Great Hites # 38

This week we here stories from:
Krista Heiser
Norval Joe
Guy David
And Jeff Hite. you get the text only of my story due to the length of the recording.


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Also this week I had a special guest while I was recording my one year old who was not feeling so well. He snores through must of the recording but that should not be a reflection on the story quality.

I talk about my blog post / podcast on Talking Hites on ways to improve and promote this podcast.

Lastly I played two promos for The Geek Survival Guide and Star Wars Codename Starkeeper.

Great Hites # 38
A Spectacular View By: Krista Heiser
December in Modesto By: Norval Joe
This Machine Is Broken By: Guy David
Cold By: Jeffrey Hite
  
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A Spectacular View
By: Krista Heiser
The cold was shocking. Not because it was unexpected, but because I wasn’t quite dressed for terrain exploration. My job was to stay inside the extra-terrestrial exploration ship, ETES for short, and keep an eye on things. Watching my team’s vitals and monitoring the uncharted planet’s climate were among my top priorities. They explore and I keep the logs, store the samples, and basically do all the grunt work for the team.

I’m also their only hope of rescue if things go bad. And it appeared things had gone very bad indeed. Certainly bad enough to motivate me to leave the relative comfort of the ship, something I preferred not to do.

Marjorie’s vitals had spiked nearly twenty minutes ago. Dangerously so.

Seconds later Brent’s had shown a similar anomaly. Only his hadn’t stayed high and irregular for long. His had flat-lined before I could raise either of my shipmates on the Comlink. I don’t know how long I stood there staring at the monitor with his name on it. It could have been minutes or hours. Seconds perhaps.

“Chloe,” Marjorie gasped. “Chloe, Brent’s dead.”

It must have been shock that prompted her to tell me the obvious. She knew my job as well as her own. On some level she knew what the screens looked like and that the alarm sounding in the background had already alerted me to his passing. “What happened? Are you alright?”

Her mic cut in and out, her ragged breathing filling the sterile, safe room I stood in. It took her several minutes to tell me what had happened, not because the story took long to tell but because her equipment had been damaged.

They had been caught in an avalanche. She was trapped and needed my help.

Locating them had been easy – their locators were still functioning – but maneuvering the ship onto the mountainside had taken precious time. Marjorie’s vitals didn’t look good and I knew time was running out.

Armed with little more than a shovel, my ComLink, and the position of their locating devices, I stepped out of my comfortable little home away from home. The cold sucked the air from my lungs. Shivers coursed through my body. I huddled into my thin jacket and braced myself against the wind. I had to hurry or I’d end up hypothermic myself.

Positioning myself above Marjorie’s location, I dug. I pushed myself to keep moving when my fingers and toes felt brittle enough to break. I ignored the numbing cold seeping up my legs and down my arms. As the low temperatures drained me of my natural heat, I broke through and found the first body. It moved when I prodded it, raising a few tentative fingers to let me know she still breathed.

It took precious time to dig her free. Pulling on her, refusing to cry the tears my burning eyes demanded I release, I realized we would have to leave Brent. The cold was too much. We needed to get into the ship’s small medical bay.

Marjorie threw her arms around me and rested her head on my shoulder. Her weight nearly pushed me over, but somehow I stayed on my feet. “You’re okay. It’s okay.”

“We have to leave him,” Marjorie said, saving me the pain of saying it aloud.

“Let’s go,” I said, shivering against her. “We can come back later for him.”

Marjorie shook her head and forced her legs to move; together we stumbled back towards our ETES. “It’s a fitting burial spot. As good as any other we’d have found here.”

It was true. Despite the bone-chilling cold, the view was spectacular. The vista might have been painted by some great artist of past centuries or generated by the most advanced gaming programmers in the galaxy. Brent would have approved.

December in Modesto
By: Norval Joe

December in Modesto was foggy and cold. He shivered in his light jacket, standing outside the entrance of the hospital, directions to the Gospel Mission crumpled in his hand.
He couldn’t believe that he had left Los Angeles . It was warm there, in Mid October, when he had set off to the north.
Traveling north had been painfully slow. Travelers were hesitant to pick up hitch hikers these days; especially old ones. He remembered the days of his youth with fondness, hitch hiking with friends around the country, eventually arriving in Southern California. He fell in love with the ocean and warm nights on the beach instantly.
In a short time all of his friends moved on. They went back to college, or to their home towns or just to work.
He had tried to work; odd jobs. But something, or someone, a co-worker, or a customer, something would get under his skin and make him angry and he would blow up and break something, and he would be back on the street.
But the street was good. It was open and uncomplicated, and there were no walls to press in on him, no people that would require him.
He might have to ask for spare change to get a drink now and then, but there were always people on their way somewhere, or nowhere, to make panhandling worth while.
But he was old now. How old was he? fifty, sixty? He remembered Kennedy getting shot, LSD and Viet Nam, and all that was in the 60’s.
It was getting harder to sleep, too. His neck and back hurt him all the time, so every night he had to find a comfortable place to sleep; couldn’t just sprawl out on the sand. And it was getting dangerous too. Kids, teenagers, they don’t hitch hike for a thrill anymore, they beat up old men.
He was heading north to Sacramento. He had a brother there, or he did years ago. He had to go there and find him.
He made it to Bakersfield in the back of a pickup with a load of old tires. He heard the driver talking on his cell phone while getting gas at a station where he often pan handled. He hadn’t truly decided to leave L.A. until he heard that driver. “Yeah Buddy! I got this load of tires I’m taking over the grape vine to Bakersfield. Meet me there and I’ll take you all the way to Sac.”
The driver said he was going all the way to Sacramento. He had a brother there! Here was his chance and he took it. He squeezed in among the tires, not thinking past Bakersfield, where the tires were going to be unloaded.
In Bakersfield he was quickly discovered among the tires by the unsympathetic driver, who ranted about the fines he would have received if the man had been noticed by the highway patrol, riding in the back of his pickup. When he asked the driver if he could catch a lift to ‘Sac’, to find his long lost brother, he was told to take a hike. He stood in the gloom of the setting sun, in the parking lot of a west Bakersfield service station, hundreds of miles from the beach, and his destination.
He started to walk north. He thought, ‘The guy told me to take a hike, maybe I’ll just walk all the way there.’ He soon found, however, that his shoes, worn with out socks, wore blisters on his ankles, his back started to pain, and he got hungry and tired quickly. He had to find another ride, he would die long before he could walk that far.
He was in Bakersfield for weeks, and with each passing day it got colder. He found a Good Will collection station. People would drop off bags of clothes, and trash, during the night knowing that the store staff would have to deal with it when they opened the doors in the morning. He waited in the shadows and then rummaged through each bag that was left there until he found two coats; one thick and warm, and the other, light but waterproof. He also found a comfortable pair of boots and even a pair of socks.
The week of thanks giving arrived to find him asking for spare change at the northern end of town. One man, about to give him a dollar, changed his mind and told him he would take him to lunch, so that he wouldn’t ‘drink away’ the money he would have received. That was fine, he was hungry enough, and during the lunch conversation the philanthropist introduced himself as a Pentecostal Minister of a small congregation just north of Fresno, and was returning home after doing some charity service in northern Baja California.
The man explained his plight to the minister who replied that he would gladly take him as far as he was going for the small price of ‘listening to the Word of God’.
He rode in the ministers 1986 Plymouth K car and listened as the Word of God deteriorated into a discourse on the evils of this world, from mostly innocuous to the most vile. And it became clear that many of the evils that the minister found the most reprehensible were some that he had the most personal experience with. But he dozed and listened as they traveled north past each of the small towns, the minister pontificating on social injustices and the lack of moral response. They finally reached the small town a few miles past Fresno, the minister pulling the K car into the gravel parking lot of a long rectangle of a building that served as both, the ministers home and meeting house.
From the parking lot of the church he could see the highway and began to walk toward it. Reaching the frontage road that parallelled the north bound lane of high way 99, he stopped. His feet and ankles ached with arthritis. He sat on the edge of the asphalt road, with his feet resting in a shallow ditch, the dead dry grass of the long ago spring broken off and blown away by the wind, a thin carpet of short, new grass, beaded with moisture from the valley fog. His mind returned to the beaches of Southern California.
He used to surf all day, and then sleep under the piers next to his surf board. There were bonfires on the beach, and barbecues, and even women looking for companionship. He could be companionable for a short time, but then even the most pleasant woman would start to get on his nerves, and he would spend a day surfing and working his way north or south along the coast, and find a new place to hang out.
Surfers always shared food with him, if they had it. And if they didn’t he could walk between the beach towels, and blankets and coolers until he could find something edible to swipe. He never tried to take money or valuables, that could land him in jail, but no one would call the cops over a bite of food. He could flash a winning smile that would lite up his darkly tanned face that would win people over and they would give him a beer to go with the sandwich he just tried to take.
He couldn’t surf anymore and the stumbling old bum drew too much attention to surreptitiously spy out food in the baskets and coolers of swimmers and beach loungers.
He looked through the wire fence that ran between the freeway and the frontage road and watched the light fog swirl and eddy along behind the cars and trucks. To the north was an overpass for one of the small country roads where it met the freeway. He could see that there was a minivan parked under the overpass, and the various sized people of a small family were milling about the vehicle.
He found a hole in the wire fence and crawled through, and walked the hundred yards to where the family gathered to watch him approach. The mother was speaking to the children in Spanish. He had surfed with enough Mexicans to know just a few words, and thought hard to put a question together. “Va norte?” he finally asked. They began to speak among themselves much faster than he could follow, but eventually it appeared that they agreed to take him on as a passenger. They waited for him to climb in the back seat and sit next to a broken out window that was taped over with a plastic sheet. The noise of the plastic sheet increased, the wind threatening to tear it from the van as the driver accelerated onto the highway. Accordions and tuba blared from the the AM radio, and children laughed and fought with one another all to the rhythmic flapping of the plastic sheet of the window.
Suddenly he was waking up as the car was pulling off the freeway. The driver pulled over and wished him, ‘buena suerte’, ‘good luck’, and opened the sliding side door of the mini van to allow him out. He watch the car disappear into the fog in the distance as it headed for the families home.
He walked back over the overpass, looking for a comfortable place to panhandle or try to hitch another ride, when he saw that the freeway was crossing over a river that flowed through the center of this town. The fog was getting thicker and a cold drizzle was sticking to his hair and beard.
He followed the side of the freeway toward where the river flowed underneath and found that there were others that had also sought refuge from the damp fog under the bridge. There were three men sitting around a small fire which they fed with bits of wood broken from wooden pallets that they had stolen from a nearby storage yard. He greeted the men and approached to warm himself at the fire. They eyed him with calculating glares. Crouching close to the fire, the warmth quickly penetrated his thin trousers, and he began to feel much more comfortable, if not entirely welcome. He hadn’t known that there was a forth man in the little party until stars burst across his vision as the unseen companion slammed a river rock against the back of his head. His consciousness was fading away, and he wondered if he was dieing, until he hit the water. The cold was shocking. The conspirators had stolen his two coats, his boots and his socks and thrown him into the Tuolumne River, assuming that he was probably dead, or would be soon enough.
The Tuolumne River, whose origins were high in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, had much of its water diverted to provide drinking water for the San Francisco Bay Area, and for irrigation of farms throughout the central valley of California. By the time it passed through the city of Modesto it was usually a sluggish trickle, but recent heavy rains in the foot hills had risen its level and increased its speed markedly. Instead of allowing him to sink placidly to the bottom of the river, the rapid current quickly dragged him across the river where it made a sharp turn to the south and promptly lodged him in the brambles of the western bank.
In a haze of pain and cold he struggled up the bank, shoeless, to collapse on the road at the top. A grounds keeper from a nearby golf course saw the prone form laying in the street when the beams of his trucks headlights fell upon the old man. He covered the man with a blanket from the back seat of his Club Cab, and waited by the unconscious form until medical assistance arrived.
The nurse asked him questions as she cleaned the top of his head in preparation for the arrival of the plastic surgeon who would oversee the reapplications of much of his scalp. “Name?” she asked. “Um. Joe, I think.” She frowned, “Last name?” He paused, “I don’t think I have one anymore,” he mumbled thoughtfully. “Address?” she asked. He sighed, longing for the beach, “Los Angeles.” “And the street address”, exasperation sounding clearly in her voice? “Any one of them, just take your pick,” and he sighed, wishing she would stop asking him questions.
It was foggy and cold, the morning in Modesto, when they discharged him from the hospital, with a donated pair of shoes, a light jacket, and directions to the Gospel Mission.
He had a brother in Sacramento, or at least he used to, and he started walking toward the freeway.

This Machine is Broken
By:Guy David

My hands are bleeding and my eyes are almost blinded by the bright white. I half walk now, half crawl in the endless snow. How long? Hours? Days? Weeks? It’s hard for me to remember now since my mind have gone half numb. I’m conjuring up images, images of warmth, a fireplace, hot soup served up by the most beautiful of nymphs. She kisses me softly, says “pain, be gone” but it doesn’t, I’m cold and frozen and I can’t move anymore.

Flexy Metal, the best money could buy, but almost useless here, lost in the snow. Scrap metal, that’s mostly what I am now. I might have once been human, I don’t remember anymore, so much time, but here I am, older then I should be. I had a good life, and if I die here in the endless snow, I’d know I’ve been there. I scan the snow with tired eyes, then, a light, nearly invisible in the blinding snow, but it’s there, giving me a new energy, I crawl towards it, is it a mirage? A dream? No, it’s real, it’s there, waiting for me.

I almost don’t make it. It’s a cabin, in the middle of nowhere. I reach the door, turn the knob, a clank of metal on metal, then I’m in. A fireplace, fire dancing happily, making small cranking noises, like it’s laughing marily. Only the nymph is missing. I sit down, warming my hands, slowly melting the cold away, trying to come back to myself, recall myself.

I almost fail to see the old man, standing there, smiling in hospitality, “come sit here, there’s more then enough room at the table”, pointing at a table of goods, a meal to please any man, but I’m somehow not hungry, I don’t remember ever being hungry, I just don’t remember. Strangely enough, there’s allot I don’t remember, like there’s a blanket across my mind. “Just, some sleep” I say. “Good” say’s the old man and offers me a bed. Everything goes blank.

I wake up to find someone has removed my arms and legs. I can’t move, can’t run away now. I’m at the mercy of this man who seemed so hospitable just a few hours ago, or is it days? Weeks? I have no perception of time now. The man comes from time to time, removes another part from me, takes it away, sales it I guess. I’m slowly gone. Only the unusable parts are left alone with my brain. “Scrap metal” the man says. “Would get a good price for your parts on the black market. To bad your brain is just… well… useless”, he laughs a vicious laugh. He just leaves me there. Days go by, months. I rust slowly. Finely, my brain gives in. I sleep. Just a broken machine.

Cold
By: Jeff Hite

Jack could not believe that he had volunteered for this. He didn’t even like the cold and here he was in Alaska trying to get his car out of yet another snow bank. That was the problem of course, he was driving a car, and not one of the large trucks that keep rumbling by. They were all heavy enough to get a grip of the road, where as his little car had the habit of floating on top of the snow at anything above twenty miles and hour. The problem was that he could not afford a truck. Not until he got paid, and he would not get anything more than his stipend until the job was done. That was another three months down the road. As he, toss yet another shovel full of snow over the side of the road, he swore that when this was over he would never come back up here, for any reason.
Twenty minutes later, with his face wind burned and his hands numb all the way up to his elbows, he got back in his car and was able to back in out in the road. Nearly and hour later, he made it to the shack, that three business men that had hired him, called the office. The building was little more than four concert walls and a roof. But it was heated and right now that was what he needed.
Jack waited for the coffee to finish brewing, before he moved again. This was going to be a long day and there was no way that he was going to get started without a full thermos of coffee with him. Once he had filled the thermos he started to get dressed for he long ride, by snow machine to the pipeline.
The Businessmen who had hired him were interested in a government contract to support and maintain the oil pipeline that ran across this great state. But before they were willing to take on even a small section of it, they wanted independent information about the it’s state. So they had hire him and three other people to go out and check it out. Since they could not do invasive testing they had to settle for, photographs and video of the pipeline. The video had been easy, and Wendel, had left for his home in Texas almost a month ago. He had hired a local snow machine driver, and brought his stead-cam rig. They drove slowly past each of the pylons and he shot the video for the whole two hundred miles that they were going to take over in under a month. Jack, on the other hand, was over a month behind him, and less than a third done. The contract, required that the evidence be back to the main office in California by no later than April 19th. At the rate he had been going, it was going to be tight.
He layered his gear on and prepared to go out. In two more days he would not be coming back here because the journey out and back would be more than the fuel capabilities of the snow machine. Then he would have to stay in local towns and even once use what the maps called an emergency shelter. But, for the next two nights at least he would be able to stay in the nice warm hotel room.
With all of his gear on he headed for the door. As he opened it the wind buffeted him, and it was strikingly cold. He didn’t start to worry about things until about six hours later when he could not get the snow machine started. He had check the fuel level and the battery was good, it just would not start. If he didn’t get it started in the next ten minutes he would have to call for help. He had his emergency radio, but was loathed to use it, because he knew it would cost him an arm and a leg to get the snow machine back to town, and that was money he didn’t have. Maybe one of the guys that came out could help him get the machine started, but usually they were just interested in getting you and getting back into the nearest town.
An hour later when the battery died on the snow machine, he knew he was in trouble. The sun never did really come up, that day but if it was possible it was getting colder as it went down. He had called on the emergency radio twice and gotten the local sherif, but had not seen or heard anything since the last call almost an thirty minutes ago. He didn’t want to use the radio again, but it he was starting to get worried.
That was when he heard it. At first he was pretty sure that he had imagined the sound. Then he was sure it was the sound of a snow machine drifting in and out due to the wind. But as he saw the creature, it was impossible to deny. It was slow in coming toward him, but it was coming toward him there was no doubt. He had no where to go, there was no shelter, and if he left the snow machine, he would sink to his waist in snow. He could plow though the snow but very very slowly, and as he watched the creature coming toward him, he knew that as slow as it was moving it would still be faster than him.
Jack blinked and rubbed his eyes, the creature was gone. Had he imagined it? No, that wasn’t possible. The thing had been no less that ten feet away from him. He strained his eyes to look at the spot where it had been. Nothing. He tried to look up the incline where the thing had come from, no tracks. He closed his eyes and shook his head. He didn’t feel cold. He had not felt cold all day, or at least not like he was freezing. Of course he was cold, it was minus 25 degrees, but he was not freezing to death.
He remembered his camera. He pulled it out of the case, and started taking pictures. The side of the hill the yeti thing had come down, because that was what it had to have been. The last spot he had seen it. Maybe the camera would see something he had not.
He had gotten about ten shots off when his radio squawked.
“Can you confirm the pipe segment you are near?” Jack swung around to look at the pipe line behind him.
“Yes, I am near 76-745.”
“Alright we will be there in about five minutes.” The radio went silent.
Jack turned back around look in the direction of the town and ended up face to face with the creature. It could not be more than two inches away. It’s ice blue eyes stared with out a trace of malice at Jack. He could feel the creatures breath on his face, it’s large hands on his arms. He wanted to scream but something in the way the creature looked at him prevented it.
The creature, just started at him for what felt like an eternity, and then reached one leathery hand up and touched the exposed skin on Jack’s face. He blinked again, and the creature was gone again.
A minute later he heard then saw the three other snow machines coming over the rise near him. He looked at the snow all around his machine looking for foot prints or something but could find no trace of the creature. But it had been there. He knew it. He has seen. He had felt it’s hands on his arms, the touch of it hand against his face.
“What seems to be the problem?” The deputy’s home town twang brought him back to the present.
“My machine won’t start.”
“Alright. Lets see if we can get it started, otherwise we will tow you back in.” He pulled along side Jack and reached across to the ignition switch. As he touched it, Jack’s snow machine came to life.
“but the battery was dead.”
“you have to hit the starter you know.” the deputy said starring at him meaningfully. “Follow us back into town, I got some paperwork for you to fill out.”

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Great Hites Prompt number 39

This weeks Prompt is:


“The flames lept higher that they would have thought possible. “

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday February 3rd. 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 Hite 37

Great Hites 37
COUNTING THE DAYS By: Anima Zabaleta
The Prison By: Norval Joe
Prometheus By: Jeff Hite
  
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COUNTING THE DAYS
By: Anima Zabaleta

One more day, dear Lord. Let me get thru this just one more day.

The well-worn office chair creaks under me, and the computer starts to whirr to life.
Lights flicker as the various programs install themselves. Everyday is Monday anymore… I try not to ponder on how many days I have sat at this desk in the past 15 years. If only I could take a vacation… but everything seems to depend on me… the silos, my children, the families of the people I employ…

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I moved to Cedar Grove in the 90s, fresh from getting my MBA at night school. All I was looking for was a low stress job in the middle of nowhereville, where the cost of living was cheap, and I could decompress from taking classes for the previous 6 years. I didn’t like living in Chicago, but that was the best place to go to school. The plan was to work for a couple of years, learn agribusiness and make some headway on my student loans. Being the assistant manager of a grain silo/farming mercantile sounded perfect to me.

When I got hired, I had no intention of forming any connections in this podunk village. I threw darts at the local tavern, and was ok with the few guys who would invite me to go fishing and hunting with them. I liked my confirmed bachelor lifestyle, Then Sheila showed up, to work as daddy’s admin assistant for the summer. I fell for her in a big way. She was leggy and had a great tan, something that wasn’t commonly seen in Midwestern farming environs. Sheila brought a fresh breath of cosmopolitan flair with her, talking about the latest books on the NY Times best sellers list, and how much she liked Thai food. I realized I missed a few things about Chicago.

To make a short story long, I married the boss’s daughter, with promises of taking Sheila away on a “real” honeymoon as soon as the wheat harvest was done in October. Old Man McGuillicutty had a heart attack and died that September; and Sheila inherited the family business.

Together, Sheila and I picked up the pieces of her fathers endeavors, and managed to grow it some. Farming, though, is never a sure concern, and neither are the businesses that support farmers. Sheila stayed with me for 9 years, but she had escaped the small town doldrums once, and had had no intentions of returning to stay. We never did take that honeymoon, which she always brought up when we argued. Once her mother passed, there was no one left she felt she had to impress. I have never understood how she could walk out on the children and me. It was all part of the small town persona she found so odious, she said.

So, here I sit, waiting for the computer to finish its routine. I no longer read the Chicago Daily Herald, finding news of the bigger world to be too depressing. I turn off the television when the advertisements to visit Mexico come on. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to make French toast on Sundays, because it conjures up images of foreign places I promised to Sheila… Maybe, some day… Who am I fooling? Today is Monday and I need to concentrate on corn futures and the soybean market. There are people who are relying on me.

************

The Prison
By: Norval Joe

The walls of the prison cell were exactly as you would expect them; slime and black moss grew in the water percolating through the walls and oozing down to pool on the floor. The air in the cell was humid and smelled of rot, but it wasn’t cold. Not this deep in the cellars of the prison, with in the very foundation of the mountain, upon which the tyrants castle was built.
The prisoner sat naked on the floor of the cell. His clothes had rotted away years ago. His grey hair matted with filth reached nearly to the floor where he sat leaning against the locked wooden door.
He waited for the sound of approaching boots on the stone floor, outside the door. When had he last heard them, and the sound of the metal plate as it was shoved through the gap under the door?
He couldn’t know, in the perpetual dark, during this one eternal night. But he had eaten, he thought, he must have, because he was still alive, having lived long enough for his clothes to rot away and his hair and beard to grow almost to his waist.
He tested the shackle around his ankle. The iron cuff bit into and wanted to tear the thin skin as he pulled on it to test the strength of the chain. The chain, long enough to allow him to reach the door, but not go through. Go through? But it wouldn’t open. The metal plate would just scape the floor as it was pushed under the door.
The door was locked, or at least he assumed that it was. He knew it was, didn’t he? He must have tried the door in the countless years that he had spent in the cell, with his clothes rotting off and his hair growing down his back.
He stood on weak and trembling legs, his knees threatening to buckle under his meager weight. He leaned against the door, supporting himself as search for a knob or handle. But the door, at the prisoners touch, creaked on rusted hinges as it opened into the dimly lit passage.
Unbelieving, he stepped forward and the chain fell away from his ankle. He ventured tentatively, into the passage, outside the cell. The hallway stretched off into darkness on both sides, the torch near the open door casting only a small pool of light on the floor where he bent trying to catch his breath, panting in anticipation. He stretched his arms and legs to loosen joints stiff from inactivity and felt a sharp pinch at the bend of his arm, like the bite of a spider. His head started to spin and his sight, even in the darkness, filled with a brilliant blinding white. He fell to the floor and rolled onto his back, breathing hard, trying to ease the sudden nausea.
He lay still for a moment, then slowly opened his eyes. His head was resting on something soft. He turned his head to the side luxuriating in the suppleness of the linen and the fragrance of its’ cleanness. Beside him sat a woman. She looked familiar, but she was much older than a woman he had known. How long ago had he known her? She looked so kind, with lines of concern at the corners of her eyes and across her brow.
She saw him looking at her and she smiled. She reached out to run her hand through his long greying hair. “Dale, honey, you’re awake,” she quietly exclaimed! “They didn’t think it would happen so quickly.” She stood and kissed his forehead. Turning to the phone, she said, “I have to call the kids, there are grandchildren now, too. They will want to say hello. It has been so long.” She paused with the phone held halfway to her ear, “The doctors don’t know how long the drug will last, they have never tried it on humans before.”
She was punching numbers on the phone as the blackness crept in from the edges of his vision, to steal his wife away and plunge him back into the cell, under the castle in the foundation of the mountain, with the slime and moss growing on the walls where the water percolated through and oozed down to pool on the floor.

*********

Prometheus
By Jeff Hite

It had been so long since she called him, that she wondered if he had actually heard her over the howling wind. She thought about calling again, but he had looked up at her when she had said his name the first time. Meridith had been around the old gods long enough to know that they would speak when they were good and ready. Calling him again would just annoy him, and possibly make him take longer to answer. But, she did wish he would hurry up , because the wind here on the cliff edge was freezing.
“What is it that you want girl?” He said finally
“Prometheus.”
“Go away.”
“Wait, Prometheus.”
“Go away, if I don’t rest my liver will not grow back. If my liver does not grow back.”
Prometheus, I need to know how you did it,” she interrupted him.
“If it does not grow back, the eagle will scratch, and bite at me.”
“I need your help, I need to know how you got away from Olympus.”
“It cannot kill me, but it can torture me, and make me bleed from a thousand places. When it returns the next day it will be hungrier than normal, and even my fully formed liver will not sate it’s hunger, and again it will attack me and torture me.” He paused for the first time and shuttered. “Do you know how long it will take me to heal from those injuries?” She didn’t answer. This was not what she had come to talk to him about. Maybe if she didn’t answer him, she could guide him down the path she came for.
“Prometheus,” she said when he did not continue to talk. “I need to know how you got away from Olympus.”
“What do you mean girl. I have been here forever.”
“Not forever Prometheus. A long time, but not forever.”
“Stop! I will not hear of the time before.”
“You must, you are the only one.”
“There was nothing before this.”
“Prometheus, you know that is not true,” Meredith begged.
“There was nothing before this.”
There was a long silence that followed. Meredith, thought about leaving. She thought about giving up, but in her nearly two thousand years of captivity on Olympus, the one thing that she had was time to wait. But the time to wait had ended Everything here was about waiting. Waiting until your power had so diminished that you simply disappeared. Even Hades had been losing his grip. He had been letting the humans recover people that had been dead, by means of so called science. No, she would not give up. This was the only way that she could turn things around. She was Meredith, the final child of mighty Zeus and his lovely wife Hera. The last of the gods born since Olympus had been relegated to a place of the past, by the humans.
Finally Prometheus did move. He tilted his head up so that he could see her. She tried to push her long hair out of her face so that he might see who she was.
“You have more patience than most.”
“Yes, a blessing and a curse.”
“Why have you come?”
“I need to talk to you. I need to know…”
“Come down here,” he said cutting her off.
“What?”
“You heard me, don’t waste my time. I have enough pain, come down here so that at least I might see you when I talk to you.”
With more than a little hesitation she stood and lowered herself over the cliffs edge. She found well warn foot and hand holds, that led down to where he hung on the side of the cliff.
“That is better. Now I can see you. Who are you?”
“I am Meredeth.”
“Meredeth.” He rolled the word out and even with his broken voice it sounded nice. “I have not heard of you.”
“I am Hercules’ younger sister.” She hope the memory of the great hero would give her some credence with the long imprisoned god.
“Ah then a Daughter of Zeus. What can I do for you? My powers are limited, and I am kind of shackled to my job here.” He laughed a roughly in a way that seemed almost to be a last breath.
“All I seek is information.”
“Ah the power of knowledge. If you wanted to know things why not go to an oracle? They can tell the future you know. The only thing I know is the open sky. The sky with the eagle coming toward me, and the sky with the eagle going away from me. Oh, and pain I know a lot about pain.”
“I Seek knowledge of things that only you know.”
“As I told you I don’t know much.”
“You know something that no one else knows. You know of the time before.”
“There was no time before this.” He said grinding his teeth and spitting the words out.
She waited until the fire in his eyes was gone before she continued.
“Once long ago you escaped to the human world and gave them a gift. You are the only one who has ever done this.” She rushed it out so the he would not have time to cut her off. But he did not answer. He didn’t even look at her. “You gave the humans the gift of fire, ten thousand years ago. Now the humans have turned their backs on us, and we are fading away. Many of the spirits have simply disappeared.” Still he did not respond. “Even most of the nymphs had gone silent.” He looked at her then, a tear in his eye.
“There was no time before this.” He whispered.
“There was, and you remember it.”
“No, I don’t. I won’t.” He insisted but his words came weakly.
“Prometheus, please. I beg you. I need to know how you did it. I need to know.”
“Why? So that you can spend the rest of your life like me. You want this? Look at me. Look at my wrists. Look at my face. Look at the scars, and the places that will not heal.”
For the first time she looked closely at him, and not for the first time wondered what would happen to her if she failed. Where the chains met his wrists, the shackels were not there. Instead, the chains connected right to the bones in his arm, or were those odd bumps in this writs the shackles that had simply been there so long that they had become a part of him. His body was covered in scars that she could only assume were from where the great raptor had attacked him because it was not sated by it’s daily meal of his regrowing liver. His Ankels looked much the same as his wrists, but his toes had been torn off. She could only assume by the great bird.
“Is this what you want for the rest of forever?” He whispered softly.
“No.” She admitted.
“Then just go,” he turned his head away from her.
“But I am willing to face it, to help our people.” He turned around in surprise and stared at her. She could not read what was behind those eyes, but there was great pain on his face.
“No.” he said finally. “No I will not condem you to my fate.”
“But I am willing to.”
“No, you are young you do not know what you are saying.”
“Prometheus, we are dieing. And I would rather die here on the side of the cliff knowing I had tried then to just fade away knowing I had not.” He was silent along time after that. So long that her arms began to burn from the strain of hanging there on the side of the cliff. She would not die if she fell, but there would be pain, and many many years of healing. She had just about decided to climb back up when he spoke again.
“I didn’t do it.”
“What?”
“I didn’t escape to deliever fire to the humans,” the tears were streaming down his face now.
“Of course you,”
“No!” he cut her off again. “No, I didn’t,” he shifted his weight so that she could see the hole in his side where the great bird tore at him every day. “I didn’t take fire to them. I could not, just as you cannot now.”
“But, then you have hung here for eons for something you didn’t do.”
“Please,” he said sardonically, “I gave them fire. Of course I did. But I didn’t leave the mountain, just like you cannot. Like all the gifts from the gods they have to either appear to the humans in such a way that they can see us in the gift, or…” He trialed off again.
“Or?”
“Or they have to be let in to get it.”
“Let in? But humans cannot come to mount Olypus any more than we can go to them.”
“They did once. I let them in.” The releization dawned on her then. Although fire was an incredible gift, the idea of humans being on the moutain was probably more than the gods cound stand.
“You let them in.” She repeated.
“Yes, not very far, but I let them in far enough to come to my campsite. I left a fire burning and let them steal from it. It took years for me to coax a human up that far, and at great risk. If Zeus found out that I had made a way in for them. Well in the end he did find out, and you know the rest of the story,” he guestured as his prison. His face twisted then, and he cried openly.
She tried to move her body closer to him but he pulled away.
“No!” He screamed. “No, I will not be reminded of what comfort is. It has taken me ten thousand years to forget.” She waited until he stopped crying.
“Will you tell me how?” He didn’t answer for a long time and then he just let his head fall forward, in a movement that could have simplly been resignation, but she took it as a yes. “How?”
“Come back tomorrow?”
“What?”
“Will you come back tomorrow if I you tell you?”
“If you like.”
“I have been so lonely. The Nymph in the tree above stopped coming a thousand years ago. Will you talk to her for me?” That explained the hand and foot holds. “I had almost forgotten about her too, until I heard you tonight.”
“Yes, I wil come back.” And the pain returned to his face.
“It might be better if you didn’t. I might not have a thousand years to forget you too.”

Great Hites Prompt 38



This weeks Prompt is:

“The Cold was Shocking”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday January 27th. 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 # 36

This week we have only one story from Norval Joe


That means Noval automatically wins in the voting. Congrats Noval Joe

Leave your thoughts about this story or any other at TalkingHites

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By: Norval Joe

I was a teen age super massive black hole. It was really hard to fit in in high school. At a time in my life when I should be developing relationships, some that should last my lifetime, no one wanted to get close to me.
I was attractive, if I might say so myself, maybe too attractive. As a quasi stellar object with an impressive accretion disk, I could be a bit overwhelming. I had an appetite to match my size and I consumed whatever I could reach.

There was one little variable star with an oblique orbit that used to wink at me when she passed by. At times she was kind of cute and then at times she was really hot. When I got a clear look at her one orbit I realized that she was actually they. She and her sister were binary stars; twin sisters. Let me tell you, either of them would have brightened my life.
In retrospect, it never would have worked with the twins. Their orbit was long and, as I said, oblique. Then I found that they had a couple of gas giants in close orbit. Hot gas giants! How was I supposed to compete with that?
Eons have passed since the days of high school. My accretion disk is all but gone, and with it any potential for visible light. Sure, there is a bit of infrared and some x-ray echoes bouncing around the galaxy, but nothing to draw any real attention. And I know, I am the center of a massive galaxy with numberless stars and planets swirling around me.
I am an accumulation of the billions of stars, the cosmic dust and galactic debris that I have consumed.
There I was, voted most likely to become an army of darkness to bring my infinite work of destruction to the universe. But the facts are, I am a dark, essentially invisible, lonely mass, isolated in the vast emptiness of space.

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Great Hites Prompt number 37

This weeks Prompt is from:


“The News From Poughkeepsie – Day 82
July 29th, 2008 •
I forgot that some time ago I said I would use this prompt. Thought it was good then, and still do now.

J.R. Blackwell is an inspiration again. Thanks, J.R.

Settings Tuesdays

True sorrow comes from knowing joy, and vice versa. There is a prison that has more mental punishment than physical. You are brought to the prison and kept in a cell. After a certain number of weeks, you get a “day off.” During the day off, you are allowed to go outside, to eat delicious food. Or you can just nap in the sunlight. You are told that in a couple of months, you’ll get another day off.

But it never comes. Others will get days off, but they’re spaced out in such a confusing way that prisoners don’t realize that you truly only ever get one, and you live with the bitter hope that another one may come.

Or is it worse to have that one day off and then you know you’ll never experience it again? I’m not sure. Still, explore.The News From Poughkeepsie is a daily blog post featuring an idea for you to take and do with what you will. Read more about it here. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You can take this idea, change it, make something new, and even make money off of it. All I ask is if you create something – anything! – that this post inspired you to make, please link back here .”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday January 20th. 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.

Just a quick review of the rules:

1. All stories submitted must be based on the weekly topic and in before Tuesday at midnight. (your local midnight is fine)
E-mail of the text story (pasted into the e-mail) to me at jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com along with a recording if you want it added to the podcast.

2. Stories must have a maximum rating of PG. If you want examples of my strongest violence or most suggestive language read or listen toRun For your Life, Adam And Eve. or Going Down with the Ship And yes, I get the final say. Hey it’s my site I make the rules.

3. Stories submitted should be between 100 to 3000 words, any shorter will get lost in the fray, any longer and it will drown out the other works, and as I said in rule number 2: Hey it’s my site I make the rules.

4. Protecting your hard work. I know some sites don’t do this, but I will do my best to protect your work. My entire site is protected by creative commons, I think it is worth your time to license your work, head out to the creative commons site get a license and paste the html code at the end of your story in the e-mail and when it gets posted I will include that. This is the one rule that is not hard and fast I think if you have worked hard on something you should protect it, but it is your call.

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GreatHites # 35

This week we have five stories from:

Guy David
Justin Lowmaster
Norval Joe
Laurence Simon
and
Jeff Hite

Great Hites 35
Carbon Nanotubes By Guy David
Floor Two Please By Justin Lowmaster
The Space Elevator By Norval Joe
The Space Elevator By Laurence Simon
2016 By Jeffrey Hite
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Laurence didn’t send the text of his story, so if you want to get his story then you have to listen to the podcast.

Carbon Nanotubes
By: Guy David

The carbon nanotubes stretched up beyond my field of view. I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked way up, marveling at the thin cluster of threads, holding up the space elevator. I was excited. The first elevator to the moon, and I was going to be on it.

Moonbase Hotel, the state of the art in vacationing science. We where to be the first guests, the pioneers, the first space vacationers. We slowly walked towards the elevator. A single elevator pod could hold up to 100 people, and there where 10 of them, one of them the cargo hold. That wasn’t much, but it was only the beginning. There was more to come. As I entered the pod with the other guests a tingling feeling risen about my belly. I chuckled in silent surprise. I didn’t experience butterflies in my stomach since the high school prom. That was such a long time ago. I’m much older now. I set down and waited with everyone else.

The doors of the pod closed and there was a slight tremor, then the elevator started rising, first gently, then accelerating slowly. The room inside the elevator pod was completely plastic white with purple furniture, not my taste in decor, but it would do for this short journey. Soon, a robo-stewardess appeared and walked between our sits, offering us snacks and drinks. I declined gently, enjoying the view from out the window. I could see for miles away now. Everything looked so tiny, then the signs of civilization faded slowly in the distance as we lifted above the small layer of clouds.

The journey inside the elevator pod lasted a few days, then it slowed down gradually and we landed at the lunar base. We checked out in customs and went to get our luggage. It never came. I went over to find the manager. We all did. It turned out someone forgot to lock the door of the luggage pod. Now it was scattered all over some desert or another. I had nothing there of value and I was determined not to let this ruin my vacation. As it turned out, they had some good shops there at the lunar base and I was able to find replacements for almost everything. Part of me wondered if they haven’t left the doors open deliberately so that we would have to go shopping. It didn’t matter. Material goods where never that important for me. I checked into my hotel room, took a quick shower and meditated. So began my vacation on a world beyond our world.

Floor Two Please
By: Justin Lowmaster

The first space elevator, also known as a sky hook, had a brilliant record until disaster struck. Several unmanned trips had succeeded without mishap. The elevator works much like any elevator, but it uses a electromagnetic structure, sometimes called ‘rail gun technology’, to pull an elevator car from the earth’s surface to a structure in orbit. This latest trip, starting in the desert of Texas and going up to the New Genesis space station held a cargo of non-perishable supplies and one passenger, one Marcus Vance, one of the designers of the elevator. The elevator nearly was never built because of one main issue with such a project; micro meteors. Tiny space debris normally burns up in the atmosphere, but a space elevator rises high into that atmosphere, making it vulnerable to these debris, whether cosmic or man-made, by being high enough that it could be struck before the debris burned up, compromising structural integrity. With no metal inexpensive enough to withstand micro meteors available, the project was nearly scrapped. Hope came with an invention by the aforementioned Marcus Vance. An intricate and fast acting point-defense system coupled with a sensor grid made to track small objects. He had been working on the two components separately when he read an article on the failing sky hook elevator project. He put his two ideas together and presented it to the designers of the elevator. The financial backers of Vance’s projects gave extra funding to the project as well as the elevator project as well, since the success of both would cause a greater chance of profits than any one single project alone. Soon, the elevator and Vance’s defense grid were merged into an elevator that was designed to defend itself from space debris with lasers that would deflect or incinerate incoming debris that had a trajectory that would strike the elevator. Because Marcus had saved the project, he was given the option, and the honor, to be the first person to ride the sky hook. Unfortunately, this what when a bug in the latest version of the sensor grid showed itself.

A mistake in the system code caused a section of code to become ‘commented out,’ or ignored, while being compiled. When the program was updated, that section of code was no longer present. The missing section of code told the sensor grid and defense lasers to ignore the elevator itself when tracking moving objects. Computer simulations had not shown the error because in the simulations the elevator’s movement had not been included. As the elevator rose into the air, the defense system began to track it when it moved into the scope of the sensors and lasers. The lasers immediately began trying to disintegrate and deflect the elevator itself, causing structural damage. The elevator operator on the ground, codenamed ‘bellhop’, saw the lasers firing and shut them down, but it was too late. The damage itself was minor, but as the elevator increased speed, the gravity began to tear the elevator apart. Much of the cargo was pulled from the elevator from pressure and wind as a side wall was torn away. Inside, wearing a space suit, Vance held on for his life. The elevator operator aborted the ascent and lowered the elevator at reduced speeds. High winds and magnetic fields caused some of the falling cargo to strike the elevator’s support system, but it was at such low speeds that no damage was caused. As the elevator lowered, Vance lost his grip, but was able to wrap his arms around a beam of the elevator’s structure and held on. One of the bones in his arms was fractured and his suit tore, but he was lowered into breathable atmosphere in time and suffered no further injuries.

The elevator car was the only equipment damaged in the disaster, and Vance healed quickly from his injuries. Despite the louder cries from the elevators long-time naysayers, the project is continuing. A more thorough and complete simulation process is now in effect any time a change to any part of the systems programs is changed to prevent further mishaps of this type. Even with this setback, the project is still a bright beacon of hope for those who yearn to explore the far reaches of space.

The Space Elevator
By: Norval Joe

“Third floor, men’s lingerie, rubber baby buggy bumpers,” Jeremy said as the box began its’ climb up the composite ribbons. The three other occupants of the space elevator, white faced and white knuckled, eyed him nervously, not sharing his humor.
Jeremy sat buckled in his safety seat, the one in the north east corner, the same one he had sat in for the last twenty three climbs. He had said his same little joke to himself each of those twenty three climbs as well. This was his first climb with an audience; with passengers.
At the low orbit station Jeremy had found, through casual conversation with the other lift pilots, that he was not the only one who had developed silly rituals for the climbs and descents. Superstition wasn’t dead in the days of the space elevator, and anything that would add a little extra luck wasn’t going to be scoffed at.
Especially since the failure, last spring, that left the contents of the space elevator spread across the desert. He remembered the scathing headlines in the local and national papers. “Now for humans?” The journalists were asking. Since that accident some of the pilots had even taken up the archaic ritual of praying to a god.
Jeremy kept his luck rituals; his jokes, sitting in the same safety seat every time, eating chicken for dinner the night before the climb. He didn’t want to become known as the pilot of the first manned lift to come down.
Ground people didn’t really understand, anyway. Space elevators were still new technology. Really, they were still mostly experimental.
He had to sign liability wavers, and ‘no fault clauses’ just to apply for the program. Heck, his parents, and even his little sister, had to sign affidavits saying that they wouldn’t sue for anything, in the event of ‘lift failure.’
He remembered, as a child, the space shuttle, Challenger, disaster. His father was stationed at a military base in Hawaii at the time, and Ellison Onizuka, the first Hawaiian astronaut, was on the flight. Jeremy could remember monument of flowers at the Punch Bowl Cemetery, in Honolulu, that was set up in Onizuka’s honor.
Would they make such a monument for him if his box crashed?
His stomach lurched and he broke out in a cold sweat. How could he have allowed himself to think that? Had he just jinxed himself? Twenty three climbs and he had never allowed himself to think about death. And now with passengers!
It was their fault. The passengers didn’t understand luck. They had never climbed the ribbon before. They hadn’t performed any rituals. They were going to bring the lift down and spread bits of their DNA across the desert at the lifts base; theirs and his.
Panic overwhelmed him, pressure was bearing down on his chest, and he struggled for breath against the straps and buckles of the safety seat.
His worst fears were realized when there was a sudden jolt, a hiss of air and the straps holding him to the seat released him to rocket toward the ceiling of the box, in the weightlessness of space.
The door to the lift opened. Jeremy steadied himself with a handhold on the bulkhead. He smiled weakly and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, huddled masses and wretched refuse, welcome to Ellis Island, you’re in America,
now,” and directed his passengers onto the space station.

Space Elevator
By: Laurence Simon

No Text sent in.

2016
By Jeffrey Hite

“Do you know what this is about?” Jonathan asked one of the other reporters that he didn’t know.
“No, but this better be damn good, They managed to convince my boss that I needed to drop all my other stories for this week for this. Hey you are the NPR guy from Florida, I heard a rumor that there were going to be some of the older astronauts here, you know anything about that?”
“No, but I heard that rumor too, maybe they are keeping them away from us until the announcement. they probably know more about what is going on. Then again they could be here and we just can’t see them, this place is huge,” he said gesturing to the enormous hanger like building they were in. “Hey are you a local?” He turned asking the other reporter but he had wandered off toward the buffet table. “This is damned odd,” Jonathan mumbled to himself. Half a dozen reporters in a huge hanger like facility, that no one had heard of in the middle of Colorado farm country. An invitation with plane ticket, hotel and rental car all paid for by a company, SOL 586, that no one had ever heard of to make some big announcement that no one had a clue about. The only information was that it was a big break through in space exploration, and the hint that former astronauts would be there to comment on the announcement to be made. “I can’t believe that I accepted this invite.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” A voice boomed through the speakers setup on the platform in the center of the room. “If you will all come up here near the platform we can have a more intimate conversation and I won’t have to use the microphone.” Jonathan turned to see a tall skinny man dressed in a very nice business suit standing at the podium flanked by none other than Neil Armstrong and Gene Kranz. He started is recorder and immediately headed toward the stage.
“Thank you,” The man said as they got closer “I have always hated those things,” he said smiling. “I am Michael Jenkins and I am the press Secretary for SOL686, and I believe you know our esteemed guests, but in case you have missed the last 50 years of history, this is Neil Armstrong and Gene Krantz,” He said gesturing to each site of him. “I can promise you that you have not wasted your time in coming out here,” He said now sitting down on the edge of the stage. “In a few moments on that screen behind me, the SOL686’s owner is going to presenting you with what you all came to see. In the mean time I am here to make sure that you have everything you need. Food, drink, recording devices whatever you might need.”
As soon as he stopped speaking there was a free-for-all of questions. He let it go on for a minute or so and then held up his. “Folks, I have been given specific instructions not to tell you anything. I talk too much and I loose my job. I promise you, that you will only have to wait another few moments. We are just waiting for the technicians to get the feed right.”
“Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,” The voice came over the speakers as a grainy and off color image appeared on the huge projection screen. “I am sorry about the quality of the feed, but we are fighting a solar flare that has been causing our technicians a few problems today,” He paused for a moment looking out over his guests. “Today is a momentous occasion. Today you will are being let in one of the best kept secrets of the last ten years. About nine years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a dream. Ever since I was a little kid, I have dreamed about the space race. I watch my heroes, a couple of whom you see before you, do the things that I wanted to do. But, my dream went way beyond anything that we as humans have done thus far. Then I woke up and I realized that with the way things were going my dream was never going to happen. And I was quite saddened by that. I realized that with the set backs that we have faced that getting people off this planet to do the work of spreading the human race was just not going to happen any time soon. So I dreamed up SOL686.” A few groans went up from the crowd and Jonathan saw Glen roll his eyes ever so slightly. A new company that was going to enter the space race was just no longer really news. “Now, there is a delay in the feed, so i can’t see you reactions , but I can guess at them . I bet that John, you just rolled your eyes. As you have seen more of these opening that is your fair share. I am here to tell you that you will not be disappointed, oh yup I saw that John. See I knew you would. You are one of my heroes and I have spent a good deal of time watching you. But that is not the point here. I am Martin Joyce and I have earned my lumps and about ten billion dollars in relestate and about a dozen other industries, If you do your home work which I am sure you will you will find me. I have been careful not to put myself in the spot light. I am a pretty private person and normally this kind of thing would be against everything I believe in. But, since this is the, if I might steal the phrase from a friend that unfortunately could not be here today, one giant leap for man kind, I felt it was worth breaking my rules.” He paused for a moment and looked off camera.
“What I am about to tell you I know you are going to have a hard time believing, so I have confirmed with my technicians that they have queued up a series of images and short movies that will back up my claims. We are broad casting to you today from about half way between the Earth and Mars which is of course our destination for the next ten years, at which point it will be our jumping off point for the rest of the solar system, and eventually after that, who knows,” Martin paused again and looked off screen. “What you are about to see are images and movies of launches of our equipment over the last few years. We put our equipment in super high orbit between the Earth and the moon, and we slowly built the Capitana, our ship that will carry us to Mars and then be our home for the first few weeks while we get our habitats set up.”
The Image of Martin on the screen shrunk in size. And six other movies began to play around him. each of a launch for different location around the world. then images of the ship being assembled in space first by a few people at at time and then many. the Ship in the end was huge, nearly ten times the size of the space shuttle Jonathan knew. Each image was date stamped and showed a progression toward today.
“Then about a month ago, we launched,” Martin said with a smile. “That was, until today the greatest day of my life. Since that day my days have gotten better each day.” The other images stopped and the screen was split in half. On the right was and image of martin Joyce and on the left was a star field. “Now if you look at the image here you will see slightly off center the Capitata. Can’t see it can you? Neither can I and I know what I am looking for but the technicians swear it is there. Zoom in please,” he said to someone off screen and after a short delay the image changed, to show the tail end of the Capitana. As you can tell from the image that is us. Heading away from you. I have provided all the information about questions you might ask to Michael he will be handing out a complete copy of this announcement and the images, as well as technical information about our ship, the people on board and the technology we are using. Now two things. One you will notice that I said people on board and not crew, the reason is that there are about 120 people including the crew and myself, you can find details about each of them in the package. We indented to found a colony and so we have enough people to prevent things like founders syndrome. And the other thing, for those of you who are not up on your history, the name of our ship, is the same as the ship Cortez used on his trip to the new world. And where we don’t intend to burn our ship when we get there, we will use it and every part of it for the setup of our colony. So there will be no return trip.”
“Now, Michael I am sure told you that he is the press secretary for SOL686. He is not a technician or a scientist, that is not a slight it is just the truth, So if you have technical question beyond what the package tells you he can’t help you. So don’t pester him needlessly. I will be keeping him busy for in the foreseeable future. At then end of the package you will find information about how to contact us. We will review each and every request for information and reply as time allows. I want to thank you all for your attention and your time today.”
With that the screen changed to just the view of the Capitina heading away from Earth. Huge room seemed to explode with voices, and Jonathan was still getting his head around what had just happened. Three weeks before the international attempt at a space elevator had dropped it’s cargo, and that project looked dead due to litigation. The Space Shuttle had retired nearly seven years ago and they didn’t have a good replacement yet, but that was also bogged down there would be no human passengers for either one of them in a long time. Yet, this company that now one had ever heard of was now over half way to Mars. Humans on Mars. He shook his head to clear it.
When he looked up the chaos had not subsided, in fact it seemed to be getting worse. Senator Glenn was asking questions of Jenkins and he didn’t look happy. Apparently they were not let in on any of the secrets either. Jonathan was about to push his way to the front so he could try to figure out what it was that John Glenn was saying when a young man in jeans and a white Sol686 tee shirt came up to him.
“Here is your informational package,” he said smiling and pushing shiny folder into his hands. “It contains a copy of the press release and all the information promised, and a recording of today’s event up until about two minutes ago. We Just burned the disks.”
“Thank you,” was all he could manage. The young man moved on to the next reporter and repeated his actions.
Jonathan took one more look at the front of the crowd. All the reporters with the same questions over and over again. All the time Jenkins with his hands up plaintively referring to them to the package that they were only just now getting. This was his chance, the only think to be gained here was delay, he could scoop them all if he left right now. Sure, he might miss a quote from John Glen or Gene Krantz, but honestly if they were not old news then this whole thing started they certainly would be now. NASA, hell the rest of the world’s space programs had just been up staged. More than than, that there were going to be people on Mars in the next year. Not just a survey team, but a colony.

Great Hites Prompt # 36

This weeks Prompt is:

“He / She was voted most likely to bring an army of darkness to work.”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday January 13th. 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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Thumpin Son of…

“Thumpin.”
“That’s not my name.”
“Whatever, just get over here.”
“My name is not Thumpin.”
“I heard you. Just get over here, and bring that stool.”
“Not until you get my name right. I’m the proud son of great dwarf the people we’ve been here for thousands of years.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard it before. But right now I’m the queen and well you are not. So get over here Thumbkin son of Thorkin servant of my older brother, and bring that stool so I can rest my feet.”

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Great Hites # 34

Great Hites # 34
Slow Food by: Anima Zabaleta
Low Master High Master By: Guy David
Turtles all the way Down By: Jeff Hite
  
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SLOW FOOD
By: Anima Zabaleta
Performed by: Anima Zabaleta and Arri Gaffer

Mmmm, smells good! What’s the occasion? Did I forget some important date? Should I have picked up a cake?

Thanks, hon. Dinner’s in an hour.

That long? but I’m starving!

Oh, you’ll live. I was listening to the radio today, and there was an interesting program about the Slow Food movement. I had an epiphany! We are always so hurry-scurry with our lives, eating on the run, dashing from this place to that, multi-tasking our lives away…

So I sat down and listened to the whole show. Really listened and took it to heart. I’m not saying we need to live of the land or anything, but we can be more conscious about what we eat. I went through the freezer and cabinets, tossing out the convenience foods, the pop tarts and pizza pockets, that sort of stuff. I can bake pies and turnovers; I’ve already flagged recipes in the cook book…

Why are you looking at me like that? You know I can cook; I just haven’t in a while. We’ll spend time together on the weekend, putting in a garden… and in the summer, we’ll have strawberry ice cream made from milk from the local dairy. If this is going to work, I’m going to need your help…

If you insist, honey. And, yes, I know you can cook. Are you sure you really want to go through with this? Tell me you don’t like a greasy order of onion rings and a milkshake on a Saturday night, from the burger-rama…

Well, sure I do, but not for the tenth time in a week. I’m exaggerating a little… but not by much. Look at these receipts… We ordered take-out for dinner, when we sat down for dinner at all, and I bought lunch every day last week. These are just the slips in my coat pocket. How many more are in the car from my daily Joe-To-Go? Did you take a bag lunch to work even once?

Sure I did…

Oh yeah, like what?

Left over pizza from poker night.

Um hmmm…

Alright already! We’ll try it your way for a while… What did you say was for dinner?

Soup… It’s an old fashioned recipe from my granny… Listen to this: Start with 5 pounds of turtle meat… There were 14 in her family; I cut it down for us…

Turtle soup!?!

But of course! I figure, if you are what you eat, then our first slow food meal should be the slowest meat I could find.

Oh brother…

*****

Low Master, High Master
By: Guy David

Justin was a low master, one of the 3rd class mages. The high masters didn’t expect much of him. He wasn’t the one they would summon to fight demons or battle the dark lords of mischief. Those mischievous dark magic practitioners where a real problem, an annoyance they would have to deal with, but Justin wouldn’t be the one helping them with that.

Justin was their magical chef, and was pretty good at it. He could conjure up Italian dishes like no-one else could. His cannelloni was exemplary and his lasagña a wonder to behold. He started young and quickly became very popular amongst the mages. His name went before him and word reached even the dark lords of mischief themselves, who decided they needed to taste his dishes for themselves, so they did what dark lords of mischief do – they kidnaped him.

Justin wasn’t one to fall victim to his own fear. Instead, he viewed this as an opportunity to prove his worth to the high masters. He had ambitions. He watched, and he listened, looking for a hint of weakness in his captors. After testing and tasting his skill they made him their chef. He knew he had to be perfect at it since they where known to be merciless and they wouldn’t hesitate in torturing and executing him if they decided he was useless to them, so he created the most magical culinary masterpieces he had ever conjured up and listened. At last he found it. It was perfect since food was his speciality. All he needed was to magically slip 5 pounds of turtle meat into their dish of the day, timed perfectly, and they would vanish into nothingness.

As dinner began, Justin started dazzling the dark lords of mischief with ravioli and appetizers. He served one culinary wonder after another, seemingly almost invisible to them. They rarely noticed their servants. When the time came the magic ingredients appeared in their dishes. They didn’t notice. They continued eating, talking and laughing cheerfully. Justin was so masterful with his magical dishes that neither the color nor the taste of the food changed. Eventually it began. They started shrinking one by one. In the end all that was left of them where little green paddles. Justin easily found his way out and escaped.

After he returned victories to the high tower of mages, he was granted a star of honor which is one of the mages highest of decorations, and he was promoted to middle mage. He knew as a 2nd class mage he would get all the training he needed to become a 1st class mage. One day he would fulfill his dream of becoming a high master.

*****

Turtles all the way Down
By Jeffrey Hite

In his 1988 book Steven Hawking repeated this well known story:
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”[1]

“What is surprising about this story is not that it happened or didn’t happen, it is that is is true. Not the part about the scientist or the old woman, the part about the tortoise.”
“What are you talking about old man?”
“Wait I am not crazy, I know that you think I am crazy, but you don’t understand. I have been there.”
“What, where?”
“Under the plate.”
“Under the plate?”
“Haven’t you been listening to anything that I have been telling you? Last year, I took a team with me and we travel under the plate that the world sit upon. I had spend my life searching for a way to get to the edge of the plate, but it was not until a few years ago, I figure out a way. We didn’t go over the edge, but found a hole in the plate near the ring of fire in the South Pacific.”
“So you went under the plate the Earth is resting on and saw the tortoise?”
“Oh yes, we saw it all right. And it saw us to. And as soon as it did it reached that monstrous head around and tried to eat us. At first we were too fast for it. But it has a very long neck. You the hole in the plate must have been from it sticking it stout up into the world, because we were right in it’s reach, so you see we had no choice.”
“What do you mean? You had no choice about what?”
“We had to kill it. See.” He said pulling a bag of meat from the freezer.
“What is that?”
“I told you we had to kill it. This is five pounds of world supporting turtle meat. Soup?”

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