Eyes blue as sacred sapphires, scintillating and coruscating with scarlet tones deep and pure as cisterns, John stood before his crimson Carain, an old and beautiful personal transport he had spent ages restoring with the minute consideration of a master horologist. Kulmyk’s morning suns, eternally spectacular in their daily duet reflected a welcomed prism of warmth off the immaculately polished surface, although others would argue, and many would agree; exhibit one in the case for obsessive perfectionism. John would not have disagreed, nor those who placed their confidence in his abilities.

The door of his pride slid open with the silent signature of a meticulous master artisan as a melodious whispery southern breeze carried a serenade of citrine chatelaines, seductive songbirds native to the western district. Not to be outdone, the glove soft leather interior, assisted with solar caresses, released a bouquet as sweet as any young bride’s wedding arraignment. Easing into the warm embrace, a wave of his hand molded the seat to his hard lithe frame.

John Michael Discovery turned his mind to the drive home. His mission to the outer reaches had met success and received accolades. No one expected otherwise and John was careful to watch the backdoor of his mind, the very entrance complacency would launch a cloak and dagger attack when he least expected. Too many of his colleagues had succumbed to a domestic coup they never saw coming. He would honor their sacrifices with respectful vigilance on his own watch. Success, and in this profession of arms, survival, demanded daily tribute; ownership was a myth.

John would later say he remembers not the view of the snow capped mountains, of which his father had taught the lessons of teamwork, the necessity for unrelenting solution oriented thinking; nor would he recall the mirror smooth reflections of such on the pristine waters of Lake Serenity, on the banks of which bonds between father and son were forever carved within the soft inner core of his filial heart. His Carain traveled the route home on auto command, the trip more a function of time than distance. Time, John reflected, seemed to define his relationships; and time was not always the ally he had hoped, and at times, begged it to be.

The mission to destroy the Arc’teryxian vessel had consumed six weeks of this life; yet duty remained ravenous, insatiate as a newborn. As the mother dutifully and lovingly responds to the needs of her baby, so too John felt the mother to his calling, the cries of which grew with each success. A victim of my own success he thought. What would dad say?

John had promised Caitlin they would have time, this time, between missions. As pure as her name suggested, and as sincere as he had made the promise, he knew the river of events had taken an unexpected turn and her hopes would be dashed like a diminutive birthday girl all dressed in hat and gown, balloons and cake patiently waiting in place, pending the arrival of her friends, which with each passing moment she came to realize was never going to happen. The icing on the cake would begin to harden its heart and the balloons would lose their enthusiasm to soar and the little girl would put on a brave face and tell her mom she understood that sometimes things happen and it would be okay.

John knew, when he broke the news, Caitlin’s eyes would water without bursting, her shoulders would drop but only for a second and then she would stand tall, put on her brave face and tell him she understood. As battle hardened a warrior as he was, as intrepid a neuro-surgeon who had held life and death in his hands, he feared most of all, the dagger those few words would inflict on his heart. “It will be okay,” she would say with a smile born of impeccable breeding, of a long line of women who understood sacrifice. “We have tonight,” she would add. “And I won’t allow an unpromised tomorrow to stand between our happiness this evening.” And then she would wrap her arms around him and he would wonder who really was the strongest and brightest and wisest and bravest of the two. And he would conclude it was not him.

“Johnny Disco,” asked his Carain’s computer, a name his mates had given him in fighter pilot school after an unforgettable night on leave in a long forgotten port city—and like most nicknames, it stuck, “should I alert Caitlin of our arrival?”

With a slight smile, which the name Johnny Disco always brought to his eyes, and a heavy sigh, John replied, “Yes, let her know we’re here.”

Categories: Story, John Discovery, Caitlin