Friday Flash Fiction – 460 – Earthrise

Susan switched on her ageing ipad, checked the time, pressed the Facetime link and the familiar face appeared.

‘Hello Mother, how are you, what have you been up to this week?’

His greeting never varied and each week she would rehearse fascinating snippets of news and intelligent comments on world events. But when it came to the moment her mind went blank; there was not a lot to tell and even less that Guy and his family would be interested in.

Three little faces popped in and out of the screen, mostly upside down. Her son adjusted the camera so she could see her three grandsons tackling their new assault course; the latest ploy by their mother to direct some of their cooped up energy. Bouncing off the walls took on a new meaning in their confined home, it was so hard for parents not to be able to take them out.

The assault course was such a success they could not be prised away to come and talk to her; after nearly a year it was only natural that little ones would not be interested, they had their own lives now. It was a marvel that she could see and hear them so easily, across so many miles, but she found herself envying instead of pitying her sister with the daughter from hell. The girl had turned up back home a year ago, with three children from different fathers and no money and had not left until it was too late to leave.

Susan was proud of her son and all he had achieved and admiring of her daughter-in-law who had adapted so well to their strange new life, but the two further years until his posting was up seemed interminable.

Who would have thought when Guy was so young, devouring books about space and science in preference to children’s stories… perhaps it was not such a surprise, but obsession was not enough, he had the brains and ambition to achieve his dreams. Still she could not quite believe that her son was leader of the first Moon colony, IMC, International Moon Colony. Seeing the boys now, totally adapted to zero gravity, screeching with delight as they crawled along the curved ceiling of their living quarters, belied the cold fear she felt that this was a remote risky venture that only grown men should be attempting.

‘Grandma, Grandma, we can see you now.’

The camera panned round to the large porthole, through which she could see the Earth beginning to rise. It was a beautiful sight that she was privileged to see and as her grandsons floated and jostled around the porthole it was some comfort that they knew where they had come from, where they belonged.

Friday Flash Fiction – Flat Earth Society

Vanden came back a hero, nobody had flown that high into upper space before. Even as he negotiated the precarious landing he was planning his next take off; he had to discover more, find out if his amazing theory was correct. But would the high council even believe him, let alone invest in another skyblast and a three person expedition. First he must address The Academy, his safe return did not in itself prove anything and it would take a while for his team of experts to interpret the telescopic recordings.

The ageing president spoke to the learned gathering first. ‘The fact that Space Chief Marshall Vanden has returned is proof indeed that upper space is finite, otherwise he would surely have been propelled further and further into infinity, never to return.’

‘Your honour,’ the vice president stood and bowed, a tight smile on her face ‘our rocketgalleons are programmed for reversal after 35% of crew sustainable capacity has been used, but the magnetron telescope saw far yonder with no sign of an ending.’ She nodded to Vanden to speak before the president could utter more foolish words.

‘Your honour, our ancestors thought our earth was finite, they feared to climb any mountain lest they topple over the other side into hell. Then a few brave women climbed the highest peak and what was on the other side, but more land stretching endlessly in every direction. Each generation has travelled, hunting, roaming, farming, multiplying so that their children in turn set forth to find new land. There is always new land and always will be, we are not a table top held up by a giant, but an infinite earth that I saw from upper space; our land has no edges, no corners, no curves, just beautiful undulations and landscapes of every hue. And what of the depth? How far down have we mined for the precious elements we need for our cities and our galleons? If it were possible I believe we could excavate down and down and never reach rock bottom. And so it is with upper space, infinite in height as the earth is infinite in depth.’

There was a cheer from at least half the gathered assembly and a young man stood up. ‘Should not the mind of Academecians be as infinite as creation? How high must be the mega stars that give us heat and light. Vanden has not even approached them, otherwise his rocketgalleon would have melted.’

Another voice called out cynically ‘Stars, did you count how many or shall you tell us there is an infinite number?’

‘They are infinite, but stars are not all that is beyond our reach. The magnetron detected reflected light from orbs, orbs of rock and land; I believe above us is a universe so different that the impossible is possible. Round earths with an atmosphere surrounding them, the same as the mighty layer of air that blankets us and perhaps…’

No one was agreeing now, everyone was on their feet exclaiming, gesticulating, but Vanden was determined to finish what he had to say.

‘…perhaps on these round earths there might be life, even intelligent life like us.’

Now there was uproar, the vice president pleaded for silence, it behove the dignity of The Academy to let the president answer.

‘Now we know for sure that the mind of our poor brother, our esteemed Space Chief Marshall, has sadly been affected and if he is not insane he surely speaks blasphemy. How could there be life on a ball of earth… people? They would surely fall off. There is but one earth that has no end, one body of air we breath and high above us the stars that warm us and nothing else.’

Friday Flash Fiction 141 – Instructions

‘Just follow the instructions,’ said the exasperated father ‘you put too much water in last time.’
‘But it looked so beautiful and shiny.’
‘Sparkle and glitter are no good if it doesn’t work properly. You need to get the axis straight for a start.’
‘The axis would have been fine if my stupid sister hadn’t thrown lumps of rock.’
‘You must learn by your mistakes, the structure has been unstable all along, you were over ambitious. Now it’s time to get back to basics and before we can do that you need to dismantle E1. It’s all recycling these days… Don’t look at me like that, you knew we’d have to put them down; you can have new pets when I’m satisfied with E2; not so many this time, pets that don’t eat each other or kill one another.’

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Spaceship Earth and the Climate Emergency

In another of the occasional blogs from my sister in Australia she shares a letter she sent to the ‘West Australian’ and ‘Australian’ newspapers.

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This week the media has been full of information about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. It was an amazing achievement, and worthy of our attention, but before we get too distracted with thoughts of going back to the moon and then on to Mars, let’s think seriously about Spaceship Earth, and the lessons to be learned from the Apollo 13 mission.

This mission came to be dubbed a “successful failure” after an onboard explosion destroyed the chance of landing on the moon, and changed the mission into a far more difficult one of getting the astronauts back to earth safely. The craft was critically low in power, oxygen levels were of concern, and carbon dioxide levels mounted to near lethal levels. It took all the ingenuity of hundreds of people – scientists, astronauts and engineers – to solve the problems, and against all odds, the three men were brought back safely. During those tense days, the whole world watched and hoped, and mankind was once more united in a common cause.

Here on Spaceship Earth, we face not only the climate crisis, but also the problems of overconsumption, pollution, unimaginable mountains of waste, destruction of the environment with accelerating loss of biodiversity. The main lesson to be learnt from Apollo 13 is that humans are incredible and ingenious when our backs are against the wall. For those of us who accept that climate change is happening, we should not lose hope. The odds against the Apollo 13 flight coming home again were almost impossible, and yet they succeeded.

illustration of moon showing during sunset
Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

For those in our community who deny there is a problem, consider what would have happened if, after those famous words “Houston, we have a problem” had been uttered by Jim Lovell, politicians had denied there was a problem, and instead ridiculed the astronauts. Then, when the scientists and engineers at Houston had confirmed that there was indeed a problem, had tried to silence them, preferring instead to believe those few people who asserted the whole moon landing had been faked anyway? What if, instead of using those precious hours to come up with solutions and implement them, the Americans had whittled away the precious hours by arguing about whether a problem even existed? It would have reached a stage when it was truly too late to act.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world could be united in an effort to solve, or at least ameliorate, Climate change? We already have many solutions, but are failing to implement them because of disharmony and vested interests. We can succeed, but we have to start now, because … Houston, we have a problem. A big problem !!!!

Kate Doswell

Silly Saturday – Seen Sideways

A new exhibition opens here at the weekend, challenging how we perceive the world around us. The artist and photographer Scribaltide claims there is no up or down, on earth or anywhere in the universe, so therefore we should free ourselves from the notion that there is a right way up to hang paintings and photographs. The exhibition has been panned by critics and the Royal Photographic Society has distanced itself, saying Scribaltides’s pictures are not of a standard they would recognise, even the right way up.

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Noah’s Ark, the wilderness years.

 

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The Flood

                                                         Tide Times

New Horizons

                                                      Steep Path

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Skyfall

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Red Door

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                                                         Dark Angel

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Heatwave

                                                               Globe

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                                                   Spiralling

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The public have been flocking to the exhibition, but there have been reports of some viewers being taken ill with dizzy spells and nausea. A disclaimer advises those with a heart condition or who are pregnant to seek the advice of their doctor first.