Talking Hites

I have started a new site called TalkingHites, so that there are no more Meta type Entries on this site. What what is the first thing I do, I post a meta type entry, but it is for a good reason. It is the last of the meta type entries and to tell you where you can find them in the future and many, many more.

You may notice that I have taken some of the informational stuff that is not about the weekly short story contest off this site. It is not that I don’t think those things are important, but I don’t want to detract from the stories.

I wanted to have a place where I could talk about other writing, future projects, other podcasts, books and movies without distracting people from the wonderful stories that we have here every week.

So if you are a Greathites Regular you might want to check out TalkingHites and see what is going on there for more information.

That is http://talkinghites.blogspot.com

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Prompt # 35

This weeks Prompt is:

“The first space elevator, just rained it’s first cargo all over the desert, now for the first passenger.”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday January 5th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or podcast pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about great hites and what you think of it.

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Great Hites # 33

Great Hites 33
Confined to Shape By: Guy David
The Call From Home By: Jeff Hite
  
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Confined to Shape
By Guy Daivd

His concern lay in creating perfect squares. He didn’t know why he liked making them, but he did, so he was intent on creating as many of them as possible. He made a profession out of it, making elaborate structures in virtual worlds made entirely of square shapes, keeping his elven avatar busy. It was amazing what you could create while confining yourself to a single shape. Putting restrictions on your creations can sometimes yield the most fascinating results.

His buildings where popular and greatly sought after, and when North Pole Computing Systems contacted him, he was sure he would get the job. The red man himself called him and ho-ho-hired him. With a job like that came prestige and reputation. They had a first meeting in-world, then a second meeting in the real world. The elven businessman showed him a prototype of what they wanted. He shivered. It was the shape of a tree made entirely out of triangles. It was the first time in his life he had a feeling he might be at the wrong profession. He had to cut his squares in half for them, mutilate them, but he did it. Bells run out and rang across the square as the new sim opened for Christmas.

*****


The Call From Home

By Jeffrey Hite

Father Phillip sat in the confessional by himself. This was his normal Saturday duty, and he enjoyed the time to himself. However, it saddened him that so few people come to confession. The three regulars had already been there nearly an hour ago. Two that came to the booth behind the screen so that he could not see their faces, and one who sat in the chair across from him. He knew who they all were of course, even with the screen between them he knew them by voice.
Now he sat with his book in his lap and tried to concentrate on the pages in front of him, but the words seemed to come in and out of focus, as his mind wandered.
“Maybe prayer will help,” he muttered. He had just started in on the rosary when he heard some one approaching, and got the beads back in his pocket just as the curtain moved.
“Good evening Father.”
“Good evening.” The woman who sat across from him, was strikingly beautiful. He realized he had been staring at her for a long time and finally asked, “Are you here for reconciliation?”
“Yes, is there still time?”
“Oh yes, please forgive me. I was lost in thought when you came in.” She began her confession, and he absolved her of her sins, all the while trying not to look at her, because he was afraid he would get caught staring again.
“Father?”
“Yes,” It had happened again. He had zoned out and she was still sitting there.
“Father, it’s not my place to say anything but you seem rather distracted. You know you absolved me of the act of contrition?”
“Oh my, I’m so sorry. My mind is not in the right place. I don’t, I…” He stammered.
“It is alright Father, shall we begin again?” Her smile was dazzling. He could not remember ever seeing her before.
“Yes, that would be wonderful.”
“Wonderful? I have heard reconciliation called many things but wonderful is not normally used. Are you sure that you’re okay?” He realized for the first time that she was wearing street clothes, but also the veil of a novice.
“I am very sorry sister. I am afraid that I am not up to hearing your confession after all. You see when you came in here, I was having trouble concentrating already, and then well.”
“Well?” She prompted.
“I found myself distracted further. You are a very attractive young woman.” She smiled and blushed slightly.
“Thank you, but I doubt that you are much older than I am, if at all.”
“I’m sorry this is very inappropriate, you came here for reconciliation and here I am running on about my problems.”
“That is alright father, we all need to talk to someone occasionally. I came here to get away as it was. I needed to talk to someone too, and the priest at the convent knows who I am.”
“I understand I often go to another Parish for confession. Not that my sins are so grievous, just that I like the annanimity of it.” She smiled again, and he felt himself warm inside. “Listen, I need to be here for about, fifteen more minutes, and if you wanted to just talk maybe we could talk over dinner. One of the other priests is celebrating Mass after this and,” he paused hoping this was not completely inappropriate, “well, I could also use someone to talk too. And If you need to go to confession I can ask the Monsignor to hear it afterwords,” he added almost as and after thought
“Are you sure it would be alright?”
“Which part of it.”
“The Monsignor?”
“Oh yes, He won’t mind I am sure of it. I will be going to him after dinner anyway, so that I am prepared for Mass the next day. He is expecting me, I don’t think one extra person will hurt.”
“Ok, I will wait for you out there.” She smiled again and stepped out of the confessional.
No one else came in for the next fifteen minutes and he was glad of that because he was completely distracted now. The down side was that the seconds seem to crawl by. After fourteen agonizing minutes and thirty counted seconds he stood up, straighten his uniform and stepped from the confessional. As he did so he realized that he never left early. He had always waited the extra half hour until the Saturday evening Mass started, just in case. He wondered if he should stay. He wondered if the sister, he realized he didn’t know her name, would wait a while longer for him. He looked up and saw her sitting near that back of the church waiting for him. Would she wait another half hour for him?
“Hi,” she said as he walked up to her, “Are you ready to go?”
“I’m sorry,” he said and watched her face fall, “officially confession is over now, but I normally wait until Mass is started in case…”
“I understand. I am very hungry, and I know there is an Italian place just about a mile from here.”
“I guess, since.”
“No Father, I am teasing you. Go, I can wait. It is not as if anyone is waiting on me.”
“Thank you, I will see you after the procession.”
“I will meet you, downstairs. It would not look right for a nun to be sneaking out of Mass.”
“Too true,” his cheeks warmed. “It is settled then, I will meet you downstairs.” She got up and waved, and he walked back to the confessional.
It was the longest half our of his life. He was about to leave when once again the curtain moved.
“Oh Philip, I am so glad you are here.” Said the out of breath parish pastor. “I was working on my homily and I lost track of time. I have not gone to confession yet today. Can you hear mine now?”
“Of course. But I must warn you I have not been very attentive today.”
“Yes, I met Sister Susan as I was coming in she warned me that you were a bit distracted.” The shared a laugh and he heard his confession, this time waiting until the end to absolve him of his sins.
When it was over he found Sister Susan waiting for him at one of the tables of the church basement, and she smiled as he approached.
“Are you ready to go this time?”
“I am. I am sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“That’s alright, If there is one thing that I understand as a novice, it is obligations.” He smiled at that. He remembered his days in seminary, and how they drilled the idea of obligations into you. How everyone had obligations, but it was up to each of us to figure out what those obligations are and to live up to them.”
“Alright, let’s go I don’t know about you, but I am starving and I love Italian.”
They spent the next few hours over dinner, and had many lovely conversations. But, the feeling that he had of being lost when he was in he confessional was back.
The longer that talked the more confused about his life he became. The more he wondered where he was. The feeling of not being able to concentrate on what in his life was important. And he didn’t know what to do about it. The one the thing that he did know, was that the longer that he talked with her, the stronger his feelings for her became. So that by the end of the evening, he was sure that if he had not dedicated his life to being a priest, he would want to marry her.
After dinner they walked back to the rectory. He felt a little strange leading a woman in to the rectory, but he was not about to leave her standing in the cold while he went and talked to the Monsignor.
“I will go in firs since he is expecting me, then I will explain the situation to him.”
“That will be fine,” she said smiling. “Phillip, I want you to know that I had a wonderful time,” She said letting go of his hand. He had not even noticed that she had been holding it. It had felt so natural.
“Me too, maybe we can do it again some time.”
“I hope so,” she said and smiled that smile that made his heart melt.
He knocked on the door and stepped in. A few moments later he stepped out into the hallway again, “He said it would be alright,” She stepped in, but when she came back out a few moments later, she was frowning.
“What is it?”
“He said he would like to talk to us. And he didn’t seem to be happy.” She turned around and lead the way back into the Monsignor’s room. The room was set up for confession since the monsignor often heard the confessions of the other Priests so there were only two chairs.
“Come in Philip, Susan you sit down over there please,” He offered her his normal chair, and moved to take the one opposite her. Phillip found a spot leaning against the writing desk. Monsignor Smith took several long breaths before beginning. “I often have this trouble with married couples and I always face the same problem. The sad truth is that in my nearly sixty years as a priest, I have never found a good solution. In the first place, I cannot reveal what either of you have said to me during confession, but on the other hand I cannot in good conscience let this go completely. There are some things that need to be said.” He paused and look from one two the other. “I believe that if you are as smart as I think for both of you are, that you have either figured out what I am going to talk to you about, or are on the verge of figuring it out. But, instead taking the chance that you are not as smart as I believe you both are, I am going to tell you what I think is going on here.” His face changed to a smile then.
“Look, first what I am about to tell you, is not a bad thing, it is just something that will require some talking that some prayer to resolve. I am happy to two of your found each other.” Over the next few minutes he told them, what they both already knew but had not expressed to each other. They were both feeling lost, and that when they met this evening, they had both found something that was missing in their lives. “I believe,” he said finally “what the two of you need to figure out if what you have found in each other is stronger than the vows you have each taken separately.”
No one said anything for a long while, and then finally Susan, with tears in her eyes, got up silently and walked out of the room. She set something down on the writing desk next to Philip as she left, but said nothing. He waited a long time wondering what he had done. How he had hurt this woman that he believed he was in love with.
“Are you going to sit there all night?” Monsignor Smith asked in a gentle tone.
“No father, I think I will go down to my room and pray for a while.”
“Do you know what you are praying for?”
“Guidance,” he said as he shut the door and walked the short distance to his own room. About an hour later he heard footsteps outside of his door, there was no knock, but after a few seconds he head something sliding under the door. He looked to find a small piece of paper on the floor, and when he picked it up he discovered that it was a business card. It had the number of the Sister’s of Mercy Convent on it, and another number very neatly hand printed underneath it. It had to be hers, it even smelled like her. But, what should he do, should he call her? What would he say to her? She had left without a word, without even a glance in his direction, but she had left this behind.
“Hello.” Came Susan’s voice.
“Hello?”
“You have reached the voice mail of sister Susan Randin, please leave a message after the beep, and Philip, yes.”
He waited for a long second before he said anything. She had taken the time to change her message, but what did yes mean. Yes, she felt the same way, yes she would be willing to leave her vows. No it was yes, to Monsignor Smith’s question, the feels she had for him where stronger than the vows she had taken separately.
“Susan, Yes.” he said and hung up the phone. He would have a lot of changes to make in his life, but he believed he had found the obligations that were meant for him.

*****

Six months later, he stood alone in the square outside the same church that he had called his home for many years before, and waited until he heard the bells ringing across the square, then entered. This time he took a vow he knew that he would be able to keep for the rest of his life.

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Prompt # 34

Great Hites Prompt number 34:

This weeks Prompt is:

“With Five pounds of turtle meat.”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday December 30th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or podcast pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about great hites and what you think of it.

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Great Hites # 32

Welcome to Great Hites, With Alex.

This week hear the Promo for Double Share by Nathan Lowell Find out more at http://solarclipper.com/

A note from Jeff. I have been rather sick for the last few days, and to add insult to injury I have no voice. So I am going to have to resort to having Alex, do the intro. On top of that, because I have been sick I didn’t get a story written this week. But Guy David did so…

Thank you Guy for keeping things going. Lets get on with his story:

One By One
By: Guy David

“You are not supposed to eat them one by one” the young waitress was saying. The old man just smiled at her and ate another rice grain. “Those are delicious” he said, savoring the taste. Eating was an art-form for him. He grabbed each grain of rice separately with chopsticks and delighted in their full being inside his mouth. They where a part of creation and eating them was a form of meditation for him. He knew the waitress would not be able to appreciate it. She was too young, too self indulgent as many of the modern young folks tends to be those days and anyway, he knew she just didn’t care, so he just smiled at her and said “I would also like some green tea please.”

The waitress sighed inwardly, trying not to show her disappointments. She knew the more people occupying the same table, the more tips she might get and that particular old man was obviously there to stay. She took his order and smiled back, a smile she worked on in front of her mirror many times, the tip bringing smile, then she was gone. It was time for her to take a lunch break. While the old man annoyed her, she had to admit he had a good taste in food, so she ordered the same dish and started gobbling the food as fast as she could. She didn’t want to waste any time. Time was tip money.

The old man was still smiling as the ambulance came and she was dragged chocking into it.

Thank you Guy as always a great story.

Sorry folks about the short episode this week. I will be back next week I promise with a story out just in time for Christmas. Maybe I will even have more than one story. There are two prompts ya know.

As always all the stories on Great Hites are protected by a creative commons attribution, non commercial, no derivative 3.0 license. All other rights are retained by our authors.

If you enjoyed this story and I hope you did, please take the time to leave a comment, or visit Guy David at http://nightguy.guydavid.com. Also feel free to drop by great hites.blogspot.com and read or listen to some of the other stories.

Thank you, and until next time.

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Great Hites Prompt 33

This weeks Prompt is:

“With a sudden unexpected concern about his (or) her chosen profession.”

Or if you are in the holiday spirit…

“Bells rang out across the square.”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday December 23th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or Podcast Pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about GreatHites and what you think of it.

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Great Hites Short # 18


Bad

By: Jeffrey Hite

“Hey, what is that?”
“What’s what?”
“That flashy thing over there?”
“You you mean the flashing red light?”
“Yeah that’s the one.”
“Oh that’s usually really bad?”
“Bad? What do you mean bad?”
“Yeah it usually means the engine is about to flame out and we are going to start falling like a stone.”
“Oh yeah? So what does it mean now?”
“Hmm let me see. Oh yeah, that the engine is about to flame out and that we are going to start falling like a stone.”
“Oh ok.”
“Engine flame out… loss of forward momentum…prepare for crash landing.”
“Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

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Great Hites 31

This Week hear a Promo for Kevin Cummings, thanks Kevin for all your help getting my sound quality up. Learn more about Kevin and his very funny podcast at http://shortcummingsaudio.com/

Great Hites # 31
White By: Guy David
Jack and Stan By: Jeffrey Hite
  
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White
By Guy David

Hi everyone. I thought I’d try a little experiment this week. I’ve written my short story, then I run it through Google Translations, translating it from English to Hebrew, then again, translating it back from Hebrew into English. I’m going to read the two English versions back to back. I think you would find the translation rather poetic.

***

Story: Martin blinked at all the white space around him. The space stretched as far as he could see. He couldn’t see any walls, only a white floor, continuing in every direction as far as his eyes could see. That was it. Nothing else. He started walking. His reason told him that if he would walk far enough, he would reach somewhere, learn what this is all about, but his reason also told him that he didn’t know where he was, how he got there and how he was going to get out. The place was bathed in light. He wondered for a moment where the light was coming from. He could see himself clearly, and he could also see the floor just as clearly as he could see himself. There was nothing else to see. He also noticed that he wasn’t casting a shadow, which surprised him, but his thoughts never lingered on this strange phenomena. He just continued walking. There was nothing else to do really.

Martin walked for what seamed like hours, days, even weeks. Everywhere was the same. Blank white floor and nothing else but himself. This place was huge and empty. The air was always at a comfort level, never too hot or too cold, but he had no food or water. He was getting tired, hungry and thirsty. Frustration overcame him. He kept going. He just had to get out of there. He had to survive. He walked and walked until he couldn’t walk anymore, then he fell. Fatigue overcame him, then he slept. He slept for what seamed like an eternity, then he awoke. He was in a small blue room. He had no idea how he got there.

***

Translation: Martin blinked everywhere around him white. On the tense area as far as he could see. He could not see all the walls, the floor only in white, continues in every direction as far as I could see his eyes. That was it. Nothing else. He started to walk. The reason of his told him that if he had to go far enough, he had to get somewhere, learn what this whole thing, but also said his reason that he did not know where he was, how he got there and how he was going to come down. The place was bathed in light. He wonders for a moment that the light was coming. He can clearly see himself, and he can also see the floor as clearly as he could see himself. Was to see anything else. He also noticed that he was not a shadow, which surprised him, but not his thoughts lingered on this strange phenomena. He just kept walking. Would do anything else really.

Martin walked on what seamed like hours, days or even weeks. Everywhere was the same thing. Rick white floor and nothing else but himself. It was a big empty place. The air was always comfortable at any level, never too hot or too cold, but he had no food or water. He was getting tired, hungry and thirsty. Frustration overcame him. He kept going. He just had to get out of there. He had to survive. He walked and walked until he could not go any further, then he fell. Fatigue overcame him, so he was sleeping. He sleeps on what seamed like eternity, and then he woke up. He was a little blue. He has no idea how he got there.

*******

Jack and Stan
By Jeffrey Hite

Jack loved to mow his lawn, as a guy, it was his thing. He would spend every Saturday morning preparing the lawnmower; filling it with gas, checking the oil, the belts and washing it off. Then after a light lunch he would take his cooler bottle of lemon-aid, made with real lemons of course, and start the lawn.
It was more than something that had to be done, because the grass was long, it was something he needed to do make this world make sense. The hum of the tractor motor, smooth and level, the perfect lines going across his lawn, even the idea that all the grass was going to be one length, just made him happy.
He had made five perfect rows, across his lawn when he spotted Stan with his grilling tools under one arm and a plate full of steaks in the other. This did not bode well. He wanted the afternoon to himself, and not to have to content with his neighbors halfhearted attempts at grilling. Like mowing, grilling was an art. It took time to do. You had to lay everything out and make sure that all of it was the way that it should be. You had to use the right kind of charcoal for the right kind of meat. He looked and Stan had a bag of generic flaming match. That stuff could barely be called charcoal.
Jack made the sixth turn and tried not to think about Stan. He would have to empty the collector bag in two more passes, with any luck Stan would be inside looking for one of his miss placed, grilling tools. He let himself become absorbed in the wonderful sounds of the blades, spinning in their nearly perfect arcs, hundreds of times a minute. Pass number seven and eight were nearly perfect, with no distractions.
As he neared the end of pass eight he looked around, no Stan, he must be inside. This was going to work out just the way he had hoped. Shutting the mower down, he hopped off and moved to the back to begin to disconnect the collector bag. He had bought this mower because the bag size was perfect. For most of the year eight passes would fill it and it left him within five feet of the compost heap, only near the end of July and the beginning of August, when the grass grew at a much faster rate did that ever change, then he could only get six passes before it needed to be emptied. Six passes was nearly as perfect as eight since it left him at this end of the yard and was only a few feet further away.
“Hey Jack,” Stan said interrupting his thoughts. Maybe if he didn’t respond Stan would just go back to burning those perfectly good cuts of meat. “Hey your lawn looks really good this year.”
“Thank you.” It was the least he could say considering Stan’s looked awful. He had opted against the bagging mower saying it cost too much and had just replaced the blades with a set of quote, mulching blades. It made no difference, they still left clippings all over his yard that ruined the symmetry that came from the mowing in the first place.
“You know I was watching this program on the discovery channel a little while ago, it was amazing,” Stan continued unhindered. “It was all about how small we all really are.”
“Really.” Jack connected the bags to the mower and was about to start the engine when Stan continued.
“Yeah, did you know that it is fifty one miles just to get to the official edge of space? That is just over twice as far as we drive to get to Martha’s mother’s house, but straight up,” He gestured with his hand nearly dropping the season salt he had brough out with him. “And that is just the beginning, it is 238,857 miles to the moon. My corrolla has about 215,000 miles on it but, that took me nearly ten years.”
Jack rolled his eyes and reached for the ignition.
“But wait, it gets better. From here to the sun is about 92,955,820 miles. That is so far that they don’t even really bother with miles anymore. They called it an astronomical unit. Isn’t that wild? Do far to be measured in miles.”
“Yeah wild.” He leaned forward again.
“Yeah it blows my mind, but that is just the beginning. The nearest planets is mars right, and it is 1.5 A.U. from the Sun, that is what they call an astronomical unit. That means they Mars is half an A.U. away from us. And we are going to send people there some day. And still that is just the beginning. The distance to Pluto is about 38 A.U.. Thirty eight, can you imagine. And If you start looking at how far it is to the stars, they don’t even bother with A.U.’s any more. They are too small. That is just amazing, and A.U. too small. They use a light year. Now a light year does not really have anything to do with time, it is how far light can travel in a year, so I guess it really does have something to do with time but. Anyway if we look at the nearest star Proxima Centauri, it is 4.22 light years away. That means it would take the light from that star over four years just to get to us.
“It bogges the mind.”
“Our fastest ships would take over a hundred years just to get there. That is just completely wild. And there is more.”
“More oh, do tell.”
“Yeah, Proxima Centauri is the closest star to us. That is one star in Trillions. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100,000 light years across. You talk about how long it takes you to mow your lawn, but can you imagine how long it would take to go across the galaxy, if it take light 100,000 years?”
“I can’t”
“It just boggles the mind. I mean I always knew space was big, I mean really big. But, I didn’t ever really have a grasp on it. They showed these pictures of the Earth, the whole Earth, and lined it up agaist other planets and then stars and then bigger stars and then biggers stars. By the time they were done you could not even see th Earth, Heck you could not enve see our sun. And that was just stars, that was not the whole inky blackness of space. So space is big, really really big!”
“Yeah, well if space is so darn big, how come all the weirdos live within three blocks of me.” Jack said, as he leaned over and started the mower again.

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Prompt # 32

Great Hites Prompt number 32:

This weeks Prompt is:

“Chopsticks.”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday December 16th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Prompt 32 Download

Great Hites # 30

Welcome to Great Hites # 30 This is a big deal folks is means we are have been doing this for over half a year. I hope you have enjoyed it.

GreatHites is growing and is now available Via Podcast Pickle and iTunes If you enjoy the stories here take a moment to go out and leave a review on either or both, or leave a comment right here. Make sure you take a moment and vote on your favorite story of the week.

So getting down to business:

This week You will hear A Brand New Promo for Mur Laferty’s ISBW, one from Guy David, and A replay of Murder at Avedon Hill By P.G. Holyfield

Speaking of Promo’s there there is now one available for GreatHites In the sidebar.

We have four stories this week and I will continue to play them in alphabetical order with the exception of mine which will be at the end.

This weeks prompt was the “temperature started to rise.”

So, it back, relax, and keep your thermometer handy.

Great Hites # 30
THE PARABLE OF THE FROG By: Anima Zabaleta
Collision Course By: Guy David
The Temperature Started To Rise By: Robert Jahns
World’s End By: Jeff Hite
  
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THE PARABLE OF THE FROG
By: Anima Zabaleta
Read By: Alex

“Well, well, well, gentleman, we’ve earned this… 3 days on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet for some much deserved R and R”, rumbles James. “A swimming pool, 3 suns, and alcohol: What better way to relax. I took the liberty to select the scenario… I hope you don’t mind seeing a little skin. How I love 20th century Miami Beach! Drinks for all my friends!”
The man speaking is clad in a speedo bathing suit, lathering himself in an oily substance. The whole time he has been talking, his head has been swiveling, checking out half the other “guests”, the female ones, anyway. His friends are dressed more conservatively. One is an affable man, wearing period sunglasses, board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, a swath of zinc oxide cream on his nose. The other is a distinguished gentleman in white linen and a panama hat. His skin has an odd pallor to it.

James T Kirk flags down a beguiling blonde dressed in short shorts and a white tank top, carrying a drink tray.
Yes?

“I’ll have a Cadillac Grande, and get these boys whatever they want. If you keep the drinks flowing, I’ll make it worth your while, heh heh heh”

The AI rolls her eyes, having heard this line from every egotistic space jockey with delusions of grandeur. “Sure, I’ll get right on that,” she says, with a hint of sarcasm, “…and for you gentlemen?”

“A beer would be keeping in character,” says Dr. McCoy, adjusting the antique raybans on his face, eyeing the triple suns overhead like the enemy he knows they are.
“A small amount of fruit juice and seltzer water is the perfect refreshing drink in these climes, balancing the need to stay hydrated and replacing electrolytes. I would advise you gentlemen…”

“Spock! I insist you take a break from all the logic for the next few days! Bring my pointy ear friend a Pina Colada if he insists on being a wuss”, bellows the captain-cum- frat boy. The blonde minces toward the pool bar, accustomed to “boys” on holiday.

Many hours pass, the suns rotate in the sky. The gentlemen have stayed by the pool, drinking and enjoying the view.

“You should be putting on a solar block, JT, instead of that bronzing agent” advises the doctor. McCoy takes another pull on his beer.

“Bones, are you and Shpock gonna snivel like old maids this whole trip? I shoulda invited Chekov. At least he would drink with me.” James is looking a little bleary eyed.

Spock interrupts the belligerent rant. “I remember reading of an ancient human experiment, involving a frog and a kettle of water. Logically speaking, the frog should try to escape as the water in the kettle is heated. But this is not the case. The heat is added slowly; the frog just sits there. As the temperature rises, the frog might feel discomfort, but convinces himself that all is well. James, do you have a little frog in you?”

“Nothing you’re saying makes any sense Shpock, but that’s ok, I love yah, man… Do I smell lunch? Is that bacon…?”

“Great Scott, James”, yelps the doctor, realizing the condition his friend is in, “Pull you together. You’re a Federation Captain, not a French fry!”

“Today, Bones, I am a drunk.”

***********

Collision Course
By: Guy David

64 °F and rising

The voice woke him up abruptly. He set up and tried to focus. His head throbbed. He felt his forehead. There was a suspicious lump embedded in it. “What happened?” he asked, not expecting an answer for some reason. “Looks like we hit an asteroid. We are way off course, in a collision course with the sun.” said a calm female voice on his right. It sounded somehow distant, detached. “Where am I?” he thought. We a start, he realized he had no idea who he was and what he was doing there. “Captain, what shell we do” came another voice on his left, a young male by the sound of it, his voice wavering. Somehow, he knew they where referring to him. He was the captain, and he should act. The words “in a collision course with the sun” echoed back to him and suddenly he was alert. They where in danger and he was the one in charge.

128 °F and rising

He was feeling the heat now. He remembered, Captain Isaac Brown, Cargo Ship GD-1024, that was him. The woman on his right was Sara Bolar and on his left was young Jonas Corbas. Somewhere at the rear was the ship’s engineer, Moses Capeton. That was his small and very competent crew. He picked them up one by one himself, and he never regretted it. Now it was his job to guide them carefully to safety. “What’s our status?” he asked, carefully massaging the bulge on his head. It hurt, but not too bad. He would have to examine it at the next stop. “We lost engine one, and engine two is working at half capacity. It wouldn’t last long.” came the answer from the engine room.

212 °F and rising

The temperature of boiling water. This ship could hold up to incredible temperatures, still, it had it’s limits. Diving into the sun wasn’t such a good idea. They would have to somehow steer the ship away from it’s present course. The problem was that a half functional engine wasn’t enough to steer them in the other direction. He was sweating now. While the air conditioning system built into the ship kept everything in a comfortable level, the psychological impact of the fact that they might dive into the sun soon made him feel like he was burning from the inside.

256 °F and rising

He looked to his right. Sara was glazed eyed, as if lost in the distance. She looked detached. Maybe she was shutting herself out as a defense mechanism, trying not to get buried in their predicament before it melted them away. He looked to his left. Jonas was sweeting and looked terrified. He wouldn’t get help from any of them now. Isaac found it hard to think, hard to breath. He concentrated on his breathing, trying to calm himself down, which gave him an idea. He pushed the panic away and took charge.

512 °F and rising

“Moses, listen. Which part of the ship is closest to the sun?” asked Isaac over the intercom system. “The left side” came the answer. “Everyone into your space suits” said Isaac, “and do it quickly, we don’t have much time left.” He had to help Jonas since the lad was shaking and couldn’t operate the suit’s locks properly. Sara quickly put up her own suit, almost automatically. After ascertaining they where all in their space suits, including Moses in engineering, and that the suits where functioning properly, he turned to the intercom once again. “Moses, open all the doors on the left side of the ship. I’m going to use the air pressure to steer us out of danger.” The sound of hissing air sounded within the ship and it started moving.

64 °F and falling

They floated silently. For all intents and purposes, the ship itself was dead for now, but they knew they would be rescued soon and that the ship would be repaired and put to business again with them in it. The distress signal they sent would reach the nearest base, and sent to their company. The cargo they where carrying was valuable, so the company would have more of an incentive for rescuing them as soon as possible and they where a good crew. The company executives knew it. All they had to do was wait. They waited.

***********

The Temperature Started To Rise
By Robert Jahns

Connie sat quietly, staring straight ahead. She did not want to go to the ball game, but Eric was a fan. She went along with him every time, even if she would rather not. He was excited as they entered the hill country. “You wait to you see our guys play today. They have really come together as a team,” Eric said to no one in particular.

She sat there thinking, “I wish this old wreck of an Oldsmobile would just quit. Maybe then he would actually talk with me. Maybe he would listen to what I have to say.”

The tired old Cutlass strained at the larger hills. The temperature started to climb, yet Eric ignored the heat gauge. “It is only another twenty minutes and we will arrive at the ball field,” he mumbled. He hoped and wished that the temperature gauge was broken.

Smoke rose from under the hood. The steamy vapor clung to the dirty windshield. Eric pulled to the side of the road as the engine stumbled and quit. His car looked more like a steam locomotive than an Olds sedan. “That is just my luck! Only another ten or fifteen miles and we would have been there!” The banshee scream from the radiator cap made Connie cover her ears.

Eric didn’t seem worried about getting home, only on arriving at the field to see his precious game. He popped the trunk and pulled out two old plastic jugs filled with water. Raising the hood and pulling off the hot radiator cap, billows of steam greeted the man in a rush. Eric ignored the minor burns to quickly pour the water into the hot radiator. That was a huge mistake. He should have used a bit more patience and avoided the pain of the scalding hot water that hit his face and chest.

Several days later, Connie drove back to the Southern Christian Hospital in Hopewell. She saw that her husband was now heavily bandaged, lying on his side, facing out the window. Eric jumped a bit, not expecting any visitors. “Sorry to startle you,” Connie said in a whisper. “I am so glad that the doctors are so kind here. They say that I can stay here tonight with you. If all looks good tomorrow afternoon, we can go home together.” Connie was aglow as they talked for the rest of the afternoon. No great discussions on politics or religion were generated. The quiet talk between a couple that were beginning to rediscover each other filled out the rest of the day.

Connie spoke. Eric listened. Eric asked questions and waited for answers. On the way home, they stopped and bought a new car to replace that Oldsmobile. Eric listened and the marriage was reborn as a different, more personal temperature level was starting to rise.

***********

World’s End
By: Jeffrey Hite

World’s End

One: The Day Gabriel’s Horn Didn’t Sound.

Dr. Lee stood in the Russian Observatory that he had called home. He watched the culmination of the last twelve years of work at first with wonder and pride at finding it. Then with horror as he realized the implications. The tiny black hole that he had discovered falling toward the sun was not only falling toward the sun, it was going to collide with it, and soon. He did the the calculations in his head and determined it would be better not to warn the rest of the world. Let them spend the last few minutes, in ignorant bliss.
He fell to his knees and began to pray, “Hail Mary full of grace…”

Two: The Beginning.

Cosmonaut Volinski worked to get the final three bolts for the new solar panel installed. The second one had gotten cross threaded and he was going to have to take it out and start again, but the other two had gone in as smoothly as can be expected. He fitted the wrench on the second bolt again and began to work it in reverse. As he did the he noticed that the shadows all but disappeared. He turned to look toward the sun, but all he could see was the blinding light that filled the entire sky, then the incredible burst of static over his radio.

Three: The Final Heat Wave

As the suns core was pulled in on itself, the outer layers we ejected into space. A blistering wave swept past the inner planets and on into the outer solar system.
For the second time in a little over one hundred years the people of Tunguska looked up to the sky and saw their world coming to an end. This time however, it would effect more than them. The blistering wave that passed by the Earth, in a matter of seconds was enough to melt the the Himalayas and send them spilling across Asia and into the Pacific Ocean. The temperature rose all over the earth for the final time.

Four: The Cooling Begins.

Within hours the sun has collapsed in on itself and the people remaining on Earth have one of the most spectacular views of the galaxy around them they have ever seen.
“Alright, lets have it all.”
“Mr. President, there is no good news. We are already beginning to see the temperature fall. The only reason that it as not fallen further is that when the blast wave hit, it deposited a lot of heat energy into Asia, and that in turn as raised the temperature of the seas around it. It will buy us perhaps three of four more days.”
“And then what?”
“Then, well really it is not about then, it is about what is going to happen. What is happening now. The temperatures are starting to drop and will continue to drop, until we all freeze to death.”
“How long?”
“Seven to eights days maybe. With the extra heat in the oceans it might get us ten. But by tomorrow, most of the world will be below 40 degrees and after that it will only get worse.”
“I understand. Is there anything that we can do to make it better?”
“No. Of the the three colony ships that we had slated to head to the stars one was destroyed. The other two have been loaded and will launch within hours.”
“Thank you. Go be with your families.”

Five: The Deep Freeze

Seven days later the on the Hawaiian Island of Maui the last humans on earth use the last tree that they had gathered before they were snowed in, to heat the room they are in. They fall asleep, in the choking fumes knowing that they will not wake up again. When the fuel runs out the temperature in the room, that was never intended to keep out the cold, will drop rapidly, and they will freeze. Mercifully quickly.

Six: Last Rain

“Captain, we have prepared the last of the cyrobeds we will need to enter them soon.”
“Thank you John, I want to take one last look.”
“Sir?”
“Come look for yourself. Computer, can you zoom in and enhance the image of the Earth?”
“Compliance. Magnification now at maximum.”
“If there were a sun to shine on it, it would be a brilliantly bright reflector with all that snow and ice on it.”
“Do you suppose there is anyone still alive?”
“I doubt it. It has been nearly twenty days the temperature…”
“look sir, it appears to be raining, how can that be possible? Could the temperature of the core be enough to.”
“No, Look at the readings,” He indicated the numbers in the upper left corner of the view screen. “That is about the right temperature for the atmosphere to liquefy. What you are watching is air that you and I and everyone on Earth used to breath fall on the planet that we called home as it’s finally rain.” They stood in silence for another couple of moments before the captain said anything again. “I think it is about time we too went into deep freeze.”

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