Saturn as seen from Titan, painting by Chesley Bonestell

Saturn as seen from Titan, painting by Chesley Bonestell
Favorite astronomical painting

Monday, June 21, 2010

Final Segment of Unscheduled Stroll on Triton

Here is the final offering of my short SF story. This is a shorten version with a segment left out. That segment was a special conversation between Cramer and Mona. It contained some endearing remarks between the two characters and some astronomical observations by Cramer. Did you know there are asteroids locked in Jupiter's orbit, an area known as the Lagrangian Point? That is a stable area forming an equalateral triangle between Jupiter, the sun and the Lagrangian Point. Now you didn't need to know that did you? Time for the final segment.

Cramer groped in the dark, seeking for warmth, fleeing from thirty-eight Kelvins at the end of the hall behind him. A soft hand on a long elastic arm pulled him forward toward a comforting orange light ahead. Yielding, he tried to help that wonderful hand.
“Joe, come out of it.” The familiar voice came from a blurry vision that coalesced like cloudy water losing its fine air bubbles. A lovely face with shiny, long blond hair clarified: Mona. How wonderful she looked in her flight coveralls. Cramer grasped her hand with both of his. Tears flooded his eyes, not from a brush with death, but angry, unforgiving tears at his irresponsible actions.
“How could I be so stupid? A rank amateur wouldn’t even unclip their safety line.” Cramer gritted his teeth at the thought. Mona carefully pulled him to a sitting position.
“Don’t go beating yourself up,” Mona said, her wonderful consoling aura soothing him.
“Look at the years of experience I’ve had on mining ventures in space. You’d think. . .”
“Hush!” Mona placed her forefinger on his lips. When he started to finish his self-condemnation, she placed her palm over his mouth.
“Think about it, Joe. You saved your own life by disconnecting from that line.” Cramer squinted at that statement.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“If you had been attached to that line when the geyser hit you, I know your neck would have snapped or your helmet seal would have broken when the slack was gone.” Mona squeezed Cramer’s arm, a serious look spreading across her face.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Cramer said, wanting to believe her.
“The force of that geyser would be magnified without any atmosphere to buffer the nitrogen blast.” Cramer thought about it. Mona’s logic was flawless. He would have been killed as he remembered how far the nitrogen jet had sent him.
“You’re right but it was pure stupidity that I unhooked myself.”
“No, it wasn’t. Look how many times in the past you’ve done something on the spur of the moment and you, me or somebody has been saved.” Mona cupped Cramer’s face with her hands. He took a deep breath at her touch and reached up and took her hands with his.
“I owe you my life anyway. We’d better finish our job.”
“We’re done. That last batch was very high grade thorium. Witherspoon will be happy with what we’ve got. Let’s prepare for the trip back.”
Witherspoon, happy with the high grade thorium, had another mission for them, but Cramer and Mona adamantly refused to let him force another postponement of their wedding. They got by with that since Witherspoon considered they were the best miners, along with Cramer’s old mining partner, Floyd.
Everything fell in place this time. Cramer and his late wife’s daughter, Cindy, stood with Mona, and Floyd stood with Cramer. On the sandy shore of Burr Oak Lake in the wilds of Ohio, they exchanged their vows. It was here that they had first said those wonderful words of “I love you.”

I hope you enjoyed this story. As I said, I've submitted this to an online magazine that pays a hefty per word on acceptance. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. Consider this story and all previous segments copyrighted material. Thanks for those who have followed the story, Laurie, Miss Mae and Anne. Hope others have too. As always I invite any comments you may have. Larry

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fifth segment of my SF story

The snow puffed from under his boot soles as he landed with each long stride. Cramer’s mind link overrode safety protocols but couldn’t block the impending suit failure messages when his time dipped below five minutes. His legs, like lead, surprised him since he expected a sudden failure of heating in his suit. The lithium batteries, when depleted, would lose their power quickly, but under freezing conditions the voltage would plunge to zero like a switch had turned them off. Perhaps his mind played tricks on him, the way sympathy pains hit when listening to somebody describe in graphic detail their medical procedures or ailments. Maybe his mind also fed him images he wanted to see, such as Mona and her approach with the rover. He held onto that image because it was the last one he had as his suit became very cold. He toppled forward into the snow.

I know it was short but you'll have to wait until next Monday for another segment. Thanks for reading. Laurie, I left you a comment on the last segment, a brief answer to your question. Larry

Sunday, June 6, 2010

fourth segment of Unscheduled Stroll on Triton

I'm giving you the fourth segment of my short SF story on Sunday night since I'll be super busy tomorrow all day.

He willed the radio’s power to increase to one hundred milliwatts. Before he turned his mental power to switch on the radio, another warning scrolled before his eyes. It read, “Danger! Increasing radio power one hundred fold will shorten suit environmental functioning to 22.5 minutes.”
“Hey. That’s a good trade off. Halving my suit’s time for a hundred fold chance of being heard,” he expressed.
He was glad that mind power overrode safety interlocks. He stood still and centered the virtual cross hairs in his helmet visor on the gleaming steel spike of the cruiser in the distance. Switch-on, he willed. The warning letters dimmed when the radio sent its thirty second burst. After the end of the transmission, a countdown of suit failure began. Cramer didn’t want to know so he willed it off and then began his loping run.
He glimpsed the severed disk of Neptune, a blue blister sitting on Triton’s horizon. Any other time Cramer would have admired that view, the mother planet with the Great Dark Spot. That far plane of Triton’s surface seemingly leading to and touching Neptune displayed the strange mosaic of channels to the practiced eye. The old Voyager flyby in 1989 had first spotted them. The regular icy features defied explanation then and even now could not be understood.
Cramer thought of the mission he and Mona shared on Titan. The people of Sirius had chosen Saturn’s largest moon to build their city under a methane lake. After exploring the old city in its bubble at the bottom of the lake, Cramer had fallen from the rover as he and Mona rode back to the ship. Lost in the ammonia snow, he’d almost perished before Mona and Lila pulled him into the safety and warmth of the ship. His suit had started its precipitous temperature drop on that occasion.

There you have the four installment of my short SF story. Tune in next week for the next segment. Thank you Miss Mae, Laurie and Anne for commenting on my blog as I continue feeding you segments of this short story. Larry