Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Sizzle( 05/02/13)
Grandpa Goes to Venus
By Francy Judge
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Earlier that day…
KC3 pretended to whisper to Sutar, “Can you believe Grandpa’s never traveled anywhere in O.S. other than the moon?”
“He’s too old to have fun.”
“I hear yah. Give your old grandpa a break. My generation liked gravity. We were happy to keep our feet and cars on the ground.”
“B-o-r-ing to the trillionth power. You have to come for a ride with us. We know fun.”
Sutar added, “You always tell us how God made the universe…wouldn’t He want you to see His creation if you can?”
Grandpa rustled Sutar’s spiky porcupine hair. “Got a point there.”
“Coolzoids! We promise to take the safe zone.”
“Great. I feel so much safer now.”
KC3 cranked the igniter clutch. “If you go any faster, my dentures are going to fly clean through the back of my head.”
“If we slow down, we won’t break through the Exosphere.”
“And where did you say we were headed?”
“Venus,” they both answered.
“You do know that’s the hottest planet?”
“Of course, Grandpa. Any O.S. traveler knows that.”
“Where’s your steering wheel?”
“It’s tucked under the dashboard for emergencies. We never use it. Autopilot does all the work.”
Sutar pointed to the screen. “Look, we’ve entered the exosphere.”
After sailing through the vast blackness for an hour, the dark spiraled into swirls of orange and pink, like sherbet and cotton candy clouds. A trace of rotten egg scent filled the shuttle as sulfuric acid drizzled on the roof.
“What’s that smell? And sound? Something’s sizzling like chicken frying.”
“Just rain?” Grandpa echoed.
“Well, sulfuric acid rain.”
Grandpa immediately prayed for everyone he could think of and asked for forgiveness. “I’m ready, Lord.” He watched above, waiting for the acid to burn a hole through the ship.
“Relax. This space shuttle could land on the sun; it’s built with metamorphic metal.”
Grandpa Max clung to his harness and sang “Victory in Jesus” to drown out the horrible sizzle. He imagined his grandsons burning in the eight hundred degree atmosphere. “You guys know I love you, right?”
“Of course…we love you too, so stop worrying. We’ve already flown this route ten times.”
The shuttle trembled and lurched forward…the sizzling grew louder, pounding the surface.
Then it stopped. Just as fast as it started. No sizzles or spasms. The ship coasted peacefully under the swirling blanket of clouds.
Grandpa looked out the peephole to see the hills of Venus, rolling like creamy white milk and mounting into volcanoes. Other shuttles flew nearby, and they even waved to some friends.
“Wow, that’s beautiful,” Grandpa exclaimed. “We’re not landing though, are we?”
“No, they haven’t finished building the Starlight Mall yet. There’s nothing to do there.”
“Oh, I guess that would be b-o-r-ing to the trillionth power, huh?” He winked.
“Now you’re hip, Grandpa,” said Sutar.
They flew between two volcanoes and dipped in and out of craters. Even Grandpa laughed at the belly-tickling sensation.
“Are you ready to head back now?” asked KC3.
“Yep, don’t want to miss Grandma’s meatloaf.”
Sutar commanded the shuttle: “Turn ninety degrees and throttle full speed ahead.”
The ship responded in Siri’s calm voice: “Error…invalid voice; please try again.”
The shuttle flew in circles until Grandpa felt airsick. Several tries later, they yelled at Siri, “We want to go home!”
“Please try again,” she responded.
Then Grandpa remembered. “Get that steering wheel ready. You can fly her manually.”
“But we don’t know how to use it. Even our bikes are programmed to balance and steer. You’ll have to take over.”
The twins quickly adjusted the wheel and switched seats. Sutar clicked the igniter, and Grandpa turned the ship and zoomed toward the clouds. He held tight as his cheeks wiggled back to his ears again, and he heard the sizzling rain. He held his breath and almost didn’t notice the sulfur smell. The steering wheel shook as they soared through winds and turbulence.
Finally the sizzling stopped. “Do you want me to take over?” asked KC3.
Grandpa smiled. “Nah, I got this.” Flying to Venus was coolzoids, but he couldn’t wait to get home to a cool spring rain.
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