Posts Tagged ‘Mercury’

Ra Pulls in the Welcome Mat

Posted: July 3, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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sunThey say you’re not supposed to look directly at the sun. Lesley couldn’t help it. On the surface of Mercury, the sun covered the entire sky, curving up and away. You had to crane your neck to see the edge of the sun’s horizon. Even with her suit on maximum light filtering, Lesley had to hold up her hand to look at it. Solar flares scudded across the surface like clouds floating over Earth. Lesley turned her back to it. The sun was the whole reason for this mess.

James said, “Meteorology says the flares are going to last a week.”

“How bad will the radiation get?”

“Enough to fry every system with lower than grade three shielding in three days.”

“Damn it.” Lesley looked out over a beautiful field of high-intensity solar panels. The panels drank in visible light and turned it into enough energy to charge the life support systems that they used for their base underground. “So we’ll have life support, but all our transmission equipment, all our science instruments, all the civilian tech is going to get cooked.”

“Yeah.”

It was just her imagination, but Lesley could feel the sun’s heat bearing down on the back of her neck. At times like this she thought of it as “old Ra” for the Egyptian sun god. “Well, we’re lucky to be alive. At least the facility is strong enough.”

“I know. Remember what happened to the first colony on the moon?”

“Radiation burns and six months of chemo for everybody. It wasn’t pretty.”

“Earth is going to hold up sending out supplies until the solar flares are over.”

Lesley drew her breath through her teeth. “That’ll be the hard part. We need to start rationing now. Power, food, everything.”

“I’m already on it. Kevin wants to hold a raffle for showers.”

“Is anybody else keeping their sense of humor?”

“No.”

Lesley looked back at the sun as they entered the elevator. “This is the first base that was built just to explore, not to mine or exploit the planet. I think Ra still doesn’t want us here.”

“Just a ball of hydrogren and helium, Lesley.”

Tell that to the sun god.

Today’s post was inspired by the prompt “mercury poisoning” from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Photo credit: “A Solar Prominence Erupts in STEREO – NASA APOD” by Temari 09 at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

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I love the smell of an engine

Posted: August 26, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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Cougar engineChris and Terry put the intake manifold down on the empty work bench, alongside an open tray of tools. The fasteners and other parts that they’d had to take off along the way were laid out at the far end of the bench. Terry wiped his grimy hands with an old shirt. He started to wipe his face, then stopped himself. Chris walked back to the car, a 1967 Cougar, looking over the empty space. She loved how the metal felt under her hands.

Terry offered her the clean side of the shirt. Chris took it. She said, “Thanks. That was a lot easier with the two of us.”

“I forgot you knew so much about cars,” Terry said.

“Changing the oil is easy. Brake pads, fun. This is a labor of love.” Before she wiped her hands, she held one up to her face and breathed deep. “I forgot how much I love the smell of an engine. My grandfather owned an auto repair shop. My dad was a greasemonkey in his spare time. I grew up around cars.”

She started cleaning her hands. The rough cotton drank in the grease and dirt. Chris felt like she was a teenager again. “If I hadn’t loved writing so much, I would’ve been an engineer. Hell, I would’ve been a greasemonkey.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“It’s a tough day job. Nice hobby, though. I meshed the two together and wrote some articles on auto repair when I was starting out.”

She took a flashlight and looked at the engine more closely. Very little rust, but she saw wear everywhere. “Well, I don’t think the seller was lying. The body is good but the engine needs work. He put it through its paces. Kept it up pretty well but not as well as I would have.”

“My friend Little Pete can help us with the hard-to-find parts.”

“Let’s try my dad first. He knows some people, too. Junk yard people. Classic car people. Ebay savant people.”

Terry laughed. “I need to go pick up the kids at softball practice. See you later.”

She blew him a kiss and waved goodbye. Chris watched him go, then looked back at the car. She couldn’t wait to be up to her elbows in this thing. She’d been looking forward to this. Rebuilding the cougar would give them some father-daughter time. It would also be a lot more fun than art galleries, PTA, condo association and everything else she’d been doing for the past few months.

Something light for tonight. While going through some old emails, I found the quote “loving the smell of an engine” that I clipped from a friend’s Facebook post (thanks, Chris!). I thought it would be cool to write a scene about a wife and husband working on a car. No angst, no heartburn, just friends bonding over family, grease and metal.