READERSHIP IS DOWN SO I’M PASSING IT AROUND
TAKE A GANDER AT MY NOVEL TO BLOG SERIES
CATCH UP WITH THE BLACK LOBSTER
OLD PORT, MAINE
LOCAL TAVERN ALONG THE WARF
“Shark Frenzy,” The lady with the THICK Russian accent said as she slammed down her third Black Russian shot. I was working on my own, a White Russian shot though I had lost count some time ago. “Black man, White Russian, White girl, Black Russian,” She wailed a hardy belly laugh. The bartender handed her another shot glass full and it never made it to the bar top.
The guy looked at me, “You paying?” and I gave him the okay. He hesitated so I pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and put it on the bar. He made her another drink.
“You think you’re going to get lucky, tonight don’t you?” She said guzzling the drink down again.
“Not really. I’ve already been lucky once this year.”
“Why do I do what I do you ask?”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an Escort, a prostitute,” She didn’t wait for me to respond. “The money? Oh, it’s a great career choice, I go out there and service 10, 15, 20, 30 middle-aged, greasy, hairy white men every night only to have the privilege of turning the money over to my pimp.” She finally sat down on her stool.
We both downed our drinks. I was starting to feel it. “You like tattoos? I have a special one, it’s hypnotic.” She turned her back to me and pulled up her shirt. Her back was covered by a very strange tattoo that seemed to move and change shape as I looked. I personally hate tattoos but suddenly hers was beginning to look better and better. She staggered to her feet. “I’m ready, take me home now.”
Just my luck a drunk off the wall Russian call girl with a quivering tattoo. I’d be crazy to mess with her. Good thing I already got lucky this year.
All at once a brute of a man slammed through the door rushed over and slapped her across the face. “BITCH.”
I moved quickly in-between them grabbing the man by the collar and slapping him across his. “Don’t you know that hurts?” The guy went to punch me, but I blocked it and body slammed him into the bar. He groggily said something in Russian then he passed out.
A lovely lady who was watching from the end of the bar, all smiles walked up to me. “Wow, it’s not every day that you get rescued by the famous BLACK LOBSTER!”
IN ORBIT AROUND ALNIHAM ORION 4 ONBOARD THE HORIZON
TRANSMISSION FROM THE NEW STAR HORIZON
TO SPACE STATION AT ALPHA CENTAURI
TRANSMISSION AS FOLLOWS
THE HORIZON NEW STAR CLASS HAS FIRED ITS THRUSTERS AND SLOWED INTO ORBIT AROUND THE FOURTH OF SEVEN PLANETS OF THE BLUE SUPERGIANT STAR ALNILAM OF THE CONSTELLATION ORION
THE PLANET IS DESIGNATED ALNIHAM ORION 4
HORIZON’S PRIMARY MISSION IS COVERT SURVEY OF THE PLANET AND RETURN TO ALPHA-CENTURI WITH THAT INFORMATION NOT TO ENGAGE ANYONE UNLESS THE CREW OR THE COLONISTS ARE THREATHENED
30 YEARS AGO, THAT THE ‘ORION EXPEDITION’ TO THE 4TH PLANET NEVER EMERGED FROM THE WORMHOLE AND THAT EVERY ONE OF THE 40 SHIPS CARRYING THE COLONIST WAS LOST IN SPACE. TWO YEARS AGO, A SIGNAL WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PLANET ALNIHAM ORION 4
THE SHIP ACCOMMODATION OF 40 ONBOARD THE ENTIRE CREW IN STASIS CHAMBER UNITS DESIGNED TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST THE EXTREME EFFECTS OF TRAVELING THROUGH WORMHOLES
THE MAIN CREW IS AS FOLLOWS:
CAPTAIN SCOTT DRAPER MISSION COMMANDER
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER JIM QUINN EXECUTIVE OFFICER
COLONEL BARBARA SCHENCKLER M.D. MEDICAL OFFICER
MAJOR PATRICIA WHITE M.D. MEDICAL ASSISTANT
LIEUTENANT MICHELLE MCNAMARA FLIGHT COUNSELOR
MAJOR MATT STEWART ACTING SHIP ENGINEER
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER JOHN CONRAD OPERATIONS
SENIOR CHIEF PETTY OFFICER BOB “O.D.” O’DONOVAN SECURITY
SERGEANT GREG HAFFS NAVIGATIONS OFFICER
ENSIGN PETER BELVEDERE COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
PETTY OFFICER MIKE O’DONOVAN MACHINIST’S MATE FIRST CLASS
SPACEMAN 1ST CLASS ERIC SEAVER SENIOR PILOT
CORPORAL 1ST CLASS DORIS TRAVERS CO-PILOT
DR. JOSEPH DEFOREST ACTING SCIENCE OFFICER
DR. KEIKO MATSUI ASTROBIOLOGIST
SADIA MIRZA PHD ASTROPHYSICIST
AMBASSADOR APRIL FLOWERS ACTING ENVOY
THE FOLLOWING WERE ADDED TO HORIZON’S CREW:
LIEUTENANT COLONEL MARIA MIRANDA SHUTTLE CREW COMMANDER
LIEUTENANT JETSENIA HERNANDEZ
ENSIGN RUTH NICOLET
ENSIGN DANAYA PATTERSON
CORPORAL ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
PRIVATE ALISON MUNDY
WARRANT OFFICER TATIANA DURAN
JUST A MINUTE — JUST A MINUTE
PLEASE STAND BY
PLEASE STAND BY
PLEASE STAND BY
The shuttle seemed to glide through the air like a powerful bird during flight. Alison Mundy brought it around and took off like a bullet through the thick bellowing clouds. She made one complete circle around the perimeter then turned and headed straight down into the planet’s lower atmosphere.
The mountains dominated the landscape, forming a range traversing the center of the main continent region. Out as far as the eye could see Heaven’s Peak stood almost twice as high as Mount Everest back on Earth. The origin of the name Heaven’s Peak was a point of contention for the team.
The early probes recorded the mountain and referred to it as the ROOF OF THE WORLD and from then on it became the focal point of all explorations to the planet. One likely possibility that the mountain memorializes the explorer probes lost trying to reach Alniham during the early wormhole runs.
On the mountain plateaus the winds blew very strongly, and there were severe blizzards even during the summer months. Permanent snow covered the highest mountain peaks. Valleys became snow traps as the high winds carried much of the snow from mountain peaks and ridges.
Sadia Mirza could pinpoint the signal as coming from Heaven’s peak itself. Dr. Deforest figured that it was unlikely though since no one could survive a climb to the top. “Heaven’s peak is the place to start.”
“And that’s where we’re going?” Sgt. O’Donovan lamented.
“That would be correct.” Matt confirmed.
FOOT NOTE: Four-hundred times I get asked why the ship doesn’t land itself. I’m old school, it would take too much fuel to land the ship so they use shuttles instead. When they write their own Sci-Fi they can do whatever they want to.
THE MOST RECENT INHABITANTS
Jihan Aurora stood on her mountaintop lookout where she could see the entire desert all the way to the mountain ranges they called the outlands. She could see a mighty dust storm sweeping across the desert floor and she hoped none of the desert dweller’s caravans were caught in it though she knew the dwellers and the outlanders were a hardy bunch so she knew the storm be nothing special to them.
Then she turned her eyes to the night sky. It was an exceptionally clear night and in the distant darkness she could clearly see the bright stars Mintaka, and Alnitak. along with their sun the star Alniham they formed the BELT OF ORION as seen from Earth. Her grandfather spoke fondly of Earth, with its green valleys, purple mountains, and blue oceans and matching blue skies. That was hard to imagine.
The other two stars supposedly had no inhabitable planets. As she gazed around her desert world she wondered if her planet was in fact uninhabitable too. Life there was difficult on a good day. But Alniham Orion 4 was the only world she had ever known. Its oceans were pale purple and the sky was a reddish pink in the day and hazy indigo at night.
Then there was the Khad. They enslaved the colony upon their arrival. Like the planet Jihan knew no other way of life. The struggle that came with it had driven her to often want to escape. But even the calm night could not soothe her troubled mind. She was being forced to marry the prince of the House of Basrilian. Many colonists blamed them for the deaths of the original crew including her father Captain Aurora and that had been a thorn of contention for the Khad Regime.
Jihan sighed realizing just how much she missed her Governess Old Bethany. She predicted things would change one day. A spaceman would come and rescue the colony. this very same spaceman would become her Jihan’s husband. Old Bethany had never been wrong. Still the whole thing sounded like a fairy tale and how could it ever come true?
Just then Jihan was startled by a bright flash of light in the sky. Having watched the Khad Armada ships come and go for years she knew the difference between a shooting star and a spacecraft entering the atmosphere. But this one was somehow different from any she’d ever seen.
The star seemed to be decelerating until it was on a smooth trajectory as it disappeared beyond the east horizon. If it was indeed a spaceship establishing orbit it would have to reappear over the other horizon at or near the same height.
Jihan rushed across the mountaintop to a ledge where she could see the western horizon. Trying hard to catch her breathe she eagerly waited for her star to reappear. After several moments, nothing happened. ‘It must have been a meteor.’
Disappointed she began to walk back down the path wondering how she could have let herself get so excited. Then it occurred to her it was decelerating meaning it would take longer to travel around the planet. With renewed energy, she sprinted back up the path. Before she could catch her breath again she saw her star coming into view over the western plain.
“OH MY GOD THEY’RE HERE.” She shouted. “Old Bethany you are never wrong. I should have never doubted you.” Her mind raced as she tried to put what was surely the impossible into perspective. “The prophecy… it’s true.” It took a moment then for the first time in years Jihan believed again. Bethany stood before her always in her working garments with her unkempt hair a blanket of clothes under her arm. ‘One day a ship from Earth will come. The ship will be led by a spaceman. He will free us from the Khad Empire. And you will marry the spaceman and become the first Queen of Alniham. When that day comes don’t forget to pray.’
Jihan fell to her knees and began to pray.
FOOT NOTE: NEW STAR HORIZON came about from a short story I wrote about a picture for an online contest. Turns out the contest was actually for children, probably why it got my attention. The host site really liked my story idea thought it was not appropriate for their age group. But it sparked me to try an write a novel based on the idea. As they say; the rest is history…