, a pleasant aroma wafted into the lock. Randy could smell a multitude of different things. Fresh pine, cinnamon, peppermint, gingerbread, turkey, ham, everything he associated with what? “Christmas, it all reminds me of Christmas.” Randy thought

Just on the inside of the air lock stood a man of  average height, with a large round belly. He had kind, bright blue eyes that looked out from beneath bushy white brows, which were a matched set with his full beard. His age was hard to determine, ageless almost. He was clothed in deep red coveralls and black work boots. He was holding a large thermos and a tin of cookies.

“As promised he said,” lifting the objects in his grasp slightly. “May I come in?”

 “Yeah, sure, right in there,” Randy said gesturing to the multipurpose living area.

“Where can I set these ?” the man ask looking around for a table to put the cookies and the thermos. Randy went to a panel on the wall and pressed, a section folded out and locked into place  for a table, and two seats appeared as well. “Ah, wonderful,” the man exclaimed as he set his load on the table.

That done, he turned and offered his hand, “My name is Kris, so good to meet you,” he said. 

Randy took the offered hand and looked into the man’s eyes. He saw no malice or anger there, just joy and wisdom. “Glad to meet you too.” Randy said. “There is something familiar about you, have we met somewhere?”

“Oh, it's quite possible,” Kris answered, “I do get around, especially at this time of year. I just finished delivering some packages to several of the farthest outpost. You know those people don't get many visitors, or the chance to return to earth very often. So I make it a point to stop by and bring some Christmas cheer. It does my old heart good to see the joy a few gifts and friendly conversation can bring a person. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.”

 “Actually I do know,” Randy said.

The silence grew longer until Kris said, “Well speaking of Christmas cheer, how about we try these goodies I have, shall we?” 

“Yeah that sounds good, umm won't you have a seat” Randy said gesturing to one of the benches.

He went to cabinet and grabbed two cups and set them on the table. Kris began to talk as he poured the coco, which smelled incredibly good.

“I haven't seen many travelers this night, most are at home with their families,” said Kris. “So Randy what brings you out this far on on Christmas Eve? I'm sure you would rather be home yourself.”

 Randy relayed his story of how he came to be here to a man he didn't know, but became increasingly more comfortable with by the moment. He told him how he promised to be home Christmas morning and how that wasn't going to happen now. Kris sat and listened while Randy poured his heart out to him about his wants and desires. It was so easy as they talked, drank the hot cocoa and ate for what seemed like hours. Randy looked down at the cookie tin that had been full and now was three quarters empty.

How long did we sit here?” he thought.

 Kris must have recognized the look because he stood up and took the used cups to the small sink and washed them. “Well Randy I think it's time we got on our way, we both have long trips to finish. It’s been very pleasant talking with you, made my night memorable. Feel free to keep the cookie tin and what’s left inside.” Kris scooped up his thermos and headed for the lock quick as a flash. “W…wait a moment.” said  Randy as he hurried to catch up. “What about the damage to your ship?” 

Kris stopped just inside his own ship and turned to Randy and said, “What damage? there's no damage.”

“But I hit your ship Kris,” said Randy.

“Listen my boy, you just get home to that family of yours. They are waiting for you. Again, It has been a pleasure.” Kris shook his hand once again and was through the door.” Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas! Ho ho ho,” he laughed as the door closed with a hiss and a clunk.

Randy stood for a moment trying to absorb what just happened. He went back to the table and sat down. “That was interesting,” thought Randy as he toyed with the cookie tin Kris left. He noticed the lid was on and the tin felt too heavy. “I could have sworn that lid was off a minute ago.”

 Randy took the lid off and saw the tin was full of cookies once again. “How,” thought Randy.

Inside was a note that read, “Dear Randy thank you for your hospitality, I had a fine visit with you. Keep on being a friend to those around you, stay generous and share the spirit of Christmas always. I know you will, I have been watching you for a long while now. Because you have a kind heart, and everyone should be with their family on Christmas day, I'm giving you a special present. You may be disoriented for a moment, it will pass. Enjoy the cookies and Again Merry Christmas.  Your friend Kris K.  P.S. Look out  the cockpit window.”

 Several thoughts went through Randy's head all at once. “When did he put that note there, watching me, how did he know my name before he came on board, I never told him. What is he talking about?” Just then reality seemed to spin, and flashes of colored sparks were everywhere, along with the the feeling of movement hit him at once.

 As fast as it came it was gone. “Whoa what was that?”

 Randy sat until the slight dizzy feeling stopped. “Kris must have started his N.L.S. engines to soon and blasted me.” He mumbled to the empty ship.

Randy headed up front to check for damage. Looking quickly at the instruments, they showed green lights, even the thrusters that were offline just… what? Thirty minutes ago? How, what is going on? I know it has been longer than that and the thrusters work now? Randy sat down hard in his chair wondering if he was losing his mind. And then he lost his breath when looked up, and stared out the window. It was not possible what he saw there.  He closed his eyes and willed himself to wake up. When he opened them again the view was the same. Somehow in just seconds, his ship moved millions of miles to sit just outside earth’s orbit. He was home. Randy Hobbs never forgot the best gift he ever received, or the man who gave it to him on that special Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How do you measure success?

Is success the amount of wealth one acquires? Is it fame? Or is it how many trophies and awards received.  Is it how many books, music albums, movies ect. sold? To some the consolidation of power
over people and things is success. The list goes on and on. But have you ever considered  the simpler success stories, the humble ones that may seem insignificant to some people but extraordinary to those involved. Example: The kid who has struggled to keep from failing in school brings their grades up.
Parents who raise their children without making them cringe in fear whenever they are near them. When
they themselves came from abusive childhoods and choose not to follow that path. The couple that still hold hands and goes out on dates and have a greater love for each other after decades of marriage.
How about the the guy who's been out of work for months and finally lands a steady job because he didn't give up. The girl who was told growing up she was nothing and wouldn't amount to anything. Now is a published author and is becoming very popular with many people. I could go on but I think you get the point. Success can be anything. So before you judge yourself or others unsuccessful, really think about it. I'll bet you find more successes than you thought.
Be thankful for small things. Like this small blog and being able to write it, and hoping it will touch someone in a positive way. I wish you much success in all that you do in life, and thanks for reading

Monday, December 12, 2011

Machines of darkness pt. 2

Machines of darkness pt. 2

“Get down soldier!” 1st Sgt. Hyatch yelled at the same time as he grabbed the solider, pulled him back and down.

 The young solider landed with a grunt on the hard, grey pavement. “Are you trying to get killed? Remember your training.”

“Yes sir. Sorry sir. It won't happen again sir.”

He glared at the young soldier he just saved from a plasma bolt. Hyatch was thinking how many times he had done the same thing for countless others over the years. A never ending stream of young men and women assigned to his care. Most of these kids came straight from basic training. They had no experience with war and all that comes with it. Hyatch seemed to have a knack for keeping them alive long enough to transfer to another battle, and become someone else’s responsibility.

He felt so tired, more than the physical, although that was present too. He just wanted to go home and be with his pregnant wife, she was due anytime now. Just weeks left now till they would be together, his time of service ended. But for now, it was time to concentrate on his men and the mission.

The soldiers crouched by the corner of a building, overlooking a debris strewn intersection. Waade could see burned out store fronts. Remnants of broken electronics, along with clothing, food and other items that had been looted at an earlier time lay where they fell. Burned and scattered hover cars, armoured vehicles choked the streets. Thick black smoke hung in the air, burning the soldier’s eyes as well as their lungs. The smell of burnt plastic and metal was strong.

It was the all too familiar smell of cooked flesh, that bothered Hyatch most though. After years of service in the galactic guard and countless skirmishes, he could not get used to it.

Time to move.” Waade thought.

 Two streets down were an enemy strong hold and staging area for an attack on the capitol. The stubborn leaders of this city refused to be moved to a safe zone. Claiming they would not be bullied by criminals and that they had great confidence in their military and allies to protect them. Hyatch and his fire team were ordered to do recon due to jamming and holographic camouflage that the rebels had acquired recently. A holocam puts a bubble of cover around whatever you want hidden and in concert with sensor jamming tech. The bubble can hide anything. The fire team just needed to get under the bubble, take some vidpic's and plant some enhanced sensor probes to get accurate coordinates for air attack. Then get out.

It was a simple enough mission” Thought Hyatch, but simple has a bad habit of turning rotten in a hurry.

A quick peek around the building revealed a single lookout, hiding behind a plascrete barrier one street down and opposite side.

Acting fast before an warning could be sent, Sgt. Hyatch was on his stomach with plasrifle braced against the building corner. In mere seconds he had sights on target and fired.

The lookout slumped to the ground with a small puff of smoke from his chest where the energy bolt struck. Hyatch and his three men ran in a crouch down the street toward the barrier and stopped at the body.

Sgt. Hyatch took the transceiver from the ear of what looked like a teen aged girl. For a moment there was regret and anger. He forced those feelings away to deal with later, like he always did.

The holocam bubble was in sight, shifting and swirling with the reflected images of its surrounds. The bubble was hard to look at, almost painful to eyes.

The bubble also absorbed sound, making outside listening devices useless. The negative side of the bubble was that you couldn't see or hear what was happening on the outside either. “Good for this recon team, very good indeed,” thought the Sergeant as they ran the last few yards.

“I'll go in first, and then you three follow in a 30 count. Rifle close to his body, so as not to give much warning to someone on the other side,” Sgt. Hyatch commanded just before he slipped into the bubble.

 Being on the inside of the bubble was like being under water, sound was muffled and strange, uncomfortable vibrations were felt all through his body. Then quickly he was through the other side of the bubble and looking for cover that was too far to be of any help.

Two rebel soldiers were only five steps from him in deep conversation and not paying attention as he leveled the rifle and fired.

He was then headed for a trash bin before the bodies hit the ground. “It looks like we might be too late”, thought Hyatch as he watched hundreds of soldiers and dozens of heavy armored hover-craft move his way.

He only had a few moments to give a warning to command before they reached him. Hyatch sprinted back towards the bubble, “No time for caution now, have to get my team and get out.” He thought hurriedly.

He almost reached it when searing heat shot through his right side. Looking down at the smoking hole in his stomach, he thought, “What good is body armor if it doesn't work?”

 He kept his momentum going and flew through the bubble slamming into one of his team as they were coming through. With a grunt of pain and determination, he stood up

“Move!” he yelled to his team and began to run.

Looking behind he saw the holocam dissipate and death coming for them.

“Waade!” screamed one of his men, “wake up.”

 “It’s Sergeant Hyatch, private,” he thought as he forced his legs to move.

“Waade!” A woman’s voice cried.

“ Lynne?” he mumbled.

“Wake up!” Her voice demanded so Waade Hyatch opened his eyes to see his beautiful wife leaning over him with a concerned look on her face.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

 “Yeah, fine, just a bad dream.” He lied.
Thank you for reading my story with the word prompt broken. Keep a look out for part 3 of this story, please come read other stories at