by Michael Kingswood
Jeremy frowned, and stared daggers at the keypad that had—once again—foiled his attempt to get inside his Dad’s ride. He hadn’t figured it would be this tough.
He’d tried his Dad’s birthday. His Mom’s birthday. His sister’s. No dice. He’d tired combinations of all four. Nothing. Their wedding date. Nope.
It was frustrating as hell.
He’d been able to get into his Dad’s terminal in the their house easily enough a few months back, so he could bypass the parental controls on their network access to get to the really good stuff—and boy was it good. A little disturbing sometimes, too. But good. But it looked like Dad paid more attention to security on his ride than he did for other things.
Figured. It was a sweet ride. Jet black and sleek, it was built for both atmospheric and orbital flight. And not just flying: racing. It would get him all the way to Luna and back without a problem, and in time for the Pamela Jennings concert, and all the parties that would go with it, on Mare Tranquilitatis.
And with Dad out of town with his girlfriend and Jeremy’s sister off to college, there was no one to stop him from taking it, picking up Steve and Amil, and putting in an appearance at the social event of the year. Maybe the decade.
Except for the damn lock.
Jeremy took a half-step back and straightened, right index finger tapping his chin while he thought the problem through.
The sounds of the night surrounded him. Chirping insects. The light, cool breeze rustling the rigid late-autumn leaves on the limbs of the maples and elms that grew around his Dad’s house. The sound of ground traffic cruising the avenue at the bottom of the hill below their property.
He glanced to the right and upwards, toward the house, square and dark and suddenly imposing, and for a second he forgot he was alone on the property. He had the feeling that Dad might suddenly look out his window and see what Jeremy was doing, then come storming down to stop him.
He couldn’t stop himself from cringing at the thought of the tongue-lashing Dad would dish out. And of the probable loss of his surface driving privileges, because really that was about all the punishment Dad could really give him anymore.
Jeremy was seventeen, almost ready to graduate and move on. He wouldn’t be able to get his flight license for another six months when he turned eighteen, or his orbital license for another two years after that. But for all intents and purposes he was a grown up. It’s not like Dad could spank him anymore.
Still, loss of surface driving would suck.
But there was no danger of that here. Dad wasn’t around, and Jeremy knew how to trick out the house’s security so it would look like he’d never left; not in the air anyway.
That just left getting it done.
Jeremy adjusted his faux-leather jacket on his shoulders and leaned forward again, toward the security keypad. A thought had occurred to him. He tried to push it away, but it wouldn’t go. So even though he hated thinking of that day, he tried the last significant date in their little family’s history. The day they’d learned Mom had been killed in a car crash.
The little LED above the keypad switched from red to green and an electronic beep sounded. Then the smooth black surface of Dad’s orbital racer cracked open, and the entrance hatch to Jeremy’s left rose high, offering admittance.
He was in.
Jeremy spared one last look at the house above the racer’s landing pad. He hesitated for just a second, doubts flashing through his head. Maybe it would be best just to do what he normally did on a Friday night: drive over in his surface car to grab Steve and Amil and just go to the movies. Or something.
He almost closed the racer back up and left. But then thoughts of the concert and the party that would surround it returned. The absolute bedlam that everyone predicted up on luna, the fun. The hotties from all over this quadrant.
Screw driving to the movies.
He picked up the duffel bag that he’d brought down from the house, containing a couple changes of skivvies, a fresh shirt and pants, snacks and a water bottle, and a few tools he thought would be helpful for the trip, then ducked his head and stepped into the racer.
Interior lights flicked to life as the ship sensed his entry, illuminating a crew compartment that was deceptively large, for a ship this size. It could seat four comfortably; five if you squeezed, and six if you really knew and liked each other. The pilot and copilot’s gell cushioned seats, all covered in worn and cracked black faux-leather, were separate units up at the front fo the compartment. The passenger’s couch, to Jeremy’s immediate right as he entered, was one long unit with three built-in sets of four-point restraint harnesses made of black canvas webbing.
There were no windows or portholes; the only view of anything outside the ship was through the open hatch. For now, at least. The lighting was a warm almost-natural hue, and the compartment smelled faintly of pine from Dad’s favorite air freshener. Jeremy felt a little thrill of excitement as he breathed it in.
This was going to be awesome.
He left his duffle bag on the passenger couch and turned forward toward the pilot’s chair. He had to keep his head ducked as he moved; he had grown to be a couple centimeters taller than Dad, and Dad could just barely stand to his full height inside the ship. But in a short while he was seated in the chair, the gell cushion adjusting to his weight and body size automatically to create a snug but comfortable support.
Jeremy finished buckling his restraint straps then reached forward and tapped the two large screens in front of his chair to life with brushes of his fingers. The upper screen, the larger of the two, ran through a bootup sequences of codes and symbols, then after a moment settled down into an image of the property in front of the racer. A second later, screens to the left and right of the pilot and co-pilot’s chairs sprung to life, showing the view from the port and starboard sides of the ship as well. He didn’t look, but he knew a fourth screen mounted on the bulkhead above the passenger couch, would show the rear view.
The second screen ahead of him, the smaller of the two and mounted below the first, came up with a navigation display overlaid atop a chart of the city where the ship was shown as a white pip resting on a blue square labelled “Home”. At the bottom of the navigation display, ships systems status were displayed as a series of circles, all green except for the crew hatch indication which showed red, and engine parameters were shown as digital gauges for power output, acceleration, velocity, and fuel status.
Jeremy did a quick look over the instruments and nodded to himself in satisfaction. Good to go. If any of the systems had issues, they would come yellow or red instead of green, and like usual Dad had topped off the fuel just before he landed last time he’d taken the ship out.
“Ok,” Jeremy said to himself. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
On the overhead above his head was a bank of switches and knobs that would initiate engine startup. He knew the sequence to get it going; he’d watched Dad do it countless times, and in the last six months Dad had begun teaching him how to fly the thing in preparation for getting his flight license. He’d logged about sixty hours of under instruction time in this seat, with Dad in the right-hand seat beside him. And three hours solo.
But he’d never tried to fly out of the atmosphere before. He’d watched Dad do it. And he’d read about it. But actually doing it…
Doubt again swept through him, and again he shoved it away, and flicked the engine start switches and the switch to close the hatch.
The hydraulic whine of the hatch actuator sounded quickly. Then came the solid thunk of the hatch closing and the lesser hissing of the inner seal sliding into place.
A low rumble, just barely perceptible, came from aft of the crew compartment as the engines spun up, and Jeremy felt a slight vibration in his chair in tune with the rumble.
On the system status display, the engine parameters jumped upward then settled down into idle. Jeremy eyed them for a few seconds; all normal.
Good to go.
Jeremy grinned and tapped a smaller control pad to his left, and a dialogue window opened in the upper situational awareness display in front of him. In the right cargo pocket of his pants, his holopad gave a chirp and vibrated for a second as the ship established a link with it. The dialogue window populated with his music playlists, and Jeremy selected a high energy, rocking mix he used when he went to the gym.
Thumping bass and a rollicking drum line supported a seriously shredding guitar as Jeremy took hold of the control yoke that was mounted on a panel to the left and in front of his pilot seat and the engine controls on a small console between the pilot’s and co-pilot’s seat.
He applied vertical thrust and pulled back on the yoke. And he was up.
On the situational awareness displays, the trees around the landing pad slipped down and then disappeared from view. Altitude indicators on the navigation display showed him passing through 100 meters. 200.
He leveled off at 300 meters, below the altitude where he’d have to contact traffic control, and adjusted the thrust vector for forward flight, and he shot off through the night.
Acceleration forced him back into the seat, and Jeremy bit back a curse. He’d forgotten the inertial compensators. Releasing the engine controls, he reached up to the control switches over his head and flicked one, and at once the feeling of being kicked in the chest relented, and he was able to more comfortably steer the ship.
He turned to the southwest, then switched the dialogue window to his contact list and placed calls to Steve and Amil.
It took a few seconds, then Jeremy’s music faded as additional dialogue windows opened showing their faces: Steve all blond and square jawed, Amil darker and rounder of face. Neither of them looked particularly excited, though.
More doubts rose, but Jeremy forced them down. “Hey. I’m up, and on the way to our meeting site. You guys rolling?”
Both of Jeremy’s friends looked like someone had put vinegar in their breakfast cereal. Amil spoke first.
“Hey man, my grandma just came into town. Unannounced. Mom’s pissed she didn’t call. But now we have to…” He trailed off, and in the window, he gave a helpless shrug.
Damn. That sucked. Not that seeing grandparents was bad, but –
Then Steve chimed in. “Katy called a few minutes ago. Her folks are out of town and she wants me to come over. I mean, the Luna concert sounds cool and all, but…”
Oh for the love of – “Dude, Katy’s been blowing you off for six months. You don’t really think she’s serious, do you?”
“Don’t be hating cause a hottie wants me all to herself. Sorry, man, but beauty calls.”
Jeremy pulled back the throttle, reducing his airspeed back to a hover, and leaned back in the pilot chair, dumbfounded. They’d been planning this for weeks, not going out so they could save money from work, and now when it’s finally time to do it, his buddies bail on him?
“You guys are killing me. What am I supposed to do now?”
Amil shrugged again. “Dunno. Movies maybe? Better than what I’ve got to do.”
“Not better than who I’ll be doing in a little while though.” Steve’s anticipatory grin was practically ear to ear. “Really am sorry, Jeremy. I’ll make it up to you. Gotta go.” Then his transmission winked out and the dialogue window closed.
“Yeah. Sorry,” said Amil. Then he ended the conversation as well.
Son of a bitch. Jeremy ground his teeth in frustration.
Go to a movie? A movie?!
The fact that Amil’s suggestion mirrored his own hesitant thoughts from a few minutes ago just made it worse. Screw the movies, and screw them. He was going to Luna.
Snarling to himself, Jeremy advanced the throttle all the way and pulled up on the yoke, raising the ship’s nose toward the sky above, and space beyond.
Luna or bust.
* * * * *
Initial exhilaration quickly gave way to routine, and then to boredom.
Jeremy recalled reading that the first visitors to the moon required four days to get there and back. His trip out was going to be closer to four hours. But after his initial near panic as he dealt with orbital traffic control procedures that he had only observed and read about before, never navigated himself, he had darn little to do.
So he reclined his pilot’s seat and listened to his music. And then listened some more.
After three hours, he was truly ready for something else to happen. Just about anything else.
By then Luna had grown quite large in the situational awareness displays, and the little pip showing the racer on the navigation screen was beginning to approach the point where the deceleration burn to enter lunar orbit and then touch down on Mare Tranquilitatis would be necessary.
He supposed that was as good a something else as he was going to get. He was just situating himself back into a position to properly fly the ship when an electronic beep preceded a hail from Lunar Traffic Control.
Jeremy swallowed. He knew LTC existed, of course. But he’d never dealt with them. Or even read about their procedures. The various approach and landing procedures were programmed into the ship’s navigational computer, so he wouldn’t be completely in the dark. But still, this was entirely new territory, and he fought down a big case of nerves as he reached over to the control yoke and pressed the button to activate his pilot’s microphone.
“This is the racer Ollyfant en route to Tranquility Base,” he said, then winced. That felt lame; hopefully it didn’t sound lame as well.
A second’s pause, then LTC replied. “Racer Ollyfant, we do not have a flight plan on file for you. Request your registration number and flight plan number.”
Jeremy hadn’t known he would have needed to file a flight plan with LTC. Those weren’t typically needed past Low Earth Orbit, where a majority of the satellite constellation resided, and the plan he had filed with Earth Traffic Control—under Dad’s name—had just specified transit through LEO to Luna. Would that be enough?
He tabbed open another dialogue window on the situational awareness display, this one of the ship’s internal records, and pulled up her registration specs. Then he keyed his mike again.
“LTC, this is Ollyfant. Registration number is N624CTV. We filed our plan with ETC. Did they not forward it on to you?”
It was a half-truth. But it was better than a straight-out lie.
He sweated for half a minute before LTC replied.
“Racer Ollyfant, you are cleared for Lunar Entry burn. Execute approach procedure Victor 4 and land at pad 27, Tranquility Base.”
Jeremy let out a sigh of relief. Maybe this was going to work out after all.
“Roger, LTC. Thanks.”
Now what the hell was approach procedure Victor 4, and where was pad 27?
It took him a while to find the procedure; it was buried beneath three levels of directory trees in a seldom-used folder. But when he called it up, it looked simple enough. He was just finishing his first review of it when the ship beeped at him and he heard the deep thrum of the engines lighting off.
He looked up to see that they had reached the burn point. On the navigation display, the ship’s velocity was ticking down rapidly, and over the course of several minutes their plotted vector went from being a straight—or near enough—line zooming past Luna to who knows where to a curve that circled Luna to a free return trajectory back toward the Earth, to a stable orbit, to a decaying orbit that ended up in a crash landing on Mare Tranquilitatis.
Unless he implemented the approach procedure to turn that crash into a nice, soft, landing on pad 27.
It was a simple enough procedure. He should just be able to enter it into the navigation system and then…
A red square with the chilling words “ERROR – CODE 40” appeared in the center of the navigation system when he tried to import the procedure’s files.
Had he missed a step? He tried again.
ERROR – CODE 40.
Oh crap. What was going on here? Jeremy tabbed open a troubleshooting window. He needed to find out what CODE 40 meant and hopefully get it fixed in the next—he glanced at the navigation display to the ETA block, and blanched—in the next twenty minutes or he was going to crash.
Jeremy paged hurriedly through to the troubleshooting documentation and found what he was looking for. His stomach dropped.
CODE 40 – incompatible file type.
He shook his head in denial. Incompatible file type? How was that even possible? It was a file resident on the ship’s network. How could it be an incompatible file type?
He opened up the procedure file to the human readable portion again and scanned it. When he got to the bottom of the first page, he saw the logo there, and winced.
The logo was for Jeppesen Astronomic Charts. But Jeremy remembered now. A couple years back his dad had upgraded the Ollyfant’s navigation system from the old Jeppesen one to a newer unit from Garmin.
Naturally, the two companies’ file types would not be compatible with each other.
And apparently Dad had never bothered to get charts and approach procedures for Luna for the new system, because he never had any reason to go there.
And Jeremy was such an idiot, he hadn’t bothered to check before leaving on this trip.
So that left contacting LTC, declaring a major mea culpa, aborting his landing and going back to Earth. Or contacting LTC to declare an emergency and have them guide him in with precision approach controls. Or flying the procedure manually.
He really, really, REALLY didn’t want to do the first. He’d come this far, and to leave without at least stepping on Luna… Jeremy’s mind rebelled at that notion.
The second option was almost as bad. Because if he declared an emergency and they guided him in, there’d most likely have to be a debrief of events with the local flight standards office. And it would take precisely zero minutes for them to figure out that he wasn’t even licensed for atmospheric flight, let alone orbital.
That left doing it manually.
Jeremy looked at the procedure again. It was simple enough. He’d once done a far more complicated approach in his atmospheric training, under Dad’s tutelage.
He could do this.
“And hey,” he said to himself as he pulled the restraint straps on his seat a bit tighter, “worst case I just abort and head back to Earth.” He tried chuckling to himself, in that confident way that Dad did sometimes. It didn’t work; his mouth was dry and his stomach was doing somersaults in his belly.
A beep from the navigation system told him there were ten minutes remaining until contact with the Lunar surface. Peaks, valleys, and craters on the surface were getting close enough that it was easy to see their depths in detail. And he could see the lit towers of Tranquility Base ahead, and closing quickly.
The first step of the procedure was due right…about…
Eyes flicking quickly between the procedural steps and the navigation display, Jeremy applied a burst from his maneuvering thrusters to adjust the ship’s vector a few degrees to starboard.
Next, a quick burn from the engines to steepen their descent.
Lower the cameras supplying the situational awareness displays so they were looking down.
Find the right pad…there, on the far side of the landing complex. The landing beacons were lit, a series of white directional strobes that were running toward an octagonal plate that was elevated slightly from the terrain surrounding it. It memory served him right, after he touched down the plate would lower and carry the ship beneath the surface into an airdock, so ingress and egress from the ship would be easier.
Also, since there was next to no protection from radiation up on the surface, most of the lunar settlements were subterranean. So it made sense to have the ships go there –
A chirping alarm drew Jeremy out of his thoughts of random trivia and back to the present. He looked down at the navigation display, and blanched.
His descent rate was too high. He gave a quick burst from the engines, and then cursed again as the ship stopped descending entirely and began to rise.
Too much thrust.
And crap, now he was out of alignment with the pad. And –
“Racer Ollyfant, what is your status?” It was a different voice on the communications system. The tower controller instead of approach control.
Jeremy’s mind raced, and he keyed back, “Missfire from one of my thrusters. I’ve got it under control now. Good to go.”
He’d managed to stop the unexpected ascent, and was yawing the ship around to line up with the markings on the pad…
“Racer Ollyfant, do you require assistance?”
Dammit, he did not need this distraction. “Negative,” he said, quickly. “Everything’s under control.”
And he thought it was. The ship was lined up nicely. Descent rate was good. Just a few meters and –
Oh crap, the landing gear!
Jeremy surged forward and hit the switch to deploy the struts. He heard the hydraulics cycle to lower them, and then –
Jeremy lurched in his seat and for a second thought he’d crashed. But when he looked at the ship’s status display everything was green.
He was on the ground.
Hurriedly shutting down the engines, Jeremy slumped back in his seat and adjusted the situational awareness cameras back to their normal position just in time to see the ship sink into a vertical steel tunnel and a hatch iris shut overtop.
Over the communication system, he heard the tower say, “Welcome to Luna.”
Jeremy breathed out a sigh of relief.
He waited a few minutes to give himself time to calm down before opening the hatch and leaving the ship. When he stepped out, he found himself on a steel platform that was big enough to accept a ship three times the size of Ollyfant. The steel tunnel stretched above him a good thirty meters before stopping at the massive irising hatch that he had seen closing above them.
The place was well lit by recessed LEDs in the tunnel walls, and a couple of spotlights shone down on the ship from the lower side of the hatch overhead.
Ground crew was hard at work securing the landing gear to the platform and rigging up umbilicals for shore power and sanitary tank draining. The crew’s foreman turned toward Jeremy when he stepped out and gave him a quizzical look.
“That was about the most jacked up landing I’ve ever seen,” he said. He was an older man, in his 60s probably, with dark brown skin and deep smile lines on his face. His hair was frizzy, white, and receding, and he wore the same grey coveralls that his team wore.
“Yeah,” Jeremy said. “I almost lost it there.” He moved to step toward the foreman, and stumbled in the low gravity.
Inside the ship, the inertial systems had maintained Earth-normal. But here the gravity was one-sixth that, and he had never experienced it before. The first step out of the ship had been weird. This second…
He tried to catch himself, but his reflexes were not attuned to the environment, and he found himself launched up into the air. He cried out in alarm.
And then strong hands were grabbing him. He turned to see the foreman had bounded over in one step, grabbed him, and pulled him back down into a normal standing position.
The foreman looked at him quizzically. “First time on Luna, huh?”
“How old are you, boy?”
Jeremy had been expecting this question, and had come prepared. “Twenty-one,” he said, and reached into his cargo pocket. He pulled out the fake ID he’d gotten a few months back. It was in Dad’s name, but it had his picture and vitals on it. Just his birthday was four years earlier than reality.
He showed it to the foreman, he looked it over and frowned.
He grunted. “Twenty-one, huh. Well you look about fifteen.” He grinned then. “In about twenty years, you’ll be happy for that baby face, believe me. Now, take it easy moving around at first. Takes some getting used to. I presume you’re here for the concert?”
“I hope you got a place to stay lined up already. Way I hear all the hotels are booked.”
“I figured I’d sleep on the ship. Save some money that way.”
The foreman grunted again. “Your call, I guess. When you leaving?”
The foreman nodded. “Alright then. Well, have fun.”
Jeremy grinned in return. He was going to. Oh boy, was he going to.
* * * * *
Jeremy couldn’t help but smile, probably the broadest smile he’d ever had, as he pressed the engine start switches and powered up the Ollyfant, then blasted off from Tranquility Base.
It was Sunday morning and he hadn’t gotten any sleep the previous night. Part of the reason was the concert. Another part were the parties after the concert. The final part was up in a dialogue window on the situational awareness display.
Her name was Samantha. She was twenty. She was a redhead. And she had made his life incredibly interesting the last few hours, before he had to leave if he was to get home before Dad did.
“Eat your heart out, Steve,” Jeremy said, and sounded smug even to himself.
Whatever. He’d earned it.
As he lifted off, he found he could not look away from the image of Samantha’s face in that dialogue window. Those green eyes. The cute dimples in her cheeks.
Best part was she didn’t live all that far away from him. He was definitely going to have to look her up again.
And how, exactly, are you going to explain that you’re not really 21 and that ship you showed her around was really your dad’s, asked the annoying voice in the back of his head.
“Shut up,” he said to it. But it kept on babbling at him.
It couldn’t take his great cheer away, though. He’d figure something out.
Speaking of which, he glanced down at the navigation display and saw that he was –
“Racer Ollyfant, you are approaching the limits of the departure corridor. Adjust your vector.” came the voice of LTC over the communication system.
Jeremy cursed to himself and applied some lateral thrust. “LTC, Ollyfant. Roger that. Little glitch in the system. We’re good now.” He resolutely closed the window with Samantha’s picture in it. Time enough to daydream about her later. Carefully tweaking the racer’s vector, he eased the ship back into the center of the departure corridor.
And then just a few minute later, LTC was bidding him farewell, and he was on a trajectory back to Earth.
He got back to Earth without anything happening to stop his remembrances of Samantha, and before he knew it he was passing through reentry interface and flying on a vector for home. The sun was still well up in the sky when he set down on the landing bad below the house, and he took a few minutes to secure the ship, making sure to leave no trace of his presence, or of the adventure he had had.
When Dad came walking in through the front door, a suitcase in each hand, Jeremy was sprawled on the couch, watching a holo of a kung fu shoot-em-up almost comedy movie from twenty-some years ago. One that he knew Dad loved.
Dad stopped when he saw the movie and grinned. “Big Trouble In Old Taipei,” he said. “Now that is a classic.” He turned to the stairs leading up to their bedrooms. “Didn’t know you liked it.”
“It’s kind of fun,” Jeremy said. It wasn’t entirely untrue. The movie was cheesy, that’s for sure. But there was something about the cheese that made it…almost…good.
“Damn right it is.” Dad headed upstairs. He came back down a couple minutes later sans jacket and suitcases, and walked past where Jeremy was sitting on the couch toward the kitchen.
“How was the trip, Dad?”
“Pretty great. Kinda glad I didn’t take the Ollyfant down there, though. I was in no condition to fly this morning.” He opened up the refrigerator and pulled out a box of Orange Juice, then found a cup and poured himself a drink. “Got a funny call from Ms. Kranitz, though.”
Jeremy felt his eyebrows rising. Ms. Kranitz was the neighbor two houses over, on the other side of the hill. She was always poking her nose where it didn’t belong. “What did she want?”
Dad replaced the orange juice box in the refrigerator and closed it, then took a draw from his cup. “Weirdest thing,” he said after swallowing. “She said she saw the Ollyfant lift off from here Friday evening, and land again this afternoon.”
Jeremy worked hard to keep his face straight, though the bottom dropped out of his stomach. “Oh?”
“Yeah.” Dad shook his head. “Funny old bird. I told her she had to be mistaken. You’ve been here all weekend, and no way could someone just take the ship without you noticing and calling the cops.”
“Yeah.” Jeremy sounded breathless even to himself.
Dad’s eyes locked onto his, and grew stern despite the easy expression on his face. “I thought about checking the ship’s position log to be sure.”
“Yeah. Ollyfant updates its position hourly to a site I have access to, so I can check on it from afar if I need to. I can run system diagnostics, check its position, look at the exterior and interior camera feeds, you name it. Even get the engines warmed up so I can take off in a hurry.” Dad’s eyebrow rose. “You didn’t know that?”
Jeremy shook his head. He knew his mouth had dropped open, and he could feel his cheeks warming as he thought of bringing Samantha onto the ship. And the things he’d done with her while she was there. If Dad saw –
Dad shrugged. “But I decided I didn’t need to do that. I left you in charge, and you’re a dependable, responsible young man. I’m sure nothing untoward happened at all.”
He drained the rest of his cup and set it down on the counter. “But I’ll tell you what. If someone had run off with my ship while I was away, I would hope they’d at least have the decency to leave it with a full fuel tank.” He patted his belly and looked around the kitchen for a moment as though trying to decide whether to get something else or not. Finally, he shrugged and turned back to Jeremy. “Well, I’m pretty beat. I’m heading to bed. Good night, son.”
As Dad walked past him, it was all Jeremy could do to manage a hoarse-sounding, “Good night.”
Dad went back upstairs, and a few seconds later Jeremy heard the door to his bedroom close.
Jeremy waited until the movie was done and he was sure Dad was asleep. Then he rushed out the door, down the hill, and to the landing pad where the Ollyfant was parked.
He had to go to a gas station.
A collection of Michael Kingswood’s published stories are available here: