Escape from Earth

Is it the eternal wanderlust in people or just trying to loose the madding crowd?

Escaping Earth (my daughter’s contribution)

My dads crazy. Off on a tangent, something he inflicted on himself. He reached a tipping point with the lockdown and politics and decided to stop dealing with it. Something snapped. He called one day and said he was building a spaceship and leaving Earth. My dad – building a spaceship! – crazy!. Bezos or Musk building space ships – not crazy, reality. Maybe that’s where he got the idea. Could those two zillionaires also want to leave this crazy world of Covid and Qanon? Difference is they have money…he doesn’t. Not so much anyway. Oh he has enough for his retirement but not for space ships. He flies around the midcoast in an old Chevy. So I was concerned when he called and said he’d done it. ‘Done what” I ask? “I’ve flown the coop honey”. “I’ve left the Earth and I’m not coming back”. I searched my memory for what to say. How you deal with a parent’s slide from rational?. That is to say, what do you do when your Dad loses it? “Space”? I rhetorically ask. “Yes”, he said. “Where in space exactly?”. “Leme check” he answered. A moment passed,”Half million miles-according to the cosmic odometer”. buying time I ask,”What’s that in Kilometers, After another pause he answered, “That would be about eight hundred thousand clicks”. He was taking time responding. Was this a sign that his mind was slowing? He’d been using his mind for seventy five years, bound to slow down eventually. Big thoughts, little thoughts, and now crazy thoughts. I should document this for the doctors. I called up the stopwatch on my phone and asked, “Dad?” “Yes”, he answered after a two second delay. “Dad, we must have a bad connection…there’s a delay”. Another pause, “Not the connection honey”, he said, “its the time of flight” “Eh?”, “Time of flight?” I repeated. “Yes, the connection is X band, that’s about eight gigahertz, Microwave but its still speed of light limited” Dad has always unnecessarily complicated things with technical jargon. “Dad….what does the speed of light have to do with our phones”? “Sweetie I am beyond the orbit of the moon, it takes a second for my words to reach you and another second for your reply to reach me”. That response caused an added delay while I pondered his words. He isn’t going to let go of the space ship thing I decided. Changing the subject, I ask, “are you keeping busy”? (Delay), “Yep”, “There’s still a huge amount of work to be done in the ship” he said, “I left in such a hurry – All that’s working is the engines and a minimum environmental system. Ya, I thought, environ….mental. Credit where it’s due, in the days following he increased the delay. He was going to pretend himself all the way into the nuthouse. At a million miles the delay stretched out to ten seconds. That was my limit – “lets go to chat or email dad”. “OK” he said a dozen seconds later. With email you don’t expect quick responses. Half an hour is sudden for an email. That was our time together, email, both of us in isolation. In the weeks that followed he told me about the ship’s internal structure. The bulkheads and compartments and companionways. The free fall squash court. “Who’ll you play squash with”? I ask, “you’re all alone, right”?. ‘Not totally’ he wrote back. “No, I have an anthropomorphic robot with me”. “Her name’s Sheila”. Very athletic. Sweet personality. OMG I thought. “Oh!”, not one of “those” robots!? , shocked,  I ask . “What does she “do”, “I mean, how human-like is she?”. He said, “she’s “full function” if that’s what you’re asking, She’s got a wicked back hand on the court – Intellectual when that’s needed otherwise warm and fuzzy, an extension of the ships computer basically”, he added. (to be continued)

Published by glensketch

Retired from electronics industry. Ex USN ex USAF ex expat in Ecuador.

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