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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I Wrote a Short Story or ... Pursuing Dreams: Every Caregiver Needs One

It’s not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams. ~Gabriel Garcia Márquez

My father would have pursued his dreams till God called him home. But life on Earth bites us in the … um tail, sometimes. A stroke took away his dreams. We’re trying hard to restore some of his memories, but it just isn’t working for him. For instance, all of his sermons were taped but he doesn’t recall any of them or that it is he speaking on the video.

Tomorrow we visit a memory clinic. I didn’t even know we had those, but it sounds interesting and promising—only because it can’t get any worse for him, and it gives him something to do. Plus, per our usual agenda, it’s another road trip. I remind myself if a simple outing down the street to watch the sheep, goats, and camels, (would you believe we have camels?) can bring some joy, then turn on the AC and go for a drive.

But caregivers need their own dreams. Whether we want to be published writers, kindergarten teachers, or start a family. No matter the dream, please don’t give up. I know that’s easy for me to say. Wait … it really isn’t. 

We don’t have time to pursue dreams, right? How about we pen them on a piece of paper and use those refrigerator magnets to hold them in place ... for now. 

In the meantime, perhaps God has given you new purpose—a new goal to pursue. Go ahead and ask Him what that might be. And let me know what you discover.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ~Matthew 6:33

I found a few spare hours this week and since I had a story in my head I took the opportunity to write it. A short sci-fi story sort of flowed out from my keyboard, though I was trying to write a comedy. No matter, I’m just greatful something came out. Who knows maybe I'll publish it later. 

In any case, don’t give up on God, He’s got beautiful treasures for you. Everyone has a story to tell and it all matters. Here’s the first installment of …

The Black Hole Chronicles

The Architect of Light

Hutch Tanner trapped a meteoroid last night. He altered its trajectory, deliberately sending it on a collision course with a wayward star.

“This is a big one,” he told himself, “probably seen from Earth.”

He had tracked this shooting star for a few days and needed to harness its energy. Always prepared, with magnetic poles in place, he was done before the time keepers announced the morning hour had arrived.

The clock in Town-Square Dome chimed five times as he pulled his suspended backpack to eye level. Those timekeepers never gave him an extra second.

“Maybe no one will notice if I’m a little late for work … again,” he mumbled. “Or remember that it’s my 21st birthday.”

The gravity monitor in the lower chambers of Town-Square Dome turned the lever of the gravity wheel. The echo of rattling chains and steel particles clanged louder with each turn, bringing the first signs of life into Black Hole Number 9, also known as Earth-Star.

“All right then.” He drew a breath and slapped on the night vision goggles. “Let’s turn the lights on.”

Twenty minutes of oxygen, provided by his rations of breakfast pellets, gave him enough time to get to the power plant. He trusted those tasty morsels, as he did the time keepers to announce it really was morning, and that the gravity wheels kept them right side up.

He reached for one of the thick triple-braided ropes linking all their houses, gardens, and cobblestone lanes—securing the whole city in dark space.

With 15 minutes of oxygen still in his veins, he hovered over the care center to hear the Ancients sing, mesmerizing their caregivers. It was their praise to the God who had given them a second life.

The soundproof curtains swept upward and Hutch watched the Ancients, some a hundred years old, lift their hands to the God who still had use for them—unlike the powers-to-be on Earth who had exiled them into the unknown.

No one on Earth could have guessed that the Ancients would draw up the blue prints for survival—to live in black holes. They figured out how the holes near Venus had breathable air similar to Earth’s. So they built floating cities upon a contraption that held a mixture of oxygen-nitrogen, vacuumed in from Venus’s atmosphere, which was already leaking into Earth-Star, and called it Cloud 9.

“It’s like helium,” the Ancients said, “a lifting gas, yet 6000 times stronger.”

It was their morning songs, however, that impressed Hutch the most, bringing life into this darkness, and peace into the hearts of the men, women, and children who Earth discarded and time forgot.

Slowly drifting toward the main power plant, he let the song flood his soul. There was nothing better.

You know when stars disperse
You stretched the universe
You hung the planets into space
And made our dwelling place

You are the Singer
Salvation bringer
Creator, Emmanuel
Your name soars through the galaxies
Your love ignites us all

You brought us here
Dispelled all fear
You are the song that floods our soul
The light that leads us home

You know when stars …

The morning song fell through the cracks of space, dissipating till all he heard was the hum of the motherboard. He donned his gravity boots and hit the ground running.

The motherboard, or simply, Mother, lined the walls of the cylindrical tower. Not one inch was spared for anything else but power grids.

“Good morning, Mother.”

“Good morning, Light Maker.”

Hutch yawned. “I brought you something.”

From his backpack he carefully retrieved the crystallized light-force he had harnessed from the wayward star. The light-force inched down his fingers and slithered into the depleted fuel receptacle. “There you go, Mother. Not a minute to spare.”

Mother whirled to life. One by one Hutch flipped her switches, releasing millions of light-bearers with tentacles of magnificent colors. His fingers danced over the keyboard as he assigned the light-bearers their specific destinations.

Their brilliance intensified as they ascended together, creating light as they billowed out of the tower. They wiggled upward like a fountain of fireworks, swerving as one to the left and to the right—an orchestra of light. And finally, when the sky exploded with color, each light-bearer descended ever so gently upon Earth-Star.

“Green lights the grass, the leaves, and trees; purples, yellows, reds, and blues spray the flowers that open their blooms; and rays of gold sparkle through, lighting old gas lamps with flickers true.” Earth-Star was dressed in brilliance as the Ancients continued their praise.

Hutch removed his gravity boots and floated up to the observation deck. On his slow ascend he checked every receptacle, and all of Mother’s moving parts. Each mechanism turned its own way, some to the left, some to the right, some upward, and downward too. All fed from the fuel receptacle.

“Hutch, you there?” a voice crackled through his headset. “It’s Daisha.”

His eyes brightened as he crawled down the wall. “Yeah, I’m here.”

“You’ll never guess what I found on patrol this morning.”

“More space debris, I hope.” He twirled on the pilot chair recovered from an abandoned space shuttle. They kept the shuttle tethered to the longest of the triple-braided ropes just outside the black hole entrance. It served as a street sign of sorts. “We need to rebuild that space monkey of yours.”

“Um, it’s a spaceship.  Which, mind you, I built from scratch.”

“If you say so.”

She sighed loudly into her microphone. “Anyway, I found an Earthling … a rather large one: Major Jack Lithcombe. He came in one of those space shuttles.”

“They’re still making those?”

“Apparently.” Daisha cleared her throat. “Um, he has a message for you. Should I let him through the power grid?”

“Did he bring his own supply of oxygen pellets?”

“He did, and extra containers for us.”

Hutch shook his head. “They still haven’t figured out the right formula. He won’t take two steps without gasping for air.”

“That’s just great.”

 “Whatever. Let him through. I can turn the grid off for only 15 seconds. Don’t get caught.”

Daisha veered her ship through the unarmed grid safely. Stars from outside the black hole illuminated the brightest near the entrance which made it easier for her to navigate. Finally she clicked into the airlock of Town-Square Dome and escorted the major inside. He was bent over, hands on his knees, and breathing erratically.

“He’s all yours.” Daisha gave the major a mock salute. “By the way, nice job on trapping that shooting star. Managed to keep its light burning, huh? One more light in our sky. How many is that now?”

“About a dozen, but who’s counting?” Hutch gave the major extra pellets, strapped him onto his back and carried him back to the power plant.

“I’ll ... make this ... quick,” Lithcombe muttered, still trying to adjust to Earth-Star’s oxygen levels.

Hutch slid him off his back. “You okay there, Major? You sound a little intoxicated.”

“How would you ... know?” Lithcombe covered his eyes with sweaty palms. His knees buckled but he managed to stay upright. “Earth wants you back," he snapped. He took a deep breath and straightened up. "I ... I mean, they don’t understand how you’ve created a sustainable environment here." He paused, slapping his veins to make sure the oxygen pellets were working. "In any case, it's your knowledge they're after.”

Hutch raised his eyebrows, puffing out oxygen rings of colors. He was Generation Alpha—the first born in space. Though he had no idea how his body would adjust, visiting Earth appealed to him.“I’ll have to take some of the Ancients with me.” 

“Not gonna happen.”

Hutch bowed his head and blew out a hefty sigh. “Then … no.”

“You’re giving up a chance to come back to Earth?”

“Never been there. The Ancients tell me I’m not missing much.”

“What do they know? They’re old. What use are they?”

Hutch pursed his lips. “Take a look around the city. While you’re at it, take another breath. Come visit our library, our parks, take a dip in our crystal clear waterways, drink from our cisterns and I’ll tell you what use they are.”

Lithcombe bit down on his lips, shaking his head. “I suppose the caregivers must come too.”

“Would only make sense.”


Major Lithcombe shot a message to the nearest space station from his digital communicator: Tanner not leaving without Ancients and caregivers. Please respond.

A day later the response came: Ancients' religious propaganda not welcome here. Only Hutch Tanner has security clearance. If he has what is known as the Christian Bible it must remain on Earth-Star. Better still, we recommend destroying it. 

"No surprise there." The major, who had thought to find shelter inside the visitors' quarters of the hospital barge, grabbed a handful of oxygen pellets, the ones Hutch had given him, and made his way to the power plant. 

He almost stopped to admire the light show but thought better of it. "Do not get distracted," he told himself. "These people are nothing but Earth rejects—scrappers surviving on discarded space debris.

The major left Earth-Star, cursing the young Architect of Light who would not go without some of the Ancients and caregivers. “Hutch Tanner! Just another nobody? What a fool,” he yelled. “Stay in your precious black hole then. The Ancients aren't worth it.”

He shook his head, cupping his ears as he tried to drown out the morning songs. Not quite understanding where his hatred for them came from, he felt cold and bitter in spirit. But more disturbing than anything else was that he would have rather stayed in Black Hole 9, instead of returning home to a dying planet called Earth.


Hutch watched the major leave in Daisha's Space Monkey, as he called it. A little disappointed he wouldn’t see Earth but any regrets he may have felt were already dissipating.

On his way home that evening he visited one of the Ancients, his grandfather Harold Drew Tanner who was dictating the Holy Scriptures to a young Earth-Star citizen.

After sharing a meal and great conversation, Hutch kissed his grandfather good night. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Granddad.”

“Happy birthday, Hutch. Got any plans tonight?”

Hutch smiled. “Yeah, you know. Gotta catch another shooting star.”


(Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~Philippians 2:3, 4)

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Thank you Lord for letting me pursue my dreams, my passion. I leave them in your hands as I keep my eyes on you only. My future is yours and I trust you completely that you have what’s best for me. You are the potter, I am only the clay. Mold me, create me into the perfect vessel for your love and mercy.

My Beloved Caregiver

Come into my presence
Step into my light
Breathe my heart’s essence
Your future is bright

Wait but a moment
With you I will walk
Stay close on this journey
We’ll laugh and we’ll talk

I have captured your tears
May I please mend your heart?
Love will cover your fears
You will have a new start

(Copyright by Deborah L. Alten, 2018)


  1. Cool story! As a fan of sci-fi I'm actually hoping you do more with this. I'd like to read more. So many questions like
    Who are the Ancients?
    What's with living in space?
    How are they monotheistic?
    Who is Hutch?
    Keep after it. And stay strong. What you're doing to care for your dad is godly work.

  2. Thanks Chip. Those are some great question and it forces me to think. Let's see what I can come up with part 2.