The Device
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU

David Evans was working on a more advanced suit. His Rocketeer idea had been pretty cool, but he wanted something that was strictly form-follows-function. The fin on the top of the Rocketeer helmet, for instance, was pure decoration, he knew, following the images and the story of the comic books, but he now wanted something that would scare the crap out of those Groom Lake clowns when he visited. If, that is, he ever decided to return to Area 51, again.

His concept was simple. Don't add anything that didn't belong or wasn't needed, and make it black and highlight the new Tec' and body suit with blue-neon color and silver accents. That new suit would keep people guessing about who he was, again, or them, the imaginary group. That would be his only delving into the new appearance. Just a little bit of flash.

The suit itself was finished. The helmet was and always had been the hard part. There was so much Tec' in it, it always took a while to make one. He had two for his deuce Rocketeer outfits and thought, at first, of stripping one down to the essentials, but decided to keep them as they were. There was too much effort into getting them just right and it was easier to begin from scratch, especially with the changes he'd designed into the new flight suit using the new materials.

This helmet and suit were really going to be cool with it's metallic blue face shield that would better protect him from sun and space radiation. The accent lines along the suit in neon-blue/blue neon and the black everything else were pretty much the color scheme with just a few accents of silver for the new technology additions. Even the rocket pack, which was just a cover for the device's propulsion Tec, was anodized black and it only followed the contours of the engine, beneath it, now. It was a completely new stuff and a wildly functional and slightly lighter piece of equipment that looked very impressive.

Gone were the brown leather jackets. His new leather-look-alike material was deeply midnight black and shimmered in the sun, and included pants, too, though the jacket and pants were two separate pieces, but sealed together when fitted. He had custom made knee high boots that looked 'retro-spacey', somewhat like the old style comics books used to depict space suits looking like, but also were simply functional and hid little items of importance in them, too. They gave David a kind of motorcyclist look, that, or a Mad Max feel to the flight suit, he thought, and that wasn't a bad thing, but it was purely coincidental. Everything was way functional and to the point. It was designed for him and his atmosphere antics and space maneuvering, period. No fluff.

He put the helmet on, having finished installing a couple of new items to the power pack for the heads up display, and tried it out. It seemed to be working fine, all but one thing. One light. A firing signal wasn't showing up so he took off the helmet and delved into its little problem. It was only an LED light and the problem was soon corrected. The connection wasn't pushed in all the way. He'd have to be more careful.

He finished up his work for the day, cleaning the work station, the entire bench, and putting away all tools. Keeping things clean, he knew from experienced, always helped his creative juices flow better and simply kept items much more organized.

His back ached from being bent over all this time, looking over the intricate pieces he worked with, and swore for the umpteenth time he would get some work bench stools that were adjustable in height and had back-support to them. But he hadn't found any he liked. But then, he hadn't really looked, had he?

With all the tools and equipment stored, plus his new suit that begged to be tested, along with it's helmet, of course, both now hanging in that fifty thousand pound safe vault, he recently had installed, and now had locked. David went inside to stretch out for a few minutes on the rugs in front of the T.V ... He was so tired. He was also quite hungry and thought of passing up his exercise routine. David had put it off several times already, that day.

He went to the huge fridge, first, and took out a Red Barron all meat pizza and stuck it in the oven and set the timer, and only then went to the living room and fell onto the floor, reaching with his arms and pointing with his straight legs and toes. It felt good to feel his neck straighten out as well as his spine and almost seemed like it fell into slots, there on the smooth carpeting. It had been a long month of solid work and today had been at least fifteen hours long.

David was awoken by the stove's beeping and got up, a bit stiff but feeling much more revived. He'd test the suit out tomorrow. Right now he wanted to eat, drink his caffeine free, diet, Dr. Pepper, play Halo 4, and then go to bed after a long hot shower and read an old, used, sci-fi book he had picked up over a month ago. He was half way though it and it was what had given him the idea to make the suit strictly functional. Thank goodness for Arthur C. Clark. His Mars stories were always some of his favorites and always an inspiration.

There was a note book on the counter and he brought it back to the couch with his food. He had started a grocery list, a couple of days ago, but laid the tablet aside till he got some food into his body. He was almost shaky, he felt, needing something badly.

He ate several pieces without thinking about anything too significant, but then latched on to that image of Charon, the woman from Nevada.

He'd met her in Ely, earlier that year, and had made her younger, through the mysterious side effect the device had of making one younger. She deserved a second chance at life and he gave it to her. Charon now looked like the most gorgeous young teenage girl you could imagine.

He wondered what she was doing and considered calling her. But he didn't want to. People always disappointed him and with her past, who knew what she was doing these days? Whatever it was, was her business. She had her life now and he had his. That was all there was too it, but David still wished she were there. It would be nice to have someone as cute as her around.

He looked outside as a new layer of snow began falling, chewing his mass produced, but tasty, pizza. It was beautiful out there and David would have liked to have gone for a walk out in the cooling snow, but he was just too tired.

He looked at the gray sky, his head resting against the back of his couch, and envisioned the first stars coming out above them. He thought he might skip the Halo game and go straight to bed, thinking about space and Mars. He considered the story line of the book, too, and thought even more seriously about the distant red planet. Wouldn't that be a kick, he considered, to go check out that world? And after a few minutes of playing with numbers in his head, David thought he might, or probably could, bring back one of the Viking craft for a souvenir, for the fun of it, or reposition it to blow a few peoples minds. He knew they weren't functioning anymore. NASA had turned them off a long time ago. He didn't know what kind of a fuel source they used, back whenever it was that they were being used, but it was probably some kind of battery system. He'd have to take one of those along with him if he was going to pull off something like that, but David also knew, those weren't your everyday 'D' size batteries. They were probably very sophisticated, custom made things, that no one even had the templates for, any longer. Oh well. It was just a thought, and he laid the idea aside.

He belched a couple of times, releasing the gas created by his Dr. Pepper, and lazily picked up the shopping list. He wrote down a couple of things but started making a rough sketch of Mars, too. He looked at the drawing and thought of cold, vicious space, and his suit, and started making a list of things he'd incorporated into it and the helmet. He did get up and out of the atmosphere, at times, and he needed protection from the hazards out there. He was reassured he had thought of everything. This suit really was going to be a lot more protective and capable than his first version.

David cleaned up the dinner stuff, throwing away the paper plates and cleaning the pizza cutting roller and washed and stored the big pan his food had been cooked on. There were only two pieces of pizza left and he put them in a zip lock bag, then laid them in the fridge. He looked around and there was nothing out of place. No one would ever believe a bachelor lived here, it was so clean.

He went right to his bed room, stripped and took his long hot shower, then went to bed. He was too bushed to read, he quickly realized, and turned off his bedside lamp and slept for ten hours.

In the morning, David ran through a long exhaustive battery of test for the suit, before he put it on. He had made a list as he had been building it and everything he could think of was checked and rechecked, and then checked again. His life would depend on this thing.

It was finally time to test fly it but before he did, he wanted to go into town and get a burger, but only after he'd exercised. He had put it off, long enough. This would be something of a celebratory lunch, for him, and if he was going to die, he mused, he was going to die with a full stomach. But he knew he wouldn't. Drama queen.

His exercise routine spanned the gambit of his entire body. He walked, to warm up, ran in the snow, lifted weights, Tie boxed, worked on needed real world gymnastic moves he might need some day, and finished up with a relaxing two mile swim. David knew from experience he would be tired, afterwards, but it would be a relaxed tired.

He chose his very first car he'd actually bought, for the ride into town, to his favorite drive-in. His new version Dodge, Challenger.

It was the one he kind of beat up, a lot, so to speak, and never worked on, himself. He let the dealership take care of it, almost exclusively. He roared away from his house, kind of, with the stock exhausts making a mild noise. Still, the car was no piece of lead. He had got the biggest Hemi motor in it they offered and every option, almost, you could get with the car. It really was a great ride.

David filled up with his junk food, feeling quite satisfied with his hamburger, fries and chocolate shake meal. Only then did he return home to the huge garage and went into the main house.

David brushed his teeth, bathed again, and put on all clean clothes, then went down stairs and donned the flight suit.

It took longer to dress with the extra layers and positive seals. It felt heavier, too, because it was when he had originally thought it might be lighter. The jet pack, he noted, again, sure looked impressive, especially with the two oxygen tanks attached and exposed beside it. All the wire and tubing were encased and protected, though, he couldn't take a chance with them. He turned his stasis ring on to minimum and positioned and sealed his helmet in place.

With gloves being the last of his adjustments and coverings, David turned on the device, stopping time, and activated the propulsion unit via the hand controls, and stepped outside his front door. He then turned the stasis up to maximum and did a lot of low level precise maneuvering close to the ground, checking all the systems out, then turned everything off, but leaving the heads up display on. He wanted to double check things before going up into the stratosphere, for a speed run. It looked good. Everything seemed perfect so he took off again, accelerating like a bullet.

David headed north into Canada then came back and made a circle around his city and it wasn't very long into his flight that he thought he would test the limitations of his speed, if there were any. He knew he could exceed the speed of anything ever launched by any government on earth, that ended up in outer space, but he had never really consider if the device-technology had real limits to it's movement through space and time, either in atmosphere or out of it.

Yet after a few bursts of speed, David felt that would not be wise, for the moment, and decided to merely do a moderate thrust and head west. He would go as far as Montana, perhaps, and then fly back. That would be enough for the day. Maybe tomorrow he could play the fastest man alive but today, no. He was itching to play Halo 4.

The flight was routine with his getting up to Mach seven, inside the stasis field, and then remembered he still had the freaking device on. It had been on for over an hour and he knew it was just about then it would start to make him younger. He felt for the device beneath his suit's clothing and switched it off. Thank goodness. I'm too young looking as it is. He had turned it on so the spy satellites wouldn't see him in his tests, near home. He was certain the government checked up on his house, from time to time, and didn't want to give them any more fodder for speculation.

Then David made his turn around point, noting Yellowstone down and off to his left, way below him. He banked and headed back. Inside the stasis field, there was no noise, no feeling of movement. All David experienced was the change in terrain beneath him with visuals. He was currently at sixty-seven thousand feet. He had radar capability but flying above where most planes flew, it was much safer for them. If, by chance, he slammed into a plane, it would destroy it as fully as if a missile had hit it. Even though he would never even feel it, he didn't want to hurt anyone.

He was only a third of the way back when he experienced a mishap. Crap, he said to himself. Houston, we have a problem. No Houston up here, though, is there?

The propulsion was off line and he was falling. Hoo-boy! This was going to be interesting. The stasis should protect me from the impact, he thought it through. But I just hope I don't hit anything or anyone going down. I can't maneuver.

David sat back and enjoyed it. Freefalling was still fun, even if he didn't have the wind in his face or the sounds, it was still pretty much a blast. Yet, even though he knew this was doable, survivable at least, he was still filled with anticipation trying to figure out what went wrong. He'd have to understand it, figure it out, when he 'landed', checking over the suit when it was off his back. He just hoped there was no one nearby when he struck the earth. There would be a lot to explain. Too much, in fact.

It took a long time to fall. At least three minutes. The bubble of the stasis field made more wind resistance and slowed him a little more if he were actually sky diving. And when he finally hit solid ground, he absolutely did not even feel the slightest jolt, David was grateful he had missed that farm house and barn, nearby, too.

He was standing inside of a sizeable crater he had created, that was eye-high deep. Actually, it had been the stasis field that had made it. It was shaped like a sphere, though invisible. Whew! That was close.

He looked over at the barn and the house, then noticed a young girl on a tractor, who had just come to a stop. She appeared to be about his age, well, the age he looked like, now, somewhere in her mid teens. Pretty too, in a gorgeous farm girl sort of way, he saw, as the dust from the harvested field cleared away, flowing off with the soft wind.

She turned off the tractor, while they both stared at each other, surprised to see some one, him, he was sure.

David finally waved, then began looking around him. He was on the edge of a big field nearer to the girl's home than to the far edge of the field. Should he run away? No. Don't be melodramatic, dude. He saw no alternative; He would have to take his helmet off. As well as his suit, eventually. There was no getting around it just to find out what had went wrong. Thank goodness he always, or usually, kept his jeans and tee shirt on underneath.

What would her parents think, though? Would they call the police? Then a cover story began to form. It would be easy enough to believe, he hoped. With his stasis ring and the device, he would be safe enough. He just didn't want the world to know him as the guy in the space suit that had landed on their property.

David removed his helmet as she ran to him, thinking he might need help. He guessed that's what she was thinking. He couldn't help but see how nicely her body moved, bounced, really. She was quite the young beauty in every way.

"Are you alright?"

Detaching things, he revealed himself and smiled. "Yes," he said. I'm fine."

"Where did you come from?"

David saw no reason to lie and pointed up into the sky. "I had some kind of engine failure. Do you think I could check things out, here, on your land?"

"Uhmm, yeah, I guess so, sure." She paused. "Did you really fall from the sky?"

David stepped up out of the crater and looked down into it and then at her.

She came over to stare. "Yeah. I guess you did. You sure you're not hurt?"

"Yes. I'm sure. Thank you for your concern. I'm fine. Where am I?"

"This is the Anderson's place. You're near the town of McClusky. I'm Rachel."

David smiled his best smile, hoping it was friendly enough.

"Am I in North Dakota, still?" He was pretty sure he was, but he needed to be certain.

"Yes." She looked a little surprised that he'd asked that.

"Oh! Good. Well. Thank you. Hi," he said. "I'm David," and shook her hand.

They both noted the flight controls in his hands, outside the gloves of his palms.

"Oh! Sorry. Those are some of my controls," and began removing them and his gloves. "This thing's kind of complicated."

"Do you fly around in that uniform?"

"In the suit, yes. It's a lot of fun."

"You aren't that guy that destroyed those military bases, are you? Last year or so?"

David knew the media had covered that stuff and people knew about that guy in the comic book uniform, The Rocketeer. He now had a reason to lie.

"No, Rachel. That wasn't me."

"But you've got guns," she noted, pointing.

They were his 'death ray' guns, as he liked to think of them. He had foregone the old German pistol, he'd use to carry with the other suits. It was just a pistol, but his death rays could take out an aircraft carrier, if he wanted them to. The things were down right nasty and he had two of them built in shoulder holsters, on the outside of his suit and beneath his armpits, basically.

"Yes. I sometimes go into some pretty wild places. I don't want to get eaten by a bear," He told her. That seemed to satisfy Rachel for the time being. Sort of...

"They flew around in a space suit like yours, though, too. It was on the news."

"I know. I saw it. That's where I got the idea. But it wasn't me and it was way different from this flight suit."

"Are you sure?"

"Uh-huh. I'm just a kid, Rachel. Like you. I don't go around blowing things up."

"Well. How did you get that suit?"

"I made it."

She considered his appearance and said, "You must be pretty smart."

"I'm good in science and math, is all. I'm a terrible artist and cook, though," he said, smiling. "I hope you're not afraid of me?"

She looked at him grinning at her. It must have been friendly enough. She smiled back, a bit shyly.

"No. You look pretty tame."

"Well, that's different. I've never been called 'tame' before. Thanks."

"Honestly? You can fly in that thing?"

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