Samantha – Mall Walking – Part 2

Originally posted on January 23, 2017 by Gordon Savage

Samantha admitted to me that she had a crush on Bill, but because his dad was a Chief Petty Officer and her father was a Rear Admiral, Bill normally shied away from her. Things appeared to be changing at the mall.

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Bill was a hunk. At six two he was actually taller than me, which I considered a plus. Dark brown hair and green eyes and a gorgeous tan just made him more handsome. He was the star quarterback for our football team. I wondered if going out for the cheerleader squad would make me more interesting to him, but I knew that wouldn’t really do anything for me. I suspected he felt that because father was a rear admiral and his dad was a chief petty officer I was out his class … ridiculous! He glanced up from his game and saw me. “Hi, Red. How long have you been standing there?”

Long enough to get a good look. I couldn’t say that. “A couple of minutes. You play well.”

“Just killing time.” His eyes were fixed on the screen. He took out a pair of zombies while he was talking. Suddenly the game was over. He turned to face me. “You want to join in? It’s a two person game, and Matt didn’t want to play Lisa anymore.”


He loaded the game up and we started playing. The game wasn’t that exciting, but being with Bill kept me fascinated until Renee tapped me on the shoulder. “They’re shutting down, and we need to get home.”

Bill hung up his “shotgun” and nodded to Renee. “Yeah, it is late.”

My heart thudded. Oh my God! It really is late. Father will kill me. I stuck my gun in the holster.

We headed for the main doors, the rest of the gang with us. Rosemary looked like I felt. She panicked. “My folks will ground me for a month.” she moaned. “We’ve got to come up with a good excuse.”

Just like that I got over my scare. I had something that would make father mad if not sorry. I didn’t have an excuse, and if I was unapologetic, it would really get under his skin. I’d show him. “Sorry, Rosemary, don’t include me in your excuse.”

Renee and Rosemary hashed out an excuse for Rosemary as we rode home while I sat beside Bill in silence. Yes, his crew cab had a bench seat up front.

We dropped Rosemary off first, then Matt. I was third. “Thanks for the ride, Bill.” I didn’t have any experience with flirting, so I was going to leave it at that even though I was dying to say something inviting.

“Any chance we could see a movie together next weekend?” Bill asked.

I smiled at him. “I’d like that, but it will depend on how much trouble I got into tonight.”

He laughed. “You don’t seem too concerned.”

“I’m not, but I suspect I’m going to be grounded for a while.”

“Well, maybe a raincheck.”

“Sounds good to me. Thanks again.”

I climbed out of the truck and headed up the walk. Mom opened the door. “Samantha, where have you been? We’ve been worried sick about you.”

I stepped past her into the foyer. Father stood there with a scowl on his face that would have peeled the wallpaper of the walls. I almost lost my resolve to be unrepentant. “We went to the mall, and I lost track of the time.” True.

Father, as usual and despite his expression, spoke dispassionately. “Why didn’t you at least call to let us know where you were?”

“Didn’t think of it.” Also true.

He glared at me. I was getting through to him, but he spoke in controlled tones. “We were getting ready to call the Security Force and report you UA.”

“I’m not in the navy.”

I could see his self-control eroding. “See here. You frightened your mother half out of her mind.”—I hadn’t really thought about that. I almost said I was sorry.—”I had to leave an important meeting to be with her.”

There it was. This was working out better than I thought. I knew the next statement was going to seal my fate, but I had to say it. “You should thank me. Meetings are boring.”

Father’s face turned a shade of red I hadn’t seen before. For a second he seemed to be choking on his words. Finally, he spoke very slowly and distinctly. I could see he was fighting to keep from blowing up. “Go to your room. Your mother and I are going to discuss what to do about this incident.”

I didn’t sleep well that night, and I didn’t find out my sentence until the next morning.

––– # –––

Samantha – Mall Walking – Part 1

Originally posted on January 16, 2017 by Gordon Savage

Fast forward to Friday on the first week of school. Samantha had been in a funk since her brother’s death. The only time she wasn’t sulking was when she was running, and she did a lot of that. Now school had started, and she brought her blues to class. Here’s what she had to say about what happened that day.

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I was standing in front of my locker not really thinking, just feeling sad and angry. I still hadn’t come up with a way to make father pay for what he had done. I didn’t even notice Renee when she walked up.

“Earth to Samantha.”

It took me a second to realize she was talking to me. “Huh?”

She stood there tapping her foot. She was dressed for the warm weather, a sleeveless white blouse and a really short blue skirt. Her brown hair was drawn back into a ponytail. It exposed opal earrings. She always seemed to dress well. “What’s with you, Sam? You’ve been moping ever since we got back to school. Hey, this is the big one. We’re seniors. You should be celebrating.”

“I don’t feel like celebrating.”

She gave me a sharp look. “What do you mean?”

I remembered she had been out of state when Brian died. This was really the first time I had talked to her since she had returned. The memory still hurt too much to talk about. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Well, we need to cheer you up. A bunch of us are going to the mall. Come with us.”

“I can’t. I need to get home and go for a run.”

She gave me another sharp look. “You’re kidding, right?” She put her hands on her hips. “You certainly can afford a break. You need a break. … And you need cheering up. No excuses, you’re coming with us.”

This wasn’t on my planned activities for the day. I was planning on going for a run and then moping around the house. The mall did sound like more fun than pouting. Of course, I was expected to come home right after school. I had a cell phone. I could call home, but why should I? No one would care.

Hesitantly I said, “Well, maybe …”

She shut my locker and grabbed my hand. She headed for the exit, pulling me with her. “‘Maybe’ nothing. You’re coming with me. Bill Compton is driving, and he and the rest are waiting for us outside.”

I felt a twinge of fear. I should go home. But with Renee pulling me, I found it easy to follow her, and the fear began turning to excitement.

When we got to the mall, the boys headed for the arcade. I felt like I should go with them, but Renee had other ideas. She and Rosemary Velasquez dragged me to the nearest dress shop. We stared at the mannequins for a moment. Then Rosemary said, “Let’s go in.”

Renee and I looked at each other. I shrugged, and she said, “Why not?” The three of us headed for the door.

We spent the next fifteen minutes working our way through the racks taking the hangers off and holding the dresses, blouses, skirts, slacks …in front of us to see how they would look. I fell in love with a beautiful light blue chiffon gown. The prom was months away, but I had to try it on.

When I came out of the dressing room both Renee and Rosemary oohed and aahed. I twirled in front of the mirrors. No question, it was perfect for me. I said so.

“What’s it cost?” Renee looked at the price tag. “Four hundred dollars? Is that in your budget?”

Crestfallen, I changed back into my school clothes. When I came out of the changing room, a stern looking matron with a name badge that said store manager on it was waiting for me. “Girls, if you’re just going to look, I suggest going to Penney’s or Sears.”

I handed her the dress, and we ran out of the store, giggling. I could feel her icy stare on me until we were out of sight.

We bought cinnamon rolls and window shopped for a while. Finally we wandered into the arcade to see what the boys were doing.

Bill was playing G in a “House of the Dead” game. He was shooting zombies.

––– # –––

More to come

Samantha – The Funeral

Originally posted on January 9, 2017 by Gordon Savage

Here’s the second installment of Samantha Pederson’s life as she relayed it to me. Is a funeral time for vitriol?

––– # –––

I heard mom outside my door. “Leave her alone. We can get her up later. She’s still grieving.”

“We’re all grieving. She has responsibilities like the rest of us.”

“Honey, it’s not that easy. I had to force myself to get up this morning. It’s obviously hit her harder than the rest of us.”

“If you can force yourself…”

“It doesn’t work like that. Let her grieve. She’ll get over it.”

They were still talking as they walked away from the door.

I was groggy from a fitful night’s sleep, but once again my thoughts turned to father and how he had responded to Brian’s death. He still hadn’t so much as shed a tear. He had made arrangements for the funeral in a cold, businesslike manner. Even before the body had arrived at Dover Air Force Base, he had set a date and time at a VA site about an hour away. He was superman with two stars on each shoulder to prove it.

Raging inside that he had caused this and wasn’t showing any remorse, I buried my face in my pillow and sobbed, but no tears came. I was so upset with him it was overcoming my sorrow. I wanted to hurt him, but how? He wouldn’t show it if I did. Well, I was going to make him sorry anyway.

Then I remembered, today was the funeral. I climbed out of bed, threw on my robe, and slouched downstairs.

“Honey, you’re up. Are you hungry?” Mom smiled, but I could tell it was forced. “You need to eat and get dressed. We’re leaving in an hour.”

After a breakfast that I picked at, I went upstairs and opened my closet. There it was, the black dress I was supposed to wear. For a moment I considered the bright sundress next to it. I could wear it to upset father, but it would hurt mom too.

I took a leisurely shower and dressed, knowing that everyone else was ready to go. When I reached the front door, the rest of the family was waiting. Father glanced at his watch then at me. For a split second longer than needed he held the glance, telling me without words that he was displeased. “We’re late. Let’s get a move on.”

An overcast sky threatened rain, not a shower but a steady drizzle. It made the trip to the cemetery even gloomier. As we drove, Mom and father talked about who would be doing what at the ceremony. I managed to ask if I could say a few words. “Certainly,” mom said before father could disagree.

By the time we arrived, rain was falling, light and steady from the low, gray clouds. The cemetery people had set a tent over the grave, but by the time the ceremony started there were so many mourners some still had to stand in the wet. I looked over the crowd as they straggled in. Most of them made an effort to come up to mom and father and offer sympathies. A lot of them were father’s associates and their families. Others were Brian’s friends from school. Some had come from as far away as Oregon. Martin Cunningham was attending the University of Oregon in Eugene. He stood at the back in the rain.

The protestant chaplain from the base stepped up to a microphone on the other side of the grave. He took a moment to look at the casket. It was closed because they had only recovered pieces of Brian. Mom had insisted on seeing it. She looked horrified at what she saw, and father had to help her walk away. I had to look, if for nothing else than to fuel my anger.

The chaplain started the ceremony with a prayer and then talked about Brian as if he knew him (he didn’t), calling him a devoted son (he was) and a hero (he was). I guess it wasn’t important that he was a reluctant hero. After another prayer and a hymn, the chaplain called father to the mic.

“Brian was a brave young man who wanted nothing more than to serve his country.” I gritted my teeth as I listened to father praise him. He deserved praise but not the bull father was putting out.

When father was through, he asked the mourners to say a few words. As one by one people came forward to deliver their tributes, father continued to ignore my raised hand. Finally there was no one else. He looked at me and then asked mom if she had anything to add. She stood up with her eyes blank and her mouth open. After a few seconds she managed, “I … only … know that his death took away a gallant young man, and … I already miss him … terribly.” Tears streamed down her face as sat down unsteadily beside me.

Father turned toward the chaplain as if to invite him back to the microphone, but I got to my feet. “Father,” perhaps a little louder than needed.

I saw what I’m sure was a glint of anger, but he said, “Of course, Samantha has something to say. Come on up, dear.”

I stepped up to the microphone, my heart racing. What was I going to say? Brian didn’t deserve this. He shouldn’t be dead. He was a talented musician. People should be listening to his music now. Then I remembered the video. I pulled out my phone and switched it back on. I moved the mic into position. “You’ll have to excuse me for a moment while my phone starts up.” My face got a little redder as I waited. The delay seemed interminable, and my face got even redder. Finally, I was able to to login, and in another few seconds I had a song playing.

I held the phone near the mic, close enough that I could hear it from the speakers. “This is Brian playing ‘Glory Road,’ a song he wrote himself. This is what he was all about, connecting with people through his music. He didn’t belong in the marines. He didn’t belong in Afghanistan, but even there he was connecting. He died delivering medical supplies to remote villages. It shouldn’t have happened.”

I hesitated a moment to work up the courage to say what came next. “He was there because my father insisted that Brian had to serve before he could ‘play.’ His music wasn’t ‘play.’ It was his calling, but father insisted.” I looked at father. “It’s his fault that Brian is dead.”

Mom jumped up from her seat. “Samantha!” She rushed around the open grave and pulled me away from the microphone. The phone I was holding slipped out of my hand and clattered into the grave. Father stood in stunned silence as did the rest of the mourners.

As soon as we were away from the mic, mom grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. “How could you? It’s bad enough that Brian is dead. Now this?” She forced me into my chair, her face twisted as if she were in pain.

“I’m sorry, mom. I had to get it out of my system … because it’s true.”

While mom was dragging me to my chair, father had gone to the microphone. “So I’m the cause of my son’s death? I learned at the Naval Academy to take responsibility for my own actions. And, yes, I did insist that Brian should serve. Was that a mistake? It pains me to say it, but no, it was not. I miss my son, and I’m sorry he is dead, but I’m proud of him for doing the right thing.”

He admitted it was his fault, and he was proud of it. At least, that’s what I heard.

Samantha – A Death in the Family

Originally posted on January 2, 2017 by Gordon Savage

When I started working on Antimatter, the follow-on to Teleportal, I realized that since Samantha was going to be the principle character, I needed to know more about her. As I explored her past, I came to realize she was much more complicated than I originally envisioned, so I had her describe some of the key incidents that shaped her life. Below is where she started.

––– # –––

I’ll never forget that day. It was the week before my sixteenth birthday. I had just gotten home from my afternoon run, and the hot summer sun had already cooked up cumulus clouds that were turning into thunderstorms. I jogged up the front steps of our on-base quarters at Norfolk Naval Station. I raced through the door and shut it as fast as I could to keep the hot air out. “Mom, I’m home.”

My mom, Margaret, came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dish towel. A tall redhead, she was wearing a bright red and green sundress for her weekly trip to the commissary. She had a way of appearing beautiful for the simplest of things. She looked me up and down. “You’re really serious about this marathon, aren’t you?”

Before I could answer we both saw movement in front of the house. My father, Rear Admiral Brian Pederson was coming up the front steps followed by two marines in dress uniform. Mom met him at the door. Her pleased expression turned to anxiety when she saw the other men. “Brian, what happened?”

He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. He held her for a long time. A chill went through me. What was going on?

My little brother, Nelson, ran in from the living room. He was a late addition to the family, eleven years younger than I. “Daddy. Daddy, why are you home so early?” he chattered.

Father reached down rumpled Nelson’s blond hair. “Stand down, sailor. I have to talk to your mother first.” He didn’t smile when he said it. That didn’t make me feel any better.

I glanced at the two marines standing just inside the door, looking uncomfortable. I saw that one of them was a chaplain. Why marines and why a chaplain? The chill turned to dread as I realized what had upset mom. The military sent a chaplain to notify the family when a member died on active duty. And my brother, Brian, Jr., was in the Marine Corps. “Is Brian d …” I started, but father gave me a look that froze me.

“But…” I started again. I had to know.

“Not with your brother around,” he said quietly. He must have known what I had realized, that Brian had been killed. He had only been deployed for three months.

I couldn’t hold back. Tears filled my eyes, and I ran up the stairs toward my room.

“Why is Samantha crying?” I heard Nelson ask as I slammed my door and threw myself on the bed, sobbing.

Several minutes later mom came into my room. Her eyes were wet, and she was sniffling. She held me while we both cried. She whispered to me between her own sobs, “He was on a humanitarian mission, when someone set off an IED.” She had to stop for a second and clear her throat before she continued, “There was so little … left … of his … body.” She stopped and buried her face in my shoulder. Then she left the room, still crying.

I wept for the better part of a half hour. My pillow was soaked and my throat was sore when the tears finally stopped. Brian—my big brother—was dead. I loved him more than anyone, and he was dead. I understood what had happened, but that didn’t matter. My sorrow began to turn to anger as I thought about it.

Brian had wanted to be a musician. He played a terrific guitar, and he had a great voice, one of the best around. Memories of him playing with his band flooded my head. He could have been a professional. But father had been adamant. Brian had to serve his country first. Then he could do whatever he wanted. I remember watching him slouch away, head hung down after that ultimatum. He didn’t like it, but in our house father’s word was law. Only mom could stand up to him, and this time father had overruled her. The day after graduation Brian went to the recruiting office and signed up for the marines. He told me before he shipped out for basic training that he almost signed up for the army just to pull father’s chain. Almost, but at the last minute he chickened out. He couldn’t defy father that way.

The more I thought about that the angrier I got. It was father’s fault. Brian was dead because of him. My anger festered throughout the rest of the afternoon and into dinner. We were all sitting around the table as if nothing had happened, except that everyone picked at their food in silence. Mom’s eyes were red from crying. Nelson kept looking at everyone. His face showed that he clearly didn’t understand what was going on. Hesitantly he asked, “What happened to Brian, and why is everybody so sad?”

Mom tried to answer, “Your brother had an accident, and now he’s … now …” She stopped, choking back tears.

Father picked up the explanation. “Nelson, Brian was helping some people in Afghanistan. He was delivering medical supplies, when a bomb went off …”

Finally I exploded. Tears filling my eyes, I stood up and flung my napkin down on the table. “For God’s sake! Tell him what happened… Brian is dead! A bomb blew him to little pieces. He’s dead, and we’ll never see him again.”

For a moment father sat in stunned silence. I looked directly at him, still raging. “And it’s your fault! You made him join the marines.” I stormed out of the room before he could say anything else.

A few minutes later I heard a knock on my door. It was father. “Samantha, let’s talk.”

“Go away.” I flopped over face down on the bed and put the pillow over my head.

The door opened, and I could hear father despite the pillow. “Honey … I’m as upset as you are. Can’t we talk?”

I turned my head and peered out from under the pillow. “I don’t want to talk. Just go away.”

I don’t know why, but he backed out of the room and closed the door. I had never seen that expression on his face before.

What is a Teleportal?

The concept of teleportals has been around since the beginning of science fiction. They come in all shapes and sizes. A teleportal is not like the transporter of Star Trek fame. It doesn’t disassemble the object going through it and then reassemble it somewhere else. It’s a zero distance interface that connects two separated locations. The ones in Teleportal have some interesting properties. Here’s a look at some of them.

––– # –––

This image shows the basic concept. The portal in the dining room on the left is connected to the portal at Lake George. Notice anything peculiar? They appear to be oriented in the same direction. A person going in the visible side of the portal at Lake George would step through into the table side of the one in the dining room and vice versa. If either one of the portals were rotated, the view through the other would change along with the exit direction.

Another peculiarity to consider is air pressure. The portals would almost certainly have an air pressure differential. Without an enclosure around at least one of the portals the differential would result in a breeze to hurricane force wind, or worse. Imagine trying to get back to earth from outside a space station.

Which brings up another concern, gravity. A person in the International Space Station would be attracted toward a portal connected to one on earth. Maybe it would be practical to embed portals under the flooring of a space station as a way of providing localized gravity.

One issue is connected to conservation of momentum. Since everything is moving through space in some direction and speed, what happens when an object passes through an interface that is moving in a different direction and speed? And that could apply to two portals on earth. What is the difference in momentum between Anchorage and Rio? I’ll leave the solution of that problem to the persons who assemble the first practical teleportals.

Finally, the team in Teleportal was able to filter the interface so that only photons of a specified frequency range and power density could pass through, giving them the capability of opening the portal in visual-only mode. Perhaps there-in lies the solution to some of the problems inherent in such a device. Something to think about, isn’t it?


As I noted earlier, this tends to be published on an irregular schedule. I’ve tried making promises to do better, but somehow they never seem to work out. This is the glossary I mentioned earlier. I will be adding to it as I find words or phrases that need explaining, especially ones brought to my attention by readers.

––– # –––

Anderson drive – A thrust source that pushes against the “fabric” of space, thus achieving acceleration where the reaction is effectively applied to the entire universe and is unnoticeable. The Anderson drive is the drive used by everything from personal lift units and flyers to interstellars (transluminals) and is a component in blasters. Named for Poul Anderson who described it in his novel Starfarers.

Blaster – A weapon that fires infinitesimal bolts of plasma (mostly cesium oxide, but other elements that ionize easily are also used) at near the speed of light thereby delivering extremely high energy to a concentrated target. It uses Anderson drive technology to accelerate the bolts without noticeable kick. Bolts can be rapidly pulsed to produce a stream effect, but the energy source is depleted rapidly for personal weapons. Some blasters can be adjusted from a fine stream for cutting to a broader and denser pulse to produce an explosive effect or to a dispersed stream to rapidly heat a surface.

Buzz-Off – A pill that neutralizes alcohol in the blood stream without significant side effects. Also available as an implant that only releases the active ingredient when alcohol enters the blood stream (used for problem drinkers).

Flyer – The name applied to flying vehicles primarily used for in atmosphere transportation. To promote operational safety governors such as altitude and speed control and the vehicle identification transponder are built into and sealed in the drive unit. Note that military and law enforcement vehicles are equipped with a built in override for the altitude and speed governors.

Stunner/stun gun – A weapon that delivers a high powered electromagnetic pulse configured to cause a nerve discharge in animals which renders them unconscious. Discharge intensity can be regulated to accommodate different sizes (body masses) and tolerances.

Transluminals – A term used by Jack McDevitt to specify faster than light spacecraft. I believe he coined the term, and I like it.

The Event

The events in Peacemaker take place in a universe based on a monumental disaster, the Event, that reorganized the very structure of government on earth and pushed the human race to move into space to ensure survival. The following is a brief overview of the Event and its consequences.

In early 2131 a swarm of asteroids crossed earth’s orbit from above the ecliptic. Most of them missed the earth, but a few smaller ones and one larger one struck, primarily in the northern hemisphere. The large one gouged out a new bay where Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and parts of Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama had been.

The destruction in the northern hemisphere was severe, destroying much of the infrastructure and resulting in general disorganization. Many governments collapsed, including the Chinese.

On a state visit to Australia Princess Anne was the highest ranking British Royalty to survive. The Australian parliament under the leadership of Andrew McCleod voted to proclaim Anne the Queen of Australia. Accepting the title, Queen Anne knighted McCleod, whom she later married, and appointed him the Duke of New South Wales.

Under McCleod’s and Anne’s leadership Australia quickly took over governance of the Pacific, and several of the surviving northern hemisphere governments called on Australia to help restore stability. When Australia demanded fealty as a condition for providing support, one by one the governments acceded. Australia then went on to reestablish the British Empire, taking control of the entire planet with virtually no need for military action.

Early in the regrowth of the Empire, McCleod convinced Anne of  the need for a participative government and established the Republic as the governing body with the former countries participating as states.

Because of the concern of another asteroid/meteorite strike, space travel became a top priority, and thus humanity moved into the solar system.