Written and illustrated by: By Jean-Pierre Crisan © 2009
Graphics and production: Jean-Pierre Crisan
Published by WildRiver Media
2543 New High Shoals Rd.
Printed in the United States of America
For her patience and dreams
2 Train Horror
3 A New Place
4 Flight of Fear
5 To See a Monster
6 Catching Creatures
7 Bully Fight
8 Storm of Terror
9 Second Flight
11 A Bigger Vision
12 Loss and Pathos
13 Man Made Flight
14 Sick Day
15 The Grand Adventure
16 Curious Findings
17 Off To The Moon
18 Religious Revelation
19 Final Battle
In an infinite universe
At the very next moment
Waits to be discovered
Time travel, lightspeed
Every minute, precious things are seen
Never before imagined
From out of the swirling gasses of the future, with a whistling, clothes-flapping descent to a thud-with-grunt landing in some nearby bushes, I have returned to walk with my childself through the years of my youth, with all of those years lived into one year at a boarding school far away in a foreign land, where a magic story of imagination, dreams, and adventures is lived, beginning with my innocent wonderings about how we imagine and see things in our minds, and how we use our imagination to solve problems, discover new things, and visioneer our way into worlds of art and invention. I’ll recall some of my spectacular and fun adventures, dreams, and daydreams, and how my imagination led me to look for answers to life’s grandest questions of the universe and of our spiritual existence.
The accounts are taken from my life’s reality. The school is a real place; the ship is as I sailed on it. The thoughts and descriptions closely follow those in my memory. My grown son will recognize himself to be represented in one of the characters, and he will surely remember so many of the things I told him as he was growing up. The things I explained about dreams, the unknown, about fears, danger, and foolishness, and about how we make friends, fight enemies and understand people.
The experience of coming within an inch of death is also real, borrowed from later life, woven into the book’s adventures as one of the things that all people wonder at some time: what happens when we meet our end, with the hope that for you, such an experience may be vividly imagined within a rollicking adventure, rather than suffered in real life.
This guided tour of my young imagination, with the sage knowledge of future years added, is a journey that shows how our simplest thoughts at an early age become the founding rails that lead us through the building of who we are through a series of recurring and ever expanding spheres of vision that reveal to us our interests, passions, and fears, and answers questions ranging from what our favorite color is to how we see God.
We all discover in our own way how things in our world work. We all develop our own explanations. We all reckon with how we see things through our minds, and our mind sometimes finds itself in odd and awkward places as we struggle to find answers to new questions.
Thus the old adage: We don’t know that we don’t know till we know that we don't know... So we can go find out, or at least dream up an answer till we do.
Life, in the never-ending time and infinite distances of our universe, is filled with wonder, discovery, and adventure, unlimited, unbounded and ready for us to explore in the powerful and magic world of our imagination.
JP Crisan, age 8, 1963
Late August 1963
The little racer zipped across the deck, and as the ship tilted and heaved, the car’s course curved and it crashed spectacularly into the pile of sweepings the man was about to sweep into his dustpan. I was scared and embarrassed, but as I retrieved it, the man looked down at me, smiling, amused by such a perfect little catastrophe.
I was half way across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the SS Hanseatic. It was sunny, warm, and windy, and the seas tossed about with white foam capped waves, with their tops blowing off and rolling like tumbleweeds. The far horizon hung down fuzzily to endless ocean all around, ever so slightly curved, and for the first time, I realized that I was on the surface of a huge ball, the Earth. The railings around the deck were far apart, and I was scared to even get near the edge.
I wound up the strong spring on my little car and let it go. It started slowly, but quickly reached a super speed with its gears making a rising pitched zipping sound. The ship’s rear deck where I was playing was bucking like some great rodeo bull, upwards, forwards, sideways. I crouched to keep my balance. The racer’s path curved right and … Oh no! Over the edge of the deck it went— Gone into that vast stormy sea! I felt my face go white with shock and I felt powerless over my foolish loss. The old fellow with the broom saw it, and walked toward the rail, looked and bent down; his hand reached toward me, offering back my little toy from where it had caught in the ship’s rigging. I thanked him as he handed it to me with that same amused smile. I thought briefly of my father, whom I had only seen a few times and who had a gentle smile as we played, as he spoke not English, nor me, French. I felt lucky to have the car back, and went inside.
As we passed along the corridors of the great ocean liner, making our way to our cabin, we passed by the empty auditorium where last night I remember seeing a small orchestra playing old favorites, and the rows of older folk’s faces wearing smiles of contentment and sentimentality, and where the evening before, just before the band got on stage, I had walked onto the stage, picked up the announcer’s microphone, and sang Alouette to the assembling audience.
Stopping to talk, mother gave me the key and I went further down into the vessel to the cabin. The large porthole in the small cabin was rimmed with closely spaced bolts that were rounded with many coats of paint. The sea outside played its stormy dance in all directions, splashing about, reaching foamy peaks that would blow off, flying away some distance. The water shone in sparkles and sheeny sheets, casting swimming sunlight in the cabin. I then began to notice a grand full moon emerging out of the mists of the horizon’s golden sunset colors. As I looked at the scene, I wondered, what music would play if these waves and their dancing light-beams would be our players? I looked for patterns of rhythm, but what rhythm would give order to chaos? Quirky madness, free and random tones? Perhaps the grand sound of stormy passion, of struggles, victories, sudden disappointments, laughter, sorrow.
Maestro! My hands reached into my hair, with fingers spread, to thoroughly dishevel myself. I shook my head about to feel my hair move and furrowed my brow as I looked upon the scene studiously. “Pom Pom Boom, Vreee ti ti ti-ti”. I began to sense the overall scene and to see how some individual waves would roll, then thrust themselves upward to a splashing peak. “Pa-pa-pam deee dai da, ta-tatam!” My little person was contorting about, arms waving wildly as I imitated in my deepest child’s voice the grand orchestral sounds of the tympanis, cymbals, the flutes, piano. I was conductor of the grandest orchestra, with the many rows of violins with their bows sawing madly back and forth, banks of gleaming golden trumpets, and great broad drums.
I could hear an impressive piece of music; a sound that filled the vast spaces to the horizon, with deep and moving undertones heartswelling beneath an uplifting melody of rising suspense stories playing themselves out to spectacular, flourishing, splashing and tingling pinnacles. The rhythm of the piece rolled, but with halting pauses, a perfectly timed syncopation, with the tiniest delay of the large beats that would trip you, falling while walking headlong, unstoppably charging forward with the thunderous, crashing, almost frightening sound of all the players flinging themselves into the passion of their music.
In my vision’s corner something…I turn, my audience, my mother was standing there. With my arms outstretched, curving slightly upward, my deep voiced declaration “Alle Menschen werden Bruder!” She looked at me inquisitively. “All men shall be brothers! I saw it on a phonograph album cover of Beethoven.” “Well, don’t bet on it.” She said, adding. “Oh my dear son, I never know where that little mind will be travelling to!”
Wellington station in London was tremendous with high vaulting ceilings and the echoing sounds of countless voices, squeaky carts, the rustling of long coats, shuffling of shoes, and the deep rumble and hissing of the trains. The many people were walking hurriedly in all directions. All the activity and noise had me curiously observing all the goings on, and distracted me from the dread of being sent off to another school.
As the train crossed the green and misty English countryside, I began to realize that the smoke and fog that hung low over the fields was the unfolding before me of a scene of apocalyptic horror. There was an awful stench in the air, and then I began to see burning piles of farm animals everywhere, on every farm. I could see legs and heads, and could see that they were pigs and sheep. They were blackened, smoldering. So horrified yet too curious to look away, I stared out onto the scene as my mind seemed to withdraw into a semi-real state of tranced numbness. I overheard other passengers talk of a hoof disease, and that the farm animals had to be killed and burned.
In a few hours, I arrived in Warninglid, where my new school and home would be.
The house mistress turned off the light in the room where the twelve boys slept, and quickly the chatter died down and there were only the sounds of shifting bedcovers, coughing, the dripping rain, and a boy softly crying. I had been there a few months. As I lay in bed, I thought about how we got in trouble for sparking flint rocks that we found on the grounds, where for weeks, from dark corners, under blankets, or behind bushes, scratchy, tapping tic-tic-tic sounds were heard as we sparked pieces of the dark grey, sharp edged rocks together, or used them to draw sparking designs in darkness on metal. The headmaster was deathly scared of fire in the old manor. Paul had shown us the red welts on his bottom after being caned. I had been caned as well, and vowed that next time; I would put a sheet of cardboard in my undershorts to lessen the pain from the whacks of the headmaster’s long, thin dowel. Another boy had been scolded for wasting paper by making dozens of origami bird heads whose beaks we snapped together with a nice deep pop-pop-popping sound.
I lay in bed before sleep, looking back over my day, thinking of explanations for things I didn’t understand, trying to solve problems, or thinking of how I could have done things better. I told a joke that day, but I mangled the words, with my attempt getting lost in the lively group conversation. In my mind, I re-phrased conversations and re-enacted events. I realized that I had to think, organize my thought, and spring forth at just the right pause in a conversation’s momentum. I knew I had to jump in there with my full confidence or not at all, and make my point. I resolved that if I got in an awkward spot, or if people laughed at me, I would just laugh too, or change the subject, make a wisecrack or a deeply voiced ‘hey-hey now!’, quote a classic line —"And there you have it!" Said architect Frank Lloyd Wright when confronted over the oddness of one of his designs.— or, if I was too tired to bother, I could yawn and just ignore the whole incident.
I thought about how limiting words are. To describe some things, I would have to be able to speak two or three sentences at the same time while projecting movies from my eyes. How do you describe clearly to someone what a day at the fair is like? There are the many colors, people of all kinds, the moving rides with their screaming passengers, the many sounds all around all at the same time. How does one remember or imagine such a busy scene; with a picture in one’s mind, or a list, or a narrative with long sentences using many descriptive adjectives, adverbs, and subordinate clauses? I read books by some of the great writers such as Jules Verne, Mark Twain and Herman Melville. I could see how these authors would weave their words, carefully chosen, strategically and rhythmically arranged to create a scene. They painted the elements of their worlds, leaving the reader’s interested imagination to fill in many more details, and, without realizing it, becoming part of the scene, walking next to the hero, seeing for him, and thinking and feeling with him, and living in the writer’s story.
The room, by now, had the feel of late night, with only the quiet sounds of deeper breathing and the odd little pops and creaks in the building. I was beginning to fall asleep, staring into the ceiling’s dim shadows. I could see shapes and glimpses of things from my day as it all began to eventually diffuse into the gaseous weightlessness of sleep, which most nights would deliver me straight to the morning’s brightness, chirping birds, stirring of schoolmates, and the trumpeting of reveille by one of the house squires when he was home from service. This night, however, would be different…
I will never forget my dreams of flying. There were only a few and they were much more real than the regular kinds of dreams. These dreams felt like they were a part of real life. They were the first dreams that I felt I could control what happened, and they led me to discover the real meanings of imagination. These dreams were the first to challenge me, and as you will see, I would face death if I failed.
I stood in the courtyard, stretched out my arms while looking up in my closed eyes, relaxed, and began to feel light on my toes, then I lifted up, up, up, gently rising above the roof gables. I saw the moss on the shingles as I rose higher than the tops of the chimneys, with a view that was now a dizzying panorama of the green rolling countryside expanding to the horizon all around me. I felt weightless, floating. Below was the court yard with the manor wrapping around my front and right, the gymnasium behind, and on my left were tall hedges and the driveway curving in. My schoolmates were playing football, three boys were in the corner sparking flint rocks, and there were other people around. As I leaned around looking, I began to fly towards things I stared at. They were having a good football game, everyone was playing hard trying to get the ball and make their plays. I started into a gentle dive toward them and speeded up to a swooping pass over them; I thought of joining in, then I realized no one saw me. They were all very busy with what they were doing and didn’t even see me as I flew over their heads. Then a car came in the drive and I quickly pulled up to avoid it and went soaring upwards. That jangled me a bit, and as I looked down, I remembered a time when I had climbed a tree to retrieve a kite, where I climbed too high, and the thin trunk began to bend… Now read this in a panic... Well now I was falling fast! The air whistled in my ears as I began to plummet earthward. I lurched myself forward and stretched out my arms as hard as I could. In a swooping dive, just missing the ground, I soared across the courtyard, but had to pull up to miss the walls. I pulled my head back and squinted my eyes and gritted my teeth, whew! Just missed crashing into the stone walls. I was flying fast and stretched out my neck to go up over the school. I had to strain, concentrate, I barely had control, and everything was moving so fast, it was dizzying. Just beyond the roof edge, suddenly the big chimney! I was headed straight for it; it filled my view; I pulled my arms and head back to one side with all my might…. Aaaaaagh!…
I woke up and heard my breath hissing through clenched vocal chords that were frozen in fear; I was screaming so hard yet no one could hear me. I was terrified, wide awake, my breath panting, the rain was dripping, a boy was snoring.
The next day, I thought about the dream and wondered if I missed the chimney and resolved that next time, I wouldn’t look down, and I wouldn’t let myself go so fast, and I would practice controlling my moves. For several nights, I tried to re-live the dream before I went to sleep. I wanted to practice so I could control the flight and have fun with it.
That evening, I looked at the dim night ceiling and tried to see like I was flying. Closing my eyes, I could feel like I was floating, and I imagined weightlessness. It was easier, actually, to imagine that I weighed very little, my body so light, I could feel the anticipation of being able to let go a little more, and just floating away. I tilted my head back and swayed, ever so slowly, from side to side, rolling my eyes under closed eyelids to get a disorienting sensation that was oh so close to floating in space. I imagined floating in water too, and remembered how it felt on the ship. I borrowed some of that feeling to help me imagine weightlessness.
As I tried, over several evenings, to build on the weightless feeling, I added things like imagining things floating around me, or constructing scenes in my mind like seeing the tops of buildings or flying through fine new little leaf shoots at the tops of trees. Then one evening, I wanted to see clouds rushing by to add to the flying feeling, but when I tried to think of clouds, I couldn’t see them clearly. I know what clouds look like, don’t I? The next day I looked at the sky to see the clouds, I stared and watched them and saw so many shapes and shades; they were so complicated, it was hard to imagine them even while having them right there to see. After watching them, I began to notice how the light shading on their tops and edges gave them their three dimensional appearance, and how the puffy parts that stuck out also had the same shading scheme, and I saw that clouds would boil like very slow motion steam. I practiced and soon was able to see the clouds, in my mind, moving ever so slowly, tumbling, rolling, and their different fluffy, wispy, patterned, or scattered shapes.
Over the next weeks, I tried to imagine other things, and I realized that, when I looked more closely at them in my mind, I could see shapes and the position and perspective of things, but it was hard to see details, and then, I thought, there was little color either, just the soft shadowy grey forms. I wanted to see things bright and clearly, as if they were real, so I practiced seeing the little details of things. If I imagined a car, I wanted to see everything: the tread of the tires, the stitching on the seats, the way light shines off it and how the chrome gleams. It was hard; I would strain to see things. Some things I saw made me think of other things, and some feelings made me see shapes or colors. Then I realized that if I let myself almost fall asleep, staying just awake enough to control what I saw, that the scenes in my mind began to take on a life of their own, leading me into other worlds. Every evening, I looked forward to trying to see things clearly. I called it “my movie”.
One night a disturbing thought suddenly came into my mind, and I knew the instant that I thought it that I had put before myself a challenge that meant no turning back, and that I would not be satisfied if I did anything less than put the full force of my ability behind it. The thought that had entered my mind was to imagine a monster, the most frightening, horrible, disgusting creature that a mind could imagine. Anything less would just not do at all.
I lay in the darkened room, I knew I wasn’t scared of monsters, and there would never be monsters in my room. But if I imagined it so well, that it was so realistic, would I be scared? How real could it look like anyway, it's just my imagination? As I lay there and tried to see things, I saw shapes and glimpses of things in my day. I tried to see things that I thought of, but it was hard, and my mind tried to wander into other thoughts. Like thinking about thinking and thinking about how thinking is like trying to catch that slippery bullfrog where I had fallen into the pond and gotten soaking wet and muddy. Like there! Off again on another thought.
I tried to relax and let myself fall asleep a little as I rubbed my closed eyes so I could imagine better. It was so hard to see clear shapes, there were shapes, swirls, then I began to organize a green head shape out of the patterns and splotches, then other parts seemed to emerge. White things that looked like teeth; I breathed deep and stared my concentration harder and then it all came together as an image. Up in the right corner of my mind’s view I saw a little green head that was like a lion and a dragon mixed together. I thought a thought that was like a gasp. I saw it really clearly, crisp like something from a comic strip. I had made in my mind. It looked real, like it was really there! Then I remembered, I didn’t get scared, that’s not scary, a nice little monster, but it wasn’t scary at all.
Ok, let’s try again, I thought. What makes a monster really scary, anyway? Well, of course, it would be coming at you to eat you; it would have to be big. But there would have to be other things to make it frightening. It would have to be towering over you, and you would have to be prevented from escaping its wrath, like being in a stone corner, or chained to a tree. Red! There would have to be lots of red, or, ugh, blood. I began to cringe a bit at those thoughts. My cringe turned to dread as I thought this thought: This monster had to be disgusting, gross, and gooey too. I began to squirm at the thought, and then out of my thinking’s pause, an image emerged. It took form as a large red shape over me. It was more than seen, I was being drawn into a zone of relative reality, into an atmosphere. The experience began to fill in. This overwhelming sense of immersion swept over me in a soul chilling, trembling horror. There it was, huge, over me. This great, big, red, blood-dripping, oozing skull with the putrid, maggot crawling remains of rotting flesh hanging loosely, swarming with flies, just about to fall off onto me. I smelled the burning animals. It had long, dirty teeth. Yellowish ooze was dripping out of its shriveled eyeballs and falling toward my mouth as I thrashed about in the chains fastening me to the stone floor. I tried to escape the burning pus spraying out of swollen, bleeding sores, dripping, splashing goo and ooze and fire all around and on me. I could feel steamy, stinking, hot breath as my being was beginning to be smothered out of existence.
“Yuuuk, yuk, yuk!” I curled up quickly into a ball, burying my face in my pillow, shaking my head to distract me from my thought. Alright, I did it, I think I’m satisfied. That was pretty bad, well, I mean, good. A real good job I did; and yes, it was only my imagination…
In the following weeks, I was fascinated with my little game of trying to imagine all kinds of things, from monsters to spaceships to ultramodern houses and sleek cars, and I tried to see as much detail as possible, or let my mind discover or make up things.
I tried some experiments, too. I looked at a picture of some kids playing, then I closed my eyes to see the picture in my mind; how many kids are there, what color are their clothes? Then I looked at the picture again to see how close to the real thing my mind saw.
Some times, I thought of something that was around the school that I don’t see every day, like the tractor. I made a picture in my mind of what I remembered it to look like. Where is the seat in relation to the large rear wheels? What do all the parts and motor look like? I then went around to the garden to look, and as often happens with these exercises, I remember things differently, some things better than others, adding parts or exaggerating things that seemed symbolic, like the rear wheels, which weren’t higher than the driver, only up to his elbows. I remembered colors well.
I closed my eyes to see my name and to see if I could read the letters. Pierre, there it was with my view looking slightly up to fat, rounded letters that were muted red with blue reflections on the shiny corners. The faint goings on of the rest of my mind’s visual activity was moving behind it on a black background. I could read the first three letters, but I could only really see three or four letters at the same time, even though I could see the whole name suspended there. Then I realized, with your eyes open, you can only see a small circle in the center of your vision well enough to read words. A bit to the side, you see the words, but can’t read them.
It struck me, that in your mind, everything is three dimensional. Even if you think of something flat, like a sheet of paper on a table, it’s lying there flat all right, but with the perspective angles that make it look smaller at the end that is farthest from you, and it is on a table that is in a room, all in three full dimensions.
After a while, a few weeks, another thought jumped into my mind, what if I just stared into the night’s darkness over my bed and tried to keep my mind from thinking anything at all, and let the movie play itself; to try to see a blank screen to let it come to me and see what shows up. Well, that was really hard; my mind was determined to think about things, and there were thoughts waiting in line to be thought. I had to really concentrate on not thinking. Abstract shapes would to appear first as a jumble of stuff in my mind’s view, then, as I continued to relax but concentrate on what I saw, I saw some very complex shapes, and all types of images in layers that moved in different directions. But soon, I always found that I was controlling it. I had to stop, lay there and not let my mind do anything and let it happen. There were things that made me feel things like fast or cold or scared. I sometimes worried that I would suddenly see something very scary, and I would not be able to control it, and that made me realize the responsibility I have in understanding my mind’s workings and being in charge of myself. I saw things that made me think of things in my day. Some things were like sounds or funny words too. I wondered how these things connected together. I saw very interesting things that I had never seen before, like designs that it seemed I would never think of. I saw what I thought were colors that didn’t exist in the real world.
I was outside watching squirrels as they made their daring leaps from tree to tree. I watched, fascinated with their antics and followed below to see where they were going.
Suddenly, one of them missed his jump, and came falling to the ground. I quickly pulled off my jacket that was tied loosely around my waist by its arms and slung it over the squirrel as it began to scurry away. I pounced and scooped jacket and squirrel up, holding the package out in front of me. I could feel him wriggling about and trying to escape as he made desperate squealing and growling sounds, part of his tail stuck out and was whipping about wildly.
Now what? There I was holding this feisty squirrel and I knew that if he got out, he would surely bite me, I might get rabies; now I was worried. Some of my mates had seen me from a distance and ran up to where I was. “I’ve got a squirrel” I said with a tight grin and a worried voice. As they leaned forward cautiously to see, I rolled back part of the jacket to get a better look at him…
Suddenly the squirrel scrambled loose and jumped on Anthony. Its’ claws were caught in his sweater and it squealed and thrashed madly. Anthony recoiled, tripping on Shay’s shoes as they both tumbled to the ground. The squirrel jumped onto my leg and I saw his dark, beady eyes as he was coming straight at my face. My scream was cut short as I thought he was going to jump into my mouth. I winced and turned away as he jumped to my shoulder, and then quickly sprang off for a short flight into a privet hedge. After a brief pause, we laughed and re-told the story and others came to see what happened.
I had been wanting to catch an animal so I could see up close what its fur, eyes and claws look like. I thought of designs for a trap, and soon realized what seemed simple had to have a delicate tripper setup, a door that would close fast, lock shut, and not hurt the animal, and a way to lure the animal in far enough so he couldn’t get back out once he heard the tripper mechanism go off. I didn’t have many tools or materials; I had hidden a few small boards and some wire mesh that I found. Also, I might get in trouble for doing it, so the project had to be kept secret, and it would have to work perfectly the first time.
I thought of different ways and made some drawings, but the idea kept getting too complicated for me to build. I had to think of something simple that would work reliably. I just wanted to have a good design that would catch an animal. I had to do it because I decided that I wanted to do it, and if I didn’t... Well I just had to do it, and I could not fail!
I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling. I could think of nothing else but my project. “I will visioneer it”, I told myself. This new word just popped into mind and was loaded with the tantalizing meaning of designing and seeing the project clearly in my mind with such realism, that it would be real in every way that could be. It would be more real than a picture, as it would be a 3 dimensional working model. I felt excited and was confident that I could do it.
I stared intently upward into the dim shadows, and concentrated my thought. I saw the cage, watched as the animal entered; I played the events in my mind’s view step by step, over and over and saw the parts’ movement. I thought of some new ideas too, like rubber strips for the hinge that would act as springs to close the door fast, and some different ideas for the tripper.
Over the next days, I went behind the garden fence after class to cobble together the trap. The finished product was a patchwork of many materials and colors. I was ready, and positioned it on the outside of the garden's back fence, where few people went, and pulled some branches and leaves over it to hide it. I put the cheese on and set the tripper.
For two days I returned to find everything untouched as I had left it. I brought some bread and put it near the back of the cage, but I began to wonder if it would work at all, and my hopes began to dim.
I returned the following day decided that I would move the trap into the woods. I looked around as I approached to make sure no one would see me. I was almost to the trap but halted mid-step as I saw movement within the branches covering the trap. My face went white and I felt my heart beating fast as I carefully peered within the branches to see what was there. It was much bigger than a squirrel, I looked closer... A rabbit! I crouched down and looked over my captive. Its fur was grey with brownish blotches, with still, glassy eyes that were big and brown, almost black. Its ears were long with white, fine fur and they were pink inside. Its back legs had thick, grey claws, and its tail, just a little puff of fine white fur. My hapless captive sat still, with a fixed gaze, nose twitching. I watched for some time, examining all its features.
I went around and reached through the garden fence and got some lettuce leaves, and broke a small piece off the tall overhanging rhubarb plants. I put these in the cage, but the rabbit remained still, his gaze fixed in some point beyond me with the sad stare of a powerless captive looking as if his life was at a standstill in my hands.
I saw people around so I walked along and tried to pretend calm and innocence while inside, I was beaming at my success. I wanted to tell everybody, as I approached the playing group, I blurted out, “I’ve caught a rabbit!” We all ran back around to see, followed by Mr. Wilson, our science teacher. “Pierre caught a rabbit” Andy exclaimed. “Ah, a fine dinner,” Mr. Wilson quips as he looked closer, adding, “Clever, hmm, you caught a bloomin’ rabbit.” We brought our helpless little furry friend up to the science class lab so the others could see, then let him go free the next day.
My excitement turned to worry, and my running pace slowed to a long gait after I squeezed by the fence separating us from the older kids’ schoolyard. I had heard a raucous uproar out of which the word ‘fight’ kept being repeated. I had run ahead of the others, and I rounded the corner of the tall, windowless brick school building just in time to see a pair of older kids fight. One boy, standing in a classic boxer’s stance, was throwing carefully aimed punches, while the other kid blasted away with a non-stop barrage of punches, with his arms a blur of speed and with the machine gun pace of ‘Ksh-ksh-ksh smack-smack b-b-biff-biff ‘ fist-to-face sounds. It was only a few seconds till the boxer crumbled to the ground in punch-interrupted shrieks and begging cries. I slid back around the corner out of sight; other kids were still running up to see what happened. I nodded a grimace, saying, "it’s over." It was a scary thing to see. Those boys were a lot bigger than me, and they were punching hard, really trying to hurt each other. I thought of the time I told myself to go all out when telling a joke in a group of people. It looks like the same rule applies to fighting too.
My school fights were usually one-punchers, with either me or the other guy going down after whoever threw the first blow. One time I hocked a nice green loogie in a kid’s eye after he kept teasing and picking on me. He went to the principal, snot-faced, to tell on me, the principal wasn’t there, and the little blonde secretary told the kid that he got what he deserved! In another fight, I had been worried by a kid who was picking on me for months. My stomach was upset all the time, and I was always scared when I saw him. Then one day, I just couldn’t stand it anymore, and in the middle of a bunch of kids in the schoolyard, he teased me, then I gave him a big roundhouse across the chin. He was shocked, in disbelief as he rubbed his chin, but he never bothered me again, we even got to be friends. It hurt me more than him though, because, with my big swing, I caught and ripped off half of one of my fingernails on his wooly turtleneck sweater.
One time, some kids really got me good. In class, the teacher stepped out for a moment. Someone threw a wad of paper at me from behind. When I turned around I got plastered by about three huge spitballs. It was a carefully planned attack, with precision and coordination. I could only take the high road, grinning, nodding my head slowly saying: “That was a good one, but I wish you would have done it to Findler!” Findler was a quiet, slouchy looking, studious kid in the next row.
In school, a lot of the kids were shy and too worried about themselves to talk a lot. I was sort of shy, but a bit of a joker and prankster; sometimes I would say things without thinking, real innerspeak, that often made no sense at all, or had nothing to do with the class topic or the current conversation, leaving me feeling embarrassed. My mind has always had a habit of just floating away like a balloon. For me, keeping focused on what I'm doing is a deliberate and ongoing effort.
There were kids who were always picking on people. I would think they were just picking on me, but soon saw that they picked on everybody. They would do things like try to trip you when you walked past their desk, or scribble on your homework, kick your shins or punch you in a ball game, or get you to do something wrong, then go and tell on you while pretending to be a saint.
One thing I noticed was that some kids would accuse others of things that they themselves were doing. Cheaters would call other kids cheaters, and mean kids seemed to be quick to complain if someone did something mean to them. I also found that kids were most vulnerable, and had the hardest time defending themselves when their own favorite insults were used on them.
I awakened to the sounds of low rumbles of thunder and the constant flashing of lightning in the distance. The wind began to stir in rushes followed by eerie stillness. Rain began in big drops, splashing off the windows. I had not seen a big storm before, only the snow blizzards of Canada. I awaited the approaching storm nervously. I began to hear the wind gusting, making buffeting sounds and little whistles off the building. The metal downspouts made occasional clanging sounds against their mountings. I saw lightning through the trees, like a delicate web of light, like fine lacey cracks in old porcelain. It was soon answered by a long, rolling, rumbling cadence. I drew the bed covers up over me and peeked out through a small opening. The rain became a steady roar, and with each flash, the raindrops would glisten like little jewels. The lightning flashes got closer, became brighter and more frequent, and the thunder was louder, angrier, and followed more quickly on the heels of the purple-white flashes of electricity.
Suddenly a searing blue-white lightning bolt crossed right in the window’s view with an immediate deafening crack of thunder that shook the room. A boy shrieked in terror, others were crying. Closing my eyes, I still saw the bright jagged lines burned into my vision. The rains thrashed against the windows, roaring, rattling the metal frames. Spits of water blew through the window frames onto us. There were wails of terror from some of the other boys and I could hear some of them getting on the floor under their squeaking bed frames. The bright flashes were almost constant, their blazing bright, frigid light lighting the room in daytime brightness; and through the window, I saw the trees waving wildly in this awful tempest. I drew the covers over me, curled up tightly and held the pillow over my head. I thought of the Bible story of Noah, I thought I was going to die.
I heard a woman’s voice saying softly “Now boys, it’s okay, the storm will be over soon”. I peeked out to see that the headmistress had turned on the light. She cradled her arms around one of the sobbing boys. I saw the bewildered fear-distorted faces of the others.
Suddenly I heard a crocketing sound and saw the boy next to me, with one mighty heave, hurl a great mass of vomit over the foot of his bed splashing onto the floor. It was utterly disgusting. I retreated under my bedcovers exhausted with fear. Eventually a sound sleep delivered me to the sunny morning’s light.
We talked about the storm the next day with newfound bravado. I made drawings of lightning with trees and buildings ablaze and exploding. I wished that I could have the power of lightning from my fingertips.
The next night I closed my eyes to see if I still saw the searing lightning flash from last night, wondering if it had any lasting effect. I saw the usual display of shapes and fleeting images. I put my arm across my face over my eyes to see in total darkness and after a bit, I began to see things that I had seen when rubbing my eyes, such as when the spring pollen would make them itch. These were not at all the same images that I would see when trying to imagine things, but they were something from in my eyes that would put on its own display that I had no control over. It was more of a light show and usually had a blazing donut and bright blue and other lights in intricate patterns that often looked like intricate Byzantine mosaics or ultramodern art.
As the weight of my arm was pressing onto my eyes, I began to see the molten donut, a yellow-white blotch with a black hole in the middle, irregularly shaped and slowly changing. The hole slowly faded away as the image dimmed and diffused into other forms. I then saw intense, deep, pure blue lights. It was a blue of purity that would not be seen till the invention of lasers and LED lighting almost forty years in the future. They were random splotches of differing sizes scattered randomly, but all sloping up at a slight angle from left to right. These changed and metamorphosed into smaller pieces, wisps and streaks as they began to fade.
Then an intricate grid of yellow-orange with tinges of other colors began to appear. I was amazed at the complexity of the design. I had never seen anything like that at all, how did I think up all these designs? They were very striking images that looked like beautiful art or an arrangement of divine order. They made me think of modern paintings I had seen in museums. I felt like I was in the painting, I felt like part of me was the painting. I grinned as my inner dialogue imitated an exaggerated French accent “Oh moi, I am a great arteeest!”
Mr. Wilson had told us that we shouldn’t rub our eyes hard, that the colors and things you see are because the retinal light receptors and nerves in your eyes get squeezed and give false signals.
As always, sleep overtook me quicker than I would like. It would always sneak up on me and my thoughts would disappear into the hours of that unknown and mysterious world that I existed in till I awakened.
I did awaken, but within that dream sleep netherworld…
I found myself high over the school and felt the sudden excitement of the realization that I was flying again. I was ready, and I knew that it was all up to me what I could do. I eased myself gently forward and began to move over the countryside.
My motion was controlled by this certain self reliance that I was just beginning to understand, and in my mind, I struggled to know these ways of my mind or to find words and ways of describing things that I have never known or thought about. It was a blend of confidence, calm, and a type of vision that was more than just seeing myself flying. It was a feeling of being connected to all the infinite powers, whatever they may be. It was a confidence, not of daring, or bravery, but of clear vision of this one feeling. The summary of it all came to me in the simple fact that I had to just let go when I was the most scared and learn to have confidence at any moment that I would need it.
I started to sink toward the ground; I straightened my focus back to the flight. I was in a gently sloping dive and began to approach a meadow with scattered large oak trees. Leaning to one side, then the other, I wove around and between the huge oaks, whoosh, whee! The exhilarating feeling of sweeping S curves. I let go, the speed was faster and I came closer to the trees, I relaxed myself, I felt keen, I whisked through the branches, missing by mere inches as the brushing of the leaves wetted my face with the cool evening dew. I felt like I knew what being the wind would feel like— fast, free, agile. I was going very fast now, it was getting hard to keep up and control, I was losing my nerve, my breath quickened, so I just let go and went soaring skyward, up, up into the cool, clear air with a dizzying feeling of exhilaration. Then I worried that I couldn’t stop, and that I would go off into deep space. I relaxed into a floating state. Before me was a broad scene of hills and fields in their shadowy nighttime colors with twinkles of light scattered. There was a distant glow on the northern horizon over London.
I looked down… I felt a sudden sick feeling in my stomach as I got a real sense of how high up I was. Way up! Just as I began to helplessly fall earthward, I straightened my arms out, stuck my chin out resolutely, and with relaxed determination said “I shall fly, I will use Automatic Mind.” This term came into mind, I had never heard it, and it surprised me like a thump in the chest with a sudden feeling of power… That I could command my mind and that it would pull from the deepest depths of my being any strength or knowledge that I would need to achieve my goal.
“It is not a question of if I can, but a declaration of that I shall.”
I swept across the land and flew towards London. I was doing flips and summersaults and corkscrews. Whaaaahhoo!
I realized now that I was beginning to awaken, as my thinking began to take over and play with the dream. I imagined a thrilling flight over London, down the Thames, whizzing by the tower of the Queen’s castle. I clung to the bed frame on each side shaking, rattling as I was feeling the speed and the wind and banking into the curves.
The boy next to me murmured half asleep “Mwaya doin’.” I stopped suddenly and lay there quietly. I wore a huge grin in the darkness for a long time.
Flight over London
The following days, I re-lived and added to the adventure in my imaginings, it was hard not to daydream in class about it. I kept thinking about that power and what infinite speed would be like. I was thrilled at my secret power, Automatic Mind. I dared not tell anyone else for fear they wouldn’t understand, and they would make fun of it, which might destroy it.
Some days later I had some hard math homework. I struggled for some time, and I was getting very frustrated. I paused a moment and leaned back in my chair, then thought that if I knew exactly why I was frustrated, I would know how to comfort myself. What was the exact thing that was hard about it? Well, It was like with that thought experiment I did the other day, I could only concentrate on a small circle, yet these were some very long equations, and I had to see them in their entirety. They were like a complicated machine, like a steam engine, and I had to visualize all the parts moving and have a sense of what they were doing. It also was late in the afternoon, and I was tired. Part of the frustration felt a bit like anger, but in two ways. At myself; why can’t I be smart enough to do it. And at the world; some people are better at math than others, I can’t be good at everything.
I began to daydream and started to doodle along the edge of my note paper, then I suddenly straightened up and told myself: “Well, I’ve got to just get it done, I want to go outside before it gets too dark and I must finish those equations.”
Then “Automatic Mind, I must! I shall!” echoed in my mind. I felt a surge of energy and re-focused myself. I reread the section of the textbook two, then three times, and finally was able to do the equations. I felt like my power helped me, but I had to work hard too. “Whew! “ I thought, “It is the power, the power to work hard.”
I worked hard too, because I wanted the powers and things that I learned in the world of imagination to help me in the real world. I thought wishfully: “If I could do a fraction of the things I can imagine, I would be superman.”
As I put my papers away, I thought back over the homework session, and streamlined, in my inner speaking, the wording of what I thought I learned so that I could be better organized next time. As a list, I summarized, one; break the problem into sections, two; solve the subsections first, and so on.
Then I wondered if staring at those math problems was like when I pray, just saying what I want, but it doesn’t seem to make anything happen. Is an earnest prayer more like working deep inside yourself? Is it an active and creative process rather than just wishing for something? Is that feeling of power a connection to something bigger within yourself… Is this just my innocent way of seeking God?
I liked to draw. I thought of drawing in different ways. Sometimes I wanted to draw things to remember interesting or fun things or events, or to invent things, or draw things as I would imagine them to be in the future. I saw the fantastic designs of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion cars. When I grow up, we won’t be driving Mini’s or old boxy Leylands would we? I expect that when I am grown, we will glide about smoothly at great speeds in sleek, shiny, comfortable sky pods that one would drive with the power of thought.
When I drew, I tried different tricks, like tracing things that were hard to draw, like people’s faces, or making a light grid of lines and doing it in sections, or rubbing the pencil with wood or stone under the paper to make textures. Once, I used a small mirror, perched against a book, to look with one eye on the subject and the other on the paper, seeing and drawing at the same time, or I would close my eyes and try to see things while I was drawing them on paper. The results were usually far from perfect. Drawing was hard for me to do well, I would struggle and become frustrated, I just wanted to draw anything I wanted and for it to look real. I kept drawing the same things too... it was always snow capped rugged mountains, or a little village, a river, a city skyline, the same rocket, or the same car... I had to do something different.
An art book had some exercises to do, to draw a wad of paper. The book said to just draw it as light or dark shapes, just shade in the shadows and don’t draw outlines. It was really hard at first, then I thought about how I learned to see clouds clearly in my imagination, and I realized that in real life, when looking at things, I didn’t usually pay attention to details. I began to look at things and focus my mind to notice the details of things.
I invented exercises for drawing the same way I practiced imagining things. One afternoon, in study hall, as we labored on our assignments, after finishing my homework, I turned my notebook over and around in a way that the back cover was another front cover, where I had drawn on it in a funny way, as a title, ‘The Mind’s Musings’. I opened it several pages, past my other drawings and writings, to a blank page. Djonel, nicknamed DJ, a brain-boy from India, was the only other kid left at the table. He would always enthusiastically tell us of things he learned about physics and science, or different ways of doing math problems, or his latest theory on anti-gravity or light-speed travel. While he was seriously applied to his schoolwork, I sat at the other end of the table with my eyes closed, determined that I would draw the first good image that came to mind. There were a flurry of abstract images moving about, including the images of the light from the windows and the shapes of the lamps in the room. After several moments, I began to see the thoughts from my mind, then something took form that looked like Mr. Fuller’s Dymaxion car. I began to draw its general shape, then filled in more details. I drew carefully, deliberately; I kept erasing and re-doing some of the lines. It was hard to keep my hand steady, and there was a groove in my middle finger from where I held the pencil tightly. I closed my eyes and concentrated, I wanted to be there, to fall into the scene and walk around and look at the sleek, silvery, futuristic machine. Its curved windows seamlessly followed its shape, and various parts, like wheel pods and antennae were gracefully formed into the vehicle’s curvatures. I drew with eyes half closed to see my mind’s view projected on the paper. I tried to relax my hand; I shaded softly the subtle shades, being careful to leave the paper totally white where the light was gleaming off the very shiny surfaces. As I began to shade all around it totally black, I realized that in my mind’s view, the car was really a space ship in deep, black, outer space.
I heard the call to supper, DJ rapidly shuffled his papers into his notebook and as he walked past, I heard “Oooo!” as he made rocket sounds.
Every evening the bedroom was a circus of activity as we returned from bath hall to our beds. By quarter till nine, most of us were back, lights went out at nine o’clock. Anthony and Will were wrestling, Shay formed an ocarina shape with his hands, making low pitched whistling sounds, and Andy made a parachute with his shirt and a slipper, flinging it in the air. Paul and DJ had a paper airplane and were flying it across the room to each other as O’flanegan and I played catch with a wad of paper trying to hit the plane as it went by… I waited for the airplane, and there it came, I wound up for my pitch to O’flanegan, I knew I had a direct hit but suddenly headmistress Mrs. Chambers briskly walked in to restore order. The plane passed right in front of her face and my fastball hit her squarely on the shoulder, ricocheting off her head. I cringed in horror and I heard three or four boys laughing. Mrs. Chambers, however, unphased, motioned with her hands, lowering them a few times, and looked about saying “Alright boys, settle down, quiet now” then pointed to the several disheveled beds, ordering, “pick up your things, tidy your bedcovers”. A few minutes later, she returned to turn off the light.
The others were off on Easter holiday and I wouldn’t see mother till summer. That day I had explored the grounds and found a secret place that was deep inside thick hedges where I had pulled out dead branches to make a hollow. The place could only be entered through a tunnel at the rear under the lowest branches. I found some tar paper and made a roof. I felt a bold independence building my own private fort out on the school's grounds. I was excited to think that I could hide parts for my projects and inventions in there, or simply disappear from the watchful eyes of the teachers, headmaster or headmistress if I wanted to.
I was the only boy left on holiday, and I wandered about the quiet old manor with its many rooms, hallways, and little odd nooks. They put me to work in the gardens for spring planting, and In the afternoon, I worked with the master’s two grown sons scraping and painting the oak timbers over the entrance to the manor. The younger son Rory drove an Austin Healey. The low sporty car had chrome spoked wheels under rounded haunches, rally lights and boldly colored stripes and numbers painted on it. Its engine spoke in a low, aggressive growl.
1958 Austin Healey 3000
That night, I lay alone in the darkened room among the many empty, neatly made beds. The manor was quiet but for occasional little sounds. A bird clung to the edge of a gutter in the waning evening light scratching, pecking briefly before flying away. As I stared into the shades and shadows on the plaster ceiling, I thought about the day, resenting my having been made to work, shoveling in the garden or climbing the ladders to help with the painting. I thought about some of the things we were taught in history class the week before, about how the communists had taken over Eastern Europe a few years ago, forcing people to work doing things they didn't want to do, and how people were worried that the communists would take over the rest of the world so soon after such a devastating and destructive war that had defeated the fascists and tyrants. I found it painful to hear of injustice in the world as I learned of biblical massacres, the Crusades, the cruelty of the Spanish inquisition, or saw newspaper accounts of the beatings of African natives with bullwhips at the hands of Dutch settlers, or the sacking of villages by religious zealots who had invaded the Arabian subcontinent.
I could not understand why people would do such things. I asked “Why is there war?” and “Why would God allow cruelty and suffering?” I asked these questions of teachers, a chaplain, my mother. I found only answers that were hollow, that would pass right through me, quickly forgotten, meaningless, as over it all, there was no possible good answer.
I thought how horrible it would be if an evil ruler took over the world and didn’t let people think, or imagine, or do art. The frightening thought was that evil could start as something with good intentions that could hide right there in front of you in the form of a government or a religion or someone who pretends to be a friend. The thought of it made me angry. I would fight them, I would defeat them; I would use my imagination to outsmart them and to make them see that we cannot be without minds that can travel free to every thought. Never again would we allow a Stalin or a Hitler! It continued to bother me as I lay there, I wanted to feel powerful, and to have all the power so I could make sure our minds would always be free. I held out my hands and imagined bright lightning coming from my fingertips burning the enemy armies and shaking the earth; I saw buildings falling and exploding. Then I thought, I will be evil, more evil than all evil so that I may defeat evil! I stared resolutely at the ceiling wanting power. How would I get that power?
I lay back and my mind wandered, I thought about the shiny space car that I drew. How can I imagine that I could build my space Dymaxion, to travel at lightspeed, to have the world’s biggest gun? How could I imagine being the most powerful man on Earth?
I imagined that I had gone to university, that after some years, my work as an electro-physicist led to a research project involving frictionless high speed bearings and fluid conductors to be used in jet turbines and high performance automobile engines. Since more than ten percent of an engine’s power is wasted in friction, there were a lot of grants available to do research in that area, and I was able to start a company and acquire a large research facility with labs, machine shops, test equipment, with access to the latest advanced metal alloys and plastic polymers. The main thrust of our research was a semiconductor material that was a crystalline ceramic within which platinum layers were electro-deposited. The crystal matrix would form millions of transistors and ionic field coils per square centimeter of the material. Specialized power supplies producing high frequency alternating current at very high voltages would be used to energize the circuits to generate strong ionic fields that would form a frictionless zone between, for example, the piston, and the cylinder in an engine. DJ, who now worked in advanced mathematics at the Los Alamos Laboratories, was collaborating on the project.
After several years of work, with a series of projects, we had developed materials that were doing things that we did not fully understand. The interesting thing is that we had discovered properties in some of the test materials that were exhibiting unexpected behaviors. We kept running the equations and rechecking test results. We had a small strip of experimental material inside a vacuum container, and as it became energized at higher frequencies, some of the magnetic energy became an ionized field. We were developing power supplies that could do some unusual things with electricity, such as provide a voltage that was the sinusoidal inverse of the sub-harmonic resonances that develop in the ionic field. This, of course occurs at extremely high frequencies, which has been the biggest challenge for us in designing the power supply circuits. When we started playing around with the resonance, the ionic field would become a visible blue glow around the material, and on one test, the magnetic field exerted a repelling force against even non magnetic objects. Yes, we thought, very interesting.
DJ and I decided to make the project separate and secret with five of our core scientists and engineers. We called it Ilectron-5. I had bought a small piece of land in Nebraska that used to be a backup missile storage facility. It was remotely located, and under the concrete warehouse building was a very large concealed bunker.
After getting all the scientific equipment set up and working at the hidden laboratory, we were ready to make a more advanced version of the material. With DJ sending me the mathematical calculations from New Mexico, I began the operations to produce the material and build the higher frequency power supply. The machines operated for months to build up a one meter square piece of what we decided to call GZero panels. The material felt like metallic plastic, was extremely light weight but hard to work with most tools.
Over the July Fourth holiday, when the company was closed, the team flew the company’s jet copter up to the secret facility. It was early evening, and we were ready to start the experiment. On a long table we had the electronics, and the slab of material was mounted on a test stand in the middle of the room.
“Look at that!” DJ said as we carefully adjusted the knobs and watched the dials on an array of test equipment, then he continued, “When we get into the four gigahertz range, the resonance goes way up, and resistance gets close to zero. Then when we get up to around six- there it is- the blue glow.” The white slab of material was enveloped in a deep blue glow and we could feel our hair pull outward. we took notes on the test measurements. “Ok” I said, “now let’s ramp up the voltage.” As I slowly turned one of the knobs on the power supply, the blue field became larger and it felt more like an vibrating, electrified warmth, but it really was like it was pushing against me. “Whoa, back off a-.” His sentence cut short as some of the equipment began to slide off the table. Then there was a sudden loud crack as the mounting bracket broke, and the material sprang with great force towards the ceiling. We dove from our chairs onto the floor, scrambling to get under the tables. The panel had pulled loose from the power supply wiring, hit the ceiling, knocking down dust and spider webs, then came crashing into some boxes of supplies about twenty feet away. A small fire started, but we quickly ran over and stamped it out.
I couldn’t stop chuckling as we put things back in order and checked for damage. Not much was said as we impatiently tabulated the data readings and did calculations. I sighed and slapped my slide ruler down on the stacks of papers. We then stepped outside into the cool evening air to collect ourselves, my heart was still thumping, and my face was worried.
“Messing with that resonance did some weird things.” DJ said. His tone was solemn, worried. “Yep, and I felt that force just before it blew up.” I replied. He took a few small steps while thinking, “This is the link between energy and gravitational force that scientists like Einstein have explained mathematically, but have not been able to demonstrate.” The reality of what we had discovered was sinking in. “I tell you what.” I said, “We better keep this under wraps, don’t say anything to anyone. This technology could change the balance of power in the world.” I looked up at the starry Nebraska sky, thinking for some time, then said, “We need to put that thing into some kind of vehicle.” I gazed deep into that starry sky…
When I awakened the next morning, I immediately remembered my imaginings and couldn’t wait to continue the story. I was convinced that the theory would work in the real world. I had learned about magnets, electricity, and ionization in the science class, and I knew that within the science of these things, there was a way to counter-act gravity. I planned to go to the library as soon as I could to read about physics. I wanted to know more about electricity, gravity, ionic fields, semiconductors, and atoms.
I then heard a car pull up in front of the manor and looked out to see a large black sedan. It was the village constable. I began to dress for the day, and as I took a moment to wipe spots of clay from my shoes.
I suddenly heard the shriek of a woman’s voice. It was an awful wail, like a slaughtered animal. I quickly ran downstairs to the main hall, stopping at the corner. I peered around to see a scene of grief and pathos. Mrs. Chambers’ wails were muffled in the embrace of her son Robert. Headmaster Chambers, with tormented, grey unshaven face, tousled hair and house robe saw me and rushed over, cradled his arm around me and led me back down the hall and said. “Mr. Wilson has been killed in a motorcar accident in Switzerland”
I stopped, I began a squeaky little cry that broke into a wailing moan as I dropped to my knees, then I tucked myself into a corner under a coat rack and continued to bawl. “I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, he’s gone. He’s been a dear friend for over thirty years. He’s gone. We must have a stiff upper lip. We must be strong in hard times.” His voice was stern, yet understanding, slightly trembling. I thought of mother’s sharp voice as she had once scolded me “Don’t cry silly. You’ve never heard me cry, have you? I never cry!”
Mr. Wilson had always been a favorite teacher. He was always funny, he could always explain science in ways we could understand, and he always stayed late and helped us with our projects. I was shaken. I worked in the garden much of the day. I walked around the grounds for hours, looking down, kicking little stones, and aimlessly playing with twigs and plants.
For several days, I didn’t think much about my projects or imaginations, and tomorrow, the other boys would return. This evening, however, as I lay in the dark room alone, my thoughts began to stir, and I began to imagine, to imagine my most fantastic machine…
I closed the large razor wire topped gates and locked the bolt. The last bands of sunset’s color were muted red and orange near the western horizon. The brightest stars were becoming visible, and Mercury was bright and many-colored low on the horizon. I briefly heard country music through the static of an AM radio in a hay laden semi truck that rumbled through the crossroads about half a mile away.
In my bunker, gleaming under the spotlights, the space car had been completed after many months and long hours. It was thirty eight feet long, made of 1.8 meter thick high density mirror gloss stainless steel, and shaped like an aerodynamic drop of water. The GZero panels were built into the bottom and in various places on the craft. I had affectionately nicknamed it ‘BubbleBlob’. DJ would monitor a ham radio frequency that we set up to transmit the ship's performance data, otherwise, we had to maintain radio silence. We had done several successful tests in the bunker, and the ship was ready to fly, and I was ready to see what it could do.
It was about 4AM by the time everything was ready. I climbed inside, and the hydraulics closed the thick stainless steel door behind me. Then, sitting in the pilot’s seat, salvaged from a 1957 Corvette, I fastened my harness, switched on a row of circuit breakers, bringing up glowing navigation and control screens, indicator lights, and the radar panel. Sweeping my gaze across the instrument panel, the many controls appeared in front of me as three dimensional holographs, and with a motion of my arms, I knew immediately that all systems were live and ready to respond. I eased forward out onto the rear loading dock. Having studied the aeronautical charts, I was anxious to get out to the unused air force proving grounds two hundred miles to the south. On the aircraft radio could be heard the voices of many pilots with accents from many different countries with their rapidly spoken, abbreviation filled communications.
Only a slight change in the quiet hum occurred when I put the ship into a steep upward climb. I had to react quickly to reduce the speed as I realized I was already at 5000 feet and doing around 450 knots. I looked down amazed, speaking out loud to myself, “holy cow that was only about 5 seconds”. I was hovering, and had gone about 160 miles. Then, easing forward again, I watched the instruments carefully as I now began to realize how much power the ship had. I waved my hands over the accelerator sensor-monitor screens to put the ship through curves and dives; it moved smoothly and easily, then I thought of my flying dreams, and how I used my inner confidence to fly. I moved my body about, and the ship began to feel like I was wearing it; it felt like an extension of my body, controlled directly by my mind; I was flying with my heart, not as a pilot, but as a dreamer... Then, through the many crackling voices on the aircraft scanner, hard to hear, I heard, “This is Denver tower, un-ident heading 194 on VOR148 please identify”, it was repeated again a few seconds later. I suddenly realized that I was definitely southwest of the 148 Very high frequency Omni Ranger, or VOR., Which is a pilot's navigating radio beacon at the airport, some two hundred miles eastward. Uh-oh, they - see - me! Some minutes passed, then I heard the Denver controller in a higher pitched, more animated voice say, “Denver tower, all units divert to northeast, we’ve got a SAC scramble. Advise all pilots we have radar anomaly, please stand by.”
SAC, Strategic Air Command, or, I-am-in-a-lot-of-trouble now! Okay then, let’s go! I briskly waved my hands over the control panels and the craft responded instantly. I could feel the speed now and was pushed back into my seat as I accelerated. The twinkling lights below became rapidly moving streaks of light, I saw the moon appear over the earth’s curvature and ‘pulled back the reigns’ to slow the ship down. I had quickly climbed up to around 70,000 feet of altitude, which is only about fourteen miles, but at that height, there is no atmosphere, and the sky is space black, and I could see well past California out into the Pacific Ocean.
The radio suddenly erupted into a cacophony of frantic voices filled with colorful descriptions and some rather manly exclamations. Excitement was now surging through my veins, I impulsively grabbed the microphone and, in a voice that was almost a giggle, in a Japanese accent said, “Ayeee, me Techa Yoshi, all your base be belong to us!” But then the alert panel lit up on my console, and in the 3D holographic model it created, I saw five military jets coming toward me at high speed. The ETA countdown number was rapidly clicking down the seconds, now under one minute.
Yikes! Guys with guns! And their Hellfire missiles can do mach 8 or 9! I trembled with cold fear as I waved my hands over the control panel in brisk and precise motions; I added more energy to the transistors’ base bank, which brought up the blue, glowing force field around the ship, and with countdown at under 20 seconds, I gave it the juice and headed straight at them. Instantly I heard the air force commander’s voice in a screaming pitch barking commands, and at the end of a lot of coded jargon, I hear “Shoot to kill, shoot-to-kill!” My blood turned cold as I learned the real meaning of FEAR. Then they passed right beneath me in streaks of light. I saw flashes of fire, then the alert screen flashed bright purple and showed countless missiles coming at me from all directions. With a great heave of my arms, I commanded the ship up, up, up, faster, faster; the ship began its tremendous acceleration, pressing me deep into my seat as explosions of the missiles and the blinding lightning from the force field flashed in all the windows all around me. The ship shook, lit in hellish flashes of blue and purple; there were loud humming sounds, and there was the smell of circuitry burning. I thrashed around in bewilderment as I clung to my chair and looked around to see what was happening.
The tremendous forces of acceleration were almost unbearable, I couldn’t move, and the sounds became muddy echoes as I began to lose consciousness. I floated in a dizzy slow motion world of fire and lightning, underwater sounds and the echoes of my own screams. I saw a white light tunnel over me, I began to fall into the tunnel, this was the tunnel to eternity, to the one of all things. A warm white power enveloped me as I felt an angelic calm in a universe that had no time, place, direction, or name, where I knew nothing of anything, but felt a powerful connection to all. With some of the ship’s power depleted, the craft slowed its acceleration, and I began to come to. I saw dizzy stars in my eyes, I didn’t know where I was, I muttered and grasped around in a stupor, then the ship’s interior came into focus, and I looked at the instrument readings, then up to the windshield...But there was the moon! Aaaaagh! I threw my body at the console in a desperate attempt to steer and miss it, but no! Closer, closer. Crashing into that growing shadow. The tremendous impact with loud sharp, crack, crashing, crunching sounds, my body was being torn to pieces, shredded through my harness, the snapped sinews of my every ligament, the muffled crunching of bones breaking inside my body, my eyeglasses smashing onto the windshield. Suddenly quiet... The windows were all black.
I began to move slowly, rubbing a bruised shoulder. The panel read out the data and the energy indicators quickly counted back up to 100 percent. I shrugged my shoulders slightly saying “Tough bird!”
Then soft wispy layers of dust shed off the windows revealing the beautiful panoramic mountainous lunar landscape with a blue swirled marble Earth suspended in the black, starry space beyond. “Oooo yeaaa!”
My wonderful craft became my vehicle of adventures; it also served me when I would learn of something or see photos in books and wanted to see more. I found myself skimming the rolling rippled dunes of the Sahara, or feeling the icy air and watching the glistening glaciers in their shades of grays and aqua blues as I soared over the rocky ice and snow covered landscape of Antarctica. I could open the door, and step into the Amazon’s thick verdant and brightly colored flora where the humidity hung in the air as a hot, still, dense, and suffocating vapor filled with the distant, haunting echoes of exotic birds and animals.
I found that my spaceship was a little hiding place for my mind. I could build my projects and inventions there. I would let it lead me to things I would think of. I would just let it go and see where I would go.
Once, I saw myself at the controls, I was wearing a worn black leather jacket and wellington boots, with tousled hair and beard. This was a blasphemy of fashion, as I was expected to want to see myself attired in fine leather shoes and business suits. But this was not the roguish rascal on the street; it was a magnificent man with the bright eyes of imagination, a fire within, and visions across the universe. I would not want to wipe the mud and dust from my wellingtons; these are the emblems of my adventures!
In my delirium of influenza, Mrs. Chambers leaned over me, squinting at the fine marks on the thermometer. Her matronly, methodical examining glances over my sickly face swept briefly across my inquisitioning gaze. She looked at me with the labors of a heartfelt concern. I had seldom encountered a person’s gaze that was a communication of deeper meaning. ”You are a lamb in a world of lions”. These clumsily spoken words wandered out of my mouth as I reacted to the comfort of this unfamiliar feeling. She smiled briefly with gentle amusement, and continued her tasks with my medicines. What had I said? Why in the world did I say that? I felt embarrassed. Was it the hands of my needy soul reaching out to swallow up any morsel of kindness, or would I dare think, love? Did I… Oh no, did I just flirt with Mrs. Chambers?
After long quiet hours in the room, I began to feel renewed strength. My mind, stirring, thought about my lunar adventure and I began to re-imagine parts, adding more colors, sounds, details and feelings. As I imagined that glorious lunar mountain panorama, I created in my mind a realistic experience of being there in that stark, rugged, colorless world where the contrast with a blue and green Earth floating in the heavens felt vivid and the sense of scale, proportions, and distance seemed grand. I wanted to think of a story that was as grand as that scene; I wanted to feel like I was in the scene. I thought of different stories, but wasn’t satisfied. I thought of different fragments of stories and interesting tidbits. I chuckled as the name Adora Trixiana popped into mind. I mused, searching for a suitable identity to go with the name. “Ahh, the beautiful Italian supermodel that disappeared with all those millions of dollars.” I wandered in and out of sleep as my fantasy continued…
With most of the world’s militaries on the lookout for our strange spacecraft, we had managed to build a much larger craft by building and sneaking parts to a perennially fog enshrouded glaciated valley in a remotest part of the world where the vast Amazon jungles give way to the thrusting, jagged, icy majesty of the Andes mountains. Several of our excellent staff of scientists, engineers, and devotees were also with the project. DJ had brought along a set of equipment in many tall metal cabinets that had magnetic tape reels that filled a room. He called it the IBM 360 and said it was called a computer, and that it could add numbers, but only ones and zeros. I debated its usefulness but thought it was interesting. We had added more features to BubbleBlob such as high power lasers and some welcome amenities such as a kitchen, bath and wall to wall carpet. We also incorporated the GZero panels into shoes, belts and a titanium exoskeleton that could be worn under our clothes.
Our favorite toy, however, was a craft styled as a motorcycle. This bike was the product of our most unbridled design fantasies as well as advanced mathematical computations on the IBM 360. It was a design unlike anything seen before. It was a breathtaking form of dramatic sweeping lines and undulating curves, of white and sparkling chrome and low, long, angles.
While on the moon, I had taken some high resolution photographs when I ventured to the side of the moon that is never seen from Earth, I had found some curious markings and saw partly buried debris scattered about, metal and plastic pieces and various bits of paper.
I flew the bike up to Washington DC, where I would go from time to time to research for our projects at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. I came in fast and low along the coast, swept up the Potomac River in the early morning mist and merged into traffic just after the George Washington Bridge.
And now, a James Bond moment…
As I parked my sleek and sparkling white Superbike in front of the massive grey library building, I caught the eyes of a stylishly dressed, savage haired blonde whose blue eyes consumed me with her gaze, piercing through the flimsy barrier of my outer façade. I felt a quiver ripple through my being. I didn’t know if I was shaken or if I was stirred. I felt as she had a power and I, a weakness. I smiled gently, blushing and said “I’m just a little boy”, I then hurried into the library.
I would always enjoy that feeling of being wrapped in the world’s knowledge in the library. I also delighted in seeing museums where one would see impressive works of art, the latest in the sciences, and the bizarre facts of history. I was reading over newly released data on atomic helium from the Manhattan Project, and looked up information about equipment that was referred to in some of papers that were in the moon garbage that I had brought back. It seemed like the equipment had to do with biological sciences and genetic research. I knew the recently formed National Aeronautics and Space Agency had sent the unmanned Pioneer probes to the moon and realized it was probably related to that, although there were a lot of other different things in that garbage. I then returned downstairs to read over the past year’s newspaper headlines.
I was alarmed over reports of a new incurable disease that had begun to sweep across Africa that affected the immune system where victims could die of other ailments such as a cold or simple infection. Also a bird borne flu had emerged and strep virus that also were incurable. There were also articles on sudden, large declines in populations of bees and reptiles. A large zeppelin had been lost over the Atlantic, no remains or wreckage found. I continued to scan over the news stories; I then lurched back in my chair, which squeaked on the floor, drawing a glance from the librarian. On page three in the New York Times from several months back. I saw a photo of a woman, and below it read: Adora Trixiana disappears with millions of dollars of money from her husband’s firm Belladia. Pawing through my papers from the moon, I pulled out a scrap that was part of an advertisement leaflet that had a woman modeling a latest fashion and written below in Italian something like “The quality of Belladia”. This was the same woman. I then realized the Pioneer probes had not landed on the side of the moon facing away from Earth where I had found this debris. Now I was anxious to return to base and plan a trip back to the moon.
With a magnifying glass, I studied the photo enlargements of the moon’s endless grey surface. The moon may look like a little grey ball in the sky from Earth, but on its surface, a person finds themselves in a scene of vast, open proportions with an endless, chaotic mix of mountains, irregular formations, craters of all sizes, boulders and lots and lots of DUST. The visible curvature only adding to the curious mystery of what may be over the horizon. On the photographs, however, I saw something unusual, a long tubular shape and a series of evenly spaced pods. These were tiny and grainy under high magnification, but they were unmistakable.
We readied the ships after going over our maps, routes, coordinates, navigation, carefully selected landmark features, and emergency plans. It would be Andy in BubbleBlob, and me on the Superbike.
I have grown older since some of the earlier missions, and have learned to take these things very seriously. Nations and militaries are very powerful, and men order their lives with their own individual logic, and within their own context, man has no inhibition for killing each other. I gazed deeply into the misty night sky, a warmth welling up in my heart, mankind is a precious thing, I thought, a miracle of that delicate balance of existences called life, all connected to a higher, pure way of light.
With a nod of the head, a glance at the others, my fist in a little forward punching motion, the throttles forward, we were off!
We came in low just behind a set of hills near the target location. Andy split off to the right to go around the other side of the large crater. I set the bike down in a little crater and walked, in a bulky space suit, towards the hilltops.
I very slowly peered over a rock ledge. What I saw froze my gaze and made the blood drain from my face, leaving it a blank, pasty look of amazement. There was a large installation in a vast crater below; great semi-submerged elongated domes and various pieces of equipment, and my sensors showed it all to be bathed in warm, infrared light. I looked for some time, studying every detail, wondering where a door might be. Andy confirmed a similar assessment. As planned I would edge closer, and he would keep watch from above.
I began walking and had gone some distance through gullies and crevices before I was able to see the installation again. I stopped, prepared the camera and carefully walked around a pillar of rock to see the installation in its full grandeur. It was very big, I saw that some roof sections were clean and shiny rather than dust covered and there were small lights in a number of places, including on the equipment. Whew! Someone’s home, do I dare to go a-knockin’!
Suddenly I felt something behind me before I had a chance to react, in the silent vacuum of space, I briefly heard a metallic sliding sound on my spacesuit and something had closed around my neck. I thrashed, twisted, pulled, struggled, but resistance was futile as a large tracked machine had snuck up on me. Caught! It paralyzed me with electric shocks and methodically severed my equipment belt that had a radio, my laser pistol and other gear. It brought me towards the installation, a small panel opened along the long side of the large structure, and I was dragged inside.
I paced around the large concrete room. I thought about what DJ had once said to me; “Trouble seems to follow you” adding “but you always just get away”. Eventually one of several panels opened and two figures quickly walked in towards me. They wore armored suits and carried what I assumed were large laser or hypersonic weapons. Looking always first to one’s good nature, I said “Hi guys, er... I was just passing through, which way to the beach, man!” unamused, they motioned with their weapons and I walked, one ahead, and one behind me, into the main part of the building.
They tied my hands behind me and fastened them to a bar that was shoulder high behind me, leaving me in an awkward and uncomfortable position. I looked around as best I could and saw large tanks, piping, steel girders, and assorted equipment and machinery, but not a soul stirring. I wondered about Andy, where’s Andy? The pain and discomfort began to be unbearable and I began to cry, pleading “Ow, agh, it hurts! C’mon guys, lemme go! Let-me-go!”
“A little mouse dangling by its tail”. I was startled by this voice and twisted around trying to see, getting a glimpse of a man with arms crossed leaning back against one of the nearby tanks. “Agh uh. Err, what’s up doc, could ya just let me go, please!” I responded.
I was brought down to the other end of the building in shackles, seated in a chair, and a metallic collar was tightly fitted around my neck. There was Superbike on a platform, amongst their equipment. My eyes darted around the room, trying to see what was around me and what this place was. There was a wide window, through which I could see the lunar horizon. Hanging from the ceiling, there was an enclosure with one side of glass. Within, I saw classical furnishings, dramatic violet and peach colored lighting, fine artworks, lavish draperies and…. Adora. She paced about within the enclosure, briskly brushing her long dark hair aside with her hand, her angry eyes following my captor. She wore a collar like mine.
Before me, behind a large enclosed desk, sat my captor. He had a short grayish beard, oblong frameless eyeglasses, dark and grey medium length hair, dark trousers and wore a sweater. He seemed diminutive compared with the scale of this installation. On his arm was strapped a large control pad with an assortment of knobs and buttons. He touched it while looking at me and a mild shock from my collar made me wince. “You will obey my every command”, he said. He then paused, took a few steps across while rubbing his beard “A clever lad you are, we will need people like you”. I wasn’t sure that I was thrilled with the job offer. “You see, I am Elden Merzlufft, and I will soon be the owner of humanity.”
The puzzle now began to fit together. Merzlufft had developed a new formulation of helium gas and a rare metal catalyst to produce lighter than air vehicles. The brilliant scientist had also been rumored to have developed an electronic ion propulsion system that some had speculated might have promise for future space flight. He had developed the zeppelin that had disappeared over the Atlantic. It had been covered with high efficiency photoelectric solar cells and had recorded speeds of over 350 knots in tests.
The scene cuts away to Andy, many miles away on a mountaintop... A fine, invisible laser beam from BubbleBlob is trained on the glass of Mr. Merzlufft’s space castle. It picks up minute vibrations and light reflections and remodulates them, creating a television image with sound on a screen in the control panel. Andy watches with horrible dismay the unfolding scene and continues his monitoring as he plots his next actions…
Mr. Merzlufft continues “The technology that I was developing would change the world. With my improvements in lighter than air gasses, I built a large zeppelin that could easily be flown into space, and indeed, this building was built with that ship, with an epoxy and moon dust coating added to make a large structure for my laboratories.” He paced slowly, his distant gaze looking out the large windows. ”I was so happy to think that I could do so much for the world. It would revolutionize transportation and make space flight easy and would create great advances in science. I knew immediately, however, that this power would quickly fall into the hands of tyrants who would use it to control the world and force their will upon all. Other colleagues began to find out about my discoveries, and I soon realized that I and the other scientists that knew would have to go into hiding.”
He continued: “While underground, I looked inward and to the scriptures for answers to life’s deepest questions. In my studies, however, I discovered a great error that occurred in the most ancient cradle of our world’s spiritual development, in Mesopotamia, where man’s religions emerged. The many different deities and superstitions in the region were brought into a unified belief by the prophet Zoroaster. This was to be the beginning of mankind’s spiritual awakening under the one loving and unified God, Ahura Mazda. It was supposed to be the dawn of a human era of enlightenment, where the peoples of the world would abandon the primitive tribal and warring ways to build a world of plenty and pleasure. However, history has shown that the oppression and persecution of peoples by the Pharaohs, the Pharisees, the Romans, kings, and tyrants drove peoples to seek god, not to find paradise, but to fight for their freedom and salvation from their plight. Thus, the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic religions were born out of rebellion, and have only perpetuated the malevolent ways against each other that they had promised salvation from. The course of western religious thinking was steered away from enlightenment, and only added tribalistic and warring ways to our spiritual lives.” As he paused, I thought, and remembered some things I had read. Zoroastrianism is the early monotheistic religion based on the prophet Zoroaster and the uncreated deity Ahura Mazda. It is a faith that embodies a blend of what we know today as the eastern religions, with the Abrahimic religious belief that is the foundation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He continued, “Human behavior through history has shown that its spiritual faith has been subverted by the misguided scriptures of coercion and political division. As the rest of nature abides by the natural laws that maintain order and balance, humans have been corrupted. So you see,” he said as he pointed to a series of large tanks, “here is our plan; we are introducing diseases into the world that will progressively kill off more and more people, till there are only be a few hundred thousand left. Those who survive the disease regimens will be of the best genetic stock, and will be the chosen people, to return to the spirit rule of Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda and begin the world anew. These will be our minions, our army, our servants, and the world will finally be … our paradise!”
I wanted to vomit, my face flushed with anger, my soul felt a deep despair. A mad, ranting Zoroastrian extremist, just what we need. Then, I reflected, I have the same problem that he does. We both discovered something that would tip the balance of powers on earth, and we were both in hiding because of it.
Then, I admitted to myself, that in my quiet moments, such as before I sleep, I had pondered many times how I would rule the world. I realized that it is a duty thrust upon me because of my discovery, and that any person who made such a discovery would inherit the world’s destiny.
I looked up, gazing starward. There will be a great battle for the soul of man; if it is the good man that wins, then he has upon him the weight of the entire human universe, even the things he does not understand. And … he is given the task of God’s hand, even if he believes in no god. But if such a man is evil, then only God and the Devil may know, or be able to comprehend the unspeakable horror of what would be. A battle for the world will be fought, and no one will know, and if I win this battle, then my fight would be just beginning.
I would then have to rule the world. I wondered, would I hide up here, on the moon, and pretend to be an alien earth invader and use big lasers to frighten all nations into adopting practices of freedom, fairness, and efficiency?
Merzlufft’s plan would surely fail, as to rule by force, surely begets rebellion, and as his religion promises to provide refuge from tyranny, it would be his tyranny that would spawn religions that would provide refuge from him.
I could have a world technology fair on the moon for the select representatives of the world’s nations to demonstrate the advanced technology developed through our discoveries. The technologies would be a collection of ready to use applications for transport and power generation that would be distributed all around the world all at once. I would sell the contracts for the equipment and generate trillions of dollars. Then I would have the largest corporation in the world, and would be able to buy up any other company, but it would be a new type of corporation that would be governed by a constitution created by its shareholders and citizens of the nations that it operated in. For nations to have access to the technology, they would have to adopt a constitution and government that would exemplify the highest level of human values, of freedom of faith and vocation, of self determination and tolerance, as well as a unified commitment to efficiency of the systems of commerce and government.
Merzlufft gave orders to several technicians who were walking about busily doing various tasks or seated at a long control panel. “You see, we are almost ready to launch these two rockets; they contain the disease spores that will kill off most of the people and animals on Earth.” He motioned for me to follow him as he walked toward the control panel “Soon, I will live my remaining years in blissful paradise with my lovely Adora.”
In her enclosure above, Adora grimaced, sadly looking down, her hands with clenched fists by her side. She turned around quickly and went back within the enclosure.
I now realized that I had to do something in the next few minutes, humanity, me, it was all or nothing… or the end.
Andy, the burning question, where’s Andy?
As I followed, shuffling along slowly in my shackles behind him, I noticed a welding rig similar to one in our shop that I have used for many, many years. As he looked over the scene of his equipment and scientists, proudly showing off his laboratory, I pretended to stumble, and I fell towards the welder and quickly uncoiled a length of its heavy hoses while rubbing my shoe across the gas valve knobs to open them.
Everybody in the room drew their weapons...
Merzlufft immediately reached across his body to his controller, but with a loop of the cable, I snared his arm while reaching for the torch head with my other arm. I quickly sparked a blinding white flame that lit with a small fireball between our faces. As I held his arm, I touched the torch to the little chains connecting my shackles, freeing myself. As he pulled free and began to reach across to his control, I hooked his leg with my shoe, tripping him. Then in a rolling motion, I slung the welding gas tanks up onto my shoulder with the regulators facing down while I held the blazing torch head inches from the pressure release valve. He reached over to the switch to shock me, but realized that if he did, the tanks would fall back behind me and onto the hydrazine rocket fuel valves and piping below us, which would break, causing a terrific explosion. “We’ll both be killed!” he said, “Don’t be a fool, put those down!” As I stood there, my brows lowered and my gaze burned into that dark empty cavity that was his mind. I said “You are a pathetic coward, draped in your false comforts and sick delusions; my comfort is the family of humanity and all of God’s creation. My life is what my eyes see, my heart feels, and dust, nothing more. In my fight, I care not if I die.”
Shaken, he staggered back a step, then, as if he had forgotten, said “Launch, Launch the missiles!” The technicians immediately began a flurry of activity at the control panel, and below us, they were operating the valves for the hydrazine rocket fuel.
As Merzlufft and a guard charged at me to take the tanks, I saw a bright light in the sky coming toward us, rapidly getting bigger. I swiftly swept the torch in an upward motion, and felt it drag across Merzlufft’s upper arm. In the blinding light of the torch, I couldn’t see, but I heard a guttural scream, and saw the flaming controller with attached arm fall to the ground. I felt warm liquid splatter on my face, then I tasted the salty, iron flavor of blood on my lips. I let the tanks fall off my shoulder back behind me over the rail to the deck below.
I heard a deep rumble, and as I looked up through the big windows, I saw two rockets blasting skyward, then between them immediately a bright glow approaching... Just then, from below, a terrific explosion lit the room in a yellow glow and a shockwave knocked us to the ground as fire came up through the floor grates. Just as I looked up, the giant windows shattered, imploding with millions of tiny sparkling bits of glass sparkling, twinkling, smash-chingling out into the big room.
Andy! The shining rounded form of BubbleBlob emerged into the room through the cloud of fire and glass. I ran for cover through raining shards of glass, and made a dash for the bike. As Andy swept around the room in his ship, I pointed up and motioned for him to be ready to open the door. The oxygen was rapidly exiting the building into the vacuum of space, and the air was beginning to get extremely cold. There wasn’t a chance of getting into a space suit. I heard loud metallic creaking and crunching sounds and saw the giant steel beams flex and sway as the building began to depressurize and collapse.
Then KABOOM! The hydrazine valves exploded, throwing me against the bike as I approached it. I was still pulling myself into the seat as I took off. I waved to Andy, “get out, get out of here!” I swept up through the flames and hot gasses towards the glass enclosure and swerved the bike’s rear around, breaking the plate glass windows of Adora’s enclosure. She sprang out from behind the sofa in a running leap onto the bike with her arms reaching around me holding so tight that it almost took my breath away. I didn’t know a woman could be that strong, I thought. With a quick burst of throttle, we headed for the window. There was fire, smoke, flying debris, and a series of explosions, then a girder falling in front of us. I swerved wildly, dropping suddenly down into the fiery abyss to go under, then back up. We held our breath and ducked sideways as we flew through the open portal as it began to collapse into a long slit.
Outside, I saw BubbleBlob with the door opening and Andy’s grimacing face and clenched teeth as he looked back from his seat. Coming in at high speed with barely enough room to fit through the opening, with wide eyed fear, I quickly applied reverse force and made a screeching stop with the front tire missing the control panel by inches. I looked down in dismay, as I saw that I had made awful skid marks on the new carpet. He shut the door immediately just as a tremendous explosion bathed everything in a yellow-white light. The craft was sucked back a bit before the shockwave sent a sharp jolt throughout the ship, sending us gyrating in a complex tumbling, spinning motion. We clung to our chairs and desperately tried to regain control of the ship. We are dizzy, disoriented. As we stabilized our trajectory, we just missed a row of jagged pinnacles jutting up from the edge of the crater. We were accelerating fast, and only got a glimpse to the rear, where we saw massive fireballs, smoke, flying debris, and dust rising out of the vast crater. The missiles! We had to get those missiles. Our eyes frantically scanned the black sky, we looked and looked everywhere, but we can’t see those missiles anywhere. My heart was in my throat as we pushed the throttles faster, faster!
Then Adora jumped up and waved her hand around like a little girl as she jumped up and down, anxiously saying something in Italian and pointing way over towards the left. I looked carefully and yes, I saw two tiny points of light at a great distance. My voice broke into a screaming panic, “Step on it, give ‘er all she’s got, floor it!” I began to target the lasers as we drew slowly closer to the missiles. I then saw that we are getting near Earth, and fast! As I squeezed the triggers, the blinding light of the laser kept me from seeing if I got a hit, but, no dice, they were still there. We were getting closer, and Earth, bigger and bigger. I carefully aimed, held my breath, then closed my eyes for an instant as I fired. A small fireball in the distance, Whew! Now the other one.
Suddenly the light from the remaining rocket disappeared, gone! Our eyes darted around wildly, almost out of their sockets as we looked, looked. Earth filled our window’s view, we were almost there. “DJ said we have to be under mach 8 for re-entry, or we will burn up,” I said, then Andy and I exchanged a brief glance, and we knew that if burn we must, then burn we shall, we must stop that missile! Then he saw something.
“There! What’s that?” A dark form was silhouetted against the Earth’s swirling patterns of blue, green, and grey. We slowed down rapidly to keep from going past it, and as we aimed to fire, it sent out six canisters. We opened up with the lasers, firing wildly trying to destroy those canisters, shooting and shooting. We saw several fireballs as we continued to look. “Cinque!” Adora said as she held her hand up holding her five finger count. She tilted her head with a pouting little grimace as if to say “One more, guys!” Then we saw a canister as it was tumbling away from Earth from the force of the other explosions, or, perhaps a grazing shot. I carefully aimed, fire! It was destroyed. I could hear three sighs, almost simultaneously.
We were rapidly approaching the Earth’s atmosphere. With full reverse thrust on we slowed to mach 12 as antennas and things on the ship quickly turned red, then white hot, then melted off. The ship’s windows were a frightening scene of orange streaking flames and flashing sparks as our nails dug into the sides of our seats. We didn’t know where we would land or in what condition. Through layers of mist, sweeping across a broad prairie, we just barely slowed enough to come to a bumping, bouncing, smoking, earth plowing stop.
We stepped out to see a scene of vast fields of many colored flowers, with free birds flying, and animals peacefully grazing, through which a blue sparkling river flowed. A majestic panorama of snow crested mountains stretched across the horizon. I dropped to my knees, utterly exhausted, on my face was a smile as I wept and wept and wept.
With this victory, the story has just begun. The beginning of humanity’s future starts right now, with the dreams of invention, the arts of imagination, and the vision of the millions of young minds who will so soon inherit our world.
In our infinite universe, it is most likely that the most important person has not yet lived, the greatest dreams have not yet been dreamt, and the grandest ideas have not yet been imagined.