Colonist Diaries for Chapter:
1. Prologue.


Posted in 1. Prologue by The Historian

Suddenly it was a mad scramble. Where only a couple days ago everyone thought they had another three months to prepare for the trip to a new world, now UN authorities had gotten wind of the trip and were rounding up colonists.

Robert James Hamilton, President of StelCo and financier of the trip to Alchibah sent out a desperate email:

Fellow Colonists,

I am sorry to have to suddenly change our schedule but it seems the UN has gotten whif of our plans. Already they have rounded up several of you.

There is no time to lose. Drop everything. Forget everything. You must immediately pack and get yourself to the Hilton Orbital Resort. I’ve made reservations for you so your personal craft will be allowed docking space. Your cover is that you are going on a one week planetary tour aboard the Lancer Cruise Ship. In reality, that ship is owned by StelCo. It leaves for Titan Dry Dock tomorrow afternoon. That’s only 12 hours from now.

While the Mayflower itself is able to hold almost unlimited cargo, the Lancer isn’t. You are limited to one large suitcase and one small carry-on bag. I’m sorry about that but there simply isn’t time to make other arrangements. As it is, the Mayflower is not nearly complete in the stores and provisions I had hoped to bring along. Make sure you have several changes of clothing, sturdy boots, and a warm jacket.

We will all meet at the Mayflower in a couple days. Until then, good luck, best wishes and hopes.

RJ Hamilton

It will be interesting to see what choices the colonists made in attempting to compress their entire life, and their hopes for what will be needed on the new world, into one suitcase. As for myself, I brought along paperback editions of a few of the books of last century’s Robert A. Heinlein. That, and an electric chainsaw. Can’t build a home if you can’t fell the trees…

Bill Bartlett Day One

Posted in 1. Prologue by William Bartlett

November 23, 2052 2:27am.

     The 90 decibel blast of Stan Roger’s “Witch of the Westmorlands” blaring from my alarm immediately got my attention. Yelling “OFF!“ a bleary eyed glance at the 6 inch letters scrolling across the ceiling brought me totally awake. The first thing I thought was, “12 hours, 2 bags, and my personal craft to “HOR-Sat“. Can I Even do it?” It would have been much easier if I actually owned a personal craft that could reach orbit rather than an 18 year old syn-fueled roadie. The transponder ID codes would never let me take a borrowed flier to orbit so that was out of the question. I suppose I could have gotten a friend to take me up to the Hilton, or even to Chicago Port, but I couldn’t put that good a friend into the position of abetting something that was fast on it’s way to becoming a criminal act. A Net check showed that if I made Green Bay by 8:50 a flight would get me to Chicago’s Spaceport in time for the 11:42 Getaway Special . I was able to book a seat on both flights, maxing out the credit line on both of my cards, and printed out the confirmed boarding passes. Since it was a bit under four hours to Green Bay that left me left me with just over two hours to pack. No Guts No Glory….I‘m Going!

     First the Clothing, Boots and an Extra Pair of Hiking Shoes. That took up most of the Suitcase. Then… Stuffed in the extra space and Carry On Bag:

     Real Paper Notebooks, Pens and Pencils, Chocolate, Tin of Peanut Brittle, Solar Cloth, (Six Square Yards folded into the bottom of the Suitcase took up about 3/8th of an inch of height). Personal Comp and Spare, Photos no Frames, a Bible, Pen Knifes, Data Cubes, Fly Tying Fishing Supplies in a couple of Plastic Boxes including Three Tubes of Glue, a Miniature Vise, and Small Toolkit, (If anyone asks it’s my life long hobby and even on a cruise I must indulge). A Magnifying Glass, Sewing Kit, Bow Strings, they look like fancy twine, tying up the gift wrapping on a Bottle of McPherson’s Scotch, and a Package of Shot Glasses. Shaving Kit, with a few First Aid Supplies, Extra Belt.

     Pack clothing in a Light Canvas Carry Bag inside the suitcase.. Brass Folding Telescope, Harmonica. 2 LED Penlights, 3 Key Clasp Rings, (house, car and luggage). Digital Cam with detachable lens and flash. Another Suitcase with Dress Clothing for the supposed cruise (that‘ll get left behind). Wish I could take Grandad’s Pistol but never get it through the boarding screen. Wait maybe there is a way.

     The bags full but not bulging. I didn’t need anyone wondering why I hadn’t packed another one. Should I message anybody? A call into the Papermill telling them I had to go out of town on a family emergency. It was Saturday and I wouldn’t be missed till Monday, and only then if I got a call in, but still a good idea as I didn’t know how secrete the departure was. Laura? I’ll decide in Chicago. Out the door and gone.

     I was twenty minutes ahead of schedule but blew five of those at the Automail in Marquette, sending two smallish, under 1lb each, packages to myself. Bill Bartlett, care of the Lancer. I would mail the two others from Green Bay. They held, of course, Grandad’s old Glock and 4 extra Mags, broken down in in small enough packages so as to avoid the normal inspections. They ought to make it to the Lancer before I did. At least I hoped they would. The light snowfall wasn’t a problem so I kept it on cruise at five over. I made Green Bay with time to spare and left my roadie in the short term lot. Considering the time of day, 8:30 in the morning, there were surprisingly few people about the terminal. I presented my pass at inspection and was on my way.

     Chicago was a different story. The terminal was packed with travelers, it was the weekend before the Thanksgiving Holiday Week after all, and I was thankful the suitcases were already in the baggage handling system. These days almost none are lost, (cross your fingers Bill), which left just the carry on to get through check in . It contained a strange assortment of stuff but nothing on the proscribed list. The boarding guards had used a lot of time hassling the Couple ahead of me, so except for the few dozen standard personal questions which were pro forma, I thought I had gotten through easily. Didn’t even trip the stress monitors. A couple of quick shots at the Spaceport Grill probably explained that. Then the woman at the data terminal looked up.

     “Mr. Bartlett” she said, “I see here your cards are maxed out. Just how do you intend to pay for all the incidentals on an outer system cruise?”

     I looked at her and said the first thing which came to mind. “It’s all paid for in advance”, and then with a silly grin, “I bought the package plan.”

     She glanced down again at the terminal and punched a few keys, looked at the screen, and then, with a dull perfunctory stare, back to me. “I see, and 3500 on account. Have a nice trip Bill.”

     I hate it when they get friendly. Old man Hamilton, or his AI program, got that part right anyway. Out to the ramp and onto the shuttle, I hadn’t even messaged Laura. What would have been the point?

     Lift off was to the second, (maybe the micro second), and with a powered flight all the way I never even experienced zero gee. It’s amazing when you consider the piloting difficulty of docking with a rotating orbital stations outer rim. All done automatically no doubt. But at “HOR Sat” only the best. We exited the shuttle through a hatch in the roof stepping onto the Resorts outer rim floor. Baggage retrieval first, then I had 40 minutes left to get aboard the Lancer. I made it with minutes to spare towing both suitcases and following the floating holographic arrow. All seemed orderly no alarms, flashing lights, or any outward signs of disturbance. I wondered how those with their own transportation had made out as the flight attendant approached, clipboard, (how archaic), in hand, and welcomed me aboard.

Time to Go!

Posted in 1. Prologue by Jack Seaworth

So it is finally here. I stared at my portable communicator and without opening the message I knew, by the header address, what it meant. I had been cooling my heals for the last 3 months at the cabin. I have owned this cabin at the edge of an abandoned military reservation since my early days in the force. My wife and I had come here with our son many a weekend for fishing and BBQ. This was in the days before open fire cooking was outlawed. Before it was deemed by the powers that be that the smoke from BBQ was dangerous to the environment and could cause cancer in people downwind. It was way before eating animals was outlawed and fishing, even in my private pond, was deemed cruel to the fish, therefore a violation to the human rights of the fish.

This was before I lost my wife to an undiagnosed uterine cancer growth. The doctor lamented that had she gotten a test 6 months before, he could have saved her. Too bad there was a 2 year waiting list for pap smears.

It has been 8 years since I lost Jenny. The lost hit me hard. I had lost troopers in the far out corners of shit hole countries. But at least my troopers died doing what they believed in. The love of my life died for lack of a 30 credit test. All that kept me going was my son, daughter in law and 3 grand kids. I am still shocked that my son had actually won his fight with the UN Population Control Agency and gotten permission to have all 3; 2 girls and a boy. My son was determined to have a boy and refused to allow the doctor to do a gender selection procedure on his wife Linda. The third time was the charm. John Patrick Henry Seaworthy III or little Jack was a bright boy and the pride of his grandfather. Little Jack held my hand during Jenny’s funeral and sat quietly and strong by my side. Jack was strong and smart. He was fiercely independent, just like his father. And that independence is what cost him his life.

The PoliScy teacher had started a discussion praising the confiscation of all privately owned firearms. Little Jack, using history and the constitution as his guide, argued that the confiscation was unconstitutional. The shocked teacher forwarded the e-com to the BATFE-C with a note claiming that Jacks family must be a bunch of illegally armed radicals. I was in an offsite dig when the vid arrived via wireless. The UNWG enforcers raided my son’s house in the middle of the night. Fearing a home invasion, my son ran downstairs armed with a flash light and a baseball bat. The UNWG-E responded with fully automatic fire followed by rifle grenades into the bedrooms. They claimed it was necessary for their safety, since junior had shown overt aggression. There were no weapons in the house (my guns are buried out here in the cabin). They issued no apology. They claimed the officers committed no crime.

After staring at the five white coffins, laid side by side at the family plot, besides my Jenny’s tombstone, I have had enough. An old friend from the force, works security for the CEO of the mining company I work for. He pulled me to the side after the funeral and offered me a way out. I would travel in secret to an off site and start over. My only entry fee is going to be the labor I can provide once we get there. A fresh beginning, away from the ghosts of my past. I have nothing left on earth. Nothing left to loose. I have lost it all.

Packing was easy, as I had nothing to take. My years in the force had taught me to travel light and do with very little. The material things on earth only give me pain. I carry a back pack with clothing, a memstick with my favorite vids and family photos, and my Jenny’s wedding ring. I need nothing else. As I flew away from the cabin I fought the urge to look back. Too many memories, too much pain. It was time to go.

Marty, the leave taking

Posted in 1. Prologue by Marty

When I got the message that we were leaving right away I was out in the wild, unruly darkness, on top of Big Nose Mountain, foraging for food for my family in hiding. The wind was biting and cold for the time of year and you could feel rain in the offing. I had had a good night of it though. It is amazing how easy it is to steal from fat, complacent bureaucrats. I had already pilfered three power packs, enough food for weeks, from someone’s back porch storeroom, when I felt the PDA begin to whir. I always carry my special little homemade toy, mostly so my folks back at the cave can contact me if something happens.

This time is wasn’t my family calling.

I whistled softly to the dog and slipped back over the edge of the mountaintop.

Truly packing was the easy part of leaving behind everything I have ever known. We had only been able to bring essentials when we went to the hiding place in the caves across the river from the home farm anyhow. It has been months since the food and livestock inspectors came to arrest my father for insubordination. Luckily we got wind of it beforehand, took what we could carry, and hid in the limestone caves in the mountain. We only had to brush aside a couple of hundred rattlesnakes denning in the main cave to make a sort of comfortable camp. (Did you know how bad snakes stink?) We weren’t the first to use that hiding place.

The caves made a safe hideout and means of secret travel for the Mohawk Indians before the American Revolution, back when our ancestors were getting ready to fight for the liberty that is lost to us now. Anyhow, I have been living out of a container for months now. All I had to do was close the lid and latch it.

In the case are my few clothes, some herb seeds from Mama’s medicinal garden back at the farm and a couple of my grandfather’s journals. I don’t have much in the way of modern technological toys. Not even one of those wrist pad communicator things, just that clunky little PDA that my uncle built over for me. You would be amazed what that little chunk of plastic can do though. My uncle was the pure-D king of code back in his day and there isn’t much in the hands of the UNWG that could begin to touch the capabilities of that teeny tiny outdated-looking toy computer. I’m glad I have it.

Family good-byes were brief. Dad is so sunken into himself now that nothing seems to even register on his consciousness any more and Mama spends all her strength tending to him. I had her braid my hair for me one last time though. There was always a sense of special closeness between us, when her strong brown fingers wove their magic and tamed my tangled mess of curls. I shouldn’t have taken the time, but I needed to feel her touch.

I will have to hack it off before we leave I guess.

I am staggered by how much I miss them already. We have always been together.


I pray we can bring them along later, although I suspect that it won’t happen. I wish there had been space for them. I wish the powers that be had at least let me tell them I was going. They think I am just heading off planet to try to renew the farming permits.

I suppose it seems wrong but it’s even harder to leave Nero, my Border collie. He was born into my hands ten years ago, from old Neara’s last litter. He has been following about two paces behind me for most of that time, keeping me safe and lucky. I must have turned around and tripped over him a thousand times today. He knew, somehow, that something was happening and followed me around the hiding place as I packed the last bits, whining softly. When the time came, I knelt beside him, looked deep into his chocolate eyes and hugged him. He leaned his long, dark face against my chest and sighed. He knew all right. At least they are letting us bring DNA from our pets on this wild and crazy journey. I have samples from him and from Mama’s cat, Chubby. Not that he is chubby any more, but he still an old sweetie. We also brought material from most of the farm animals when we went to the caves. I am bringing that too.

Still cloning never produces the same creature, just the same potential. Geez, it is so hard not to bawl. I know I will never see my dog again. Odds are my family will be lost to me forever too. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I should do this. But how can I not?

Uncle also left us an ancient transporter and I am just praying that it will get me where I have to go. And quickly.

Bug Out Day

Posted in 1. Prologue by Andrew Stuart

I stared at my comp with disgust. 13 hours correcting idiot mistakes by customers with classic “Gummint School” educations were not the greatest way to “make my day”.

The message was enough to almost stop my heart! I quickly texted Mariana and asked “Just leaving job site, did you feed the dog this morning?” Having carefully concealed the fact that we had had to put down the dog the year before, I was sure it would not be noticed. Being the Vet’s network administrator helped greatly. Give someone something for free and they ask very few questions.

I then went to Grandpas old vault site and pulled out the carefully prepared boxes. Grandpas matched Colt Series 70’s and Grandmas left handed Randalls along with the two AMT Off Duties. Checked qiuckly that there are six mags for each and 500 rounds of .45 ACP per person.

The big Gerber Mark IIs were in there as well as the Bill Kane skinners.

Parking two blocks from the house, I went in through the back gate and retreived the two Max-Ruck back packs and carry bags we had brought home from the service.

I quickly called a friend at work and said “Bob, Mariana and I are going to run over to Dallas for the weekend. Could you watch the place for us? Naw, bussiness for her, hobby for me. Shes got some property in a deal and I want to play at the Dell/HP/Intel memorial. Yeah, see you Monday!” With everyone looking East, we were ready to go West.
I opened the home safe and removed 3 labels “UNWG Communications-Crypto Security”, the only good thing to come from Gummint contracts. Slapped them on the three retrieved cases and called the courier service for expedited pick-upat Mustang Corners.
Out the back door and 15 min. to Mustang Corners. Mariana was waiting there with her emergency kit already changed into her traveling clothes. 5 minutes later the courier pick-up arrived; they were used to this. Drops from here were a standard routine of mine for multi-customer trips. Two minutes after that the boxes were on the the way to HOR/Lancer ramp; with luck they would beat us there.

I changed in the public Rest room and the then it was on the road to Phoenix SkyHarbour SpacePort.

No problem at the check-in, with our bank accounts why? Glad to see that the big guy had actually created the “cruise” and all the relavent references. That made me a little more sure that this guy was not a UNWG plant. We were at max risk at that point.

Then of course, the bad point. Some Security Drone wants to know why Mariana is carrying fifteen circuit boards on the top of her ruck. Her carefully rehearsed answer is perfect, “Ask the damn inventor who can not leave his job behind for a damn vacation!” Looking fairly stupid I show the drone my ID and the microtool kit at the top of my ruck. ” I just could not fit them in the same bag I said and I am working on another patent.” I got the stupid GEEK look we were hoping for and moved on. Funny, they did not look any farther. Give the drones somthing easy to quetion and they think they have done there job
The idiots had missed the real treasure, the fruits of my first patent. A little HP 100020 with 240 Terabytes of memory built on my patent. People thought I had sold too cheaply, they did not know about that little baby. All I needed was a sun to keep it running, it and the four clones stashed throughout our rucks. In every root directory was a lovingly protected copy of “How Things Work”, Grandpas little boy was not going to run stupid.

Paranoid, of course we were. For ten years we had been the “Blue Helmets” best hitters. If we could not see the problem, who the hell could?

Finally arrivaing at HOR we were greeted by an obvious security type flashing StelCo ID.

“LTC Stuart and SFC Stuart I believe?”

“And who is asking?”

“A friend believe me and could you get you hand off of that CIA letter opener?”

Laughing we relaxed and told him we needed to go to the frieght ramp for Lancer.

He then laughed and said “for those three cases strapped on top of your rucks? And belive me, I do not want to know!”

I breathed deeply and relaxed for the first time in ten hours!

Free at last!!!

Relatively painless

Posted in 1. Prologue by Jack the Blade

 Inconceivable! Not only has Imperial Earth gotten wind of our plans, that fool Hamilton has broadcast a rather dramatic change of plans. Hopefully, that won’t damage my own. Fortunately, I was ready ahead of time.  The smelter, mine, and mill blueprints are already concealed among in the lining my my oversized suitcase, as are my other plans. Everything is packed, my weapons, computer and and tailoring equipment are in my barely-legal backpack, and my clothing and survival gear is in my suitcase. I’ve already arranged for me and my crew to bypass security. Senator O’Connor was glad to exchange a security waiver for some… favors.

They’ll be waiting for my signal before they dock. If it’s a trap, the C-12 laced throughout my shuttle will take the whole damn station with me.

Alright. We’ve docked. I’ve always liked big structures, it’s fun wondering through everything. My crew reports no problems with security, apparently the good senator called ahead. Well, the more documentation the better. All of our bags are stowed, and we’re awaiting departure. Oh, great.


“You there! Name and purpose!”

I hate people, especially stupid people with badges. “Leave me alone, you self-inflated fool, I have a waiver from O’Connor.”

“I have reason to believe this is a forgery-”

“The F- you do!”

The meathead grabs his stick, and says, “You’re coming with me, let’s go.”

Wow, my luck sometimes does incredible things.

“There he is! Go ask him, boyo.”

This brilliant guard recognizes O’Connor and blinks. Then he goes over to speak with O’Connor while his lackeys wait here.

Sometimes, I love stupid people.

As soon as Officer Forgery points at me, O’Connor draws his pistol and shoots point-blank. Naturally, both remaining guards disappear. I decide it’s best to wait aboard the cruiser, rather than risk additional attention, and now’s probably the best time anyway. Before we get on, I remotely launch the beacon from my shuttle. Hopefully, it’ll be far enough away to look right when I’m activating it.

 Jack Of Blades.


Posted in 1. Prologue by Dave

The message that it was time to leave came as quite a surprise. I thought I had enough time to pick and choose what I would pack. There won’t be any stores on this trip where I can run out and buy the items I forget. The real question I had was how do you prepare for the unpredictable? After all, the passengers on the first Mayflower were headed for Virginia.

Of course I brought a handheld computer with a data crystal that holds the entire Libary of Congress. But I also bought a few old books, a copy of the Bible, an organic gardening encyclopedia, an old army medic’s guide and my two volumes of Macauley’s The Way Things Work. I wanted to bring more books but could not on such short notice. I know I have everything I could want on the data crystal, but I actually like books and also know that books won’t break and need to be repaired. A couple of bowstrings are the strangest items. Of course I packed some warm clothing. Mostly thin layers, so that I can easily adjust for the climate we find on Alchibah. Also I brought a good basic toolkit and a first aid kit.

I wanted to bring some firearms and a Bowie knife, but had no way to get them through security, so I didn’t even try. Hopefully the pocket knife in my toolkit will be sufficient. Bringing the Bible turned out to be the greatest idea. The flunkie looking over my luggage had to find something to question, and it was the most obvious. I simply answered him by telling him that my mother had insisted that I bring it and remarked that you know how mothers are. Fortunately, he didn’t think to check my personal records to find that my parents died over a year ago in the Chicago riots. Since my parents are dead, the only person who might miss me would be my girlfriend, but she was far to blind to Earth’s problems to even consider bringing her along to Alchibah.

Bugging Out

Posted in 1. Prologue by Tim Watson

Got ‘The Call’. E-mail actually.

I had to redistribute my belongings since we are more limited in luggage than originally planned, so the hard copies are out, but the Library fits along with a couple readers. Some paper notebooks, writing sticks for doodling.

Being forced to live frugally many times in my life, I am an old hand in gaming travel restrictions and such to get more on a plane in one bag than most do in two. I wore the bulky items like hiking boots, thermal hiking pants and a hat. It was cool so I could wear the warm coat. That saved a lot of space in the bags. So I could pack extra clothes of heavy arti-silk. Light and tough as steel for the same weight. Some extra shoes, sandals, etc.

Since most of what I bring to the colony, other than the bikes if they made it, is in my head, and my skill at researching in the Library, I had little to pack other than personal clothing and toiletries. Huh. I wonder how long I till I let the beard grow in? Data-stick for personal stuff like family videos and stuff. Memories. A few comfort items.

I authorized the stock transfer I had planned and posted it to issue 2 days later at start of business. Boy will Mary be surprised to find out she does not have a partner any more and owns the entire shop herself. But her family can use the extra income and I won’t be using it. I hope she keeps it going. I left a message for her saying I would not be in the next day and cover as best she can.
I called ahead and managed a ticket on a shuttle up to the Hilton. I got to the ‘port, no problems at security since I kept my passport with the travel authorization on me at all times. No problems with the Library, since it has been ‘re-labeled’ as a current copy. Knowing software is a good thing. Nothing suspicions in my luggage, since everything other than the library was sent ahead with the bikes.

I just hope the crates of bicycles I sent up a few weeks ago made it, along with the tools. It’ll suck if we do not have transportation intermediate between Flier’s and feet. RJH was a bit skeptical at first, but not needing to rely on fuel, power or animals won him over.

Not to mention the printer and paper RJH promised. It will be a pain if we cannot distribute hard copy of some items. Technology is great, but it needs power and can break. Good old paper can be read by starlight if need be.

Well, I’ll find out soon. I am about to board the Lancer. I wonder if everyone on board will be part of the migration. It should be an interesting group.

Baggage ….

Posted in 1. Prologue by Kristopher

OK then ….

My wife and the rest of our friends have gone ahead as tourists … the bare minumum mentioned, and nothing unlawful carried … I get to be the mule for the stuff the blue-helmet assholes would wet their pants over … fine. the fewer people involved, the less chances there are for a screw up.

The buggered transponder is working correctly … if a flight line inspector sees this, he is going to freak. I will be long gone by then, hopefully. At least 4 felonies here, not including the weapons, of course. Screw them. Inquiries will also be made when I fail to take off from a controlled field … about a week from now … heh.

All the stuff is loaded, survival gear, vacc suit, scuba gear, mechanics tool set, chainsaw, climbing rope, explosives, and hand tools … I wonder if anyone else considered bringing a pick and shovel? My container also has a transponder and cargo chute … paranoid, I guess.

And of course, the usual collection of “Conneticut Yankee” library data cells … everyone and his uncle was making noises about reference libaries … in fact, I’ll bet that net traffic probably prompted this clusterfuck. That Loompanics retrospective I downloaded probably put me on twenty different watch lists as well. I also downloaded 10 times as much entertainment … if someone wants to watch something other than “Basic Blacksmithing”, they can bloody well pay me for the privilege.

Getting to the spacecraft was surprisingly uneventful … heave to at the deliveries dock in a rented cargo lifter, wear a grey coverall, hang a correct looking badge from your pocket, and push around a massive shipboard container marked “Sanitation/Life Support”, and no one even sees you.

One wandering guard actually looked at my badge … and apparently didn’t look at the photograph … that, or I look a lot like Mickey Mouse.

Lots of empty space on the cargo deck … yea, it looks like planning went right out hte bloody airlock here … just keep acting like I belong here and am doing my job, and everyone else will look right through me … pick a place inside the liner where I can see the boarding gate … sit down, get out my iTablet, and look busy … make sure the Super Redhawk ( love that antique ) is loaded and reachable inside the tablet’s case.

And just wait to see if this shindig gets started without the federales inviting themselves.

Not a Normal Day….

Posted in 1. Prologue by Hanna Parker

        This day started just like always. Julius gets up, makes the coffee, and brings me the first cup of the morning before I get out of bed. I sometimes tease him “That’s the only reason I stick around.“

        Later on we were going to visit Junior, Linda, and the grandkids and take a ride up by the reservoir. Our daughter-in-law, Linda, is a real jewel. She’s a wonderful mother to Karyn, who’s a bundle of energy at 3, Liza who at 14 is very sweet-natured but a puzzle at times, and Emily, a beautiful budding young lady who seems wise beyond her years and will be 17 next week. Linda is an exceptionally proficient nurse who would have been a doctor but for the medical school quotas (others judged more worthy, not by test but by class). She and I have a special bond because I pulled all the strings and secured permission from the UNWG for JJ and Linda to have a third child. They wanted to name her Kara, but I insisted that she have her own identity.  Karyn is especially dear to me because of that and I treasure her. She is separate from the memory of my beloved departed daughter Kara but always a reminder.  My priest, Fr. Kelly, was particularly helpful as I emerged from that abyss.  And as always, Jules, who knows best my heart unspoken.
        I got ready to go make breakfast, but before leaving the bedroom stopped at the message machine to check my mail. I never get anything important from work anymore but old habits die hard. Nothing in the public account so I checked the private box and saw the email from Robert Hamilton. I suppose I should have felt shock, instead, an almost serene calmness enveloped me. I called out to Jules, “Could you come here for minute, Dear?”

       When he entered the room I just pointed at the message screen. He walked over, read it, and then read it again, looked at me and said, “Why don’t you start packing while I call the kids and let them know we will be over a bit early?”
       There are lots of reasons I’ve stuck around.
         I knew Jules would  handle it just right with JJ and Linda.  On the phone he said, “Hi, Son.  Mother and I have a surprise for the family.  With the girls off school next week, we want to treat you to a mystery trip.  Linda doesn’t work next week either.  Could you shake free?  And by the way, we should stop at Linda’s office on our way out, and get some things for your sis.  She’s under the weather, running a fever, needs protein pills, etc.” 
        JJ would know something big was up because of his dad’s reference Kara.  Sometimes Jules and Junior talked in hushed tones about the UNWG, the risks for me [and them?] because of religious beliefs, and desire for a freer existence.  “Put Linda on to talk with Mother about what to pack.”  Then he handed the phone to me.
        Already in synch with the situation, Linda and I immediately pooled ideas, and carefully worded our selection.  She would tell the girls to pack, and to bring two favorite items with them for our adventure.  Aware of the urgency, she could be counted on to remain discreet and level-headed.  As a nurse, she would be invaluable to our family, and to the community.  I could hear her mentally compiling a supply list of items to remove from her dispensary.  Some of Liza’s old clothes might come in handy for Karyn, who is growing like a weed.  Who knows where or when we could shop again?
            Jules and I had matter-of-factly packed, as if we’d rehearsed it before.  We hadn’t, but after all those years we intuitively knew what the other would do.   Into the suitcases:  slacks and tops versatile for varying temps; warm outwear; trail boots; gloves, scarf, hat.   Set aside larger items to wear on the trip and save suitcase space.  Jules’ personal communicator unit.  Binoculars, flashlight, matches and lighter, compass, whistles, pocket knife, magnifying glass, Halizon tablets, compact camping cup/cutlery/kit; boomerang, flint. I wanted to bring my atlatl but if we need one Jules can make it, he‘s pretty handy most ways.  Paper, pencils, pens.  Then my knitting supplies and sewing notions. I took a lot of yarn, but distributed over all the bags it seemed reasonable.   Aspirin and Jules’ prescriptions, first aid kit w/solar blanket, extra reading glasses, toiletries [tweezers, shampoo, comb, etc,], mirror.  3 pillowcases (Do I need pillow cases?  Probably not, but I never go any where without my own.)  Clock, snacks, dried fruit, honey, tea.  Several family photos.  Then, our personal selections:  Jules took his grandfather’s pocket watch.  I chose a hymnal and Bible.  I wistfully glanced at the crucifix on our bedroom wall and thought instantly of the faded spot it would leave if I brought it with me.  Jules put his arm around my shoulder.  From his bureau he removed another wooden crucifix.  It had been his parents’!  He’d kept it all these years, and now gave it to me.  He said, “I’m ready.  I’m with you all the way.  All the way!”
When they search the house, as I know they will, they’ll never know for sure that we were planning to leave forever.
            On the way to JJ and Linda’s in Canoga Park, we savored our last breath of California air, and the sights and sounds that we’d called home.  Again, calm and peace and a special closeness came over Jules and me.  We’re so together about this.  About the opportunity.  For us.  For our family.  Despite the risks, it’s now or never. 
            Before we could even get out of the car, Emily and Liza, with Karyn toddling behind, ran out from their modest old-fashioned ranch style home to greet us.  “Oh, Granny,” Emily shouted, “What a wonderful surprise!  We’re ready!  We’ll follow you anywhere.”  Emily only called me “Granny” when she was especially excited or very emotional.
             I told her, “We’ll make your birthday celebration ‘out-of-this-world.’”  Then I spoke softly to her, “I think that you have a lot on your mind lately.  Turning 17 isn’t easy in any era.  Peer pressure, school, boys, and friends.  We’ll just relax, and you can tell me all about it.”  Emily quietly replied, “Yes.  I really need that.”  Karyn was jumping up and down.
             “Tell me where we’re going.  Oh no, don’t spoil the surprise.  Tell me!  Don’t tell me!  Okay, just give me a hint……”   Liza stood there, taking it all in with an enormous grin from ear to ear on her face. 
             Jules and JJ were talking quietly in the front yard.  Linda came out, smiling but quite focused on the mission at hand.  We quickly stepped inside, and confirmed our plan.  The four of us were of one mind:  to leave; to build a better world elsewhere; freedom for our family, and our beliefs, and liberation from the UNWG. 
JJ took one last stroll through his home.  The cabinets he’d built in their bedroom.  How he’d decorated the girls’ rooms.  The warmth that emanated from each room that he and Linda had decorated with care.  That he and Linda had provided for their family.  He had a good enough job, a very good job as a Sales Rep, with the Chinese manufacturing company, but he still didn’t trust them or like the fact that he was working for foreigners.  At least he had good perks, especially the flier that was providing our getaway.
            A quick stop at the clinic dispensary by Linda, then secreting biotics and other necessaries into each suitcase, and she was ready to go.   The older girls brought their day packs loaded for a local excursion.  Now, into the flier, Linda and me in the back.  The adventure begins!
        As we approached the Hilton Satellite, I remembered hearing that except for the moon, it was the brightest object in the night sky.  Why, even at home we could sometimes see it slowly passing overhead. Getting nearer I could just make out the large outer ring when I said to Linda, “I wonder what’s to keep anyone from just running into the thing?”

     “Well, Mom”, she said, “We have been under either Earth-to-Orbit or Hilton Orbital control ever since JJ registered the flight plan. And little bugs like us aren’t even allowed close to the Resort itself. See those small dot like things just ahead of and behind the ring?”

     “Yes”,  Squinting I could just make barely them out.

     “That’s where we’re headed. They’re the docking hangers where we will leave the flier and catch a shuttle to the Resort.”

     “And so we did”

Not a Normal Day

Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

All Contents (written or photo/artwork) not attributed to other sources is
Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.