Short Story: Seat 14c Competition “A New Start…”

So the competition has ended (http;//seat14c.com) and I had fun making up the story. Reluctantly didn’t win but that is okay. So since the competition is over and I get my story back, here it is.

A New Start…

“Whoa” I said when we hit the last of the turbulence. The lightning was terrible, the entire cabin was lit up and people were yelling. The last thirty minutes was pretty bad, enough to shake the nerves. Luckily, things were calming down.

I looked around the business class area and noticed the others were settling back in as well. Seasoned travelers we are. A few tightening of the seat belts but for the most part crew and passengers were getting back to our normal routine.

The further we continued pass the storm the brighter things got. The sun was trying to fight through the clouds to show a beautiful dawn sky ahead of us. The wave tops below sparkled like tiny diamonds in a sea of golden azure. It was a calm view to see after the last 30 minutes. The last hour would prove to be very relaxing and then San Francisco.

I couldn’t wait to see my granddaughter again. Such cute cheeks and an irresistibly impish smile. My daughter’s daughter definitely. Lots of spoiling and hugs.

Wait, what is that?

In the distance, a large ship was following the receding storm and there was a massive structure on the top of it. It looked like a large funnel. It couldn’t be that heavy or it would have capsized the ship, I imagine. I wonder what that is for, while pulling out my phone to snap a picture of it.

Never seen a ship like that before. Would need to research a little to see what it does. I continued to stare out the window enjoying the view when another weird scene sailed below. A weird blimp was flying over a ship. The blimp had large propellers on the top of it and looked to be matching the speed of the ship. I watched them for a while and yes, they were moving as one. I snapped a picture of that too. What a weird day this was shaping up to be.

The landing announcement came over the speakers and the crew started preparing for landing. I looked ahead and saw more blimps over ships and then San Francisco. Something was weird, the skyline did not seem the same. Yes it has been a while since I have been back to the US but this really looked different.

And what is up with the blimps?!

There were more blimps over the city, with the large propellers. I did not understand this, the US was not that into green energy last I heard. Grant it California was one of the leaders in the states, but this?

More pictures snapped.

As we got closer to the airport, the more things looked out of place. Something was definitely not right. More people around me were questioning the strangeness of the situation.

A passenger in 12C said rather loudly, “I just left here two days ago and this ain’t right.” Others joined in saying how long they have been gone and agreeing on the strangeness. The cabin attendants looked on helplessly.

Soon the Captain made an announcement. “This is the Captain speaking. Folks, something is going on and I am not sure what but we will be landing soon and can get answers then. Please be patient and prepare for landing.”

The landing was uneventful, but where we were landing was anything but uninteresting. The other planes were sharper, defined. Faster looking. Truly massive buildings dotted the skyline with too many flying craft wending through the buildings. That was weird, a few helicopters I can understand but planes or I guess they were planes?

And those blimps, everywhere.

Taxing to the terminal, when an army of drones came out and surrounded our plane. Everyone was commenting on this. Wondering what this meant and was it dangerous to have these craft so near to the plane. There were so many they were doing a good job of blocking the view around us. I suspected that was part of the job of these things. Looking forward, I did not see many of them around the cockpit area. Further confirming what I thought.

We parked away from the strange terminal. Some vehicles came up to the plane and the drones were still obscuring the view around us. Something was definitely strange. One vehicle, a truck with docking stairs, pulled up to the forward door. A large bus pulled up to the base of the stairs and a few men got out. They were wearing some strange uniforms that I could not identify.

The buzz from around me got louder with some of the people, on the other side of the plane, coming over to see through my window.

“Ever seen uniforms like that before?” asked the lady that was leaning over me to get a look. We both turned as the cabin attendant closed the curtain to the First Class zone. I believe they were going to open the door and let on some of the strangely dressed men.

“No, I was just thinking about how strange that is. Well this whole thing is pretty strange. Drones and all.” I absently said while continuing to stare at the curtain, in the vain hope to see through it to what was happening up front.

“I know, right?” she replied.

An announcement. “This is the Captain speaking. Please return to your seats. An immigration officer would like to address us.” I could be imagining things, but the Captain’s voice sounded stressed.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Lieutenant Anderson.” The cabin quieted as all strained to listen. A cabin attendant opened the curtain and a few more uniformed men walked down the aisle to the other parts of the cabin. One stood near my position with a smile on his face. “This might be difficult to grasp but today is August 25th, Twenty Thirty Seven.” He paused as stunned silence filled the cabin. A child was crying in the back.

He continued. “For the last few years we have had planes arriving from the past. There is a wormhole anomaly that has passed planes into the future. You are the third such plane to arrive. My men and I are part of the Past People Immigration Unit. We will help you adjust to your new circumstances.”

The cabin erupted in cries of alarm, disbelief and horror. The uniformed men tried to calm everyone, including the cabin attendants and answer questions at the same time. They failed miserably to calm anyone or answer questions.

I sat there starring between the man, the crowd that was surrounding him, wanting answers and looking out the window. The drones were moving away. It was a beautiful day. The skyline made more sense now. The blimps, well kinda, but if the future, then I guess it could make more sense.

I continue to look out the window and ignore the chaos around me. Being an optimist and recently divorced, well twenty years ago recent, I figure I have a whole new world to look forward too.

I think of my, now not so little, grand-daughter, Mika. She would be around 22 years old now. My children, I wonder where they are and what has become of them. Even my ex-wife. How is she? Friends, my girlfriend, co-workers, etc. What has become of everyone?

Actually I feel pretty upbeat. Blimps and drones, the skies and waters looked clearer on our approach. Maybe the world got its act together.

“Sir, could you come with us? It is time to leave the plane. Are you okay?” My random thoughts of the adventure interrupted.

“Okay?” I laugh and he looks concerned. “I think this will be an interesting adventure.”

He smiles as he realizes I was not losing it. “If you would be so kind sir, let’s get you on that adventure.” He looks down at his tablet like device. “In fact sir, I am authorized to tell you, your family is waiting for you.”

Okay that floored me. I started to sit back down. Shocked. There goes the fantasy of knocking on my daughter’s door and asking where is dinner. “My family?” I whisper.

Now looking pretty concerned. “Yes Mr. Gordon. Your children are all here waiting for you. With their families.” He smiles as I start to break out in a silly grin.

“Families? But how?”

“How did we know and get them here in time?” He smiles as he helps me up. Not that I am that old just a little, well shocked still. “The wormhole acts up a few days before it actually passes a plane out. There are 6 other missing aircraft over the last twenty years. ANA has kept a record of where all family members are so they could contact them as soon as we ID the plane.” Again looking at the tablet. “Your daughter Cathy and family were living in Japan. Your daughter, Nina and family were living in Iowa and your son, John and family were living in Spain. They all arrived within the last hour. Including a few of your nieces and nephews. Others will arrive in the next 12 hours or so.”

“Cathy lived in Japan? How could she get here ahead of us?”

“Sir, a trans-Pacific flight only takes two hours. When the wormhole started acting up, ANA moved her and family to a hotel near Narita airport in case this was your flight. We feel it is important for family to help re-introduce you.”

“Wow. I am not sure what to say.” Still walking in a daze but starting to register my surroundings. There were many more of the Past People Immigration Unit uniformed members onboard. They were starting to go one to one with the passengers and crew. Most of us were walking dazed.

I looked at him. “I am sorry sir, could I have your name? You have been very kind to help me and I want to make sure you get recognized.”

He smiled. “Thank you Mr. Gordon. I am Staff Sergeant Hardon. My father was a friend of yours. A business associate, in fact.”

“Jack? Jack Hardon is your father?”

“Yes sir. He says hello too. I told him your flight reappeared.”

The import of all this hit me again. “Wow, how is he?” I barely whispered.

He smiled and gave me a minute. “He is fine sir. In fact, because of you and your business, we made out pretty well.” I gave him a quizzical look. He continued, “Your flight’s disappearance pretty much guaranteed the movie was a hit. So many people came to see what was already being billed as an epic movie. Your company used that to help hire other writers to continue after you. “

I didn’t quite understand how that worked but let it go for now. So many questions, so many people I wanted to know about. I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I think he noticed that.

“Mr. Gordon, let’s get you off the plane and processed. Your family is waiting for you and I am sure you have tons of questions.”

We got on the bus and went to a terminal off the main terminal. Guess they wanted to keep us separate. I asked him about that.

“Oh. Yes this is a special terminal built for returnees. We realized after the first two returned planes that all were still coming to San Francisco. It’s pretty nice and comfortable. You will see.”

And I did.

It was a pretty luxurious terminal. Looked like a massive first class lounge or hotel lobby. We each had a private room to relax in. Staff Sgt Hardor stayed with me. Then I remembered. “Staff, what is up with the blimps and such.” I showed him my pictures I took.

“Oh, well, after you disappeared, we had some pretty crazy times. People were freaked out but then we started to come together. Not sure when exactly but people started to realize that we had come to a dangerous place and needed to step back.”

He handed me a steaming cup of coffee. It smelled incredible.

“We started to realize that we needed to get away from oil and needed to start working together. The blimps are mostly flying warehouses. They deliver orders to the ground stations via drones. It’s a pretty complex system. Supposed to alleviate congestion and speed deliveries.”

I showed him the picture of the blimp over the ship. “Oh that, well that is a new power source. We realized that ships were some of the worst polluters out there and this helps them reduce their fuel usage.”

“How do they do that?”

“The blimps, like the flying warehouses use wind power turbines to power them. With the ships they create electrical power to power the ships. Usually they only do that far away from shore. Mostly for when the ships cross the ocean, they have a blimp hooked up to them to power them. It’s really pretty good. Fuel usage is reduced to almost 30% of what it used to be.”

“Okay I can see that. Good idea. What about this one.” I showed him the ship with the large structure on top of it.

“Ah, those are rain harvesters. We were running out of water and realized that desalinization was causing the oceans to become saltier in the areas where the plants were. These ships follow storms at sea and capture rain before it hits the ocean. They then link up with the power blimps and go to ports where the water is needed.”

Okay I was shocked. That was very interesting and I could see how that would work. “Do they produce enough water to make a difference?”

“Yes there are hundreds of them plying the oceans harvesting rain.”

“I see.” Okay, one more. “What are all those flying craft flying around the cities. They aren’t the drones for the flying warehouses are they?”

“Oh, no. They are air taxis. You have probably noticed the buildings are really tall right? Well they were created to help service the upper floors. Now we have buildings over 200 stories, so to go to ground level takes a while. These air taxis stop at portals in all the tall buildings and take people from each building to the ground level or to the suburbs. Pretty ingenious, right?”

“Truly amazing, Staff.” I start laughing. “I think I am going to love this place. When can I see my family?”

“Right after we give you a physical, sign some forms and give you your nanite shots.”

“Nanite shots? What is that?” Okay I was a little apprehensive about this.

“Everyone gets them now. We discovered a way to create nanites that help protect us against disease. They do not protect against everything but cancer is a thing of the past as are other diseases. These little guys go through your body and destroy the viruses and stuff when they find them. Had them about 6 years now.”

“And this is safe?” Still worried about having little robots running around my body. “Who controls them?”

“Well, the basic variety lasts a few months and only go after certain virus or cancer cells. When we have certain illnesses, we can try to give more directed nanites.” Perfectly safe and everyone pretty much has them nowadays.

Well he was Jack’s kid, so he probably was telling the truth. Well, you only live once and I wouldn’t mind not getting cancer and such. “Why not, lead me on Staff.”

Later, they put me in this nice waiting room. Had a nice view of the bay and some very comfortable couches. They kinda molded themselves to the body. I was pretty tired even with the little nanite buggers scrubbing my bloodstream of CO2 and other bad things.

Returning my gaze back to the cup of coffee in hand, I thought I was gonna like this place and time. Twenty years in the future and I am the same age. A celebrity in a sense. This could be fun.

A knock at the door. Staff Sergeant Hardor stuck his head in. With a widening grin, “Got some company for you Jim.”

I stood up and there they were. My kids walked in. I knew they were older and even was able to see pictures of them but still wasn’t prepared for the real thing. I couldn’t move but just sat there starring at them.

Cathy moved first and ran up for a hug. “Daddy.” John and Nina were right behind her. Their families bringing up the rear. Hugs, kisses and crying were flowing easily. I looked over and most of the kids were hanging back. They were all teenagers or older but looked unsure of what to do. I couldn’t blame them.

Smiling at my kids. “You all look great.” I got out between tears. Another round of laughing, tears and comments about how fat I looked. I was hugably large, not fat.

Looking over at my grand kids, I made eye contact with Mika. A beautiful young lady that looked like her mother when she was that age. Smiling, “Mika, you don’t remember me do you?”

She was sniffling back tears, “Baka,” The Japanese word for silly. “I was only two then.” She then came to me for a great big hug. I was content.

My kids introduced their spouses and my other grand kids. Beautiful children, they were. It was all too much. I learned that their mother had passed away a few years ago and my parents and brothers too. Their kids were here with their families too.

I turned to the window for a minute to compose myself. It really was an overwhelming turn of events. Looking outside, the scene was calming. My family gave me a minute. I was about to turn around when I zeroed in on one of the blimps.

“Blimps?” I quietly said.

“Whats that pops?” John asked, as he came up and clapped me on the back. He was now physically around ten years younger than me. They all were. It was pretty weird but funny at the same time.

“I still can’t believe the blimps.”

He looked out the window to the blimp that I was looking at. “Ya, they are pretty standard now a days. Pretty convenient. Most deliveries occur in an hour or less.”

“Via drone?” I asked.

“Yes, most housing complexes have an internal delivery system so the drones deliver to those and then the internal system takes it the rest of the way.”

Nina looked at me, hits me in the stomach and then hugs me. “You skip twenty years and the only thing you can think about is blimps?”

Cathy and Mika were also hovering around. Cathy said, “Ya I know, right?”

“Hey I just found myself twenty years in the future with kids almost as old as I am. I am entitled to a little fixation.”

I continued looking out the window.

Mika moves up and takes my arm and puts it around her. Looking up at me with a little concern. “Grandpa, are you sure you will be okay?”

I hug her hard and kiss her forehead. “Of course honey.”

Cathy smiles. “What do you think you want to do once you settle in, daddy?”

One of the young nephews jumps in, “Ya, you’re rich.”

I turn and smile at all of them. “Live.”

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Short Story: At War with Ourselves

John sighed, That’s done, I am home now.  He opened the door and was about to call out to his wife and son, when two men grabbed him. They pulled him through the doorway and slammed him against the wall.

“Traitor!”  One of the assailants yelled into his face as he knocked the wind out of John.

The other assailant smashed his elbow into John’s jaw. John heard a loud popping sound and wondered if his jaw was broken. A salty taste flooded his mouth.

Not able to think about that taste too much because in came another punch to his stomach and an elbow to the shoulder. Driving him down to the floor. In the background, he heard his wife and son screaming and another person yelling at them.

They were kicking him, now that he was on the ground. He was doing all he could to block the kicks with his legs and arms. Punches pummeled his head. He wife and son continued to scream and the assailants continued to hurl abuse.

What seemed like a long time of beatings eventually stopped. Logically, John knew it was only a minute or two, since he still could reason, but it felt like a lifetime. He knew they could have beat him senseless. Silence as the assailants backed off. Even his family stopped yelling.

Only the sounds of boots on wooden floor, approaching, could be heard. John tested his jaw and found it still moved, at least they did not break his jaw.

“Ya fucked up this time, didn’t ya John?” Said a familiar voice but John couldn’t place it in his rattled state. He tried looking up but his head was still spinning.

“What did I do?” He choked out. Yes, a mouth full of blood and at least one tooth knocked out.

“Oh come now John, let’s not play this game.”

“Please, I don’t know what you think I did. I was out..”  He was kicked.

“John… John, that is enough. Lies will just make it worse. You were seen helping that downed pilot. That is treason to help them. You know the Party takes a dim view of this. Especially in light this pilot was part of the attack against the city.”

Fighting to calm himself. “Please, I was out looking for the pilot, like I was supposed to but I didn’t find anyone. I.. I… Please believe me.” He heard his wife start to sob. His son was moaning “No”.   He was starting to lose it too.

Sighing, the unrecognized man directed his men to lift John. He was almost beyond fight at this point.

“John this war is not going to be won by being nice to the other side. They choose this path. I believe you thought you were doing good but we can not allow these radicals leniency. They tried to steal the election last year and see what it got us?” They started to drag him out the door. The man continued. “Cooperate with us and I will try to put in a good word for your wife and son.”

His wife yelled. “How could you?”

John snapped at that moment, his sobbing stopped as the last strength came forth. The accusing tone of his wife drove him crazy.  He knew they would get the truth out of him but his family would never know it. The truth to his family is all that mattered.

Planting his feet, he pushed one handler into the door hard, forcing him to loosen his grip. Then he violently shook off the other man. Turning back into the house, he looked pass the man, who was going for his gun.

To his wife and son. “It was our daughter. My God, I couldn’t turn her in.”

New Short Story: Man Cometh

  The Gutar were quiet this evening, thought Womaka, looking at holy Suza and her smaller sister Zasu. They were in their cycle of Kota which means they were closest to the radiant ones abode. Usually when that happened, the radiant ones would come forth and visit the Mado, Womaka’s people.
  Womaka was chief among the warriors of the Mado and had won many Tsuga challenges against the Tonda, Meipu and Rosu peoples. He was very crafty and strong but he knew he was no match for the radiant ones. When they come, even mighty Womaka will make Koza to them.
  Windaka strode up to Womaka and bowed his two heads to the greater warrior. The talking head lower than the seeing head, as was custom for another Tsuga champion to greet a greater Tsuga champion. “The radiant ones will come soon.”
  Womaka bobbled his talking head up and down in agreement, with his seeing head looking up at great Suza. “Yes and again we will have to make Koza for them and deal with their humiliations.”
  Windaka, blew rude noises from his talking head in a sign of agreement and exasperation. The Mado did not like the radiant ones. No one did. If nothing else, the radiant ones brought the peoples of Somatsu together in their hatred of them. They came and poked and prodded, invaded the privacy of the people’s homes and occasionally it was rumored they took one of the people. Womaka never knew of anyone taken by them but was not suprised with the accusation. They were definitely thinking they were the superior beings.
  The problem was, the Mado knew they were. They had come 20 cycles of Kota ago and had come every cycle of Kota since. First they came to the Tonda and Womaka’s people only heard of what happened. Then they visited the Tonda and Rosu peoples. Now they visit all the peoples of Somatsu and always they prod.
  Initially, the Tonda tried to fight back but the radiant ones produced weapons that sent forth the light of Suza that burned the Tonda.  Then from the sea of Shansu above, came forth rocks that the radiant ones must have thrown at the Tonda. This caused one of the Tonda villages to disappear and only a fiery gash in Somatsu remained where their village used to be.
  No, the radiant ones must be endured. There is nothing else to do. One day, the Mado will learn of a way to avenge themselves on the radiant ones. One day, Womaka will make the radiant ones make Koza to the Mado.
  Not today, but one day, as he turned around and headed back to the abodes of the Mado. It was time to hide the younglings and treasures of the Mado to keep the radiant ones from finding them. They will come soon. They always do.