Aphelion Issue 291, Volume 28
February 2024
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Flash Fiction
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I Saw it on the Late Show

by Cary Semar

Starbuck is alive on Mars!
Not dead as was maintained.
Twelve hours out of touch,
Then contact was regained.
(How he survived the solar flare
Has never been explained).

Upon the astronaut's return
With fanfare and alarm
It was easy not to notice her
Upon the hero's arm.
(Reviewing old news videos,
You mark her grace and charm).

Quietly did they marry
And quietly did they dwell
And quietly made the payments
On a mortgage made in hell
(He signed a contract for his book,
Alas it did not sell).

He saw that she was restless,
He knew she did not sleep
But he drew another mission
And a schedule he must keep.
(As ever men go forth to work
While women wait and weep).

He sent her words of love
From distant Saturn's moons
By the great deep space antenna
That looks skyward from the dunes.
(Three billion people heard them
On the TV's in their rooms).

But living as a housewife
In the shadow of a man,
It takes a toll upon the soul
And in the end she ran.
(Let no one speak against her:
We live as best we can).

In Starbuck's Aston Martin
She took the Interstate
In her patent leather handbag
Was a 5 shot thirty-eight.
(Starbuck thought she'd need a gun
When he was working late).

She shot a guard in Georgia
'Twas luck he did not die
She stole a Thunderfighter
And somehow she made it fly.
(At 1800 knots and more
They tracked her thru the sky).

That fighter's packin' heavy iron
No time to cut or trim.
Potomac batteries on alert
Their missiles zeroed in
To save the nation's capital,
They counted down from ten.

They watched the dots converging
On the cluttered radar screen
In darkened rooms with hardened hearts
Their faces faint and green.
(Then a large primary target sprang
From nowhere on the scene).

The bogey was colossal!
They saw its path converge
With tiny thunderfighter
Then they saw the targets merge.
And then the screen was empty
But for missiles on the verge.

Six missiles hurtled skyward
Six missiles hurtled down.
No trace of Thunderfighter
No wreckage has been found.

The high comission pondered
But all their files are sealed.
Not till the year 3000
Will their secrets be revealed.
(Lest there be panic in the streets,
These facts must be concealed).

But Starbuck knows the truth,
How on that anxious day,
The flying saucer people came
And took their Queen away!

© 2002 Cary Semar

Cary Semar works for The Boeing Company as an aerospace engineer. He lives not far from Houston Texas with his wife and six cats.

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