The Voyage of the USS Velvet Tomato


“And the voices of the children, joined the worries of the elders–“


“For those who’d risk their lives, to journey to the stars–“


“And their hearts beat faster, and their eyes filled with tears–“


He turned his chiselled face as much as the harness would allow, “whuh?”

The equally chiselled but more boyish face beside had maneuvered as much as it could in its seat to stare at him, “we’re deep into go time here, I don’t think the singing is appropriate.”

“Aww, c’mon, lieutenant, you know you love it. This is exciting. We’re blazin’ a trail here. And the clouds, they all parted, and the sun was a shinin’, and the stars were a callinn-nn-ng–“

“Control, can you please remind Commander Davids that his sopranic croonings are not part of the program,” the lieutenant said into his headset.

“Roger that,” the speaker squawked, “Commander, please be advised that high-pitched vocals are not one of the mission parameters.”

“Copy that, control” Commander Davids said, “but I just want it noted for the record that you’re all art blind.”

“Copy that, commander,” control said, “you copy, lieutenant?”

“Copy that, art blind, check,” said the lieutenant.

“Control, just a final thought from all us here in the cosmo-craft Velvet Tomato, that thanks for all your hard work and that we are all looking forward to one helluva ride,” Davids said.

“Roger that, VT-one, a hell of a ride it is going to be. And now, VT-one, we are a go for launch,” control said, “final countdown, commencing, ignition in ten, nine–”

Across the ocean, athwart the fields–“

“–eight, seven–”

“Up, up the hillside, and through the trees–“

“–six, five–”

“Over the mountains!”

“–four, three–”

“Onto the launch pad!”

“–two, one. Ignition.”


The united neighs of a billion flaming horses rumbled up through twenty-five stories of alloy and engineering and two entire generations worth of man hours into the tiny cage of heroism that sat atop it like a cherry on the most dangerous sundae in the universe and then slowly lifted itself into the sky, seeking the stratosphere, reaching for outer space, to take to the limit, and beyond–THE MEN WHO SHALL PUNCH THE SUN!




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