Planet of Wishes
- Return Home
Jerry Crenshaw was a physicist, and a very frustrated one at the moment. Knowing that he was on the right track as far as his space travel theories were concerned, he fumed that he may not be able to finish his research due to lack of funding. He had theories, but nothing else to convince capital hill to continue funding his project.
"Ben Mitchell and a few of his friends are here to see you, dear," his wife interrupted his reverie.
"Might as well let them in; Iím not accomplishing anything else." Ben had contacted him early this morning, cryptic as usual, but he seemed excited, too. Getting up, Jerry greeted Ben, his wife, an older man and woman and a young man about his age. There was something familiar about the middle-aged pair, but he didnít have the chance to ask at that moment.
"I hear that you have developed some theories on faster than light space travel. May I see what you have?" the older man asked him. Jerry blinked in surprise, but quickly pulled up the data on his computer. His guest read each equation thoroughly; pausing at some points to look over the notes that Jerry had kept during his research. This was the first time someone had looked through all of his equations without asking for an explanation or quitting halfway through.
"Dr. Crenshaw, Iím impressed. Thereís only one error that I see right now, and I believe if you change it, all of the rest will fall into place. May I?" he asked.
"Sure," Jerry said quickly, pulling over another chair. "I have everything on disk anyway. My nameís Jerry. Glad to meet someone who speaks the same language, uh...."
"John. Glad to meet you, too. Here, Jerry, if you change this part, then you have a complete string. And I believe that it was this next equation where you were having problems with the hyper-jump theorem." John made several slight corrections, and Jerry stared in amazement when all of the subsequent equations changed and suddenly ordered themselves in perfect sense.
"John, where did you come up with this? And where have you been that we havenít collaborated before?" he asked incredulously.
"Practice, Jerry, and Iíve been detained in various parts of the galaxy. I do have to admit, though, that I didnít come up with everything on my own, I worked up some equations from technology that was given to my family and me by an alien race. Iím very impressed with your work, and I hope you can continue it. Earth needs this kind of technology," John said fervently.
"John.... Robinson?" Jerry stammered. His guest nodded. "Iíll be honest, too. I wouldnít have gotten as far as I did if I hadnít been given copies of your notes that you wrote before the launch." And while the others visited in another part of the house, the two men worked on hyper-drive theories throughout most of the evening.
The next morning, John woke up even before Scott, showering, shaving and dressing before anyone else even began stirring. Maureen yawned and stretched in the bed that Scott had graciously given them for the night.
"John, itís only 6 a.m. and youíre ready to go!? As Judy would say, itís obscene to be awake and dressed this early in the morning," she said and chuckled as he straightened the jacket he had ordered from Macyís the day before. "Wouldnít be a bit nervous, would you?"
"I suppose I am, Mo," he said, sitting down on the bed next to her. "Apparently there is much at stake here."
"And youíll do fine. By the way, why did you let the congressman arrange to take us to the capital? Why donít we just use the cube?" she asked.
"I just donít want to publicize the means by which we get around, in case some zealot decides itís needed for the national defense or something. As soon as this thing is done, weíre going home."
The ride to the capital later in the morning was fairly short, as traffic was a bit lighter than usual. John peered out the darkened windows of the electrically powered staff car and shook his head. "Something else that I havenít missed," he murmured. "Rat race." Personally, Maureen tended to agree, but she said nothing.
Jerry Crenshaw was the first speaker, and John was impressed, not only with the young manís expertise, but also with his demeanor in front of this austere group. He seemed to be able to propound his theories in a way that even the most unschooled layman could understand, and John noticed that most of the members of the committee were avidly listening. "I think that Jerry really didnít need me," John leaned over and whispered to Maureen with a chuckle. She squeezed his hand.
As soon as Jerry finished, the congressman set his first bombshell off when he announced an unscheduled witness. It took him over five minutes to convince the panel that it was most imperative to have his guest speak after Dr. Crenshaw. When that was accomplished, he set his second bomb off. "Gentlemen, the only man who would be able to give us practical testimony of the veracity of faster than light space travel and also the benefits of space colonization, would be one who has done so."
John had the distinct impression that the congressman was trained in theater or he was enjoying this little performance very much. Right now the only thought, other than making a convincing argument for space exploration, was to return to his family. At the risk of being rude, John stood up. "Gentlemen, I wish to back up Dr. Crenshawís remarks and also to plead for the renewal of funds to Alpha Controlís space exploration program. I am Dr. John Robinson and this is my wife, Maureen," he said motioning to his wife. The panel members almost literally exploded. John stood quietly for a moment with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting for the furor to die down. Once his identity had been established, John was allowed to expound his views. After he had made his comments, the committee members asked questions. John lost count of the questions, but he didnít mind, as the continued queries only served to show that these people seemed to have become genuinely interested in the subject.
When the questions finally ran out and John sat down, tired but pleased with the morningís session, he was surprised to note that over three hours had elapsed since he had begun speaking. Maureen squeezed his hand and whispered, "Very well done, Professor Robinson. You havenít lost the touch." He smiled wearily.
Leaning over to Maureen, he whispered in her ear. "Should we give these people something to talk about?" She gave him a questioning look. "Letís quietly slip out of here and go home. Iím tired of the noise, the hiding out, the bureaucracy, and so on and so forth. Whether they vote for funding or not, Iíve done all I can and I miss the kids." Maureen smiled her understanding and slipped the cube out of her pocket.
The chairman looked at him. "Colonel Robinson, this has been a most rewarding meeting, but we are well overdue a short lunch recess. We would appreciate it if you would return for the afternoon session to answer any other questions that arise."
John held tightly to Maureenís hand, curling his fingers around hers and the cube. "I must respectfully decline your invitation to stay. We arenít needed here anymore. My wife and I have an obligation to return to the Jupiter II and our family. Decide wisely, gentlemen." And his thoughts turned immediately and unerringly to his family. Amid surprised cries of the others in the room, John felt himself returning to where he belonged. The trip went smoothly.
Maureen woke up with a jolt, but relaxed after realizing that she was nestled close to her husband. Sighing, she settled back down against his chest, grateful at their safe return. John murmured in his sleep and held her a bit tighter. Reveling in his close proximity, Maureen allowed herself to doze off for a little while longer....
"It is unconscionable that everyone else on this rusty bucket of bolts, this horrible heap of scrap metal, gets to take that device and travel wherever they want to, while I am made to suffer through these vile indignities." Dr. Smithís whining voice pulled the couple from their peaceful rest. "About time you two stopped lazing around. You have to do something about Major West. He is a tyrant, a bully, and impossible to be around," Smith complained.
Maureen felt John tense up and then sigh. She peered at Smith carefully. Something seemed to be wrong with his face, but it was hard to tell in the half-light of the cabin. Reaching over, she activated the room lights and was startled to see a great bruise under Dr. Smithís right eye. She felt Johnís body shake a bit in barely controlled laughter.
"What happened to you, Dr. Smith," he queried.
Major West hit me. Totally unprovoked. I was only trying to give Mrs. West some advice, since I am a doctor," Smith protested.
"You made your living as a psychologist, Dr. Smith, not as a medical doctor."
"Well, I did get a degree in medicine, so I have the training," Smith huffed.
"Yes, I suppose, but what exactly did you say to Judy?" John asked quietly.
"I only told her that she should be careful what she ate, because she was already starting to look puffy and...."
"You told her what?" Maureen exclaimed, incredulous. "I donít know about your medical training, but you arenít even a good psychologist," she retorted. She felt Johnís reassuring touch on her arm.
"May I assume that is when Major West hit you in the face?" John asked in an even voice.
"No, he did that when I very graciously offered my services to deliver the child when the happy event comes, reminding him of my credentials," Smith huffed. "He had the audacity to tell me that Hell would freeze over before he let me touch his wife and child."
John sighed and Maureen glared at the pompous idiot for a moment. "I suppose that you were very thorough in reminding him of all the dangers of having a baby on a primitive planet," John said.
"Oh, yes, one must be informed before making a decision," Smith said with a knowing smile.
"Well, I would guess then that Major West certainly had a great deal of information on which to base his decision to give you a black eye," John said dryly. Smith gaped at him a moment before realizing what the professor was implying.
"I need a vacation just as the rest of you did," Smith retorted, drawing himself up and puffing his chest out. He reminded Maureen of a little banty rooster.
"May I assume that you want the cube so you can travel someplace?" John asked.
"Yes, Professor, you assume correctly," Smith retorted haughtily. "I deserve a vacation, too, donít you think?"
"Oh, yes, indeed you do, Dr. Smith," John answered with a smile. He reached down next to him and picked up the small device. "I only ask that you be careful with it because there are other places that members of this crew would like to visit." Maureen looked curiously at her husband. She was unsure of the direction of this conversation.
Smith deftly caught the cube, and with a great triumphant grin he scuttled out of the door. "Thank you, Dr. Smith," John murmured.
Soon the couple could hear his cabin door click shut. Seeing her look, John explained. "Don did mention that he would like to visit back home, but I was also using reverse psychology, Maureen. If Dr. Smith has someplace specific in mind that he wishes to go to, then he is more than welcome to stay there. Iím not sure that I could stand arbitrating for nine months between him and Don. He has the cube, and he will continue to use it until he finds a place that suits him. I wish him well." He kissed Maureen on the forehead. "Now letís go and greet the rest of our family."
Maureen chuckled as they left their cabin and went in search of the others.
Don did a double take when he saw them come up the elevator to the observation deck. "Welcome back, John, Maureen. Am I glad to see you! You canít imagine what it has been like here with Smith. All heís done is complain about not being able to go on a vacation, and when heís not been complaining, heís insulted Judy."
"I have taken care of both problems, I believe," John said cryptically as he greeted each of his children. "You canít imagine how good it feels to be back home."
Three months later, John was looking over some of the information that Will had put onto the disk at the intergalactic library. Will was helping him. Don was working with Judy on the control panel, while Maureen and Penny were analyzing some of the previous dayís remote surveys. The various flutter-dragons were merrily performing their aerial acrobatics above their heads, sometimes diving down the stairwell and out of the ship. So intent was John on the star chart displayed on the monitor in front of him that he didnít catch the Robotís announcement. When he did, he jerked his head up in surprise.
"What did you say?" he asked, incredulous.
"Merry Christmas," the Robot repeated.
"Itís not Christmas, Robot," Judy corrected their mechanical friend. "It is winter, but that doesnít automatically mean that itís Christmas."
"You are correct, but it is April the first, and it has been almost three months since Dr. Smith took the cube and left for his vacation," the Robot intoned. "Would you not say that his vacation was a good Christmas present on April the first?"
"Boy, Iíll say it is," Don agreed fervently. The rest laughed heartily.
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