Tag Archives: Planets

The Crowns of Pluto (1.)

A vision of Pluto, at least in my mind.

I was sipping egg nog and looking out the window of my quarters at the Station Kronos Kuiper on the dwarf planet Pluto. I was 3.6 billion miles away from my home on Earth and it was Christmas again. The weather outside was perfect for Christmas. It’s always perfect for Christmas here. It was my seventh Christmas in this eternal void of the soul.

I don’t know why I volunteered for the Pluto mission, but then again, I do. I suppose it was a hasty decision driven by the heart. All I remember is I was reading a newspaper in a diner on a rainy day in New York when my fiancée found me and informed me that she was in love with someone else. I had asked her if she had forgotten about the wedding we were planning for. I asked her if she just didn’t want a future with me because I was a rocket jockey. She just rolled her eyes at me and then removed the engagement ring and slid it across the table in my direction.

I caught her glancing out the window and then I looked too, through the mist of the city. There was a tough guy outside on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette beneath a black umbrella as he leaned against a pole. He looked like a fancy pants Wall Street James Dean.

“That’s the guy?” I asked her.

She just halfheartedly nodded and slid out of the booth. She looked at me for the very last time and said, “Have a nice life among the stars.”

It was right after that when I volunteered for the mission with no return trip back to Earth. I didn’t care. I wanted as far away from that shitty world as I could possibly be… And then some. I had to put together and submit pounds of end-of-existence paperwork, agreements, contracts, and final wishes for out here. Talk about signing your life away.

And now here I am. It’s Christmas again, and I am the only one here. All those words and directives mean nothing now because there is no one left to abide to them in my name. I suppose at some point I will just fall over and eventually turn to dust.

I handled the death procedure for the last of the others. And now they are all out there, floating around me somewhere in far-out space unseen. It’s cold. It’s gray as metal. I am lonely.

There hasn’t been any communication with Earth in a very long time. They never answer or maybe they never even receive my transmissions. Either something bad has happened there, or they have simply forgotten about me. Perhaps they have moved on to something more viable and fresher and exciting. Like my ex-fiancée. I took another sip of egg nog and looked out in the vastness of it all even deeper. This is a depth of loneliness unseen, yet at times it is nourishing to me.

I often take my loneliness with me and just sit in the great worship hall to visit with all the various gods of the universe we have created. They all have our own interpretations of what they may look like, or what we want them to look like, painted or chiseled or lasered into and upon various places throughout the sanctuary. I think I prefer the God of Time or the God of Lost Places the most. There’s a god for most anything on Pluto. We had to devise reasons for existing and passing on.

It’s a vast place with arches and buttresses and golden windows and statues and rows upon rows of pews for the people who once came there. There’s a large, clear dome at the top to allow one a glimpse of the wet universe that surrounds this place. I appear in the sanctuary at a spot in the middle and pause and admire the work of the ones before me who built it all. I owe them my life at this point really, for their vast creations on this planet have kept me alive and for the most part, safe.

Instead of the plethora of gods, I pray to the astro-engineers and architects and builders and the mechanical men who carved out a whole new world here on the outer Kuiper. I thank them for their ingenuity, patience, and skill. But the silence here now is nearly deafening. What a strange thing. But even so, there are at times distant rattles, invisible things falling, dust skittering in the low light. They often frighten me because it makes me wonder if I am truly alone after all.

Author’s note: I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode III)

Photo of sliced bread. Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper.
Photo by Marcel Fiedler on Pexels.com

The Life Stopper Challenge

Karl the stormtrooper carefully balanced the board on which rested his hazelnut 12-grain bread as he made his way through a hypnotic corridor at Outpost 9 on the planet Placitas in the galaxy of Fresh.

When he arrived at the quarters of Commander Altiar, he nervously pressed the call button and waited.

 “Yes, what is it?” came the voice of the commander from the other side of somewhere.

“It’s Karl, sir. The stormtrooper. I’ve come with the bread you requested.

The door quickly slid open with a swoosh, and Karl stepped inside. The commander’s quarters were opulent compared to the simple, crowded barracks that the young stormtrooper was accustomed to. He looked around at the elaborate furnishings, the decorated walls, the large windows looking out upon the rutty, desert-like landscape of the planet Placitas and all the dots of light in the night sky that roared above it. The commander was out of uniform and was wearing a shiny robe of red and black that went down to his shins. His feet were bare, and it all struck Karl as very odd for he had never seen a commanding officer in a robe and with bare feet before. Those two worlds rarely mixed, if ever.

The commander took notice of the young stormtrooper’s obvious discomfort and chuckled. “You don’t believe that I’m always in uniform, do you Karl? I do take time to unwind and relax. I have to shower and change clothes like everyone else. Please, come in. You can set your bread down over here. I’ll grab a knife.”

Karl set the bread board down as ordered and waited. The commander returned with a large, silver bread knife with a glinting, gently serrated edge. He waved it around recklessly as he spoke. “I must tell you, Karl. I’ve really been looking forward to this. I know it may seem strange to you that I’m so excited about bread, but sometimes being a commander in the Evil Empire doesn’t allow a proper balance between work and a personal life. I’m afraid having hobbies and other interests outside my official duties are often frowned upon by the higher ups, so it’s nice to be able to indulge when one can… Now, let’ see what we have here.” The commander diligently looked the loaf over. “The color is good,” he said. He picked it up and rapped a knuckle against the bottom. A hollow sound would indicate to him that it had been baked long enough. “Seems done,” he said with a pleased smile.

Karl nervously looked on as the commander worked the knife into the center of the loaf with a precise sawing motion. Once cut through, the commander picked up one half and studied the interior. “Hmm, looks like you have a good dough structure, it’s not over or under proofed so the rise is nearly perfect.” He flipped the half loaf around to look at the underside again. “No soggy bottom here.” He poked at the inside with a finger and was happy with the spring back. He looked up at Karl and smiled. “That’s an excellent bake. You really nailed it. But let’s hope it tastes just as good as it looks.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

The commander kept his eyes on Karl as he tore a piece from the loaf and put it into his mouth. He chewed slowly. Then he closed his eyes and bowed his head like he was saying a prayer as he continued chewing and thinking deeply. That worried Karl. A sick nervousness began to rise in his guts, and he thought that at any moment the commander was going to spit the bread out of his mouth and order Karl to be executed. When the commander opened his eyes and looked at him, Karl feared the worst.

“That’s fantastic,” the commander said. “I love the flavor you’ve achieved. It holds in the mouth superbly. It’s got an amazing chew. Absolutely fantastic.”

Karl released a great sigh of relief. “Thank you, sir. Thank you so much.”

“I mean it. Well done. That’s an excellent loaf of bread. You should be proud of yourself,” and Commander Altiar reached out his hand to congratulate the stormtrooper with a firm grip and shake. “Congratulations, you blew my balls off as requested.”

“Wonderful. I’m glad my bread blew your balls off, sir. I was really worried you were going to hate it.”

Commander Altiar beamed at him. “Take some advice, Karl. Don’t ever reveal your doubts when you’re up against a challenge. It only robs you of confidence.” The commander slapped his hands together to clear away any breadcrumbs. “Now, I suppose you’re eager to get on with your life. As I am a man of my word, I’m relieving you of your duty to the Evil Empire. I of course will handle all the authoritative nuances that are bound to creep up. But I would be quick to say your goodbyes and leave this place and be off to France.”

Karl’s head drooped for a moment.

“Is there a problem, Karl?” the commander wanted to know. “I thought you would be ecstatic.”

“Of course, sir. I am, sir. It’s just that…”

“What is it?”

“Well, I’ve never been much of a traveler, and I don’t have too many connections… Anywhere. I’m not sure where to begin.”

“You begin at the beginning, Karl. I’m sure you’ll do what needs to be done to reach your destination,” the commander instructed. “I wish you the best of luck.” The commander proceeded to cut another slice of the bread. He raised it to his face and inhaled the aroma. “I think I’ll make some toast. Would you care for a slice, Karl?”

“No. That’s okay. I should probably just get back to the barracks and get my things together. Thanks for all of this, sir. I greatly appreciate it.”

The commander studied him for a moment and sensed the unfinished business that sat upon the air. “You act as if there is something else on your mind, Karl. What is it?”


“Yes. Go ahead. Just say it.”

“Would you come with me?”

The commander froze and only his eyes moved, and they moved all over Karl trying to decipher his deepest intentions. The young stormtrooper was suddenly worried that his request was far too bold and that he just destroyed his only chance of ever getting away from the Evil Empire and fulfilling his dream to just bake.

“Did you just ask your commanding officer to run away with you?” Commander Altiar said in a somewhat bitter tone.

Karl stammered. “Sir. Yes, I did, sir. It’s just that you have a far greater knowledge of space travel, and I was hoping you could perhaps act as a guide. I know you have your own ship. You must be a good pilot. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I just wanted to ask anyways. My apologies if I overstepped my bounds. I’ll be on my way. Thank you, sir.”

Karl turned and made his way toward the exit.

“Wait,” Commander Altiar said.

Karl turned and looked at him. “Sir?”

“I suddenly find myself at that familiar crossroad of regret, Karl. I don’t know if it’s just the high I’m feeling from this delectable bread, but something tells me that I should say ‘yes.’”

Karl stepped forward. “I’m only asking for passage. Once on Earth I won’t be a burden to you any longer. I swear it. But I would be eternally grateful for your help.”

“All right, Karl. That sounds fair enough to me. But I will only do this on one condition.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“That you bake me some more bread.”

Keep an eye out for Episode IV