} With a small sigh of resignation, Laurie set her empty cup down gently
} on the counter and closed the cupboard. She walked across the kitchen,
} only slightly aware of the fading light of dusk outside. For a brief
} moment, she gazed out at the sky, then silently sat on the bench near
} the window. The tea would have to wait, she thought, the memories
} simply too powerful. As she rested her hand on the satiny fabric of the
} bench seat, its cool touch reminded her again of Carl. She closed her
} eyes and tried to breathe deeply of the cool evening air.
} With a muttered curse, Harris crashed his way back to the controls.
} The ship had entered a steep and dangerous dive already, and he fought
} with all his strength to pull up and away from the Skylon atmosphere.
} Every muscle in his body strained as the glowing crescent of the
} planet's surface slowly righted itself and stabilized. Harris allowed
} himself only a split second to catch his breath before trying to figure
} out where the blood was coming from. Blast his weakness in thinking
} about that idiot Laurie! Now he set his jaw and snatched the
} communicator from its cradle. He was about to bark an order when
} another beam struck, this time even closer. An explosion in the
} starboard panel hurled shards of metal at him, and sparks blinded him
} as the control console went up in flames.
} Looking up again, Laurie watched the lights begin to twinkle in the
} sky. Unaware of her own movements, she stood again, now seeking
} earnestly for ... but she stopped herself. The rush of emotions was
} too much. She found herself breathing intensely now, thinking of Carl,
} Carl ...
} Harris screamed in anger and pain as a rapid burst of ion beams struck
} the cockpit. His deflector shields now badly damaged, he wiped blood
} from his eyes in a desperate move to find the source of the attack.
} The only sight that met his searching gaze was a succession of silent
} flashes as his squadron was decimated. Focusing his rage, he snapped
} curses at the memory of Laurie's bizarre mind, and used the strength of
} his anger to blast through a wall of fire toward the planet's surface.
} The evening lights were bright now, like some kind of astral fireflies,
} and Laurie, entranced by them, moved quietly toward the door, her right
} hand extended and shaking slightly. She could almost feel the touch of
} Carl's skin, too close, too hot and dangerous.
} Suddenly the fireballs were behind him, and Harris laughed in defiance
} as he rocketed into the atmosphere. The blue violence of space was
} gone, and in its place came the jarring heat of re-entry. Harris
} quickly checked his weapons systems, arming the few that were still
} operational. His heart beat wildly, pumping new streams of blood
} across his face, and he realized that every cell in his body was alive
} and crying out for ... Laurie! Damn!
} Even before she opened the door, the sky began to glow. A low hum
} shook the ground under her bare feet as she trotted through the cool
} grass. Wild-eyed now, her hair blown back in disarray, she stared in
} the direction of the disturbance, remembering.
} With a piercing scream and a fresh burst of sparks, Harris's control
} system melted down. Every rivet in the hull of the ship seemed to have
} worked loose, and he felt wind and heat and pain and terrible longing.
} Now with a crash mightier than thunder, Laurie watched the clouds split
} apart and hurl a white-hot comet of mangled metal toward her. For an
} instant, her heart and her breathing stopped.
} Harris tried to brace himself, too late, as he saw the planet's surface
} rising toward him like a dream. By the force of panic, he pulled up on
} the control stick enough to deflect the blow, then lost his grip as the
} impact tossed him from side to side, half burying his craft in the
} Laurie stumbled when the shockwave reached her, but caught her balance
} and stood, legs slightly apart, waiting. Again, her breath came
} quickly and hot.
} Harris wearily hung his body weight on the hatch lever, and gasped as
} the planet's cool clear air rushed into the smoking hell of a cabin.
} He climbed the rungs automatically and pitched himself onto the soft
} She ran to him now, her heart suddenly bursting with joy, her fears
} swept away at the mere sight of him. Their eyes met as she approached.
} "We've got to stop meeting like this," he said.
} You owe the Oracle a cut of the profits on your next book, "Women are
} from Skylon 4, Men are from the Transgalactic Attack Squadron".