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The Boy With Orange Hair

by Bill Bowler

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 appears
in this issue.
Chapter 2

Gerry lived with his mom, Mrs. Groundhog, in a little house hidden on the bank of the brook. Gerry was a very friendly groundhog and the one thing he had always wanted more than anything was to visit Pluto.

“If you want to go to Pluto,” Gerry said to the boy, “follow me!”

He ran off along the brook bank; crossed over the stream on a fallen tree; scampered through the woods on the other side and finally came to a high chain link fence that surrounded a rocket launch pad. Gerry ran along the fence, came to a spot where the ground was soft, burrowed a hole under the fence and popped up on the other side.

A sleek silver Saturn 9 rocket stood on the launch pad. Gerry ran to the spaceship and climbed up the ladder on the side. The boy with orange hair crawled down through the hole Gerry had dug under the fence, came up on the other side, ran across to the launch pad and followed Gerry up the ladder. They opened the hatch, and crawled inside.

“This is great!” said Gerry the groundhog. “I’ve always wanted to sit in a rocket.”

Just then they heard a booming voice from the speakers in the launch control booth:

“TEN... NINE... EIGHT...”

“Strap yourself in!” said the boy with orange hair and they both fastened their seat belts.

“SEVEN... SIX... FIVE...”

“Oh boy, this is going to be fun!” said Gerry.

“FOUR... THREE... TWO...”

“Hold on tight,” said the boy with orange hair.


The four powerful engines of the Saturn 9 fired on, and smoke and flames shot out from underneath the rocket. It rose slowly up off the launch pad.

“WE HAVE LIFT OFF,” boomed the voice from the loudspeakers.

The rocket rose, faster and faster, 100 feet, 1,000 feet, 10,000 feet. It rose up through the atmosphere, through the stratosphere, up, straight up. Everything was going smoothly when, suddenly, without warning, Engine 1 failed. The rocket shook and rattled and tilted to a 45 degree angle.

“Uh oh,” said Gerry. “What happened?!”

“I’m not sure,” said the boy with orange hair, studying the gauges and dials on the cockpit instrument panel, “but we’re slowing down.”

Just then, Engine 2 failed and the rocket tilted to a 90 degree angle.

“What the heck is going on here?!” shouted Gerry the groundhog.

“I don’t like the looks of this,” said the boy with orange hair. “Our vertical speed indicator reads zero. We’re not climbing. We’re flying sideways.”

Just then, Engine 3 failed and the rocket tilted down to a 135 degree angle heading back towards Earth. Straight ahead, they saw the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas.

“We’re falling!” shouted Gerry the groundhog as the rocket shot downwards back through the stratosphere, back through the atmosphere, back through the clouds towards the mountain range. “We’re going to craaash!”

“Hold on, hold on,” said the boy with orange hair. “Don’t panic.” And he started pushing buttons on the instrument panel. Next to the throttle on the left side of the panel was a big red button marked “Emergency Re-Start.” The rocket was dropping faster and faster and dead ahead they saw the gigantic rock face of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth. In less than ten seconds, the Saturn 9 was going to crash to smithereens on the stone peak.

The boy with orange hair pushed the Emergency Re-start button and held it down tight. Brrrm. Brrrm. Brrrmm. Brrrrmmmm. Engine 1 gauge lit up as Engine 1 fired and tilted the Saturn 9 back up level with the ground. The rocket skimmed across the top of Mt. Everest with one fin just scraping a track through the snow.

The boy pushed the re-start button again and, Brrm Brrmm Brrmmmmm, Engine 2 started up, then Engine 3, and the Saturn 9 was back to full power and climbing. The boy grabbed a hold of the joy stick, pulled it back all the way, pushed the throttle forward to full, and the rocket zoomed back up through the clouds, up through the atmosphere, towards outer space.

“Wow! That was close,” said Gerry the friendly groundhog with a big grin.

“Nothing to it,” said the boy with orange hair.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bowler

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