The damage report from the crash was discouraging. Two fuel tanks had wide cuts and another three with puncture wounds. The Pendleton engine and all of its modifications melted into a solid block of metal. A large gash traversed The Amalgam’s side. Dents and dings covered every inch of the outer hull.
Six months of planning and work had crashed in his yard and nearly killed his son on his thirteenth birthday. Carl’s bank account had been running on fumes before the crash and now he didn’t see how he could go on. Until he remembered that it worked. They’d actually gotten their Pendleton up to one-fourteenth the pull of gravity. And, making the calculations, if they could sustain even thirteen for most of the trip it would work. With the Sun Skimmer’s aerodynamic failings, the pilot would still have to be light. But he’d already planned for that. He could do it. He just had to convince Larry and Lisa.
“No, I’m not retrofitting The Sun Skimmer. I was support craft and Pendleton modifications, that was it.”
“Come on Larry, you believed in this as much as I did,” Carl said.
“Yeah, and I’ve already lost as much too. If you crash The Sun Skimmer, what’ll I have left?” Larry asked. “My bank account isn’t much better than yours.”
“And what if we make it? You saw the dial. We achieved one-fourteenth the pull of gravity for almost ten minutes. And I’m sure the crash is what shorted it. That thing could have hummed along for hours out in space without any problem. All we have to do is modify your Pendleton and add a few gas tanks and the moon prize will be ours.”
Larry Crisp hemmed and hawed. His resolve waned like the moon.
Carl went for the jugular. “No more ugly girls for you, my friend,” he said. “With the moon prize under your belt, moderately attractive girls might actually start giving you the time of day.”
“Ha!” Larry said with a smile, but then became more thoughtful. “You think it’d impress Lisa?” As soon as it was out of his mouth Larry realized how awkward the question was, but Carl didn’t skip a beat.
“Of course it would, how could she not be impressed?”
Carl smiled. “Plus who knows her better than I do?”
Yet there were still obstacles in Larry’s mind.
“He’s just a kid though, Carl. He’s only been up once by himself. We can’t expect him to go all the way to the moon,” Larry said.
Carl’s eyes blazed. “He’s not just any kid, he’s my son. You saw how he piloted The Amalgam down. There’s only a handful of pilots in the world who could do that. He’s ready.”
Just as suddenly as the fire had come, it left. Carl smiled and held out his hand to shake. “You in?”
With reluctance, Larry extended his own. They shook.
“You’ve made the right choice,” Carl said.
“No,” Larry said, “but at least it’ll be fun.”
“Absolutely not,” Lisa said. “He is never going up in that death trap again.”
“Come on, Lisa,” Carl said. “He was great at it. He recovered like a pro.”
“He’s not going up in that disaster on a stick you call The Amoolah.”
“Whatever. He’s not going.”
“I’ve been up dozens of times and Larry’s been up hundreds. We know what we’re doing.”
“And Jad? At thirteen, does he know what he’s doing? How could you think it either wise or safe to send a boy out of the atmosphere by himself?”
“You’re mad because he enjoyed it, enjoyed spending time with me.” His accusing eyes and frown turned into a self-satisfied smile. “I do believe you’re jealous.”
“I will not be the bad guy in this equation. I am the sane one who keeps him alive. You’re the one who nearly got him killed.”
“Maybe your ‘safe’ way of life isn’t worth living.”
“Out. Now. The answer is No.”
To Be Continued…