The Story of Mathias Wizandar

His hands were shaking with sweat as he made his way in the darkness to the sink. An extraordinary man, Mathias’s previous notions had proven accurate. These next few lines mention his story.

His original name was Bob Smith, a horrifyingly common name. He did not mind his name much, enjoyed meeting other Bob Smiths into his early thirties. A Christian man, Bob had obtained an associate’s degree and left college to pursue the life of a paralegal, averaging between fourteen and twenty-four thousand a year. He lived alone, as most women he dated were either greedy for money, too overly controlling, or simply non-monogamous.

During Bob’s studies as an undergraduate, he studied various religions within one of his classes. Attending a Bible college, the more non-traditional belief systems of various cultures around the globe seemed to appeal to him. He liked the idea of Buddhism; mainly, the notion of pursuing a nothingness to achieve enlightenment.

During his many years working as a paralegal, Bob worked hard hours and saved and pursued two activities other than attending church once a week. One of those activities involved working for his brother-in-law, who ran a construction firm, on Saturday mornings. The pay was decent, yet the physical labor was what he enjoyed and also why he held the second job.

His other activity was painting. He painted obscure images of fantastical nature to impress both himself and others that may gaze upon his works, eventually got into oils and began to sell his paintings online. Of course, he saved his money from these sales and put it back into more painting supplies and material for study. Eventually, a studio.

By the age of forty, Bob had his own place for painting and politely took a permanent vacation from his law firm with a suitable retirement plan. It was understood that he could return to his legal services at any time; he may even consider studying to pass the bar exam, eventually.

Bob was of the mind to dream, consider possibilities, and pursue what intrigued him most. His paintings were selling and the rent for his studio was low; he decided to take it a little easier on his forty-first birthday and gave up construction work, at least temporarily.

There was something pressing on Bob’s mind. He enjoyed reading and writing, usually read some form of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror story before bedtime. The horror stories usually did not scare him; he enjoyed analyzing the grammatical style of prose and considering what caused fear to occur in the mind of a work’s reader. He had noticed that the spiritual realm was not just some hoax; it was there. He saw or sensed spirits all the time, did not let these occurrences distract his Christian beliefs.

Growing up, Bob was taught, as a Christian, to stay away from ‘occultic’ study. He had always wondered; however, why would practitioners of magic chose an afterlife of doom for rewards on Earth? There simply had to be a justifiable temptation. “One way or the other,” thought Bob, “I am, at least, going to consider the study of magic.”

On one breezy, cloud-cast, and relaxing Saturday afternoon, Bob decided to jog across town to the local bookstore to check out anything he could find on practicing magic. After all, what could it hurt? Wouldn’t certain notions further found him in his Christian beliefs? Though many clergymen would most certainly disagree, he made the jog over to the bookstore.

He found a great many books, many of which seemed overpriced or fancy yet not necessarily what he was after. He picked up a book on how to light candles with spells, calmly grinning to himself in wonder of said possibility. He flipped through the book quickly so as not to catch the eye of a worker; Bob was no freeloader, that was for sure. On the back of the book there were references to other books and a website that sold them. He memorized the website; put the book back; quickly jotted down the site in a small address book; and made his way to the magazine section towards the front of the store.

He spent little time looking through the magazines and selected one on modern painting with oils and other mediums. Bob brought the magazine to the counter, purchased it along with a grape-peach Snapple, and headed home.

Once home he spent about an hour going through the magazine and admired the paintings and various techniques he did and did not know of, before. Of course, the site he had written down seemed to be jumping around in his pocket in need of attention. He looked the site up on the web with a search engine and found hundreds of sites with books on spirituality, healing, and witchcraft.

Bob made sure to check out the site he had written down first and also browsed through the top five most visited sites found with the search. Of the books he saw, he finally found one that seemed to appeal to him the most, which happened to be on the site he had written down. It was a basic history of witchcraft, how to become a Wiccan priest, and basic practices with spells and the acknowledgement of various Sabats (which he eventually thought of as ‘witch Sundays’ that seemed to occur at least one hundred days a year).

Bob ordered the book and continued with the arduous work involved in painting and selling his art. The book came in about a week later and he read twenty to sixty pages of it a night until he had completed the text. He was not too keen on burning incense, drinking wine, or dancing around naked with witches, yet he learned a few things that satisfied his curiosities.

Bob then found his dilemma. He was sure he would have to denounce his Christianity in order to fully pursue the virtues and goodwill of Wiccan order. He thought about it for a few weeks as he was painting landscapes overcast with floating geometric objects and made a form of lukewarm decision. He would study and sometimes practice rituals without actually denouncing his original beliefs. The spirits near him seemed to be watching him patiently, waiting to help him achieve whatever goals he was really after.

It dawned on Bob that there was an occultic bookstore not too far away, one day, and he jogged over there on another Saturday afternoon. Seemingly odd, Bob was not even after a new text. He was after council, and he found it.

Bob cautiously entered the modest store; small bells chimed as a young woman was behind a counter. A faint smell of books and a small cherry-scented candle emanated within the stores shadows. “May I help you?” asked Melany. “I am in search of a basic text for those just beginning to study magic,” replied Bob politely.

Melany blushed and looked to the side and said, “Well, kind sir, we have a few of those here.” She walked over to a shelf and pointed out her favorite one to Bob. He sensed a second presence behind the counter. There were a few copies of the text and they seemed reasonably priced, so he selected one and thanked her. She checked her watch and noticed that it was nearly time for her to go. About the same time, Bob looked over to the counter to see a tall, handsome man, obviously in his golden years.

“May I go, sir?” asked Melany. “Sure,” said the man. Melany said that it was nice to meet Bob and to have a nice day. She gathered a few of her things, put on her sunglasses, and flew out the front door to make it in time for her favorite show.

Bob carefully made his way to the counter, curiously wondering just how intelligent the man must be. “Friend of Melany’s?” inquired the man. “No sir,” replied Bob, “Not until just now, I suspect. My name is Bob Smith.” “A common name.” “Right, I have considered changing it for some time, have not really come up with anything.”

The book still in Bob’s hands, the man said, “Why not Mathias Wizandar? It seems to suit your pursuits.” “Well then,” said Mathias, “I will go by that. What, may I ask, might you go by?” “Call me Tom; I am a wizard with many names in many places.” “I sensed your presence,” admitted Matt, and Tom nodded in understanding.

After a moment, Matt realized that there were a great many things for him to learn and proceeded to pay Tom for the book. “No questions?” asked Tom. “I honestly have no doubt in your capability,” replied Matt quietly. “When your questions arise, and I am sure they will, feel free to come here or give me a ring.” Tom handed Matt a business card who read and held it for a moment as if it was some unknown living creature.

The address on the card was to a large estate on the outskirts of town. “Will do. I am, as you may know, an artistic painter.” Matt carefully handed Tom his own business card which included his website and contact info. “I have some time on Saturdays if you need any help with the upkeep of your estate.” “Will do,” said Tom with a grin. Matt thought he saw his business card float into the pocket of the wizard yet discounted the notion, shook the wizard’s hand, and said it was nice to meet him and thanked him for the book, and departed.

Mathias, while jogging back, constantly reminded himself of how real the spiritual world and the power of magic must really be. Upon his return, he settled in, ate, and set back in his chair to start reading his new book. His spiritual surroundings seemed excited and watched his every move. Matt read the table of contents and glossed over the index. Even given all of the spells, practices, and rituals of the first book on witchcraft he read, which seemed to him to be a kind of a documentary, Bob found one spell that seemed to be a fun thing to try out before turning in.

The spell involved a simple thanks to a god and goddess, a candle centered within a circle drawn with charcoal, and two short poetic chants spoken with words in semblance to each other. One poem would light the candle, and the other the opposite. This would surely be no challenge for Mathias, the notation below the chant mentioned, “First and foremost, you must believe.”

Matt changed into bedtime clothes, found a thin, blank square of wood, and drew a charcoal circle. He retraced it a few times so the medium was thick. Matt then dug out a tea candle from a bag of them he had purchased while the lights were out due to a storm. He lay the book open by the circle, relaxed, held his hands above the candle, and whispered the first poem.

At first nothing happened, yet he held his hands above the candle, and it slowly came aflame. He watched it only briefly, ignoring his amazement, and glanced over to the book. He read the ‘de-cantation’ poem verbatim with his hands still held up, and the small flame slowly faded away.

By then, dusk had turned to night, and it was totally dark, with seemingly no one around. He felt a peace in the darkness, yet, in only a few moments, thought he heard someone thinking. “You know,” the voice said, “If you raise and lower your hand over the candle I will change the height of the flame.” Matt, at first, thought the notion to be crazy; that, surely, he had better things to do with his time.

Mathias courageously held his right hand above the candle and raised and lowered it, as its flame not only rekindled yet rose tall or fell short upon his motions. What seemed fun at first scared him in only a few moments. He sat back startled, the flame assumed its natural height, and, after taking a deep breath and exhaling, Mathias Wizandar made his way to the kitchen sink to wash his perspiring hands. These words may seem to conclude Mathias’s story, yet, as it may be no surprise, they are simply the beginning.

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Timothy’s Magic Kite

Once upon a time, a boy endured a fulfilling Friday both in April and in the third grade. During recess, he noticed how windy it was, as children played joyfully, some swaying to and fro on swings. During the bus ride home, he thought to himself, “Man, if I would have had a kite I could have flown it a hundred feet in the air on the first try.”

At the dinner table that evening, young Tim kept cautious with his manners, as if it were no common phenomenon. Upon a what seemed like a four-year wait to speak, he said, “It would have been a nice afternoon to fly a kite, today.” “Maybe if you promise to do some yard work tomorrow your father will take you to the store and buy you a kite to fly on Sunday,” proposed his mother. “I have no problem with doing some yard work,” knew Tim to refrain from objecting to, “I have always wanted to build a kite, though.”

“If you want,” said his father, “And I do plan on sleeping in tomorrow morning, you can try to build one with the slim dowels I have in the garage I usually use for cooking barbecue. Those and some left-over fabric from your mother should get you going.” Tim’s father glanced to his loving wife, and she said, “Oh sure, Honey, I have a sack of extra fabric for quilting in the side closet you are welcome to.”

Tim thought about it; he almost did not want to make the kite, simply because they said he could, wondered of his own mind. He noticed they did not again mention yard duty. “Okay if I try to make the kite tonight and sweep up the leaves in the morning?” “Sure,” said his father, “And, as the weather will probably permit, we can go to the park and fly your new kite tomorrow afternoon.” Young Tim was so excited he nearly left before eating the hamburger steak and mashed potatoes before him, as he had made sure to eat the lemon-butter broccoli first. There would have been no getting away with skipping out on that. Even if vegetables were not his usual first choice, the broccoli was not so bad, after all.

The meal was great and Tim politely relayed this information to his mom and thanked her and proceeded to the garage. He found the yard-long barbies and broke and tied them into a rectangular box-like structure just like he saw on a TV show one time that involved Japanese origami kites. He went and found some scissors and the fabric and went back into the garage. Young Timothy selected the most beautiful fabric, two separate partial sheets. One was dark orange with small green and yellow flowers; the other sheet was bright orange-yellow with purple and blue flowers resembling birds of paradise.

Fully constructed, Tim brought the magnificent kite to his bedside, as it was nearing 10 pm. His brother and his sister were already asleep; Tim went and checked on his parents before saying his prayers and turning in with his amazing new kite by his bedside. In the middle of the night, Tim awoke and could have sworn he saw his kite floating a foot above the ground, as if it were dreaming of being in the sky. The boy discounted the notion. Surely he was dreaming; he went back to sleep until just before daybreak.

Upon dawn, Tim marveled over the kite as if he had never seen it before, totally impressed with its construction, durability, and overall aesthetics. He left it there; showered and changed; brushed his teeth; ate a biscuit and drank some juice; and proceeded to go sweep the leaves.

A chore it was, for the wind was strong and nearly constant. Timothy swept the entire yard, five sacks full of leaves in total. It was noon and his mother called him in for a bologna sandwich and glass of milk. She thanked him for sweeping up the yard, commending his efforts. His father woke up, showered and changed, ate, and inspected Tim’s kite. “Impressive construction,” said Walter, Tim’s father. “Thank you,” said Tim, and they drove with the kite to the park, telling Mrs. Wellington “Goodbye, I love you, and we’ll be back soon.” She waved and blew them kisses as they departed.

The park was gently lit by the afternoon sun and puffy scattered clouds of its sky blue atmosphere. Adults and children played about. Some played catch, others tag, and the rest other games or picnicked. There were sunbathers and card players, nonchalant people existing in a happy joy. Tim and his father made a lengthy walk to a large field in the back of the park. They did not know if the thick string they brought would suffice to fly the kite, yet they planned to take their chances.

Tim and Walter stood about thirty-five yards apart from each other, the wonderful kite in Walter’s hands, his eyes on Tim. Tim assessed the flow of wind, deemed it an adequate constant for their endeavors. “Do you have a good hold on the string?” asked Tim’s father. “I think I have it.” “I will count to three and throw it into a rising gust.” “Okay.”

Walter counted slowly aloud to three and, while allowing the kite to catch the drag of the wind, slowly let it go to float into the air. An astonishing amusement to young Tim, the kite (possibly magical) rose from ground level and climbed in the wind with semi-chaotic grace. Tim pulled left then right, carefully, and guided the kite into the air, higher and higher, until it was about twenty yards above the ground. “Let out some string,” called Walter, and Tim carefully let string from his hands, about six inches at a time. The flying kite amazed Walter. “We got it up there,” he exclaimed. Tim was happy and impressed, too, and saw to it that he got the kite to about fifty yards above the ground before keeping it there in close to the same position.

Many could see the kite swaying gently far above the field, and Walter began walking back to Tim. “The wind is getting stronger,” said Tim, using his strength to hold the string; “The string may break.” “Keep hold of it,” said Walter, as he was walking back to Tim, eyes on the kite. Tim wrapped the string around his hands to hold it well; his father would be there any second to take hold of the line. Just as Tim felt confident he could keep the kite in the air and the line from breaking, his feet left the ground.

Walter saw Tim lifting into the air and dove to catch him. Walter hit the ground belly first, and Tim floated higher into the air. “Let go of the string,” said Walter, but Tim held on to it. By the time he could have unwound his hands, he would be over twenty feet above the ground. The kite rose into the wind, as did Tim. Walter panicked and ran to his car, only to notice he locked the keys inside.

“Hey mister,” said a young woman with a pink Volkswagen Beetle, “Hop in and we’ll follow him if we can.” Walter ran over and got into her car, as Tim soared high above them in a direction away from the park, towards the city.

Tim looked down; the breeze up there was nice. “It might kill me to see it,” thought Tim, “But this is a wonderful view of our city.” Tim could see entire residential neighborhoods, city blocks, industrial buildings, and the cars looked thumb-sized. The wind carried him on.

The young woman happened to be an excellent driver; she and Walter followed Timothy right out of the city, who was beginning to appreciate the beauty of the outskirts of town. Mostly under-developed farmland with the occasional brook, small cabin, or herd of cows, Tim tried to appreciate the view and his many blessings in life the best he could. “Dear Lord,” prayed Tim, “Please, help me land safely.”

At that very instant, as Tim was looking down into a puffy white cloud and barely able to see a field of trees below, he began to slowly descend. The driver’s name was Molly. She and Walter watched in relief, as Tim was appearing to descend and the string and kite seemed to still be intact. Tim was headed for what looked like a hundred-year-old oak tree. He descended gracefully and landed in the lower bushy limbs of the tree. Safely.

Within moments, Walter ran to his son, picked him up and embraced him, thanking the Lord above for his son’s well-being. Tim hugged his father who placed him on the ground. He shook Molly’s hand and thanked her, too. “You are one lucky child,” remarked Molly, “And that is an impressive kite.” “Thank you,” said Tim, “Cool car,” and Walter gave Molly some gas money, as they went with the kite to the pink Beetle.

They put the kite in the back seat for a relaxing ride back into the sunset falling behind their town. After some while, Molly pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. “What now?” wondered both Walter and Tim. “Is it just me or is the kite in the back seat floating in the air?” asked Molly. “It’s magic,” said Tim, and Walter kept his eyes on the road. “Oh,” said Molly, “Okay,” and she proceeded to drive on down the farm road to the park.

Once back, Walter thanked Molly and called his wife for car keys, and he and Tim drove home with the kite. Tim secretly thanked the Lord above for answering his prayers, and everyone lived happily ever after. Tim would never forget his times with his wonderful, magical kite.

A Man at the Bank

There once was a beautiful teller at a bank. She was always presentable and, without a doubt, totally attractive to many. Her name? Forea. Of course, people always asked of the origins of her name; she usually said it was Nordic.

Forea kept considerable track of her customers, not always for her own curiosity, but usually to provide the best banking services for them. Mentioning new account types and investment possibilities usually meant increases in pay for her. These things were routine.

Most of Forea’s customers were overly presentable and cleanly with their fashion. Each with a highly unusual character, they often seemed to her to be what Grammy award winners might look like in person. There was one customer; however, he came in once a month, always on the twentieth.

Mr. Murphy was his name. He often came into the bank in a white, green, dark green, or black suit. If not a suit, he, at least, dressed above “business casual.” She knew he had red hair and pale skin, totally unique attributes that would qualify him for one of her oil painting attempts.

Despite his unique attire, there was one thing that Forea simply could not figure out. All of her customers wore unique attire. Mr. Murphy, however, usually came to the bank for one reason, and that was to trade five golden coins into his USD account. This way his monthly transaction was to convert gold coins to cash. Forea wanted to know why.

She decided to ask him one day. It was the twentieth, she woke up early and got ready for work early and made it on time, as always. About mid-morning, to know surprise, Mr. Murphy walked through the huge glass doors installed in the front of the bank with a white shirt and green silk tie.

Forea gladly accepted the five gold coins and completed the transaction, as always. Barely having the time and the nerve to ask Mr. Murphy a question upon his departure, said Forea, “May I ask you something?” “Well, sure,” replied Mr. Murphy with a grin. There was no aspect of Forea that was not beautiful. “Why do you always come in on the twentieth to change in exactly five golden coins?” she asked. Said Mr. Murphy, “Well, for one, I am a leprechaun.”

A More Healthy Beat

The night was cool and crisp and the weather was nasty. A tunneling mist blew leaves in front of the two officers, in front of an eighty-year-old street lamp in front of them. The night was also very dark in the woods across the way, except from part of the light of the street lamp. Noting the nostalgia of the old street light, the female officer looked up to its salmon glow to see its metal curls turned green from mild surface corrosion.

“Nice street lamp,” said Officer Lilac, the female, with a sniffle.

“Nice, indeed,” said Officer Attens, a large male police officer who was also her partner, “I am going into the small shop behind us to get us a coffee.”

“Okay.”

Officer Attens entered the small store, as Officer Lilac endured the scenery. They were used to policing various areas of town on foot, usually bringing in criminals during nocturnal hours.

Within moments, Officer Attens returned with a small package in his pocket and two cups of steaming coffee with sugar and creamer added.

“Thank you,” said Officer Lilac.

“No problem,” said Officer Attens, handing her her cup of coffee. He then proceeded to pull out the small package.

“What’s in the package?” asked Officer Lilac.

“The cashier said the coffee was complementary. I thought it was the uniform. He said it was complementary so long as I made a purchase. So, I killed to birds with one stone.”

“How so?”

“Well, I got us both a coffee, and I got you this.”

Officer Attens handed Officer Lilac a package of allergy lozenges.

“Why thank you,” said Officer Lilac, “I was starting to get a sniffle. What possessed you to get these for us?”

Officer Attens chuckled and said, “I am of the mind that we should be catching criminals, not colds.”

Secret Garden

“I happen to have a solution for you and Hannah,” said Dr. Voist, “I want to mention a few things before you consider the notion, however. As a neurosurgeon, I look at peoples’ brains all the time. Hannah has a very rare chemical imbalance. It is similar to many imbalances which are easily cured completely with non-addictive medications which usually have minimal to no side effects. These medications, be them hundreds in their number, are not what will help Hannah’s imbalance. There exists only one medication which will, and it still has a 5% chance of not working. I think it will. Our only drawback is that the medication is a new experimental one. It has only been prescribed in the US a few times this last year and is manufactured in Mexico. It will be legal here in the States for a six month time frame and will either be manufactured here or will be unavailable in this country. I think it will work for her, yet it is a tentative solution at best. If you want to try this option, I have a dosage recommendation, one pill a day with breakfast. I would like to see Hannah in seven days, and if everything is okay, within twenty, and then we will consider our options.”

“What are the chances of addiction or side effects?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I do not think there will be any side effects, and the medicine is a non-addictive chemical which acts very minimally on the balance of brain chemicals -just enough to make things right. Hannah will not notice if she has taken anything, and the twitch in her left eye should no longer occur.” Mr. Goldbeck looked over to Hannah who was listening to every word. “The medicine is experimental?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “It is a new medicine, however I am surprised it has not been manufactured, before. It is a very simple extraction from an herb a doctor in South America isolated. Once it solves the problems it can and will in a healthy way here in the US, which I think and hope it will, pharmaceutical companies will make it here. It may cost a little more then, however it will no longer be experimental.”

“Will her imbalance change over time?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I am sorry, sir. No. The medication should make her okay, perfectly normal even in adulthood, but she will, in all likelihood, need to take it indefinitely.” “Is the medication expensive?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said Dr. Voist, “I can get enough free samples of it to last six months. I can even report the success of our story in order to help get the medicine made here in America, so long as it works properly.” “And the new medicine is safe?” asked Hannah. “Safer than Aspirin” said Dr. Voist.

Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah agreed to try out the medicine. Since her birth, she had a twitch in her left eye. Being eleven, she was having trouble reading in school and her fellow classmates were tempted to make fun of her eye. An intelligent, beautiful, and honest girl, the new medication, Zyphan, would hopefully work safely.

The next day Hannah took her medicine and ate an over-easy egg with a piece of toast with jam and a large glass of milk. Her normal eye twitch was still there all day. You get what you pay for, thought Mr. Goldbeck. The next day she took the medicine again, as prescribed, and ate another decent breakfast. Her twitch was still there, yet she could not tell if it had gotten better. At least it did not worsen. The next few days she stayed true to her practices and the twitch bothered her much less. It was if she never had one.

The week flew by and Mr. Goldbeck and his daughter, Hannah, went to see Dr. Voist. The doctor checked her out and asked her a few questions. She said the twitch went away gradually. The doctor kept a close eye on Hannah for about twenty minutes while having a conversation with Mr. Goldbeck. During their previous visit, Hannah’s eye would have twitched at least one time during ten minutes. The doctor was sure the medication worked.

“Have you experienced any health issues such as having to go potty too often or rashes?” asked the doctor. “Not that I know of,” said Hannah, remaining as honest as possible. Mr. Goldbeck had is concerns, yet he thanked the doctor. “I think you will be fine,” said Dr. Voist. “Be sure not to miss our next appointment. It is important to make sure that their exist no side effects and that the medication is still performing properly.” Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah thanked the doctor once more and promised to return as requested.

The twenty days flew by. Hannah did better in school with her reading and her twitch was a thing of the past, did not even occur. She went with her father to the doctor who said he planned to write a good report to help facilitate the new medication’s manufacture in the United States.

During the next five months Dr. Voist did what he could to send information to the right people and entities. The medication did not work for other children and adults throughout the country. Whether it was because people did not take the medicine properly or practiced improper dieting was unknown to him. To his and Mr. Goldbeck’s disdain, the medicine was not able to be made in the United States. The medicine was also unable to be obtained in the US, and Dr. Voist spoke with Mr. Goldbeck about possibilities.

“The twitch in Hannah’s eye is minimal,” said Dr. Voist, “However I understand your dilemma. She does better in school and the children don’t make fun of her eye anymore. From my perspective, I wanted the medicine available to keep her brain chemicals in balance in a healthy way. The imbalance does cause her eye to twitch, however it can also effect both cognitive development and overall thought process. I do not have an alternative medication. If you do not want Hannah’s imbalance to return, you are going to have to go to Mexico for the medicine. I have an address of a pharmacy down there. It is cheap in comparison to other medicine. Your only problem is having to leave and come back with it. It won’t be illegal to bring it back, as you will have a prescription. One trip and you should have enough to last her for three years. The medicine won’t stay ‘viable’ after that, however by then there is the chance Zyphan can be manufactured here. It’s our only hope, for now.”

This news was no problem for Mr. Goldbeck. He was happy he was going to be able to get the medicine, after all. A trip to Mexico would not be too hard, he had vacation time stacked up from his corporate job from three years back. Hannah would be okay, and within three years the medicine was sure to be available in the US.

Mr. Goldbeck spoke with those whom he worked with and planned to take a trip down to Mexico. What fun. All went well. His boss did not mind and things were sure to be okay at work. His SUV was less than two years old and running well, as he always kept it maintained properly. He even had a spare gas tank installed up in the back of the vehicle from when he went to Canada the year before hunting elk with some of his co-employees. The trip was sure to be a success.

The first day of Mr. Goldbeck’s vacation came and he kissed his daughter on the forehead, as well as his wife, as he had his SUV packed and ready to go before daylight, thanks to a double java mocha he drank at 5AM. He gave Hannah’s younger brother, Willy, a mild noogie, and departed.

The open road was great, as was Mr. Goldbeck’s GPS navigation system and cruise control. Whoever said the interstate highway system showed no signs of beautiful country? Mr. Goldbeck begged to differ, as the scenery was far more impressive than the routine life he had been living.

Mr. Goldbeck crossed the border with no problem and made his way south. The GPS worked perfectly. Nine hours into Mexico, he found the Dr.’s office on the map Dr. Voist gave him and went inside.

Mr. Goldbeck knew at least sixty words in Spanish, yet was still happy to find that the doctor he was speaking with was fluent in many languages. Having a long conversation, the Mexican doctor explained how simple the medication was and why it was rare. The plant, common even further south of them, contained a rare chemical which acts very minimally on humans’ brains with a very specific chemical imbalance. Mr. Goldbeck, the curious and intelligent man he was, asked the doctor how difficult it would be to extract the chemical from the plant by hand. “Totally easy,” said the doctor, and drew a diagram on paper showing how to do such a thing with water and a few simple forms of glass ‘apparati.’

“Would it be hard for me to find a plant of this nature?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said the doctor, and he drew Mr. Goldbeck a map to a small city further south. Mr. Goldbeck thanked the doctor and departed with 1,000 pills of Zyphran. Mr. Goldbeck decided to travel south, surely it would be no problem to find this plant. After all, it was common.

Mr. Goldbeck, who often went by Ron, drove for a while in the night down a dirt road. He pulled over tired and slept ’till sun up and continued to drive. He drove and drove and drove, only occasionally seeing an old sign on the dirt road indicating he was on the right path to the village he was headed to.

Ron found the village. He spoke with people and found a medicine woman, who said she would happily give him his choice of five of one the plants for some dinero. Ron handed her a hundred and said the plant was important. The medicine woman nearly fainted and brought him to her small backyard. She had all kinds of small plants and fruit bushes growing in pots and flower beds on top of old malnourished and dry soil. “I would give you all five of them,” she said, “But I need to keep four to save seeds.” Mr. Goldbeck nodded as he understood. “I keep them here even though they grow wild and are not too hard to find,” she explained, “I keep them to keep the seeds.” She brought him back inside and showed him a large preservative jar half full of seeds of the rare plant. “Though I cannot give you but one plant, I can give you a sack of seeds,” she said. Mr. Goldbeck thanked her happily and gladly accepted a sack of seeds and the mid-sized plant of the five he saw. She thanked him, too, and he headed north.

Crossing the border with a plant and a sack of seeds was all Mr. Goldbeck had ever dreamt of, not to mention the pills with a prescription which looked like he could have written it himself, short a little blue stamp on the left side of the document. I might as well be smuggling contraband. Again, Mr. Goldbeck was no fool. He knew the customs at the border would at least inquire of his reason for travel. His medication would be on the front seat with the prescription.

The rear seat of his SUV contained an under-seat compartment with a key-hole lock for storing hunting rifles. Only a few hours from the border, Mr. Goldbeck slowed to a stop beside the road and carefully locked up the plant and the seeds under the back seat. It should be fine for three hours. He drove to the customs and they asked him to step out of his SUV. Ron did so and noticed some mud on the bottom of his vehicle, it was not much, however it was there. The officers brought a drug dog who scoped out the vehicle and did not find anything, and the officers inquired of the pills on the front seat. “Asthma medicine for my daughter,” said Mr. Goldbeck. Two officers looked at the prescription and let Mr. Goldbeck depart.

Ron drove his SUV up the interstate, relieved. He did not forget about the plant under the back seat and pulled over after driving for half an hour or so.  He pulled the plant and the seeds out. He put the seeds and the pills and the prescription in the center console, and secured the plant in a middle seat with a seat built. The A/C was fine, so he left the windows up. Ron drove all the way home, safely, only stopping once for gasoline.

Ron’s wife was happy he made it back and he still had five days left before returning to his job he loved and endured. His wife thought the plant was illegal and he assured her that it was not. Hannah was happy that she would not have a twitching eye for the next three years, at least, and they all went to sleep.

The next day was Saturday morning and Ron’s wife, Spring, woke up early to analyze the medicine plant. “Do you think it makes flowers?” asked Spring. “It has to,” said Ron, “Because it makes seeds. It is probably an annual.” She was amazed with these notions. “We have to hide it,” said Spring, “It’s pretty but we cannot risk it being taken. It’s not against the law if they don’t know.” “Honey, it is not illegal; no one will know we have it.” “Our friends and neighbors come here, will they not see it? We have to keep it secret; I am telling you.” “What do you suggest we do spring? Put it in a cabinet with a fan and a light?” Spring went deep into thought. Ron watched as she continued to process ideas.

“The bookshelf,” said Spring. “What?” said Ron. “Our bookshelf in front of Auntie’s room.” Auntie was Spring’s sister who stayed with them a while when sick and moved to work in another city once well. “The bookshelf is in front of one of two large walk-ins of the room. Let’s knock off a door knob, paint a hole, and install a weight-pulley.” “A what?” asked Ron. “It will be like in the movies,” said Spring, “You pull a specific book from the shelf and it opens to reveal the space behind it. You can grow the seeds and keep the plant alive in there. I am sure you can ventilate it somehow.” “We have a windowsill,” said Ron. Spring looked into his eyes with a pleading puppy-dog expression. “It’s for Hannah,” said Spring, and Ron decided construction was fun.

Spring and Ron analyzed the bookshelf and the closet and took measurements and went to the hardware store. They came back with all the supplies they found deals on and a two foot-long receipt. They worked together over the weekend and turned the bookshelf into a revolving door, the kind like in the movies, complete with a weight pulley. They re-painted the entire wall on the other side with matched paint, and it was perfect. The completed project included a vented flush closet and an ambient light system, controlled with a timer and misting mechanism. The plant from Mexico was sure to flourish, and the few seeds Ron and Spring planted would surely grow fine. Already able to grow well, they were confident the plants would sprout and survive, and they did.

Throughout the next year Hannah took her medicine and ate breakfast every morning. Dr. Voist was always happy to see her and happy that her eye was fine. He promised he would continue his efforts in getting Zyphran manufactured in the US. Zyphran was never made in the US, yet Ron and Spring kept their secret garden healthy for years and years, learning to pollinate the plants with a live bee once a year and also how to make the medicine to the proper dosage for Hannah.

Hannah went to college to become a professor and did so. She stayed on her medication and married a colleague she fell in love with, and they all lived happily ever after.

Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

The Amazing Tale of Jen and Luke

Once upon a time there were two young children, Jen and Luke. Jen was in the 3rd grade, Luke in 4th. One day, upon entering a school bus to ride home after school, Luke was unable to find a place to sit in the bus. He walked up and down the entire aisle of the school bus, and no one had a place for him to sit. Luke looked up to the bus driver; she was checking out the various controls of the bus to safely depart.

“You can sit here with me,” said a small voice coming from behind Luke. Luke knew he could get in trouble for not being seated in the bus when it was ready to begin moving. He felt short on time. Luke turned to his right to see a precious young girl with brown hair in a white dress with pink and purple flowers on it, and he sat with her that day.

It was nice of Jen to let Luke sit with her, and he appreciated it. Jen was curious about 4th grade, and Luke told her all he could. During the next few weeks, Luke sat with Jen every day on the bus, and they got to know each other rather well.

Both children made exceptional grades and always finished their homework. Jen’s neighborhood was near Luke’s. The first school bus stop was not too far from their school, and nine children got off the bus there. Jen and Luke’s bus stops also both let off about nine children. Upon speaking of their parents, Jen and Luke realized that all four adults did not get off work until five, much less did they ever get home before then. Jen and Luke usually used this time to watch television or do home work or to take a nap.

“What if we get off at a different bus stop?” asked Jen. “That sounds like fun,” said Luke, “We could walk home together. I do not think it would be a big deal, so long as the bus driver did not notice.” “What if we ask her to keep it a secret?” asked Jen. “She could get in trouble,” said Luke. “As long as nothing happens to us,” said Jen, “I do not think anyone would know.”

The next day Jen and Luke spoke with the bus driver. She was not a school teacher, and everyone loved her. She had a great sense of humor. Their bus driver’s name was Ms. Elms. She was large and jolly, over 50 and still cool as hell. “We don’t want you to get into trouble,” said Luke. “Don’t worry,” said Ms. Elms, “If they catch us, we’ll just tell them you got off on the wrong stop by accident.” This idea amazed Jen. She was happy because she never really got to see certain parts of their city. “Don’t go through with this unless you promise you guys will walk home safely,” said Ms. Elms. “We’ll stay safe,” said Jen, and Luke knew he and his new buddy were in sure need of remembering to stay out of trouble.

That day (Tuesday) Jen and Luke got off at the first bus stop with other school children. They walked home, hand in hand, taking in the amazing scenery. Most of their trip entailed walking by businesses and safely crossing streets. When they eventually came to Jen’s neighborhood, Luke said, “That was pretty fun, and it is only 3:30 pm.” “I’ll still have plenty of time to do my homework,” said Jen. The two said their goodbyes and walked home safely.

The next day they nodded to the school bus driver and Luke gave her a green apple blow-pop when no one was paying attention. No one said anything; their secret was safe. All students seated and Jen and Luke able to speak, the bus was in motion. “I want to do it again,” said Jen. “Oh sure,” said Luke, “It was fun and we did not get caught. No harm done.” “On Tuesday,” said Jen. “Why the hurry?” asked Luke, “The shops in that part of town are not going anywhere, and we should not do it too often or we’ll surely get caught.”

“You are right,” said Jen, “Tuesday is a good day to walk together, though, because it is the one day our parents just don’t get home early. Also, there was something peculiar about the flower shop we walked by.” “That flower shop does arrangements for weddings and funerals, big expensive stuff,” said Luke, “I see their advertisements all over.” “Not that one,” said Jen, “The one that sells small gifts.” “Oh,” said Luke, “It did look interesting, now that I think about it. You mean the one with the baskets in the display window?” “Yes,” said Jen, “I want to go in there. It seems there may be a reason.” “Okay,” said Luke, and they both considered the next few days.

Friday evening, Luke asked his dad if he could do extra chores for some money. “What do you want the money for?” asked his dad. “I am not sure,” said Luke, “Maybe just to save or to buy a new book to read.” Luke knew this would be difficult, his dad would by him a book for doing chores in no time. “I know better,” said Luke’s father, “What’s her name?” Caught off guard, Luke said, “Jen. We are just close friends, but I want to get her something special.” “No problem,” said Luke’s Dad.

That weekend Luke cleaned the backyard for his dad and re-stacked a leaning woodpile. His dad gave him a twenty. He thanked his dad and promised to do well in school. On Monday, Jen and Luke spoke briefly with Ms. Elms, mentioning that they only wanted to get off the first bus stop on Tuesdays. Ms. Elms agreed to it, and Luke gave her another green apple blow pop. “Where do you get these?” asked Ms. Elms. “When I stay with my grandmother,” said Luke, “She gives me a 50 ct. sack of them for mowing her yard.” “Are they all the green ones?” she asked. “No,” said Luke, “There are purple one’s and pink ones, too, but I save the green ones, because there are fewer of them in the bag.”

Once seated, Luke and Jen spoke about school and their parents’ jobs and everything, made it home safely. Tuesday afternoon came and Luke and Jen got off at the first stop. They made their way to the small gift shop and went inside.

Full of fading shadows and small antics, the store was an amazing realm of splendor. Jen and Luke investigated the shelves – Luke noticed a row of dark blue vanilla-scented speckled candles with a small sign which said Homemade with Perfection. Jen was looking at a rack of post cards and noticed a small shelf with diaries. One caught her eye. Luke looked to the back of the small store and noticed a counter with a register. No one was there. “Let me get the diary for you,” whispered Luke. “It’s seven ninety-five,” said Jen, “Surely your lunch money cannot cover that?” “I did some chores over the weekend,” said Luke, “In case we found something here.” “Smart thinking,” said Jen, and she handed the diary to Luke. Luke looked at it and handed it back to her.

The two checked out most of the rest of the store on their way to the counter. Luke noticed a crystal pyramid up on a shelf behind the counter, nearly out of sight. The two children waited patiently in front of the register, and heard a woman’s voice ask, “May I help you?” She came from around the corner slowly, scooting in her rolling, thickly padded chair.

“We wanted to check this place out,” said Jen. “I would like to buy her the diary,” said Luke, thinking the vendor must be some kind of a mystic fortune-teller. “I happen to be a mystic fortune-teller,” said the nice old woman. Jen thought it was kind of funny but refrained from laughing out of respect. “And do you see anything you want for yourself?” asked teller. Her name was Ms. Starble. “No thank you,” said Luke, “Interesting candles.” “My nephew thinks he is going to conquer the world with their manufacture,” said the nice woman. “I suppose I may get one then,” said Luke, and he went back for a dark blue homemade vanilla candle with little glitter-specks of silver shavings.

While waiting on Luke, Jen asked about the crystal pyramid. “What is your young friend’s name?” asked Ms. Starble. “His name is Luke,” said Jen, “And my name is Jen.” Luke found a nice small candle and picked it up to make his way back to the counter. “Luke,” said Ms. Starble, “I am closing early today. Please, flip the ‘Open’ sign on the front door and turn its latch.” Luke did as instructed and brought the candle to the counter.

He handed the twenty to Ms. Starble. He meant business. Ms. Starble opened her register and printed out a receipt and handed the receipt, ten dollars, and some change to Luke. Luke kept the ten and the receipt and offered the coins to her. “You asked about the pyramid,” said Ms. Starble, “It is special.” “Is it for fortune-telling?” asked Luke. “Not really,” said Ms. Starble, “But it does posses an amount of magical power.”

“What can it do?” asked Jen. “Why?” asked Ms. Starble. “Just wondering,” said Jen. Luke gazed upon it and considered just how powerful it could really be. “It can be used for time travel,” said Ms. Starble. “Can we try it out?” asked Luke. “You will have to keep it a secret,” said Ms. Starble, “And you will also have to figure out how to get it down.” Jen laughed a little and Luke asked to come around the counter. The teller let him and he found a small step-ladder and got the crystal pyramid down.

The pyramid was ‘set’ in an old-wood, round frame and stained and polished with a  dark blue enamel. He placed it on the counter and the three humans stood above it, gazing upon its four lustrous sides. Jen and Luke looked to Ms. Starble. “Is there a reason you two would like to travel in time?” asked Ms. Starble. “What if we were grown ups,” said Jen, “So Luke and I could walk down the street together?” Ms. Starble laughed a little and looked to Luke. The pyramid amazed Luke, and he asked if it was even possible. Ms. Starble said it was and both children anxiously awaited the magic. Ms. Starble raised her arms high in the air and said, “Okay Mr. Hocus Pocas, Smooky Wooky Alakashzam!” and Luke and Jen vanished.

The Lunch Time Café was classy. Jen and Luke were sitting across from each other over garlic toast and iced water. They held a pleasant conversation over occupations in America. Their table was outside, and the day endured a hint of spring. Jen and Luke continued to share conversation, as any adult couple would, and their server came to them. Luke looked to Jen who said, “I have had a nice time.” “How much do I owe?” asked Luke, and the server said, “Compliments of the house, Mr. Strong.”

About that time Jen felt as though a spell was wearing off. She and Luke heard a man choking while sitting at a table inside the café. A man tried to give the choking man the Heimlick Maneuver, however it did not work and the man died. Jen and Luke looked to each other and the cloudy scene faded slowly.

Jen and Luke re-appeared before Ms. Starble who had fallen asleep on the counter. She came to and asked what they were doing. Jen laughed a little and Luke said, “We need you to lock us out. We must be going.” Ms. Starble locked them out and they returned home safely, before 4 pm.

Jen loved her new diary and wrote a few lines in it every night. Luke did not really know what to do with the candle and planned to give it to his dad for Father’s Day. Luke gave Ms. Elms a grape blow-pop on Thursday, and Jen and Luke discussed the death of the man at the café.

“Our time travel could have had something to do with whether we are meant to be together,” said Luke. “I think we already knew,” said Jen, “How could the man have died choking if he was not choking?” The two thought about it for a moment, and they decided he had an allergic reaction. “The peanuts,” said Jen, “He was eating peanuts just before he turned red and started choking.” “You’re right,” said Luke, “Maybe we can go back and save him.” “Who knows,” said Jen, “We will have to try to.”

Time flew by and it was Tuesday afternoon. Jen and Luke nodded to the bus driver as they got off at the first stop. The children made their way to see Ms. Starble. She was there and they tried to explain what happened. “We must go back,” requested Jen. “I am unsure that I fully understand your story,” said Ms. Starble. “Do you have something to write on?” asked Luke. “Sure,” said Ms. Starble, “How was the candle?” “I am going to save it to give it to my dad on Father’s Day.” “That way you have time to consider its origin?” asked Ms. Starble. “Possibly,” said Luke, knowing he may have a few things to consider.

Luke sketched out a picture of the café and thanked Ms. Starble for their first journey. It being a Tuesday, he happened to have a strawberry blow pop and offered it to Ms. Starble. She accepted the blow pop, and Jen and Luke explained the mysterious story of how a choking man died while he was still able to breathe. “You two must need to return there after all,” said Ms. Starble as she enjoyed her blow pop. “You may get the pyramid down,” she said to Luke, and he got it down and placed it on the counter. Ms. Starble said, “Okay Mr. Hokus Pokas! Can you please save-us a chokus!” and Jen and Luke vanished.

Once again, they sat across from each other at the table outside dressed casually. Luke raised his hand, getting the attention of his server. “How may I help you?” asked the server. “I do not think the man in there should eat those peanuts,” said Luke. “Why?” asked the server. “Please,” said Luke, “At least ask him if he possibly has a risk of an allergy.”

As the server looked to his right, he saw one of his fellow employees sitting a small platter of peanuts down in front of the large man. Jen and Luke’s server gave them the benefit of the doubt and spoke with the server setting the peanuts down. The large man’s server asked if he knew of any allergens he may have for peanuts. “That is none of your business,” said the large man. “Sir, we are not willing to offer peanuts with your meal if you are going to have an allergic reaction to them.” The man did not have much to say. They brought him toast instead.

Jen and Luke’s server came back to them. “How did you know?” asked the server. “Lucky guess,” said Luke, and Jen smiled upon him. The scene faded and Jen and Luke appeared before Ms. Starble. She was awake and waiting to hear what the children had to say. “He made it,” said Jen, “The man was not allowed to eat the peanuts.” Jen and Luke thanked Ms. Starble, and the children made their way home.

Jen and Luke decided to get off at the right bus stop for a while, and they only went to see Ms. Starble on rare occasion. They grew up together, making good grades and enduring healthy relationships. She became a nurse and a concert violinist, and he became an architect. The Strongs raised four beautiful children, and everyone lived happily ever after.

A Pre-Release Prompt Intro

The Vape Place,

by Myles Stein

Note: This Story is not recommended for people under the age of 18.

“You kids should not smoke. It’s bad for you and people hate the smell of it,” said Professor Worther, from the math department. He passed by Amanda and Jen on his way to an important meeting. “I only smoke an average of seven cigarettes a day,” said Amanda. “Me, too,” said Jen. Jen was blonde. Amanda, brunette. They were outside of a large building donated to their university for the furthering of higher education. “Here we are, outside and not harming anyone, and we cannot even smoke a cigarette without a ‘health complaint,'” said Amanda.

“It is bad for you,” said Jen, “Even side-stream smoke kills thousands of Americans every year.” As she said this, she saw a few people using electronic cigarettes across the way, by one of their college’s cafeteria/lounge buildings. “Have you ever tried vaping?” asked Jen. “No,” said Amanda, “I have seen plenty of people do it; I know nothing about it. I wonder if it really ‘does the trick?'” …

The above two paragraphs are the beginning of an engaging story of two college students who take a summer off to start a new business. It will be in the second issue of “Oval Magazine” and is inspired from a prompt. Be sure to check out the entire publication, once it is released. It may not be complete for a few more weeks (February of 2016, hopefully), however it is sure to be an exciting, enjoyable read. 🙂

♦♦

Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, as the trees were sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

On the other side of the tracks, there was a small creek just wide enough to scale. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. Only a single small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven – Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the “Choo-choo” of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train and made it back home before dark. The woods were simple enough, so there chances of getting lost were slim. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner, ate Spaghetti, spoke politely with their mother, and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and stuff,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did our chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any usual chores. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store with their mother.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like warm milk. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. The brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble, once in the store. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model cars did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, some forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The little figurine uses a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out with a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” said their mother, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting nothing whatsoever -they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks and there was no dime. “Darn it,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, as he handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted that rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind,” said Steven. Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Davie‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and just under an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and of course the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, though they were some cheap ones.

They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, even in the daytime. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

“Five,” said Davie; he held a wet finger in the air to feel the wind. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around eating gnats in the distance. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, and the rocket immediately shot up into the air, leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train “Choo-choo’d,” and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose. The caboose was highly similar to the ones they saw before; they were never not the same one. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees, as well. “Let’s pick it up a bit,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him, however I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them all of a sudden. This really freaked Davie out. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk, a pastel purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet on the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your amazing rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed, he breathed a slight breath. He did not swallow the water. Steven closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, and he beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw dropped, however the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks towards the moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

It was a few days before the boys went back to the tracks to find their astronaut. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They brought it back home, made it there before dark. They all ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

This story was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his wiki page. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.”

An Excerpt…

Many times, as composers of stories and makers of creative works, we endure a great many ideas throughout the day.  As we siphon through these ideas from time to time, we do not always have the time to put our best notions down on paper or out into electronic availability.  I had an idea for a space exploration prompt, for other people, yet with limited response (due to possible near non-exposure), I wrote out an idea for it.  Here it is – it will possibly be published elsewhere this month or later… 🙂

The Fuselage
   From the glossy windows of a small, outer atmosphere born, multi-engine computerized, ceramic-shelled fuselage, five astronauts documented their observations of Earth with on-board imaging technology and documentation devices safely within their space-born exploration and research vehicle.  The team’s lead scientist’s name was Captain Ron Featherton.  His crew of four researchers’ names were Gill, Luke, Isa (short for Isabelle), and Shawn.  The team’s mission?  To observe, document and digitally characterize Earth’s natural radiation belts, normal global geology and external geomorphology, and to journey safely from Earth’s outer atmosphere within normal return velocities.
   After documenting observations, including storms, stars, and pressure movements, the crew was impressed with their flight-specific gathered data and electronic journals.  Upon storing information into their data systems, it was nearing time to venture home.  Just then, however, the lead monitor of engine systems and on-board life, air, navigation systems Secondary Operations Engineer, Shawn, suddenly exclaimed…
   “Captain, our oxygen supply is decreasing due to an unknown malfunction source!  Should we down the two minor engine thrusts to maintain average support systems?”  “No,” said Captain Ron, “We need to leave them running to maintain minimum necessary travel speed – we will be returning to Earth in moments and should not take the risk.”  A small bubbling patch of perspiration beaded unnoticeably upon Shawn’s brow.  “Eye eye, Cap,” said Shawn has he continued to navigate the average-sized spaceship along its normonic path.
   “This is such a marvelous view of our planet and distant celestial sparkling bodies,” observed Gill in a dreamy frame of mind.  She had worked for most of her career to enjoy one single amazing experience such as this one.  “Of the things I have seen during my lifetime,” commented Luke, “There has been none such as marvelous as this one; never before have I viewed such a spectacular view of Earth and our amazing galaxy.”  “I concur,” said Isa, “I will treasure this moment for a lifetime.”
    As the astronauts continued to maintain normal operations, the spacecraft’s instrumentation panel began beeping and going haywire.  “We are losing vital oxygen fast, Captain!” exclaimed Shawn.  “Down the secondary thrusts and engage back-up systems! We will be lucky to survive!”  commanded Captain Ron.  Isa spoke a short prayer.
   Drifting through space the astronauts wondered if they were a part of a moribund exploration, done-for, bereft.  Oxygen continued to weaken as Captain Ron tried to contact home-command.  Unable to do so, the situation grew more terrible.  Due to lack of sufficient air his team of four fell unconscious.  He somehow did not.  Maintaining system controls, Captain Ron was able to bring the ship to a state of tentative normalcy.
   Therein lied his dilemma:  should he risk losing the lives of his team, utilize the oxygen supply in order to return to Mother Earth alive, chance becoming a known and perceived, detested failure, responsible for the deaths of four renown scientists?  “It is a temptation to disengage the pressure controls and drift hopelessly into the bliss of outer space… to suffer the short-lived torture of suffocation and die,” thought the compassionate space-captain, “No one would ever know.”  He had no family to return to, gave the cowardly notion a pinch of dangerous thought.
   The newly engineered, high-tech space-born fuselage allowed no emergency abort capabilities, proved now, to be a deadly capsule due to its systems’ malfunctions.  As he looked upon his crew in tears, the captain released their air supply.  Captain Ron brought the ship’s systems back to complete and normal operation within moments.  He powered up the main thrusts.  The other four died shortly thereafter.  Captain Ron returned to Planet Earth within normal and safe velocities exceeding an approximate 19,817 mph, presented never-before-gathered radiation belt data, sought counselling.