Thursday, August 8, 2013

Flight of the ‘Javelin’

After ten grueling years Professor Stone had finally succeeded in building a saucer-shaped craft capable of flight or motion in all environments: space, sea or sky. The force-field surrounding the craft, and generated by it, nullified the effects of gravity on anything inside the force-bubble. The saucer also possessed inertial-dampening devices which meant that the pilots and occupants could accelerate and decelerate at tremendous speeds without feeling the shock of tremendous forces on their own bodies – shocks which could kill.

Professor Stone was eager to do a full test flight of his invention as soon as weather conditions permitted. He waited for a bright, sunny day with few or no clouds. Only a day later was there just such a day. He wasted little time and donned his helmet and strapped on a parachute. He entered through the top of the craft through a hatch which he sealed behind him. Within the saucer-shaped vehicle in the torus surrounding the centre were control stations and even 2 bunks which the professor had placed inside on a whimsy. He seated himself at the pilot’s station on a comfortable office chair. He booted up the computer and began initializing the ship’s power core for immediate launch. The central force-field generator hummed into life and made the ship throb with the energies that were building up in it. Soon, an indicator showed maximum and all that needed to be done was to press Enter and a powerful, gravity-erasing field would encompass the ship and increase in strength. The ship would slowly float free of gradually retracting moorings.

By tweaking this field and allowing just so much gravitational energy to influence it, he could steer the ship in any direction he chose. Excitedly, his finger was poised over the Enter button. Then, aloud, he counted down from 10. On reaching zero he pressed Enter – a schematic on the screen before him showed a circle about a graphic of his saucer. Alongside it percentage numbers were shown increasing. Soon, he felt a butterfly sensation as the saucer floated freely in space.

He opened the electronic doors of his refitted barn, then on the touch-screen pad he pressed the up arrow which was responsible for forward motion. The craft slid forward noiselessly and much faster than he had anticipated so that it fairly shot out of the barn - a group of Fir trees grew alarmingly larger on the far side of the main house. He quickly pressed the stop button and the ship stopped immediately. Then he adjusted the speed to a comfortable level and resumed the test flight. He keyed in a 30 degree climb and pressed the up arrow again. The ship moved up into the open sky at a 30 degree angle.

Leveling out at 500 feet, through a porthole obtained from a bathyscaph, he could see blue skies and wisps of cloud streaming past. On his viewscreen which enabled him to have comprehensive video views via cameras located in a circle on the craft he saw the same scenery. He decided to increase speed and put the craft through its paces. The wisps of cloud seemed to be streaking by at a much faster rate; inside, of course, he felt as though he were at a standstill – he had no sense of forward motion at all. Perhaps, he though he should allow some sensation of motion to affect the occupants? After about 20 minutes of flying he decided he’d best turn back. It wasn’t a question of running out of fuel or power – he had a virtually inexhaustible supply but he was satisfied with the success of this maiden voyage. Still, he was tempted to take her up into space but he felt he should analyze the performance data and make sure there were no obstacles to a smooth trip into space. Also, he thought it would be wise to pack a lunch and to install that chemical toilet that he had put off doing for so long.

He smiled when he thought he had yet to name the ship properly. He referred to it as UFO1 in his notes but now he felt she deserved a more poetic name. He thought a short while and came up with ‘Javelin’. It would do. ‘Time to take Javelin home, folks,’ he said aloud though he was alone on board.

He reversed the direction of the ship and began cruising home to his ranch. He had almost lapsed into a pleasurable reverie involving sipping a blue cream soda on the porch congratulating himself on a job well done, when an alarm sounded loudly. It was a radar alert warning of a potential collision with airborne or immobile objects located on the ground such as a tower or high building. But there were no tall buildings here so it must be a low-flying plane. He hurriedly looked through the porthole – nothing. Then he shifted his attention to the viewscreen – nothing. He manipulated the viewscreen controls, flipped through each camera in turn – there!

There behind him, coming up fast, a plane. He zoomed in – it wasn’t a plane! It was a flying disc – another saucer! Could someone else have invented one just like his – what were the odds of that and even more astronomically what were the odds that this person would be flying here and now while he was conducting his test flight? No! It beggared belief. It was either some government craft that had detected him or a bona fide extraterrestrial. But would the government dispatch a saucer-shaped vehicle to investigate him or would they not do as they always had done – and dispatch F14s?

He had not installed a radio as yet so there was no way to communicate with the fast-approaching craft. He instinctively or unthinkingly increased his speed. He looked at the viewscreen – it appeared to be gaining. It was fast! It appeared to be made of a whitish metal like magnesium or aluminium. He decided not to run. He pressed stop and waited breathlessly for the scant seconds it would take for the pursuer to catch up to him. Then the viewscreen loomed large with the silvery craft. He hoped it wasn’t hostile. It had not fired upon him so that was good, he thought. It appeared to begin circling him, and he felt the hairs on his nape prickle and stand to attention – perhaps he was being scanned or he was reacting fearfully? But he had no time to ascertain which when as suddenly as it began the craft pulsed into an acceleration from his position – it appeared vanishingly small in his viewscreen and then it was gone. 

This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

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