Just Like Meteors
by Luc Reid
One time my old friend Allie and me got to arguing as to whether those people that throw themselves out of the sky on fire would ever amount to anything or not, and Allie said yes, and I said no, and Allie said, Courtie, I have known you for sixty-eight years and you have yet to make a damn bit of sense.
Don’t pay her no mind, though. She just gets mad.
Take that moon colony war everybody’s itchy to fight, Allie says now, and she scootches forward in her rocker. Senator Masuda has that grand rally proposed for today, and what if live human beings was to fall out of the sky just like meteors and crash right into that grandstand in front of a thousand people: now, don’t you think that would wake them up some?
Might do more good if they crash right into the senator his own self, I say, and Allie glares at me. We’ve been over that, she says. You can’t get people to understand that killing people is wrong by going around and killing people. Which is true, but sad just the same. No, the person would have to time things so that everybody had their selves off the grandstand.
So, I say, your person you’re talking about is rigged up with one of those rocket packs they have and one of those guidance computers as will keep ’em from killing anyone? And she says they had most certainly better be.
That would certainly be a show for the folks who came to see it, I say, but I don’t know they’d go home any smarter than they came. Now, what would make sense to me is to find one of those troop rockets and crash into one of those. If people don’t understand that, well, maybe at least it would make them think. We don’t need more crabby old ladies like us growing up with no husbands and no sons because the wars took ’em all. And Allie should’ve laughed then, but she was still angry I wouldn’t say it was smarter to crash into some big dumb rally than a big dumb rocket when nobody cares much about one or the other.
They’d notice if someone crashed into a rocket though, I said. If someone took one of those rickety rocket packs up and dropped flaming down through the sky onto a troop rocket, you bet people would look at them and pay attention, at least for five minutes, and maybe the young men would get the fear of God in ’em and wouldn’t let the government drag them out to another war.
Rockets don’t mean horse piss on a hot sidewalk, Allie said. It would have to be in front of people, and as many as can be. I just took a sip of my lemonade to make it clear to Ms. Allie Rajiv that I didn’t care for the thought any more than I cared for the language.
Now, I tell her, let’s picture my granddaughter Annie is home watching the holovee with her husband, and in it she sees one damn fool crash into a stage some third-rate politician rented and another damn fool crash into a ninety million dollar rocket ship. Which damn fool do you think is going to grab her attention?
You miss the point entirely, Courtie Sellers! says Allie. This is a human matter, and if you are not with me on it I don’t see how I can continue with the rest of the day! And then she burst out crying like her eyes were broke.
Well! You don’t know Allie Rajiv like I know her, and I can tell you that in sixty-eight years I have seen her cry just the one time, and that was when she was fourteen and that pig-dropping of a boy Dennis Waller stood her up for the school dance. Not once since, not when her man Chander died, not when she lost her boys two wars later, not ever. And now she was crying over a damn thing like this. It wasn’t worth the heartache, if you ask me. So I told her that it was probably just as good or better to crash into a grandstand.
She let the crying peter out soon as she could, of course, and looked up at me angry, like I was going to cuss her out for crying. You don’t mean that for one minute, she said. And I said, now why do you care whether I mean it or not, so long as you get your way? And she did laugh at that one.
I helped Allie on with her rocket pack—she can’t bend like she used to, she has some of that rheumatism in her joints—and I put mine on, and we both pulled the heat shields down out of the packs, behind our legs. We each clipped on one of the little boxes that bursts out in flames when you need it to, and then we walked out into the field behind my house, holding hands like when we was girls.
Luc Reid was so used to living in imaginary worlds and made-up cultures that a few years he moved into one, an intentional community he co-designed and co-founded in Vermont. He is mentally toughening himself for the karmic backlash he’ll doubtless experience in the next life due to having been given a much higher quality of family and friends than he could possibly have earned the last time around. By the time you read this, he will be doing his best to dupe some hapless publisher into buying his novel, Voices of Gods and Demons, in which he kills his main characters over the course of the first few chapters. As well, A Ship That Bends, which was an Apr-Jun 2002 finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, will be published in the upcoming Writers of the Future anthology, #19. He has recently decided to erect an internet shrine to himself.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish