First Night

The last boxes are unloaded, the rental truck is returned, and the last of the pizza and beer are in the fridge.
Now that my buddies have left, the place is quiet. I revel in it, soak it up like a sponge. This is my house now, and this will be my first night in it.

The one thing we managed to is get the bed together. A quick shower and then to bed. Bone weary, I wonder briefly if I should dig out the sheets, decide against it and collapse on the bed, falling asleep in minutes.

Waking up, I’m disoriented for a moment until I remember where I am. Grabbing my cell phone, I see it’s 3 A.M.
The moonlight plays in the shadows of the room. Then I see it, a figure in the room. Shit, did I forget to lock the door?
“Why are you here?” I ask. Silence.
I roll to my feet, glad now I didn’t dig out the sheets.
When I turn to face the figure, ready to defend myself, he is standing right in front of me.
Dark red splotches cover his face, his corvine nose inches from my own, his eyes milky.
Then in a fetid breath whispers, “We all have it. We are all infected. Soon, so will you.”

I jump as the alarm goes off, a dream, it had been a bad dream.
Every news channel had a story of the spreading pandemic in Asia. It didn’t seem to be a worry.
A few days passed, and I had almost put the dream out of my mind when the realtor gave me a follow-up call.

“Hi Jack, just wanted to see how you’re settling into your new house. If you need any help getting anything turned on or if you have questions?”
“Thanks, Judy utilities are on, the cable is scheduled, settling in just fine. Say, I do have one question come to think of it. What happened to the previous owner?”
“Oh…that he and his family all died of an exotic disease after a trip to Asia.”

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Rumblings from Faphniria!

The Faphnirains are a type of Saurian. These incredible beings boast two magnificent, enormous wings; strong, clawed legs; and an elegant, serpentine tail. Their two vertically-slit eyes, burrowed delicately in deep-seated sockets, carry an unfathomable air of wisdom and mystery. The gold or green flakes in their iris often whirl, making them appear to be excited. They have superb eyesight. Their hearing is also quite good, though their ears are small and stubby. Faphnirian skin is smooth and thin, covered in small, wide scales in shades of gold, light orange and orange. Their scales tend to become darker as they age.
Faphnirains are an old space-faring race. Rumor and legend say that the crew of a stranded Faphnirian ship may have given rise to the legend of dragons on old Earth.
Their faces appear to be trustworthy, but looks can be deceiving. When angered, their teeth and fangs are capable of biting through durallium alloy. Faphniria is an aristocratic society where the keeping of trophies is normal and expected. Trophies are valued for intelligence, wit, and beauty. The application and interview process to become a Faphnirian Trophy can take years and is an extremely rigorous undertaking.
Geography
The planet Faphniria was named by its discoverer after an ancient legend of old Earth. It is an iron planet in a small solar system with six other planets. Faphniria is about 1.35 times bigger than Earth and its gravity is about 1.90 times that of Earth.
A single day lasts 45.79 hours and a year lasts 462 days. Seven continents make up 58% of the planet’s landmass. Five moons orbit the planet and Faphniria itself orbits a blue sun in a fairly circular orbit.
Intergalactic Visitors
Faphnirains generally discourage visitors as they tend to distract from their pursuits in the arts and sciences. If you wish to inquire about becoming a Faphnirian Trophy, please send a copy of your transcripts showing a Ph.D. in at least three different disciplines, along with some of your peer-reviewed work. Artistic and athletic achievements should be noted as well. All forms of art are appreciated. Music, literature, sculpture, painting, etc. in any style should be submitted with a Galactic copyright attached. Virginity among applicants is preferred.
Seasonal Events and Attractions
Every 13 months, the Festival of Ballet is celebrated with great delight. The Festival features ballet from a dozen different species across the galaxy. Athletic competitions, especially gymnastic, are open by invitation only to the best in the Galaxy. To be invited to perform, or even to attend one of the performances, is a rare honor. The Festival is officially celebrated for eight days, but decorations are often seen weeks before the actual celebrations.
Every four years, the Festival of Dragons is celebrated with excited hearts. It’s a holiday with mythical roots, but today the celebration revolves around watching a beloved natural phenomenon – blowing smoke rings and amazing pyrotechnic displays. It is officially celebrated for eleven days, but the final celebrations often last deep into the night and even into the next day. Only Trophies have ever beheld its wonders.

Black Dog

The Black Dog is stalking me, it has been sniffing after me for days. This Black Dog is substantial; standing on all fours, its shoulder comes to my chest. Right now, it is broad of back, paws the size of dinner plates, thick black fur – black as pitch – covers it, but that is right now.

Of all its forms – large/small, menacing/cute – two things remain consistent. The color of its fur is always the darkest, deepest black. The other is its eyes. No, they are not the clichéd glowing red eyes. That’d be far too easy. Red eyes could symbolize many things – passion, fury, evil even – all of which symbolize some sort of life. Where there is life, there is hope. Black Dog brings no hope.

A soul, no matter how twisted, can be seen.

Those eyes haunt me; waking or dreaming, they are terrifying. Sunken pits, surrounded by cracked, grey skin, they do not absorb or reflect light as an eye would, rather they are dead lights – devouring all life and light up which they fall.

Once I tried to embrace the Black Dog, to overcome my fear of him and accept it.

The experiment failed. With Black Dog at my side or occasionally leading, the paths we walked grew darker. Swiftly my sense of direction was overwhelmed. Black Dog began to blur indistinctly into the gloom.

Panic welled up when I thought we became separated. I listened intently but could hear nothing. So profound was the silence, my heart had no beat. Between the silence and the absence of light – the grave would have seemed raucous.

Lost – in the deepening wood – each step sinking into a rising tide of madness and despair. In this pre-dawn blackout, devoid of birdsong, it was then Black Dog came to me.

Silently, Black Dog padded to my side. I saw it only because the eyes; their somber obsidian pitch caused the surrounding pool of gloom to seem bright in contrast. Black Dog’s considerable tongue slipped from its jowls to lap at my arm.

The tenticular appendage caressed my arm, as a lover in the afterglow.

Each quiet stroke brushing my skin left me – thinner.

I was unable to tell if Black Dog was showing affection – or feeding.

As the moist muscle slid along my flesh the essence of my being became gaunt and longing, a pang of hunger even began to drive me.

Desperate in the fear of my ephemeral essence dissolving under this tongue onslaught, I lashed out.

Believing it had a docile meal under its sway, Black Dog was knocked back, stunned.

I shambled through the woods unseeing, uncaring. I can sense Black Dog stalking me, waiting for a chance to pounce; I cannot let it happen. If I succumb to Black Dog, I do not believe I could survive its affection. Yet, the promise of oblivion has an allure all its own.

When I contemplate surrendering to Black Dog and its promise to give me the sweet enticement of oblivion, the craving brings forth the anguish of longing, and I stumble onward.

I live, for now, in perpetual twilight.

In the distance there are lights. Snatches of revelry and merriment occasionally drift to me.

When they do, the hunger and desire intensify. If I strive to join the revelry, I am unable. I am outside looking in. I see the gaiety and mirth through windows, but they are barred, and I find no portal.

Black Dog will appear, tongue lolling to one side, the musky scent of tinctured rancid breath emanates from its maw. I cannot – I must not – succumb to it. For down, that path lies madness and its consort – oblivion.

My life has become a constant flight from Black Dog’s darkness and toward the lights beyond the woods.

Some nights I dream. A simple doorway allows me to enter a grand ballroom. People smiling, laughing, welcome me as a long-lost friend. Always, it feels awkward. There is a haze between us – we are focused differently. As Phineus, whose sustenance is so near yet is stolen or despoiled by the harpies as he approaches, so too does my connection to their reality.

In the distance, a baying. Everyone turns; I feel my façade melt away.

Horrified, the once merry band flees, their faces melting as truths are revealed – and I become the reviled.

A howl now. The source of the baying comes closer. It awakens me from my stupor. Doggedly, I get up and push onward to continue my (dream?) struggle, to walk the world between madness and death.

So? You want to visit Ourangdun!

So? You want to visit Ourangdun!
Nothing says adventure quite like our Ourangdun. The open spaces which seem to stretch on forever tell the story of exploration and development. Our wide brown lands reflect Ourangdun’s pioneering spirit and unique identity. You can find a little bit of adventure in every part of Ourangdun, and while many regions are remote, they are patrolled and perfectly safe from outlaws.
So instead of worrying about an ambush, you can be enthralled by the rugged gorges, epic waterways and incandescent ocean of Ourangdun. Enjoy a triple-sunset chobo ride in Bwunda, then aquacar along the Poqntin River to the Jomilur Valley, home to the Oodic Cluster and near the beehive-striped Bingle Bangles of the Oyebykyky Butte. Bwunda is also the gateway to the remote, beautiful Spnouwe Peninsula.
Do I need a visa to enter Ourangdun?

Unless you are citizens of the planets Pyarpkupb or Neolwpkpbs, you will need a valid Ourangdun visa to land on the planet. Intrasolar visitors can apply for a visa upon arrival planetside. There is a slight quarantine period while awaiting approval. All other Intergalactic visitors must apply for a visa before leaving your homeworld. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

Which part of Ourangdun should I visit?
That depends on what you want to do!
• Want to go bounty hunting? Then try the northwestern hemisphere of the planet. The lucky traveler still occasionally stumbles over a nest of outlaws. You will be provided an introduction to bounty hunting and assigned to one our Corporate Raiders as interim Bounty Hunter. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you like to build sandcastles, then explore the Eastern hemisphere. Near Oyebykyky Buttes you will find a stand over a hundred meters tall and hundreds of kilometers long. This is a protected area. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you have an interest in wildlife, you should visit the Southern Hemisphere Nature Reserve. Here you can find a host of indigenous Ourangdun animals: the rare Przwenlsli, the world’s last wild dragon; the Bombus bear; the golden Vombatus; bactrachian two-humped Rhincodon. Even sabre-toothed Tragelodontus venture from their mountaintop homes in winter. Hunting is allowed by special visa during peak populations. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

 

Before you go . . .
• Indigenous natives are nomadic. Every nomad family you meet will offer to serve you with a salty tea. Fermented milk from the domestic Rhincodon and, if you’re lucky, Rhincodon intestines! There is no vegetarian fare as even the vegetables contain meat. They call it “vegetable” because the plants are green.
• Just in case you can’t stomach the local fare, I recommend taking . . .
• Emergency rations from your ship.
• And anything else you can’t live without!
• And unless you fancy dealing with explosive diarrhea in the middle of a Ourangdun sandstorm—bring some antidiarrheals meant for your physiology! (You wouldn’t like the local concoction.)
• Other standard items to take include sunglasses, sun cream (we recommend SPF 300 because of the three suns), and small gifts for the nomads you meet on your travels (so they do not serve you with the above-mentioned a salty tea).
• Oh yes, one more thing … avoid the Orellian Death Worm at all costs!

Good luck and Happy Trails!
Remember the Number One Rule:
HAVE FUN!

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Rumblings from Faphniria!

The Faphnirains are a type of Saurian. These incredible beings boast two magnificent, enormous wings; strong, clawed legs; and an elegant, serpentine tail. Their two vertically-slit eyes, burrowed delicately in deep-seated sockets, carry an unfathomable air of wisdom and mystery. The gold or green flakes in their iris often whirl, making them appear to be excited. They have superb eyesight. Their hearing is also quite good, though their ears are small and stubby. Faphnirian skin is smooth and thin, covered in small, wide scales in shades of gold, light orange and orange. Their scales tend to become darker as they age.
Faphnirains are an old space-faring race. Rumor and legend say that the crew of a stranded Faphnirian ship may have given rise to the legend of dragons on old Earth.
Their faces appear to be trustworthy, but looks can be deceiving. When angered, their teeth and fangs are capable of biting through durallium alloy. Faphniria is an aristocratic society where the keeping of trophies is normal and expected. Trophies are valued for intelligence, wit, and beauty. The application and interview process to become a Faphnirian Trophy can take years and is an extremely rigorous undertaking.
Geography
The planet Faphniria was named by its discoverer after an ancient legend of old Earth. It is an iron planet in a small solar system with six other planets. Faphniria is about 1.35 times bigger than Earth and its gravity is about 1.90 times that of Earth.
A single day lasts 45.79 hours and a year lasts 462 days. Seven continents make up 58% of the planet’s landmass. Five moons orbit the planet and Faphniria itself orbits a blue sun in a fairly circular orbit.
Intergalactic Visitors
Faphnirains generally discourage visitors as they tend to distract from their pursuits in the arts and sciences. If you wish to inquire about becoming a Faphnirian Trophy, please send a copy of your transcripts showing a Ph.D. in at least three different disciplines, along with some of your peer-reviewed work. Artistic and athletic achievements should be noted as well. All forms of art are appreciated. Music, literature, sculpture, painting, etc. in any style should be submitted with a Galactic copyright attached. Virginity among applicants is preferred.
Seasonal Events and Attractions
Every 13 months, the Festival of Ballet is celebrated with great delight. The Festival features ballet from a dozen different species across the galaxy. Athletic competitions, especially gymnastic, are open by invitation only to the best in the Galaxy. To be invited to perform, or even to attend one of the performances, is a rare honor. The Festival is officially celebrated for eight days, but decorations are often seen weeks before the actual celebrations.
Every four years, the Festival of Dragons is celebrated with excited hearts. It’s a holiday with mythical roots, but today the celebration revolves around watching a beloved natural phenomenon – blowing smoke rings and amazing pyrotechnic displays. It is officially celebrated for eleven days, but the final celebrations often last deep into the night and even into the next day. Only Trophies have ever beheld its wonders.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Flash Friday: Anyone Can Learn to Drive …

… at the Intergalactic Driving School on the plains of Chocolatum. Have the instructors at the Hazduke Racing School given you your walking papers? The pilots from the Snoop-Baronian Academy shot down your hopes? Even the intrepid adventurers of The Temple of Doomnation turned you away? Not to worry. The Intergalactic Driving School (Head-Heart-Hope-In-Transportation), otherwise known as IDSHHHIT, is pleased to offer you the least exciting, most soothing, totally risk-free drivers’ education experience in the known galaxies.

All drivers who study with IDSHHHIT are guaranteed to pass. (They do not guarantee what you will pass, only that you will pass something). Each student driver is assigned a highly competent, expert instructor who hovers nearby, calmly guiding every move. The instructor may even, occasionally, gently pat a shoulder or forearm to remind students of a critical point. Even the most anxious students relax in the professional atmosphere of an IDSHHHIT class session.

IDSHHHIT training ships are modern, spacious, and comfortable, specifically designed to give a smooth, level ride. Seated in the capacious captain’s chair, you can feel the engine thrum far beneath you. The responsive joystick represents the very latest in driving control, allowing you to turn on the proverbial dime with just the brush of your fingertips. You will enjoy every moment of each lesson. Even the occasional mishap generally results in laughter and the chance to try again, as classes are held on the Plains of Chocolatum, where conditions are accommodating and, indeed, have a reputation for being highly forgiving.

Geography
The Plains of Chocolatum cover a wide expanse on the low-gravity planet Ganashinatum. The terrain has the consistency of what is known on Earth as “chocolate silk pie” – that is, the ground is soft and yielding. Even the soft grasses that cover the plains bend and fold at the slightest touch, leaving the haunting scent of roasted cocoa drifting through the air.

The atmosphere of Ganashinatum has been described as “thick as pea soup”. As IDSHHHIT literature points out, a dense atmosphere is excellent for muffling the conversations between students and instructors, ensuring that any unguarded remarks remain a private matter. The air seems particularly pea-soup-like over the Plains of Chocolatum, but this is likely an illusion and definitely not a result of intestinal responses to turbulence or sudden changes in altitude.

Ganashinatum is part of a complex solar system orbiting the sun Insurioso. This system has become known for its low-cost, high-return business investments. The planets and moons in this system include Collisio, a metal-based planet specializing in mechanical repairs; Superficio, a large, colorful planet with an extensive network of paint shops and dent removers; and J(unk)Y(ard)503, a tiny, far-flung moon that functions as a sort of informal drop-off point for ships beyond repair.

Intergalactic Visitors and Arrivals from Alternate Dimensions
Ganashinatum welcomes everyone equally. Intergalactic visitors are asked to register online at the Office of Intergalactic Distribution of Specie before arrival. Please include banking information and preferred form of payment. Travelers arriving from Alternate Dimensions are asked to bring currently accepted galactic credits or kindly requested to continue on their journeys.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

So? You want to visit Ourangdun!

Nothing says adventure quite like our Ourangdun. The open spaces which seem to stretch on forever tell the story of exploration and development. Our wide brown lands reflect Ourangdun’s pioneering spirit and unique identity. You can find a little bit of adventure in every part of Ourangdun, and while many regions are remote, they are patrolled and perfectly safe from outlaws.

So instead of worrying about an ambush, you can be enthralled by the rugged gorges, epic waterways and incandescent ocean of Ourangdun. Enjoy a triple-sunset chobo ride in Bwunda, then aquacar along the Poqntin River to the Jomilur Valley, home to the Oodic Cluster and near the beehive-striped Bingle Bangles of the Oyebykyky Butte. Bwunda is also the gateway to the remote, beautiful Spnouwe Peninsula.

Do I need a visa to enter Ourangdun?

Unless you are citizens of the planets Pyarpkupb or Neolwpkpbs, you will need a valid Ourangdun visa to land on the planet. Intrasolar visitors can apply for a visa upon arrival planetside. There is a slight quarantine period while awaiting approval. All other Intergalactic visitors must apply for a visa before leaving your homeworld. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

Which part of Ourangdun should I visit?

That depends on what you want to do!

• Want to go bounty hunting? Then try the northwestern hemisphere of the planet. The lucky traveler still occasionally stumbles over a nest of outlaws. You will be provided an introduction to bounty hunting and assigned to one our Corporate Raiders as interim Bounty Hunter. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you like to build sandcastles, then explore the Eastern hemisphere. Near Oyebykyky Buttes you will find a stand over a hundred people tall and hundreds of kilometers long. This is a protected area. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you have an interest in wildlife, you should visit the Southern Hemisphere Nature Reserve. Here you can find a host of indigenous Ourangdun animals: the rare Przwenlsli, the world’s last wild dragon; the Bombus bear; the golden Vombatus; bactrachian two-humped Rhincodon. Even sabre-toothed Tragelodontus venture from their mountaintop homes in winter. Hunting is allowed by special visa during peak populations. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

 

Before you go . . .
• Indigenous natives are nomadic. Every nomad family you meet will offer to serve you with a salty tea. Fermented milk from the domestic Rhincodon and, if you’re lucky, Rhincodon intestines! There is no vegetarian fare as even the vegetables contain meat. They call it “vegetable” because the plants are green.
• Just in case you can’t stomach the local fare, I recommend taking . . .
Emergency rations from your ship.
• And anything else you can’t live without!
• And unless you fancy dealing with explosive diarrhea in the middle of a Ourangdun sandstorm—bring some antidiarrheal meant for your physiology! (You wouldn’t like the local concoction.)
• Other standard items to take include sunglasses, sun cream (we recommend SPF 300 because of the three suns), and small gifts for the nomads you meet on your travels (so they do not serve you with the above-mentioned a salty tea).
• Oh yes, one more thing … avoid the Orellian Death Worm at all costs!

Good luck and Happy Trails!
Remember the Number One Rule:
HAVE FUN!

Tap-Tap-Tap..is this thing still on?

I know posting has slowed a lot and while that is bad, it is also good.

So busy, I have now completed half of my assigned flash. These planet travelogues are so much fun to write. If only pesky things like LIFE, sleep and oh, yeah, work did not intrude on the fun. I am going to ask my publisher if there is anyway I can arrange to use some of these as a base for writing short stories or novels. I do not know how that arrangement will work but am getting some great ideas.

Speaking of novels, I am close to the halfway point.  Making deadline is going to be close. But I knew that, the first eye surgery put me off more than I expected.

There was a little excitement on the trip so far. While the plane is being looked over and repairs are being made, if needed, the rest of the characters are enjoying a sumptuous dinner at the Savoy.

Well, except the one working on the plane. “sigh” Oh! and the other one who has met someone. Even now they are enjoying a walk and serious conversation about the future along the banks of the Thames. Such a lovely, peaceful evening….

Thanks for reading!

Ernest

Flash Friday – The Zephyr

The joy of fully realizing and knowing the bond of our friendship had deepened over the last three years made my heart sing that fateful morning. Seen from a distance the early rays of dawn glistened against the silhouette of The Zephyr exiting the barn. That The Zephyr existed was a triumph of the bond shared between Philip and I. Through the trials, tribulations, and victories of our endeavors as our shared vision took shape so too did our relationship grow from friendship to brotherhood.

Our combined skills in engineering and electrical sciences produced this magnificent airship. While not as large as its successors would be, this ship would be the proof of concept which would change the world, ushering in a new age of commerce and transportation. This maiden flight would test and confirm our theories shining as a beacon of hope for the future.

Preflight checks all seemed to be in order. The rudder and planes responded well to the controls from gleaming brass and polished wooden controls in the wheelhouse. The small Donkey engine aft generated a good head of steam as it spun the two dynamos up to speed. Dials spun as they engaged both in the engine compartment and their duplicates in the wheelhouse. They reflected the steady pressure of the Donkey engines chug-chug and the current flow from the dynamos. A third dial held a steady vigil as the batteries held their charge while four smaller dials below read the amperage fed to each of the powerful electric motors ready to spin the propellers.

A steam engine required to power even a ship this size weighed more than the ship could lift, besides and cargo capacity being negated by the requirement to carry enough fuel to feed the monster. Our concept used a very small donkey engine to charge batteries. It was light weight, could be tuned off for extended periods while the ship was powered by its batteries therefore requiring much less fuel. At least that was the idea.

I lost the coin toss to Phillip. It would be he who piloted our craft as I operated the engine and tended the batteries. Our six backers and their wives would occupy the small, but well appointed, passenger cabin and we would carry 250 pounds of mixed cargo. Our future plans would aim for up to 100 passengers or as much cargo as large freighter. Other designs might allow for a mix of passengers and cargo. Yes, our optimism was high.

The ground crew loosed our bonds the earthly realm. With hardly a bump, our beautiful craft with its crimson and gold gas bag adorned by the saw-toothed stabilizer fins bore us heavenward.

We circled the town, checking our systems and operations, allowing our backers to, “ooh and ahh”, as we dipped low enough to view landmarks. A tight circle of the town’s clocktower confirmed the trim crafts maneuverability. All conducted in silence.

The intent was we would fly northward to our capital, showing our invention to the government. Surely after such a prolonged period of devastation, an invention such as ours might inspire them to back us as well. The possibilities were endless. Our dreams were of the pie in the sky variety, for our heads and our invention were in the clouds.

Our Backers were ecstatic, fortunately the weather was good, and they gushed over how comfortable the travel. Even the best trains were loud, and smelly. This was almost as comfortable as sitting in their own parlors. Their schemes at attracting passengers soon outstripped Phillips and mine most grandiose of plans. The only sound the occasional chug-chug of the Donkey engine to keep up the charge.

As the batteries charged two things happened. First they generated heat and this in itself could cause them to boil out exposing the plates seated in the sulfuric acid potentially causing a spark. This results in the second problem of explosion. For as the batteries charge they generate not only heat but hydrogen gas. This gas is the very thing suspending our craft between heaven and earth. A spark could ignite it.

Phillip solved these problems in two ways. Each battery resided inside a glass housing. Ingeniously a stopcock attached to each of these housings allowed the hydrogen to be siphoned off and stored for future use. This would solve one of the questions posed in obtaining a supply for our ships. A creative system of ductwork flowed over the batteries removing the oxygen produced as part of the process which had the effect of cooling both batteries and the engines. The controls to open these ducts resided in the wheelhouse. The siphoning process could be controlled manually at the batteries or from the wheelhouse.

We made the trip from Texas to Washington D.C. in less than 14 hours. A three day trip by train reduced to less than a day. The trip was a complete success for our vision of the future.

Well, mine at least, for I noticed the temperature of the batteries rising. This had occurred a couple of times during the flight but each time Phillip had opened the ducts rapidly cooling things down. There was no cool down.

The speaking tube engendered no response. Worried I went to the wheelhouse only to find the door locked. My knocks produced no more response than the speaking tube. Concern for Phillip led me to break open the door. In the interest of lightweight, the doors and nonstructural components were made of the lightest materials, the door collapsed under a determined assault.

“Phillip, what is wrong?” stunned as he seemed to be piloting the craft normally. I could just see the capitol through the front windows of the wheelhouse.

“There is nothing wrong Emmet. I aim to repair history. We never should have lost that war and now carpetbaggers steal our ways of life. Take our property and our lands, do you really think those men back there are not plotting to take every cent from our toil? When this ship crashes into the capitol our brethren will rise again, throw off the shackle of these northern oppressors.” Madly throwing controls The Zephyr abruptly canted downward. If action were not taken swiftly our dreams would turn from an optimistic vision to a thunderbolt of Zeusian vengeance.

“Phillip, after all we have come to understand each other how can you dash our dreams? The war was lost, slavery was on the way out as machinery changed the economics. Ours is a time to look to the future, rebuild from the ashes and create new things, things like the Zephyr. Please Phillip, step away from the controls.”

“I knew you had gone soft Emmet, when you mourned Lincoln, I knew it then. You are a good man but you just do not understand. The idea came to me as we flew. I knew you would never understand what this chance represented. ”

“I understand Phillip. I understand too well there are those who cannot that times change. There will always be those who want to hold dearly to old ideas, will fight to prevent change. Even change for the better where all mankind might learn to live as one brotherhood. How can I convince you this is not the course to take? Only evil can come of it.”

With a glance to the controls Phillip spun to face me.

“I can’t let you do this Phillip.”

“I can’t let you stop me Emmet.”

Without further word, we both launched at each other.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest