‘atmosphere’, ‘bamboo’, ‘tank’, and ‘kaleidoscope
For March 2013
As I hurtle out of control through the thin atmosphere in my tank of a ship, I close my eyes to shut out the spinning kaleidoscope that is the scene outside my viewer. “Why am I doing this?” I mutter to myself. When no viable answer is forthcoming I chide myself for my over-eagerness to always be the first to volunteer for these dangerous missions.
Oh, I remember how gung-ho I was when the Commander posted the assignment. I recall how my heart pounded as I read the exciting words:
ATTENTION ALL PERSONELL
A BRAVE VOLUNTEER IS NEEDED TO FLY INTO UNCHARTTERED TERRITORY DUE TO HAZARDOUS NATURE UNFETTERED TEAM MEMBERS PREFERRED. THOSE WITH FAMILIES ARE DISCOURAGED FROM APPLYING.
ALL SERIOUS INQUIRIES CONSIDERED
CONTACT COMMANDER SMYTHE FOR MORE INFORMATION
OR TO APPLY FOR ASSIGNMENT
My heart is pounding now, but it is not due to excited anticipation, but rather only abject terror.
The thought of my nickname “Ever Ready” causes me to chuckle hysterically. My flying mates would have a good laugh if they could see me now. Shaking uncontrollably with eyes squeezed shut and tears of terror streaming down my face.
Suddenly, the spinning halts and I venture a peek. My ship is gliding silently through pitch-black space. A glance at the bank of gauges reveals nothing of my location. “Where the Heck am I?” I ask myself. Once again, I fail to provide a viable answer and am annoyed at myself for continually asking questions that I cannot answer.
The food dispenser unexpectedly whirs to life and spits out a bowl of stir-fry vegetables. Well, what passes for stir-fry vegetables aboard a military flying machine. I look at the unappetizing heap of grayish mush and can only accurately identify the bamboo shoots. Why I am being served a meal at this precarious moment, I cannot fathom. I push the contents down the food disposal unit and watch queasily as it floats past my viewer.
The distraction of the drifting rations momentarily takes my mind off my predicament. When I refocus my attention beyond the hovering vittles I am shocked to see that I am no longer surrounded by blackness. A bright beam of light assaults my eyes and I press my hands over them for protection.
I hear my mother’s voice loud and clear. “Come On, Sleepyhead! You are going to be late for school!”
When I remove my hands and open my eyes I am aware that I am in my own bunk bed and my sister is in the bunk below me. My mother is pulling the bedcovers away from me and I realize that I have a wonderful dream to tell during “sharing” with my fourth-grade class.
Phyllis Patterson/AKA PM Smith