Smith and Wesson

Smith and Wesson

Chapter One: The Escape.

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prisoner 235218 quietly put on his space suit. It was the most valuable thing he had ever come across. The prison guards tracked resources rigorously. Only rarely did they miss anything. However, it is even more rare for them to miss something as important as a space capable suit. He was lucky. He was also quite careful. If they found it, there would be hell to pay.

Once his suit was on, he opened the airtight seal to his tunnel. It made its telltale shhhhwop sound. He felt the tug of the escaping air. He had to be quick, or the breach alarms would sound. He jumped in, and sealed the door behind him. While the tunnel took months to dig, it took longer to fashion the door. It had to be just right, or they would find it for sure. However, it was the kind of thing at which he always excelled. That is why he worked in the prison engineering department.

The tunnel was rough-hewn. 235218 found that it was difficult to get through the rock and metal of the prison asteroid. Fortunately, he had access to the tools required to cut through it. He was also lucky because of the microgravity; he did not have to worry about collapses. He just needed to bring his own air. That was another obstacle he had overcome.

Some said The Rock was a mine in a past existence. Most thought that was a fairy story, but 235218 knew it to be true. He had run across a few tunnels in his work -- mining tunnels. These helped him out in a few places. At times he wondered about its previous life, but mostly he just kept digging.

After months of work, his tunnel was done. He was now ready to make his break. Everything was going according to plan. He pushed himself along to the end of his tunnel. There he found his crudely fashioned air rig. It would provide him with breathable air as well as his sole source of propulsion.

The best thing about his plan for a prison break was that no one would suspect it was happening. No one tried to escape from New Alcatraz. It is a huge rock in space. Where would you go? He knew. He had researched it. He knew how to escape.

235218 looked at his watch. He had to pick it up if he was going to make it. He disconnected his small air-tank and connected himself to his air-rig. He checked the air connections, and he was ready. He breathed in deep. The air seemed stale, but it was breathable. He was ready to make his break.

The prisoner attached his lifeline to a carabiner near his planned exit spot. It would be no good to just float off. His launch had to be controlled. He was almost free.

With his mining tools, he poked through the thin layer above him. The dark sky nearly took his breath away. Prisoners rarely ever saw the night sky. He was awed by the stars. For a moment he lost himself, but he shook it off. He looked at his watch. It was just about time. He let out a bit of line and stood on the ground outside the prison. He tried not to think about the last time he had done that. He had a schedule.

Scanning the night sky, he looked for his markers. He needed to get his trajectory right. He crouched and lined himself up to his spots. He hoped his math was right and took a deep breath. It was time. He disconnected himself from his lifeline and jumped.

The jump was enough to get off the rock, but he opened up his air-rocket to gain control of his flight. He gave just a few quick bursts. He read that this is how the early miners reached their home station. Most people just thought those things were idle stories. 235218 was about to find out.

He knew there was something there, but the darkness hid it well. He took another deep breath. It was time to start slowing down. It would be no good to smash right into it, or worse -- miss his target completely. A few more bursts.

The prison authorities were always careful to keep prisoners from seeing the station. They did not want to encourage prisoners from making a break for it. A jump and you are off. However, you would likely miss if you did not jump just right. Further, you would have to hold your breath for a long time. That is why everyone said, there was no escape from The Rock. That is, unless you had a suit, and something to steer. 235218 smiled at that thought.

Getting his landing just right was not something that he could practice. Not to mention, his jet simply did not have the fine tuning to come in softly. At least, he was not prepared to turn his propulsion nozzle back and forth and make several attempts at landing. He was only going to do it once come what may.

He smashed into the station harder than he thought he would. While it was painful, it did not hurt too bad. He shook it off as he attached his second lifeline to the station. He had to get his bearings. Where was he? While in prison, he studied the station as much as he could. However, there was not much information at the prison. He only had books, and most of them were quite old.

Nevertheless, with his finding the station, he knew the story of the miners had to be true. Thus, someone probably used to make this trip a long time ago. If it was not a tall tale, he knew there had to be a way into the station from his location. There had to be.

Before any panic set in, he noticed an odd rail with something unusual underneath it. He managed to grab one of the items to examine it. It was a narrow bar with a 'P-shaped' loop centered on the top. Near each end of the bar was a ball-bearing wheel on the same side as the loop.

The prisoner looked at the rail. It had a slot in the top, and it was as wide as this little thing was long. He slipped the little car into the slot and gave it a turn. It was a sliding lifeline connector.

The rail was not like that on accident. It had to lead somewhere. He was certain it would lead to a place where he could get into the station. Thus, he attached his line to the loop and picked a direction.

After quite an effort, he thought that he chose the wrong way. He had pulled himself hand over hand for quite a while and had not come to anything. Eventually the rail turned into the station. He was there at a door-lock.

Could he get in? He had come too far to stay on the outside of the station forever. Not to mention, he would need to replenish his air soon. Thus, he would have to take a chance. He peered into the window. The chamber was empty, so he turned the big wheel and opened the door. Once the door was open, he connected his secondary line to the interior hook. Safely attached to the station, he disconnected himself from the car and returned it to its place under the rail. With a little effort, he pulled himself inside and secured the door.

Inside the station, he closed the outside door and opened the air intake valve of the airlock. It slowly filled the room with air. Eventually, this would pressurize the airlock. Before the green light lit, 235218's airtanks ran out. He hoped their was enough breathable air now in there. He held his breath for as long as he could. When the green light eventually lit, he breathed deeply. With a flick of a switch, the interior door opened. He was inside the station.

235218 sat outside the airlock door for a while to see if anyone would come. He looked around and no guards came running. So far, his plan had worked without a hitch.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Two: New Vegas.

By Douglas E. Gogerty

New Vegas was founded by some very wealthy industrialists when electrical power was still in great abundance. They had made their money in various pursuits, and were looking for adventure. They wanted to create something big. This particular group wanted to leave their mark, and New Vegas was their idea.

They carved out the city in the midst of the Amazon jungle on the banks of the Jari River. The land was cheep and it was important for the town to exist on the equator. Thus, they clear-cut the forest, and built the airport. For them, the actual town was not important. It was just a place to fly into for the eventual trip into space.

Brazil could not provide enough workers for the massive undertaking. Hence, during this first immigration wave, workers came from all over the world. They constructed a hydro-electric dam, a 5-star hotel, and much of the infrastructure the city would need out of the virgin forest. The industrialists anticipated New Vegas to be a small touristy town. Therefore, they spent very little money providing resources for the town. It did not have roads to connect it to the rest of the country. It was plopped down in the middle of the forest without thought of it thriving without the tourist trade.

Nonetheless, people flocked to the city looking for work. Some anticipated that construction materials would be needed in space for the space hotel. There was a minor resource boom in the area. However, it was terribly expensive and energy intensive to transport all the materials from earth to the station. Hence, the industrialists planned all along to capture an asteroid to provide materials. The asteroid was placed in geo-syncronous orbit a few hundred feet from the location where they wished to place the hotel. It would be able to provide all of the concrete and steel needed for the hotel.

Hence, the second immigration wave came into the New Vegas. The workers that built the structures on the ground were strong and bulky. They were well suited for the harsh work on earth. However, they would be expensive to launch into space. Hence, this second wave consisted of small and light individuals. These smaller individuals would be cheap to place in space and they could work in smaller spaces. Most of this second wave spent a majority of their time in space. Many of their children and grandchildren still live and work at the hotel.

These space construction workers built a few structures on the asteroid to house the workers and process the materials. These accommodations were crude and harsh. The early workers spent months in space with cramped quarters and long days. As is often the case, they were just glad to have the work. They did not complain about the conditions even when one of their own did not survive. Working in low earth orbit was hazardous and many workers were lost.

Nevertheless, the hotel slowly took shape. Eventually, the workers were allowed to move to the more comfortable accommodations at the hotel. They would commute back to the asteroid during their shifts. They would rather make the leap back and forth than stay at the cramped rooms on the asteroid.

When the space elevator became operational, it became significantly cheaper to bring earthly materials to the hotel. Thus, the upper-levels of the hotel could have some of the finest luxuries from earth. Some rooms actually had woodwork in them. The most luxurious had carpeting. Thus, the space hotel became the destination for the very wealthy.

When the hotel was finished, there was no need for the asteroid. However, it was large enough that it would cause issues if it were left to enter the earth's atmosphere. Further, there was no money to tow it back into space. Thus, it was converted to a high security prison. Everyone involved believed it would be impossible to escape from it. Thus, only the worst offenders were taken there.

When the price to ride the space elevator was reduced to increase the profitability of the hotel, New Vegas became the place to be. Hence the third and final wave of immigrants entered the city. Zephenia Smith's grandparents were part of this wave. They moved from Portsmouth in the UK to New Vegas to have a better life. They catered to the tourist trade. They had a shop at a good location near the space elevator landing. At the time, purchasing the spot was quite expensive, but it was also a high-traffic location. Travelers came from far and wide and purchased things from their shop. Thus, the Smith family made a comfortable living.

However, when electricity became prohibitively expensive, travel became a great luxury. Many of the energy sources at the time were of the non-renewable variety. Thus, in the end, only renewable sources were available. While solar and wind power were quite abundant, they did not meet the needs of the energy hungry population of the earth. Thus, the earth went from a high energy consuming world to a low energy consuming world. This changed everything.

The fuel to fly to New Vegas became prohibitively expensive. Without roads to other cities, besides flight, the only way into the city was by river. Hence, once again only the wealthy were able to afford to go to the space hotel while the average citizen could not. The wealthy patrons were not enough to support the population of New Vegas. Many citizens left the city and left it a shell of its former self.

Some business owners saw the downturn coming and left. However, many businesses were not so lucky or smart. As time went on, it was expensive to enter and leave town. Many of these individuals had nowhere to turn. There was no work for the dwindling population, and it was too costly to try somewhere else. Some of these people turned to crime. Thus, New Vegas became known for its criminal element. This kept even more people away.

Zephenia Smith's great-grandparents passed the store to their children. Zeph's family passed the store to him. While it had opened as a souvenir shop, it had morphed into more of a flea market/junk shop. In this configuration, Zeph managed to keep his store going. He mostly abandoned the tourist trade and catered to the local population. He had a few My parents visited New Vega and all I got was a stupid shirt shirts, as well as some commemorative plates and salt and pepper shakers. Those items did not sell well, and mostly collected dust.

With the items that came into the shop, some were in need of repair. Thus, he learned to repair things and resell them. Eventually, he found that he could fix anything. In this way, he could make money fixing the local citizen's things. They would either pay for the repair, or he would take the items and resell them. It was not lucrative, but he managed to scrape by.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Three: The Escape Continues

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Now that 235218 was safely aboard the space elevator's hotel, he needed to work on phase two of his plan. He had arranged a few days off his work in the prison. Thus, they would not miss him for a few days there. While people disappeared from The Rock occasionally, they always checked the hotel as a matter of course. When the authorities checked the hotel, he wanted to be gone. He had just a couple of days.

Generally, the "jumpers" were never found. A few would be found frozen in space, but most were assumed to burn up re-entering the atmosphere. Thus, it would not be unusual for a prisoner to simply vanish for good. In this way, the prison could claim that no one ever escaped from there prison. The fact is that no one knew for certain. However, for 235218 to make it, he needed to get to Earth. This was the next phase of his plan.

He had been in microgravity for years. He would not be able to do anything in the gravity of the Earth. He would be weak and unable to stand if he just snuck aboard the elevator. However, he knew the station had a system. They had to. People came and went all of the time. He just had to con his way into that program. He did not know anything about it, but he would need to be part of it.

Further, he could not go around as 235218. He had read that Earthers used names not numbers. He did not know any named people, but he believed he needed an alias. While still in prison, he did a lot of reading. He read many old books. He had read a name in some ancient book. The book was rarely checked out in the prison. Thus, it was not popular. Further, since the book was so old, he was sure no one would know who had the name in the past. Thus, 235218 became Daniel Wesson.

Daniel had his story figured out if anyone would ask. He would say that his ship came from deep space. His communications were knocked out, and it ran into some space debris as he approached earth. With this difficulty, he managed to eject and make it to the station before his ship burned up in the atmosphere.

He opened his storage case and fondled some water-filled vials. He would tell them that he had to deliver some important vials to Alpha Base as soon as possible. He hoped they would not delve deeper into Alpha Base. He did not want to have to pull the Top Secret card if he did not have to.

Further, any quirks and oddities of his personal actions could be explained by him being out in space. Also, they would likely not check any aspects of his story. It would take weeks to check the details. Not to mention, why would anyone come to the hotel and fabricate such a tale? He hoped the people did not think about the prison floating just a few hundred feet away because then the entire scenario would come crashing down.

Nevertheless, he thought it was a good cover story. He hoped it would not evoke too many questions. He was counting on them just taking his word for it. He had practiced it so many times, it almost felt like the truth. Thus, he felt he could tell it sincerely. He also hoped it would help him expedite a trip to Earth. Then he would be home free.

Daniel had never been to a hotel before then. He realized he should have studied them more closely. He put his helmet back on and pulled himself along the corridors. He needed to speak to someone, but he did not know who that should be. He passed a few people in the halls as he pulled himself along, but they just stared at him. He gave a polite smile to these other patrons, but he did not know if they could see his expression through his helmet.

Eventually, he came to what he believed to be a public space. The railing with which he used to pull himself along, led to a large desk. He pushed a button, and a computer screen flickered. There were some type of sounds, but he could not make them out while wearing his helmet. He removed his helmet and pressed the button again.

"Welcome to the Hotel Habitat. How may I help you," stated the image on the computer.

"I need to speak to someone," replied Daniel.

"With whom would you like to speak?"

"Hell if I know!"

"I am not familiar with the term Hell. Could you rephrase your query?"

"I do not know who to speak to," sighed Daniel.

"You do not know whom to speak to?" inquired the computer.

"Whatever! You see, my ship malfunctioned..."

"Would you like to speak to someone in our repair facility?"

"That won't be necessary."

"I am not familiar with the term won't. Could you rephrase your query?"

"My ship was destroyed. Thus, repair is not an option."

"Very well then with whom would you like to speak?"

After years in service, no one seemed to feel it necessary to improve the user interface of these computers, Daniel muttered to himself.

"I need to get to Earth," Daniel stated deliberately.

"Would you like to speak to our Earth Travel Coordinator?"

"That would be great!"

"Please answer yes or no."

"Yes!"

"Are you sure you would like to speak to our Earth Travel Coordinator?"

"Yes!"

"Please stand by."

"But..." Daniel attempted to say when the screen went blank.

The computer made some strange buzzing noises. After several buzzes a voice stated, "You have reached the E.T.C. office. Our hours are from 10 to 14 hundred hours. Please call during our normal business hours. Thank you for staying to the Hotel Habitat."

The screen remained blank for several seconds before Daniel realized that his transaction had ended. He did not know whether to press the button again or not. Reluctantly he did.

"Welcome to the Hotel Habitat. How may I help you," stated the image on the computer.

"The Earth Travel Coordinator Office is closed," Daniel said with his contempt for the computer barely suppressed.

"The E.T.C. office hours are from 10 to 14 hundred hours," replied the computer. "Can I be of further service?"

"What time is it now?"

"The current time is 20.24 hundred hours. Can I be of further service?"

"What can I do until 10 hundred hours?"

"Do you have a reservation?" asked the computer.

"No! My ship crashed!" shouted Daniel.

"For 160,000 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"I do not have that kind of money!"

"For 16,000 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"No thank you," replied Daniel attempting to suppress his anger.

"For 1600 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"What can I get for not destroying this computer monitor?"

"For 160 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"How low do you go?"

"For 16 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"Keep going."

"I am sorry, but we are full. Thank you for coming to Hotel Habitat."

Daniel pushed himself to one of the chairs along one wall and strapped himself down. He was tired, so it did not take him long to fall asleep.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Four: The Life of Zephenia Smith

By Douglas E. Gogerty

At the foot of the space elevator life was difficult. Because of the level of crime, the once prosperous city of New Vegas became feared. The few tourists that came to the city would fly in and immediately go up into space. They feared the city. They feared its criminal element. Thus, they did not spend any money there. In this way, the city could not prosper. Hence, crime continued to be the only option for many citizens. This completed the never-ending cycle.

This is the circumstance in which Zephenia Smith lived. During the boom times, his family purchased a nice estate away from the center of town. It was a nice house with a good sized plot of land. His mother loved to garden, and she took the time and effort to make sure it was nicely landscaped. In the midst of the rainforest, anything and everything would grow. Thus, she took great pains to make it look good as well as be easily maintained.

Zeph loved that old house. He had never known any other place. As a child, he had fond memories of playing in the junglish garden. He knew and loved the old trees. However, as an adult, he did not have time to maintain the land. He also did not like his trip into the city. Therefore when a developer offered him good money for the house and land, he happily accepted the offer. Fortunately he got his money before the developer's business went bankrupt.

Zeph placed the money in a rainy-day fund. Life in New Vegas was difficult to predict. The city had seen ups and downs. There was always talk of fixing the towns problems, but no one seemed to have the will or the money. Thus, everything stayed as it was. Zeph was not one to rush ill-prepared into the future.

In this way, he had a pretty good nest-egg saved up. He lived well within his means. His business did not earn him lots of money, but it made enough. At least he had income. His life ran in the black. With his savings and his steady income, he was doing better than most people in New Vegas. In fact, many people in the area knew he was one of the richest men in town.

Without the estate, he needed a place to live. Above his store there used to be five smallish units that his family would rent out. However, in the circumstance of the city, it was difficult to find anyone who could afford to rent a place. Further, it was difficult to find anyone to trust to live above his business. Therefore, Zeph converted the entire upper level into one big living space.

Further, he built a garden upon the roof. It was the best of both worlds. He had a rather large living area, an extremely easy commute, and he had access to a garden space like he did at his family's estate. He even splurged and hired a gardener to come in once a week. He really enjoyed his new living arrangement.

With this reputation, Zeph had to make his shop a fortress. There were steel grates that he had to pull down every night. He had detectors of every type. Cameras recorded any movement around the perimeter. He had motion detectors and security lights. While the police department was mostly useless, he also had a sophisticated alarm system that would alert them. Thus, he had multiple levels of security. It helped him rest easily at night.

All of this was enough to keep the criminal element from attempting anything during the hours when his shop was closed. However, when the shop was open, these were mostly ineffectual. If his alarm would go off during the daylight hours, the police would call him to inform him that his alarm was sounding. They would never send anyone out. Thus, he found the alarm useless, but he kept it anyway. Many citizens did not know that the police would not respond to his alarm.

Nonetheless, without the police, anyone could enter his establishment and cause trouble. He was vulnerable during business hours. Therefore, his final level of security read "This Property is Protected by Smith and Wesson". This was enough to prevent most trouble from entering his shop. Because of this situation, Zephenia was able to steer clear of most of the trouble that plagued his city.

With his reputation as a prosperous business owner, he had several advantages. Other business owners regularly courted his business. Zeph always paid his bills, so he always got excellent customer service. If you did not treat him well, he would take his business elsewhere. Few establishments could afford to lose him as a customer. Thus, he got regular deliveries of groceries and other supplies. He rarely had to leave the safety of his establishment. A quick phone call and a courier was on the way.

Furthermore, he was regularly voted New Vegas's Most Eligible Bachelor. This meant he was a bachelor and he had money. There were plenty of bachelors in the city. The city had long been dominated by a male population. Few single women came to the city during the construction phases. While many came during the boom times, they left in great waves during the downturn. With a two to one male to female ratio, there were many bachelors in the city. Being most eligible had little meaning.

If you had a reputation for wealth, the few remaining single women would call. A single woman could afford to be choosey. The rich bachelors would often shower them with gifts. Some women took advantage of the situation. For the most part, Zeph did not feel he could trust the single women in town. After all, he wanted to be around someone who was interested in him and not his wealth. He could never get over this initial distrust, and he remained single. He let others deal with the troubles of relationships.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Five: Back to Earth

By Douglas E. Gogerty

"Sir? Sir?" came a voice in the escaped convicts dream.

It took him a while to realize that it was not a dream. Someone was prodding him and calling him sir. Slowly, 235218 regained consciousness. He opened his eyes and saw a beautiful woman before him. He rubbed his eyes a little bit, and found out she was not as attractive as he first thought. She was still lovely, but the years in prison and his sleepy state played tricks upon him.

"What is it?" he said eventually.

"My name is Linda Carlson and I am the Earth Travel Coordinator. I understand you wish to see me?"

"Um... Yeah! I need to get to Earth."

"Very well, if you follow me," she replied.

She had some sort of jetpack with her. She just jetted down the hallway. The escaped convict had to use the railing along the wall to follow. It was a lot more work than what she was doing, but he managed to make his way to her office.

"Let me see," she began as she opened a form on her computer. "What is your name?"

"2352... Oh! Name. My name is Daniel Wesson."

"Could you spell that?"

"Huh?" he replied still foggy from sleep. "Oh -- d. a. n. i. e. l. w. e. s. s. o. n."

"Okay Mr. Wesson, what is your reason for going to earth?"

"My ship malfunctioned and I managed to eject before it burned up in the atmosphere. I fortunately made it safely to the hotel here. I have some vials that need to get to Earth."

"So?" responded Linda. "Business then?"

"Yes."

"Thanks. Who is your employer?"

"Employer? Er -- uh -- Vandelay Industries ... v. a. n. d. e. l. a. y."

"Excellent! How long have you been offworld?"

"I don't know? Is it relevant?"

"We need to know for the gravity-reinstitution process -- roughly."

"Let me see -- 25 to life..."

"What?"

"About 20 years."

"More than 5 years. Thanks. Deep space or low earth orbit?"

"Deep space -- I guess."

"We need to be sure on these things."

"I was in orbit of another planet in the solar system. Thus, I was not in low earth orbit -- if that matters."

"I see -- yes -- thank you. When would you like to go?"

"Immediately."

"The process takes several weeks."

"Weeks? It is important that I get to earth as soon as possible."

"Your business is urgent?"

"Yes! Very important. Lives at stake."

"Why did you not say so in the first place? That is another form entirely."

Daniel and Linda filled out the new form. Fortunately, there was room in the expedited return program. Which meant that no one had ever used it in the past. In fact, this procedure was rarely used that no one currently at the hotel had any experience in the expedited procedure. Nonetheless, the station personnel welcomed using it.

The escaped felon was ushered into a small capsule. They informed that he would need to strip and gave him a smock to wear. They placed his belongings in a small box that attached to the outside of the pod. They informed him to enter and sit. He could barely move in the small space. Once inside he was strapped to the lone seat in the small pod. They told him to hold his breath and the pod filled with liquid. He was about to the point where he could hold his breath no longer when the liquid drained out of the pod.

A technician opened the pod door and gave Daniel several injections. They made his body ache and his head swim a little bit. However, he knew this is what had to be done.

Once the injections were finished the pod was ushered into a simulated gravity environment. The pod was attached to a bar, and the machine was switched to the on position. Naturally, the spinning made Daniel nauseous. Via an speaker in the pod he could speak to the gravity-reintegration people. He spoke of his nausea and was told that it was normal. When the gravity simulator stopped, someone opened his pod and took some blood. After several minutes he got more injections and then simulator was run again.

The dry heaves reminded Daniel that he had not eaten in quite a while. He was somewhat happy about that. He did not know what they would do if he lost his lunch or breakfast. He asked but the technician told him that he did not really want to know that.

More blood tests and more injections continued. The process went through a few more iterations. After each round, he felt more strange. The injections had some weird effect. He forgot to ask about side effects, but he knew he could not wait a couple of weeks before returning to Earth. He could disappear on Earth. He would be discovered if he stayed in the hotel. Thus, he tried not to think about side-effects. He could deal with them.

"Okay Mr. Wesson, we need to get you to Earth now."

"Now?"

"We need to get you in gravity as soon as possible or we would have to repeat the process."

"Let's go!" Daniel responded anxiously.

"First, hold your breath."

"What?"

Before he could react, the pod once again began to fill with some sort of liquid. He held his breath as long as he could, but the liquid stayed. He knew he held his breath longer this time. He wondered why they had not drained the pod.

His lungs began to burn. The liquid stayed. He pounded on the doors. The liquid stayed. He could hold out no longer. He exhaled and inhaled. His lungs filled with the liquid. He started coughing, but he realized he could breath in the liquid.

His entire body began to tingle as he sucked in breath after breath of this liquid. The coughing subsided, and then the pod began to drain. The air filling the pod seemed cold and dry. It induced him to cough some more. The liquid he inhaled came out with each cough. Finally, the pod was empty of liquid, and he felt weird. However, he found that he could breath normally again.

Just as he felt comfortable. The pod began moving. The pod buzzed down the corridors and came to a stop at an airlock.

"Good luck on Earth," the technician told him on the communicator.

"My stuff?" exclaimed the escaped convict.

"Your belongings have been attached to the outside of the pod. They have been scanned and deemed safe. Once you reach Earth, you will be able to access them. Pleasant voyage."

The pod entered the airlock and was lowered via the space elevator to earth. 235218 had made it to Earth. His escape plan worked. Now what?

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Six: Smith Meets Wesson

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Alias Daniel Wesson was now on Earth, but he did not know what to do next. He did not know anyone. He was alone in a strange place. He only had his pack of vials which were filled with water. He had no identity. He had nothing. On the other hand, it was not like this was an unusual circumstance for him. He ended up on The Rock because of his actions to get money. Once again, he would fall on his old ways.

Daniel crawled out of his pod. It was more difficult than he thought. He was used to micro-gravity, and he could not just pull himself out. He had to struggle against the Earth's gravity.

The treatments continued to make him feel odd. His brain felt a little scrambled. Further, with every movement he had to wrestle with this strange thing called gravity. It all felt very strange. After crawling out of the pod, he had to rest. He wanted to attempt to stand, but it was going to take quite an effort. His muscles felt strong enough for the task, but he simply was not used to using them.

After a short rest, he pushed himself up to attempt to stand. He realized that so many things he would have to relearn. He thought about the last time he stood or walked or any of it. It had been over 20 years. He was simply not used to making his muscles push against Earth's gravity. They just would not work like he wanted.

With the help of his pod, he finally stood. He felt a great triumph, but he fell as he attempted his first step. He used the pod to get him up again. He held onto it as he attempted to hark back when he used to walk and run and wander around on Earth. He could not remember how it was done. It had been a long time. He told himself that it would be just like riding a bicycle. He could not remember what that was like either.

He took another tentative step while holding onto his pod. His arms were used to holding onto things. Further, they were strong enough now to fight against gravity. Thus, he managed to take a couple of steps while grasping the pod. He decided not to celebrate until he could walk comfortably.

Walking started to come back to him. His muscles responded naturally, and he began walking independently of the pod. His head began to clear. He hoped that it was a good sign. He did not need to have his muscles revert to their micro-gravity state. That would be bad.

For several minutes he did not stray far from the pod. He wanted to be sure he could get up without it should he fall. He practiced simple actions. He sat on the ground. He stood up without the pod. He jumped. He ran in place. He did all of the activities he could think of. Once he was done, he did them all again.

He wondered what the people would think if they saw him doing these things. Then he thought it must be common here. He would not be the only one coming back from space who needed to get used to gravity again. Then he realized what he was wearing. The simple lightweight smock did not conceal much.

He looked in his pack and found that his space suit was not among his effects. Instead, there was a pair of pants and a shirt.

Damn! he thought. That suit was very hard to come by.

He realized that the clothes provided would be much more useful on Earth. Further, he had no intentions of returning to space. Thus, he finally welcomed the switch, but he did not feel it was an equitable switch. Then he noticed a credit voucher in the bag. He had money! Now, he smiled broadly at the exchange.

The next order of business was to put the clothes on. Getting dressed was another adventure he did not anticipate. Nonetheless, he finally was dressed in Earth-like clothes. He was ready to face Earth.

Daniel did his list of actions in his clothes. He felt ready to go, so he jogged away from the pod. However, he was struck by some anxiety and raced back. He chastised himself for treating the pod like a security blanket. He would need to free himself from its siren call. When he felt comfortable again, he decided to walk away from the pod slowly and to not look back. Before he knew it, he found himself in the center of New Vegas.

He wandered around the city looking for opportunities. However, the citizens were very guarded. They clearly did not trust strangers. Further, he could tell those that were not afraid of him were looking at him as a mark. The city had changed a lot in the years he had been in space. So, he continued to wander around.

Eventually, he found himself at a little diner. He was hungry. He talked to the waiter, and heard that Zephenia Smith was the richest man in town. He confirmed that with a few others. Therefore, he decided to make Zephenia Smith his target. With enough money, he could lose himself somewhere a long distance from the space elevator.

It was dusk when he found himself at the store. He laughed when he read the sign Protected by Smith and Wesson. He chuckled as the Wesson name he had chosen was from that very firearm manufacturer.

No gun would help Mr. Smith, he thought.

The store was still open, but it would be closing soon. Daniel walked in confidently. He closed the door and began pulling down the security gates.

"What are you doing?" asked Zephenia.

"I am helping you close up," Daniel replied.

"Why?" asked Zephenia with a quizzical look on his face.

"Oh that?" answered the escaped convict. "Well you see this is a robbery!"

"What?"

"Oh yes, I am going to take your money from you."

"Smith! Wesson!" shouted Zephenia.

Daniel heard some dogs barking. He thought to himself that Smith and Wesson must be dogs.

"Ha ha!" Daniel laughed. "Your dogs won't help you!"

"Dogs?" inquired Zeph.

Just then, two robots shot out from nowhere and grabbed Daniel. He tried to struggle against their grip but was unable to free himself.

"Let me go!" he shouted. "If you don't you'll be sorry!"

"I will? Hmmmm." Zeph responded. "I really do not think that is true."

"I have connections! I can get things done!"

"Once again, I doubt that to be true. If you had connections, you would not be wearing such shabby hotel clothes."

"I..." Daniel began but could not think of anything further to say.

The police arrived. They took a blood sample from Daniel. They were astonished that his identity was not in their records. After some checking, they found out he was 235218. A prisoner who was presumed dead. He was returned to his cell.

That is the story of the only person to successfully escape from The Rock.

The End

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Recent Comments

  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
  • Susanne: Nice read, shame computers havent improved several years later (mainly read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Hey Rushan! Sadly no, I do not have one. Thanks read more
  • Rushan: Nice work.do you have that kind of one?thanks.. read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Joyce. I appreciate your kind words. We do have read more
  • Joyce: Douglas, I just want express and my true admiration before read more

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Smith and Wesson category.

Short Stories - Douglas is the previous category.

Supervania is the next category.

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