A place for thought.

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Flight 408 (part 5)

A simple, quiet, “tong,” wakes me up and I see Sally sitting at a wooden table in front of me with the pine trees covered in a light mist behind her. She has a bowl of something breakfasty in front of her and she’s taking a sip of coffee while she waits for me to completely wake up.

“Hey, Sal,” I rub my eyes and look myself over to see if I’m presentable. I stretch as the sofa releases me from its hold. “Follow me to the kitchen table,” I instruct Sally’s hologram and she follows me still sitting at her table in her apartment and lines her table up with mine so we can have our breakfasts together.

“Coffee,” I say to the kitchen and a gurgle starts inside my food dispenser. “What time is it?” I ask and as Sally answers, “morning” the computer says, “ten-forty-five”.   I bring my coffee cup to the table and inform the computer, “I’m talking to Sally,” without this instruction it would answer every question that might come up in our conversation (computers aren’t half as bright as people think).

“Got any plans?” Sally asks with her cup held up to her lips with both hands so I can just see her eyes above the rim.

“Going to sleep till noon,” I give her a sleepy grin, “that’s shot.”

“I could go,” she knows I’d rather talk to her.

“Stay, I got plenty of sleep. What are you eating?”


“Computer, a bowl of oatmeal,” I wait to hear the sounds of a bowl of oatmeal being produced and hear nothing. “Computer! A bowl of oatmeal please!”

“You talking to me?” the computer asks politely.

“You know I am, a bowl of oatmeal please,” the sounds of my oatmeal being put together can be heard inside the processor.

“I thought you were talking to Sally,” the computer explains. The computer lies.

“I think some software problems have developed in my home computer,” I tell Sally, the computer produces a big stage sigh but chooses not to say anything.

“I was thinking a walk in the park, maybe feed the ducks?” I set my oatmeal down at the real end of the table and stir in the sugar that was sprinkled on the top. I take a small test first bite, making sure the computer didn’t do anything to get even. The oatmeal seems fine.

“I was thinking, watch the game and snack,” Sally has a thing for the out-of-doors, which is kind of weird for a pilot.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part forty-eight)

The day warms up until we are both covered in sweat, the house next door has a big yellow water jug sitting where one of the front windows will someday be installed, we take turns letting the cold water pour over our faces. And then, “Boom!” it sounds like a bomb has gone off up the street near the first house we cleaned. Ricky gives me a quick look and we both drop our shovels and take off running toward the explosion. By the time we get to the site a group of workmen have gathered and Jimmy’s father’s pick-up is parked on the dirt in front of the house. There was no explosion. A delivery van with a load of sheetrock, in a big hurry, backed up to the garage. The driver misjudged either the length of the driveway or the height of this truck and now the truck is jammed under the crossbeam at the entrance to the garage. The driver starts up the engine of the truck and gently tries to pull forward, the whole front of the frame of the house pulls forward an inch.

“Stop!”            Jimmy’s father shouts, “you’ll pull the whole house down!” The group of men look for an alternative.

One man shouts, “We could cut the beam out!” Carpenters shake their heads.

“That’s a bearing wall, we’d have to shore the whole thing.”

“How about if we rock the truck, back and forth, kind of loosen it up?” a man in white overalls asks.

Jimmy’s father considers the situation, he doesn’t look real happy, and he looks around for a better idea. Ricky gives Jimmy a push on the shoulder and points.

“Sir,” Jimmy starts. He looks at his father and waits.

“You have an idea Jimmy?” Jimmy’s father looks at Jimmy as all the men in the group turn toward him and silence falls.

“We could try letting some air out of the tires.” Without waiting for a reply from Jimmy’s father a couple of the men start letting air out of the back tires, in just a few seconds the header over the garage creaks back half an inch and then, while the tires still have well over half their air, a quarter inch gap can be seen between the truck and the wooden beam. The driver pulls up slowly. A cheer goes up and everyone either shakes Jimmy’s hand or pats him on the back.

“Ricky’s the one who thought of it,” Jimmy states fairly and this leads to Ricky getting handshakes and pats on the back too. A painter backs his pick-up next to the delivery truck and with the compressor in the back of his pick-up he starts refilling the truck’s tires. Everyone heads back to their various jobs.

“That was perfect!” Jimmy says to Ricky as they hero walk back to the house they have been cleaning.

“And no one even had to die,” Ricky replies.

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Flight 408 (part 4)

After just a few minutes an uncomfortable moisture forms under my left arm, “Program two, Pause!” and then I re-consider, “Program two, Close!” enough is enough. I only hope I have endured the punishment long enough to keep my personal trainer at bay for a few days.

As an answer my personal trainer appears on the screen, “Your exercise program has been interrupted; would you like to continue, save for later today, or be reminded tomorrow?

“Remind me tomorrow,” it’s the best of the three horrible choices. I look at the screen and suggest, “Show me something peaceful, maybe some mountains, and a nice fresh breeze.” Trees take over the north wall and I feel cool air drifting across the room with the scent of pine, “not so much pine, please,” the please is unnecessary but I feel good about adding it. “And stop the breeze, it’s kind of cold.” It’s been a hard day, I curl up into a little ball, the sofa cuddles in around me and I fall into a peaceful, well-earned, sleep.

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Flight 408 (part 3)

We walk through the cleaning rays before we change into our street clothes so our uniforms will be ready for our next flight, the pressing will take place as soon as we close them into our lockers with or without our request, the company wants all of its pilots to be in well pressed uniforms.

“I’m going to pick-up some groceries,” I let Sally know as I slip into one of the small, local transporters. Sally enters an adjoining transporter, waves and disappears. In the store I grab a cart and the store’s floor ribbon moves me through aisles while I tap things I want. When I get to the produce section I put a head of lettuce and a couple of apples into the cart. I never tap produce into my order. I walk into one of the store’s transporters and get the notification my bank account has paid for the groceries and at the same time get a second notification that my groceries, not counting two apples and a head of lettuce, have arrived on the proper shelves in my kitchen. I’ve been putting off grocery shopping for a week and my kitchen was about to become one big empty. It feels good to get that taken care of. I feel a big load of stress just slip off as I enter my apartment. It’s good to be home after three days in space. The screen that covers the north wall of my one bedroom home turns on when I sit on the sofa and the sofa comes to life creating a comfortable place for me to relax into.  The scenes on the wall are peaceful views of nature while the daily news is delivered in a gentle voice that sounds like a loving God comforting his children. And then I get the notification I know is coming but I’ve been dreading. The wall screen is taken over by my personal trainer.

“Randy, you have missed your last two exercise sessions! Please activate the level two program!” I don’t want to but they will break into every program I watch until I do.

“Program two!” I say into the room and at once I can feel twinges and jumps as various rays are applied to my body making my muscles respond in various ways.

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Flight 408 (part 2)

. I get in a good fifteen before a gentle tone and a green blinking light on our instrument panel wakes me up. A quick look at the screen tells me our ship is docked at the second largest of Earth’s space stations.

“Hey Sally,” I nudge my sleeping co-pilot until her sleepy blue eyes show up.

“Are we there?” she asks while looking around the cabin for clues.

“We’re there. We’d better get straightened up for the walk.” The walk is one of the most important parts of our job. Our two hundred and five passengers need to see two, well dressed, obviously competent and alert pilots exit the cockpit. The hardest, and most important part is, of course, the looking alert part. We splash our faces at the sink in the pilot’s restroom and straighten each other’s ties.

“It’s Showtime!” Sally steps out of our private exit and onto a conveyance ribbon reserved for pilots. We are “on display” but kept apart from the mere humans. Our ribbon takes us directly to the pilot’s transporter while the passengers are dumped off with the options of several transporter rooms or a view of Earth from the observation deck, all but a few of the two hundred and five crowd into the transporter rooms.

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Flight 408

It has been a long flight and we’re all tired. My co-pilot is sound asleep in the supersized, high-backed, overstuffed, more comfortable than a bed, captain’s chair they put in these birds now a days. It’s all I can do to stay awake until it’s time for my break, watching her sleep just makes it harder to keep my eyes open. The ship is on full automatic; if the automatic pilot were to fail I doubt that I would have any idea as to what could be done. Turn off the computer and do a reset? But I know what I get paid for and stay awake doing it. What I get paid for happens to be, primarily, to stay awake.

“Flight 408 you are in Earth navigation space and your controls have been transferred to our systems,” a tired voice says into my headset.

I recognize the voice of a friend, “Sounds like a good thing, Toby. Mind if I start my nap now?”

“You go right on ahead Randy, I’m liable to join you any second now.”

“Had a late night Tob?

“Came straight from play to work. I’m thinking that might not have been such a good idea.”

“My life is a constant string of bad ideas. Good to hear someone’s in the same boat.” I slip off my headset and push my seat into full recline position. I’m snoring before we find our place in the holding pattern.

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Would You Believe 100?

So I spent hours making sure stories were not repeated. I made a list of first lines because over time some were given two (or more) titles. But. One, one page story is in twice – a story about Herb’s arrival. So, in truth, there are only 100 short stories (unless you count one twice).