Sunday, March 31, 2013

Writing Challenge With Author, Dr. Bob Rich

Duck

Dr. Bob Rich

 

Harry noticed her as soon as he walked into the cozy dimness of the bar. A new bit of talent sat at one of the tables in the far corner. It was quite early yet, few of the guys were there, and nobody seemed to have latched onto her.

He did a slow slalom among the empty tables and stopped by her side. She was a blonde, maybe even natural, and looked nervous. Probably about thirty, though it was hard to tell in the indirect light. Nice tits, but then again you can’t tell when a girl is dressed, can you? He flashed the famous friendly smile. 

“Hi. Welcome to the pub. Can I buy you a drink?”

Her eyes measured his six-foot-two frame and managed to return the smile, though he could see it was an effort. “I’m… I’m not that used to alcohol. A shandy maybe?”

“Good. I’ll have the same, but if you don’t mind I’ll leave the lemonade out.”

Well, that got a laugh. He fetched the drinks, a beer for himself, the adulterated version for the chick, and sat down on the next chair, at right angles to her.

“Thank you,” she said, “I guess we’d better introduce ourselves.”

“I’m Harry Tompiere.” He spelt it out, knowing from long experience that otherwise people never got it right.

“I’m Midge Martin. At least, I’ve gone back to that.”

Harry was quick. “You’re divorced, are you?”

“It’s a happy anniversary today: we split up exactly a year ago. That’s why I thought I’d celebrate. This is the first time I’ve gone out since then. I’ve… I’ve decided I’m ready for a new start.”

“Good for you. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You got any kids?”

“No, that was part of the reason we had problems. He fired blanks, and wouldn’t hear of raising someone else’s kid, and I want children.”

“Oh, there are too many people anyway, aren’t there?” He laughed, to show he was only teasing, but she changed the subject.

“And tell me about yourself, Harry. What do you do?”

Harry finished his beer and leaned back. “Most people think that question means your occupation. There’s nothing wrong with mine, I’m an electrical engineer. But I do that only to make money. What I do is to hunt.”

 Her face froze over. “You mean, you kill animals?”

“Well, they do taste delicious. Do you eat meat?”

She was silent for a little while, then admitted, “Yes.”

“Yeah, what you eat is poor animals raised in slavery, then killed in an impersonal way. I’m a hunter. I care for nature, do things to ensure that conditions are right for the prey species. And it’s more honest than leaving it to some butcher.”

She looked up at him with a defiant look on her face. “Dress it up however you like, you get enjoyment from killing. That’s wrong.”

“No it’s the natural condition of…”

“Fair go, Harry, I heard you out.”

“OK, go on then.”

“What do you hunt?”

“Whatever is in season. Foxes and rabbits are vermin, I hunt them any time. Deer ducks, feral pigs…”

“All right, Harry. Imagine, you’re this deer, a beautiful creature minding his own business, happily eating, being with your kind, out in a forest where you belong. And then suddenly something completely beyond your understanding happens, and a great pain blasts through your body. You turn to run as you hear the bang, but collapse after a few steps.”

Her face glowed, and she looked far prettier when angry than when she was apprehensive.

But Harry had lost interest. A bang in the bedroom wasn’t worth a constant argument about a bang in the bush. So, when he saw Tom and Jim barge in from the street, he waved them over. “Fellas,” he said, “let me introduce you to this lovely lady.”

He soon made his excuses and left them to it. “I need an early night,” he explained, “I’ve got to get up before dawn. Tomorrow is the first day of the duck season.”

But of course he didn’t go to bed, no point to do it alone. Wasn’t there a party at Jack and Judy’s place?

***

First shot of the season! Harry smoothly tracked the huge cloud of birds clattering off the lake, but shifted target with a gasp. One mallard rising from the grassy edge was twice the size of any other, though it had the duller female coloring. He’d never seen a duck that big!

He tracked the monster duck smoothly, then squeezed the trigger. He saw feathers scatter: a hit, but the great bird didn’t fall. 

Unbelieving, he watched it change into a large, thin grey sheet that formed itself into a strange curve. Bright colors chased one another across its surface: brown and black swirls that changed momentarily into yellow, as it volplaned after each feather in turn. Within seconds, the giant mallard reappeared, and was again spiraling down towards the grass.

Harry blinked and shook his head. He must have imagined it. Too much piss at the party last night? “Fetch!” he called.

Slinky reached the mallard just as she touched the ground. There was an indistinct grey melee ¾ then bitch and duck were both gone. Disappeared.

I’m going crazy! Harry thought. He walked over and stopped a few steps from where they should have been. There was absolutely nothing to see but waving blades of ryegrass, clover in flower, paspalum, cooch, the same as everywhere else. Except, Slinky’s neckband lay there on top of the grass.

I’ll be buggered. He stepped forward onto solid-seeming grass to have his boots slip on something slimy. He landed with a thump, the gun flying from his hands.

The grass instantly rose into an oozy grey mound, enfolding his feet, his legs, flowing along his body with great rapidity. Terror stretched time, so that he saw every detail as the grey tide engulfed him, as an incredible pain started in his feet, flared along his shins, his thighs, his innards. Within a second, he’d been consumed by a fire, a supernova of agony. His mouth was still opening for the scream he’d never have time to make when his heart was eaten, when his dimming eyes saw the rising river of greyness swallow his head. Then, mercifully, his brain was gone too.

Having consumed dog and man, the grey jelly had grown to many times Its previous size. It formed a seven foot high standing egg shape, covered in purple and green swirls, the color of repletion. After a loud click It disappeared.

The mussed grass held no clue other than Harry’s few scattered belongings: his clothes, the gun, ammunition pouch, the backpack (but with the lunch gone), his sturdy boots. Oh, and Slinky’s neckband.

***

The Earth circled the Sun, and the Moon circled the Earth. Several bits of man-made junk also orbited the Earth, but there was nothing else around.

And then, suddenly, the interstellar vehicle appeared, neatly hidden beyond the far side of the Moon. Several cubic kilometers of space was occupied by a bewilderingly complex network of glistening ovoid shapes of varying sizes, joined by tubular ooze passages.
Eight Beings waited for the Captain in the Conference Module. Katloi felt both nervous and proud at having been chosen for the initial reconnaissance. From their rapidly changing bright colors and the animated waving of pseudopoda, obviously the other seven felt similarly.

Tading oozed over to Katloi, Its shape a tall cylinder. It was covered with a mixture of colors: bright green and yellow stripes indicating excitement, the red of laughter below, but with flashes of brown and black swirls breaking through. That was the color of fear. It sent out a stream of pseudopoda, signaling, “If only we knew a little more!”

“Then we wouldn’t need to go,” Katloi answered. “From their electronic emissions, we know they’re primitive enough to kill their own species, and that they have distance weapons. So, they’re dangerous.”

“Of course. But what about the chemistry of the planet?”

“It’s a water and oxygen world.”

“Sure, but their DNA, is it right or...”

The valve from the Command Module dilated, and the Captain oozed through. Tading stopped in mid-sign.

The eight scouts formed a line facing It. Each assumed a smooth ovoid shape, and became the snow-white of receptivity.

Showing the pink and orange swirls of declamation, the Captain signed, “My friends, I won’t understate the risk. You’ve seen the evidence, just like I have. We are sure the simpler of the radio-wave emissions are designed to be translated into atmospheric vibrations, hard as that is to believe. However, the more complex message format seems to represent vision as well as this exotic sense-modality. On the basis of our decoding, we know what they look like. They are locked into a fixed shape. Somehow, they bear their weight on two stalks, we think by having a hard internal framework.

"These Beings are on the cusp of achieving space travel. Already they’ve sent primitive devices through their planetary system. And we suspect they are dangerous. So beware, don’t risk yourselves. But even more important, under no circumstances must they detect your extra-planetary origin. You need to go, in order to find out just one thing: the accuracy of their broadcasts. Are there any comments or questions?”

There were none. “Connect up to your translocators, and good luck.”

Katloi’s pre-programmed point of arrival was near a large population center, but far enough from it for an almost certain unobserved materialization. On finding Itself on the planet, Katloi assessed Its surroundings, and spread out to exactly imitate the ground cover: a mixture of soft-bodied green plants. The only disadvantage of being this low was that It could see little. 

Therefore, It extended a stalk that almost immediately became a miniature copy of nearby brown shanked, green foliated tall plants.
The yellow light of the primary shone on blue water. Motile Beings half Katloi’s current size swam on the surface, waddled along the shore, or flew above it. Katloi studied them and assumed an experimental copy. 

It was no good, the thin downward stalks wouldn’t bear Its weight. It oozed toward the water, maintaining the shape, until It was among the strange Beings. As several rose into the air, Katloi saw their flying mechanism. Two airfoil cross-section articulated limbs were covered with frondy extrusions. Achieving such a complicated shape took time and considerable effort, but soon Katloi was soaring among the smaller shapes. It was pleased at having achieved a suitable, motile camouflage. Its next task was to find one of the dominant Beings. It landed.

And by great good fortune, one was just approaching. It was using a similar form of locomotion to that of the flying Beings when on the ground, so in this regard the decoding of the transmissions was accurate. A smaller Being accompanied It, on four stalks.

The smaller Being rushed forward. It had a sort of elongated lump sticking out in front of the leading pair of weight bearing stalks. A wide gap at the forward edge of this lump opened and closed several times. Katloi deduced It was making atmospheric vibrations to frighten the flying Beings, because they rose in panic. Wishing to blend in, Katloi accompanied them.

Without warning, swift metal pellets blasted through Its body. Not only did this cause great pain, but several components of Its body were separated off by the attack. It retrieved scattered components. Angry, hurt, disoriented, It resumed camouflage and landed.
The smaller Being attacked. Katloi defended, and got a nice surprise.

***

Katloi was the first to return. It materialized, then separated from Its machine. The Captain was alone within the module. When It noticed Katloi, It turned a bright orange, the color of eager anticipation, as Katloi gathered Itself. “Tell me. How did you go?” the Captain signed.

Katloi swiftly rose into a respectful oval. “Respectability, I have good news. They taste delicious!”


For more on Dr. Bob Rich:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Castle of Despair- Writing Prompt and Short Story by Guest, Morgan Jane!

BEWARE! This castle is not an enchanted place, but a prison. You find yourself trapped here with thousands of men and women from a dying race. Will you stand up and lead them? How? 



Castle of Despair
Morgan Jane

At this point it shouldn't bother me that I have lost my beaded shoes while being drug down ten flights of jagged steps. But it did. My two foreign looking feet pushed me further into the corner. I inhaled deeply to fight the searing pain tearing my back in two. I kept my head down staring at the swollen things on the end of my legs, then searched for solace in the cracks in the concrete floor. Something floated to the ground and I turned only to see a clump of my golden hair, the handle for our captors.
“Look at me!” Richard demanded and I raised my head automatically, only to find him still hideous, scary. 

I watched him rub his chin just like he always did when he was in great thought but now with hoof like hands. Flakes of burnt rotting flesh fell off his face to the cold dungeon floor sizzling like bacon.
With a pout, I turned my head away from him to the stare through the bars, forgetting that past them were others just as grotesque. One of them moved, looking at me, hissing. The only clue it was a lady was the fact she was in a dress like me. 
“Susan,” he reached out toward me this time but I wouldn't dare touch him. Steam rose from his body making it hard for me to breath. The smell coming off of him was 
unbearable. 

My eyes watered then widened as they adjusted to the dim candle light. I noticed his multiple rows of pointy teeth. 

“Sweetheart! It isn't what it looks like.”
“Then what is it Richard? Really I should have known!” I hugged my knees thinking of all the times our plans had fallen through. At first it was Richard's boss that was more important than his life with me. 

“Let's elope, you said, no interrupts that way, you said.” I took my engagement ring off my finger and threw it at him.

Richard leaned, scrambling to catch it, like it might shatter if it hit the floor. “Now, Honey, you can't think this is my fault! Look at them, this was obviously some sort of trap.” He pointed to the multitudes of sickening figures in the next cell, dressed as bride and groom. “Besides, you picked this castle, I wanted to go to Vegas.”

I buried my face in my hands realizing he was right, this was a trap. The whole wedding package had been to good to be true. Married at a real castle, an all inclusive honeymoon, plus airfare included. I cursed my small budget and lack of family. Running off to get married seemed like such a fun idea. I spread my fingers apart and wiggled them around scared that I too would turn into an ugly goat creature. 

“I thought you said you were Greek, another lie!” 

I couldn't fight the anger bubbling up. I loved Richard but he broke my heart so many times. What can I say, he's a ladies man. Every female wanted him and he had fallen prey too many times. He begged and I tried to forgive him. I sincerely wanted to but it was never long before I caught him with another woman. Resentment had grown in me like a tumor, a painful black one. The good times with Richard had been my only relief so I jumped at the chance to be his blushing bride when he swore off all his past lovers and his love of alcohol. Not to mention his job and buddies for two whole weeks, for our honeymoon.
“I am Greek, believe me, this is not what it seems.” Richard was slurring and choking on his own words. I was silent, I had heard that a hundred times. Believe him, yeah right. I listened instead to the hisses and grunts all around. Then I realized out of the whole dungeon, full of a thousand or so abominations, we were the only ones talking.

“Richard, talk to me, what are we going to do?” He looked at me, his eyes the same deep emeralds I had fallen in love with and said nothing. I panicked, “Please, we have to get out of here. I'll believe anything at this point.”
He coughed again and his hoof hand went to his neck. I realized he was trying to undo his bow tie. The fear of being left alone with Richard, not able to speak to me, propelled me forward. I crawled over to assist him. Undoing the buttons, I saw the smooth skin of his chest start to crack and turn black before my eyes. 

“There is something in the air down here, burning you?”
He nodded his head in agreement. “Susan, this isn't what it seems. I am not a monster. Our lives are in your hands,” he pleated in hoarse whisper. His eyes bore into mine trying to impress his message further into me. 
“But what am I to do? This isn't my fault. I am normal!” I said in frustration as he put his arms around me. I laid my head on his simmering chest surrounded by his crackling arms, embers falling off. But it didn't hurt me. I reached up and touched Richard's now black and glowing forehead, only to feel it really smooth. It didn't burn me either. An illusion, magic, I thought. My fingers felt for the knobby protrusions I saw on his head. They were real, horns! Was Richard a demon? 

“That would explain all the fornication,” I said under my breath.
Richard chuckled slightly, obviously in horrible pain. My chest tightened at the thought of losing him, no matter what he was, really. 

“Free us, Susan,” his whisper almost inaudible.
“But how? I am pretty sure I am only human!” I slowly got up to my feet to think. Pacing was excruciating. I was sore but Richard was burning alive. I leaned on the ancient metal bars to observe the rest of the prisoners. They were all on the floor in the same condition. There was no guard in sight. 

The man that forced us down here was huge, he couldn't be human. Richard had tried to best him and fought like I had never seen before. I would be no match for the giant or anyone one for that matter, I thought as I looked down at my delicate frame. Next, I felt my own forehead and mouth to make sure I didn't have rows of fangs or horns. My hands were still normal too. My hands, I thought, if I could only set all these monsters free, maybe they could fight their way out.
I studied the lock carefully, I had picked locks before as a child when my brother locked me out of my own room. It had taken me ages to find the right pick. On top of my door frame, I hid a long hair pin in case he ever done it again. Running my fingers through my elaborate bun, a smile threatened to take over my face. I had plenty of metal on my body, from the hair pins to the under wire that molded my bridal cleavage. It wasn't long before I had our cage unlocked but I didn't dare leave yet. 
I turned to the now silent Richard, placing my hands on my hips, “How am I sure that those things won't think it is feeding time when I open their gates?” I really didn't want to get eaten, I was serious, but Richard looked at me like I was being ridiculous. “If it happens, I told you so,” I reached for him. “Are you coming with me?” I took back my hand remembering he couldn't grab it. The hooves. “Come on!”
Richard's suit was torn and smoking. He smiled as he stood on unstable goat legs, he had a tail and his horns were getting bigger. At least if he was with me he could ram any enemy we came across. The silence was my biggest threat while undoing the locks. Every scrape of my hair pin and clink of the jail doors seemed to echo. My nerves were shot by the time I had finished the tenth door. Richard started to led the freed creatures to the stairs. 

“What about the others?” I whispered but he was gone. I turned to work on the next lock not wanting to leave anyone behind when I noticed it was useless. Even half of disfigured beings in the last cell I unlocked lay still, unable to move. They weren't going anywhere. With about twenty per cell, two hundred would be fighting for our freedom. Quickly I followed behind the crowd. A good place to be since I was defenseless. My under wire wasn't going to save me now.
The dungeon was so deep in the ground my ears were popping as we climbed the steps. Just as I spotted my shoes, I heard screams and growls along with shouts from the people above. The fight had begun but instead of following them when I reached the top of the stairs, I grabbed my heels and ran the opposite direction. 
I was a coward, I didn't care. If I was going to escape this crazy Castle, I wanted my luggage. Our suite was on the ground floor and I remembered the way. I ran as fast as I could on the lush carpets ignoring all the intricate tapestries that decorated the stone walls. When I reached the door, I had to pick that lock too and began questioning the reliability of locks. I guess they don't expect intruders to wear hair pins. I giggled in triumph only to find my belongings scattered all over the room when I entered. 

“Damn them,” I said out loud while trying to salvage what I could.
My cellphone had not been taken and I had three bars. I threw it on the bed. I didn't know who to call, no one was going to believe me. Gathering up my carry on bag and purse, I thought I could sneak out of the back during this fight. It was a good plan but I hated to leave Richard. Surely, he would rather I be safe. I did undo the locks. 
Going through the empty kitchens, I could hear the sounds of commotion coming from the front of the castle. It was way too easy to find and leave through the back door, that I was practically giddy at my cleverness. Sunlight caressed me and I looked at the sky so glad to be free. My mother always said pride comes before a fall. I should have ran because two men appeared out of nowhere. 
“There she is, grab her!” They were shouting and running now did me no good. They scooped me up easily, carrying me under my arms and by the feet back into the medieval castle. I went through every swear word in the book as I tried to kick free before we reached the large ball room. The one I was suppose to be married in. Now I might die here, I thought. I swirled out of their hold and landed with a thud.
When I raised my head, I saw the room was full of regular people in tattered wedding clothes. Back up on my feet quickly, I realized the evil creatures had turned back to normal looking people. I backed away, knowing what they were really, I was frightened as it all sunk in. No longer in danger, maybe, I was angry too, angry that Richard lied to me again. I had been sleeping with a monster. 

“We are not monsters my dear,” a petite old lady with flowing gray hair stepped toward me, holding out her hand. I felt her poke inside my mind, urging me and took her delicate hand letting her gently tug me forward. “Come see, he changed so you can view his true form.”
The crowd parted like the sea and Richard stood before me, magnificent and very naked. Yes, he had goat legs and horns but also his same gorgeous arms, chest, hands and face. His dimples appeared as he smiled at me, making me remember all the beautiful moments we have shared. I could never resist his charm. 

“What are you?” I asked in amazement.

The old lady answered for him, “We are all some form of mortal nature spirit. Except you. He is a Satyr, my dear. Do you know what that means?”

I shook my head, “No.”

“No, child, I suspect you already do,” she winked.


For more on Morgan Jane:
www.TheMorganJane.com  
www.twitter.com/morgijane

A Princess Dreams- Writing Prompt

Creative writing prompt! What do princesses dream about? Be as outrageous and creative as you'd like!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Two Silly Dogs- Writing Prompt

Today's creative writing prompt is a silly one! Take a look at the picture. What are the two dogs laughing about? Create a dialogue!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Interview With Author, Kirstin Pulioff!

Where are you from?

Well, I was born and raised in Southern Californian, but moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend Oregon State University, and have lived in Oregon ever since.

Pulioff! That's an interesting surname. Where does it originate?

It sure is, and I owe it all to my husband! His family is from a small town in Northern Greece.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing my whole life. From the time I was about seven, I really started to incorporate it into my life. Writing stories, transcribing shows, making up songs and plays, it has always been my way of expression.

You have children, correct? How many? How do you find the time to balance writing with your busy life? Advice to other writers about time management?

Yes, I have two kids, 5 &4. As for balance, I was hoping you could tell me! I am still figuring it out, day by day, tweet by tweet! I am 100% focused mommy during the day, and then after the bedtime stories, I put my author cap on. I realized early, that venturing into writing as a career would not happen overnight, and that some sacrifices and readjustments would need to be made. I just try to stay consistent, positive, and keep the momentum going.

For advice- as with anything, don’t give up.

Have you ever been to a writing conference, class, of critique group? How was that experience? 

I actually never have. I got my degree in Forest Management and didn’t really know much about the literary world before I started submitting my book. I had a friend who worked as an editor, and she helped me fine tune my book for submissions.

I love connecting with other authors on Facebook, twitter and Goodreads, and imagine that attending a conference or a regular critique group would be a lot of fun.

What genre do you prefer to write in?

I tend to write fantasy. I love this genre for the ability to suspend belief, the magic and mystery, the idea that good will always triumph over evil, and that Prince Charming is waiting around the corner.

What inspired you to write The Escape of Princess Madeline?

This is a long story, so I will give you the short answer. As an elementary youth, and advanced reader, I found myself reading books that were not the most appropriate for my age. So, when I began to write, I wrote a book to fill that gap- a fantasy adventure with aspects of magic, fantasy and romance appropriate for all ages.

How long did it take you to write the book?

 7 years
I wrote the first draft in about a month and a half during my lunch breaks at an office job. Then I put it down, not knowing what to do with it next. A few months later, I transferred it from my journal to the computer and made the first rounds of edits. After that, I had my kids, and stopped focusing on my writing. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I re-focused on my dream and started to make it a reality. I picked it up, edited it, edited again, and again and then began submitting. It took six months before I got my contract and another six until publication.

What books have most influenced your life?

Ohhh…. Good question. That is hard to pick. The one that has most influenced my life is The Bible. If we are looking at the philosophy, the fantasy and the fun, then David Eddings, Belgaraid and Mallorean series hold a special place in my heart.

What book are you reading now?

I am a little embarrassed to say. I still have the Hunger Games waiting to be read.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Absolutely! I am so happy about the new authors I have found. Some of my new favorites are Michelle Browne, Trish Marie Dawson, Travis Luedke & Bobbie Shafer

What are your current projects?

Right now, I am working on the final touches on “The Battle for Princess Madeline.” Now that Princess Madeline has the future she has dreamed of, how far will she go to protect it?

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Writing has always been my ‘thing.’ Some people are athletic, some like to draw, to sing, to bake, and I write.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

For me, the hardest part about writing is finding the time. When it comes to writing for me, it happens either in the evening or the weekends when I can escape for a couple of hours. So, it’s a matter of getting everything out of my head and onto the paper in a relatively short period of time.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Dr. Seuss. He has a way to balance the lesson with artful whimsy. Whether talking green eggs or saving trees, his words are captivating.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part was deciding what I wanted to do afterwards. It was one thing to write the book, but another process to get me ready for submitting it and opening myself to the new level or scrutiny and vulnerability. I am an introverted person, so taking this step was a big hurdle for me.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Each book holds new lessons, new challenges and new growths. For me, each book is discovering a new part of myself, uncovering a new truth, and taking new steps towards living my dreams. This book really showed me that at any age, it is important to take charge of your life and find a way to live it fully.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My only advice is to always stay true to yourself, your muse, and your dreams.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

As always, I am so appreciative to my readers and fans. Writing is such a joy for me, and I am thrilled at every review, every rating, and every smiling reader.

If you could live anywhere, where would that be?

That is a toss up. I LOVE living in Oregon (minus the rain)… but I also loved my time as an exchange student in New Zealand, and Greece is absolutely magical. Maybe I can timeshare between all three.


If you could have any superpower, what would it be?



For more on Kirstin Pulioff, visit her at:





Monday, March 25, 2013

Journey Through Space- Writing Prompt & Short Story by Guest, Pavan Tarawade!

You're the captain of a spacecraft. Write about where you're taking the crew and what your mission is.

Excellent Story From Guest, Pavan Tarawade! http://pavantarawade.wordpress.com/

Journey to the Most Beautiful Place


It had got a bit claustrophobic inside the aircraft. I was trying my best to keep the tempo of my crew of fifteen odd members up.

Not that we were closely bonded, but we did share a spirit and an enthusiasm to embark upon this audacious expedition. Being the captain of the spacecraft, I introduced everyone to each other & gave them few instructions. All of us had taken the decision to let go of our mundane daily lives, to jump out of those dusty old office cabins and to see the place that is probably the most beautiful in the universe.

The place where we’re heading to was not my discovery. But it certainly was my decision to take the crew there. To show how astonishingly beautiful a place can be. As spacecraft moved almost 10.000km up and left the exosphere, I asked them to give a glance at the place we had just left – our own planet earth. The sky outside looked like an Egyptian queen wearing a full length gown adorned with thousands of sparkling stars. Looking outside the thick glass of spacecraft they all shared an expression of awe as to how pretty their own planet seemed from the sky. Suddenly the lines of Neil Armstrong rose from the corners of childhood memories in the mind – that very planet of ours looked like a pretty blue sphere from above. Few of them smiled & probably waved towards it in their minds. Needless to say, there were lot of hands that waved back at us from the ground we had said goodbye to.

Spacecraft slowly tilted rightwards and plunged into the ocean of seemingly limitless sky. Walls inside were shaken and we held onto the arms of seats. I could hear few deep breaths and few holy chants as well.

Congratulations we have successfully entered the zone – One O three’ was announced on the speaker and was simultaneously greeted with cheers and claps. Now the spacecraft moved valiantly through the open black space and gathered speed as if it was a F1 track. My crew had put faith in my judgment & there was no way I could let them down. I showed them the range of tiny to gigantic rocks floating freely in the space. We greeted our neighboring planets with respect. Looking at Mars, Mercury and Venus; suddenly everyone started sharing the stories about these planets and how with great naivety we link them to our future and fate. We talked about how hot the temperatures would be out there and the possibility of life on them. Crew members had childlike happiness when I showed them how vibrant colours of the galaxy along with the flying rocks form shapes of a snow angel, a mountain, a forest and even a giant jelly fish.

It was a third day of our journey when I finally let them know the situation.

‘It is imperative that you hear this message carefully. The spacecraft has experienced critical problems in its engine and can only guarantee a day more of voyage’. Cheerful faces were transformed into gloomy scared ones in a matter of few seconds. I took a deep breath and said “Hey everyone, no need to worry. I know it’s a clich√© and probably said a few times in Spiderman movies. But yes you always have a choice. We do. There is a far more beautiful place ahead that I wanted you all to witness. But then I cannot guarantee a safe return in that case. It’s fine with me. I’m sure we all read the terms and conditions before jumping into these suits, didn’t we?”

I let the minute of silence be the reply to my question. And then further I said, “Tell me honestly. What is it that is holding you guys back? What is it that is so desperately waiting for you back there…something so precious that it is asking you to let go off seeing the most beautiful place in the universe.”

I tuned my eyes around and could see few raised hands.

“I have my mom and dad waiting for me out there. And I cannot let them down” spoke one voice.

“I am in love with the most beautiful woman in the Universe. For me it is justified to let go off the most beautiful place in the universe for her” said the one in late twenties.

“I have kept my dog in the pet care house. And I don’t trust them with it for more than three days” said the girl in a deep tone.

Few other voices joined them in support to divert the spacecraft to earth.

And so I did.

That day we shared our stories of childhood, our colleges, first ever crush that we had, that girl, that boy, those mischief days, first job, the promises we made, things that made us laugh, made us cry. And we all realized it was all back there. Waiting for us on our own planet. Those waiting eyes out there looking outside the widow at the sky hoping for our safe return.

Announcement on the Radio interfered our conversations out of sudden.

‘Kindly pay attention everyone. The journey to the most beautiful place has just begun.’

Everyone turned to look at me in disbelief. I returned it with a smile and let the radio continue the announcement –

‘We are now entering the most beautiful place to be ever discovered in this Universe. Some call it a dark blue sphere. Some call it a land of hope, friendship and love. And commonly we call it ‘Earth’.





 
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