The ship is experiencing some turbulence.
I sit on my bed in my sleeping quarters, watching the fluorescent light on my ceiling sway. The bright lights make my eyes hurt, but in a way, the pain is sort of soothing. At least, as long as I don't go blind. That would be a pain in the ass.
The swaying ship isn't my problem. That's what autopilot is for. I'm one of the lucky ones. My war experience got me a first-class seat on the Airship Heaven, a luxury craft where the rich get to live. And, of course, the few like me: army vets, trained to be bodyguards to the rich snobs.
In this case, my military training is a blessing. Most people probably wouldn't have heard the telltale "thunk."
The sound of a grenade, being slotted into an RPG launcher.
I duck under my bed, letting the metal posts form a safe cage. A grenade rolls to a stop mere inches from my face. It hisses, like an angry snake preparing to bite.
It's like no bomb I've ever seen. It's a dark blue box, etched with intricate white lines, almost like letters, though not like any language I've ever seen. Well... almost any.
It looks like the same language as the marks on the silos. That's what we called them. Big thick boxes that came down from the sky, etched with the same markings as this.
The ones sent by the aliens.
I scramble away only to find that the door to my room is shut and locked. Trapped in a room with an alien grenade.
But it doesn't explode. The hissing stops, then a loud pop, and then...
"Cree?" It's a strange sound, almost like you'd imagine the cry of a dinosaur. "Cree! Cree!"
And a strange, reptilian creature toddles towards me, with scales mottled purple and blue like a galaxy, and eyes as black as the space between the stars. He has four tails and four legs, and each tail seems to have a mind of its own. More like tentacles than tails, if you ask me.
Instinct tells me to kill it. But I don't think I can. Whoever shot the gun, it loaded this poor thing into a cannon and shot it at me. How disgusting of them. Seems like shitty parenting, if you ask me, and I know all about shitty parenting.
The creature, as if sensing my moral delimma, comes up to me and butts my leg.
And just like that, I've got an alien buddy. I'm locked in my room in the middle of space with virtually no supplies. I don't know what it eats. But I'll figure it out.
"What's your name, little guy?"
"Cree!" And for the first time in a long time, I laugh.
"Alright, Cree. Let's find a way out of this room."
I lean over. His four tails all wind around my fingers.
I think, for once in my life, I've made the right choice.
Chuck’s stomach surged as the ground receded. The craft rose silently until the fields were nothing but a blur. Still higher, the whole world becoming a circle in the blackness of space.
As Chuck saw his home planet disappear, he thought: here we go again.
While others scoffed that there existed civilisations capable of interstellar travel, Chuck had first-hand experience. His first encounter had been with The Greys. He’d been seventeen when he was taken aboard their ship and tied to a bed. The small creatures traipsed into the room and regarded him from oval eyes.
He was returned untouched and unharmed. Seeking solace in other abductees, Chuck learned he had been lucky. There were stories of rectal probing.
From that time, Chuck kept an eye on the skies, wary of being taken again – aliens often returned once they found a suitable subject.
At twenty-seven, he had been in bed when a tall shape emerged from the shadows, wrapped bony arms around him and levitated him up to the heavens. Chuck was unable to move; he did not know if this was down to some stun-ray the alien had used or because he was terrified.
This encounter was worse than his first. He wasn’t tethered and floated uncontrollably in the gravity-free environment. He was left alone most of the time, which only made the times the creatures were present the more frightening.
These were not The Greys. They were eight feet tall, slender and deathly pale. The fact that they did not speak unnerved him. When they examined him, their touch was coarse.
Chuck was returned eight days later.
It did not take long to see the pattern to the abductions. Ten years later, he prepared himself for the next inevitable encounter. He made sure he always had a bludgeon on him.
While working in the fields, Chuck saw the ship land behind a copse of trees. He knew it had come for him. This time, he would be ready for them.
Taking a spade with him, he set off into the trees and made his way to the spacecraft. From the woods, he saw an alien coming from a hatch in the vehicle. For all his experience, Chuck struggled to hold onto his lunch; it was the most disgusting creature he had ever seen.
Two stubby legs supported a bulbous middle section. Flesh hung under its chin and, on either side of its squat head, two pieces of gristle stuck out. Its arms ended in a horrifying number of digits.
Taking a blue box from its pocket, the monster took out a thin cylinder. Putting one end to his face, holding a flame to the opposite end, the alien began to walk around the ship.
Chuck rushed for the entrance, hid in the first place he found and waited. Before long he felt the ship rising and, locating a porthole, he watched his home disappear.
Shovel gripped in his tentacles, Chuck slithered through the ship. It was payback time.
“My dear, we will get there in time.” Jonathon Edward Millner III looked at his wife who sat across from him in the limousine.
“I can’t understand the hold up, and the dry ice in the blue box won’t last forever. I want the champagne to be icy cold. Not the bottle for the christening, of course, but the ones for our special guests.” Ellenor was fretting as they wound their way through the long line of traffic.
“Construction zones don’t last forever, dear. Everything will work out. This is typical of my morning commute. We’ll be at the shipyard in time. The catering company has everything ready to make mimosas and Bellinis. We have lox and bagels, and rest of the brunch buffet is ready in the boardroom.”
“I want this launch and boat christening to go off without a hitch. Our trimaran sailboat is innovative and fast. She’ll rival the fastest passenger liner across the Atlantic. I can’t wait for her to break the record.”
“Your hull designs are clever, the frictionless materials we’ve used will keep her moving in the lightest of breezes,” Jonathon reached across to squeeze her hand.
“I know, and she’s sturdy enough to use the winds of a hurricane to her advantage. With all the storms we get each year shutting down the shipping lanes, someone had to find the solution. The Isis is only the first.” Ellenor’s pride in her design was legendary.
“The climate is changing on Earth. With every innovation to use the winds and the sun to our advantage, we help to stop the damage. We’ll use the profits to seed the Brazilian desert, and turn back time. Bring back the jungles and give Earth her lungs once more.”
“Heaven knows it’s disgusting, the damage we’ve done. Jungles and boreal forests, both decimated. It’s no wonder we have such violent weather.” Ellenor shook her head.
The limousine inched its way through the last of the traffic jam, and accelerated on silent power. The Millner’s believed in renewable energy, the roof of their car was lined with high efficiency solar panels, allowing for continual recharging of the battery banks hidden under the floorboards.
“There, we’re making the turn into the dry dock. I’ll have Jenelle take care of the Dom Perignon. She’s waiting with the dolly.” Johnathon soothed his wife.
“Thank you, darling. Have I told you how much I love you lately?” she squeezed his hand before preparing to step out to face the assembled press.
“Every time I see the excitement in your eyes, dear. Go get them, you deserve this.” He patted her bottom as she stood to face her dream.
On the Road to Paradise
My big rig thundered up northbound Interstate 75 amid deafening thunder and the hissing of driving rain that hammered the Chattanooga area at 2:30 in the morning.
My gas gauge was getting low, and I was running on cold coffee.
That’s when I saw him! He had his thumb out even after being splashed by the 18-wheeler in front of me. What business did a hitcher have being out in this storm?
The truck ahead of me kept going, but something made me pull over for this guy.
I leaned over and opened the passenger door.
“C’mon, good buddy, get in,” I hollered.
Soon, a soaked, disheveled, dark-skinned man climbed aboard. He was wearing ripped blue jeans, a faded T-shirt, and holding a light blue box about the size of his chest. Water dripped down his stubble and off his dreadlocks.
“Where are you headed?” I asked.
I waited for a reply, but none came. So, I pulled into a gas station.
As we hit the road again, I heard him speak! “Did you fill up, son?”
“Yup,” I said, nodding. “And …damn, I forgot to get a refill on my coffee.”
The man simply said, “Take a sip from your thermos.”
“What,” I said, “that cold, disgusting stuff?” I hesitated, but took a gulp. It was full of hot coffee!
Before I could ask how, he simply held up his blue box. There was a soft, warm glow.
“What do you have in there?” I asked.
He smiled and said, “I am doing my father’s bidding. You do not need to be concerned about how or what it looks like. You simply need to follow my one commandment: love.”
I didn’t know what to say. Was I riding with a man of the cloth? Or a Jesus freak? Or somebody who’s been out in the rain too long?
“Do you mind if I close my eyes?” the man asked. “I am very tired.”
“Go ahead,” I said. “But where are going?”
I blurted incredulously, “As in heaven?”
He laughed. “The village of Paradise, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”
I nodded, and he dozed. The rain let up and I made good time through the rest of Tennessee, and into Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. My passenger woke up somewhere near Grayling.
“Please, pull over here,” the man said urgently.
I stopped behind police cars and a parked ambulance with the lights still on. As he began to jump out of my rig, I grabbed his arm and asked, “Where are you going? Should I wait?”
“Continue on your journey,” he said. “I will catch another ride after I add more souls to my box. I am delivering them to peace. I guess you could say I am in the shipping business like you.”
The man jumped out of my rig and ran to a building surrounded by yellow tape and police.
I hope I run into him again someday.
As I drive down this long deserted road in my old 1999 Rav 4- I find myself drive-dreaming (that's what I call daydreaming while driving)- I think about Heaven- and all the loved ones I have there waiting to see me-one day. Then, I start wondering if I will go to Heaven- and I become discusted with myself and everything bad I have ever done. Wondering if God will forgive me- when I know he will! I start to pray- Praying tp God- for a sign...a sign that will tell me that I am on the right path in my life.
I have been through alot in my life- I think of every mistake or regret- wondering if I made the right decisions. I picture myself dying and floating out to Heaven's gates on a ship that carries you from Earth and life to Heaven. I get to the gates and there is no one there- Just a blue box with my name on it. I pick it up and open the lid.
Inside is a peice of paper that says You ARE on the right path. Accepting me as your Lord and Savior was the first step. I forgive you for your mistakes as I love you the way you are.
I hear a horn and realize I am still drive-dreaming. I smile and remember that God does love me and I am forgiven for my sins. Heaven awaits me. Praise Jesus
There is an entire bus seat where this man could be sitting, so why he is sitting right next to me and invading my bubble with his knee and his hot breath is a mystery to me. Okay, so it isn’t a mystery, but maybe if I just stare blankly at the opposite window the guy will get bored of being a creep and not get off at the same stop as me and ask those same old questions about my age and where I live. My whole body is folding into my stomach with disgust. I want to punch him in the nuts so bad, but I try to remain calm. “If you punch him in the nuts,” I tell myself internally, “Then the whole situation will escalate, and you really just want to get home.”
Everyone else seems to be minding their own business, heaven forbid they ask the teenage girl if she would like assistance with the creep breathing into her ear canal. No one wants to get involved in a mess; they just want to go home and melt into their mattresses before they are forced to do it all again. Understandable, but still shitty.
I can see the man’s reflection in the window and, yeah, he is pretty fucking high. He looks like one of my dad’s friends, maybe he is, I don’t know. My sister would have just asked him already, “Do you know Frank?” Then she would have told him that if he kept looking at her, she would stick a fork through his eyeballs or something. I’m not my sister. Don’t get me wrong, I would stick a fork through his eyeballs, but I would try to avoid the confrontation if possible.
The creepy old man slides something my way. I see a little, blue box out of the corner of my eye, but I pretend not to. Persistent, he pushes the box into my thigh. I snap, “What‽” and then sigh and lower my voice, “Yes? Can I help you?” Pointing, he whispers, “Open it.” I don’t particularly like it, but I shrug and comply. The box contains a tiny wooden ship. “For you,” he says. His smile is almost endearing. Lifting the ship, I notice writing on the side: “The Time Traveler.”
When I look up again the man is gone. I mean really gone; I cannot see him anywhere. “Excuse me,” I say to the woman sitting a few feet away “Excuse me, but the old man…the one who was sitting here?” She looks confused, “What old man?” she asks, seemingly perplexed. “The one…” my words drift off as I notice the time flash in little red letters on the display at the front of the bus. The time says 6:00, but that’s impossible…then I look out the window and see that the part of town we are in is one we passed thirty minutes ago. I look back down at the tiny ship in my hands, “Time Traveler.”
My car in the garage
the exhaust doing what it does
seeping into me
like that I feel for my husband
he'll know in full
when he reads the letter
left for him
on the kitchen table.
I see heaven now
an expanding blue box
the ship that takes
beyond the vastness of my