Readers Gazette Short Stories


Short Story The Last Rocketman

The Last Rocketman by John Pirillo Fantasy short story

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He stood at the top of Mount Everest, his rocket suit shining a metallic green in the harsh light of the dusk. He was exhausted, beaten up and weary. He had done as much as any one man could ever be expected to accomplish. And yet it hadn't been enough. He still wasn't able to stem the tide of evil sweeping across the world and slowly, but surely stomping on every spot of Light that remained unblemished by the virus of hatred led by Hitler and his regime.
What had gone wrong?
What had he done then, that he could have done differently?

“Jet! I'm getting a very strange reading.”
“What's new?” Jet's voice rang in his ears from the inserted receivers.
“No. I mean...really, really strange.”
Harry adjusted his altitude and attitude controls, leveling out after his rocketing plunge from the stratospheric heights...his usual ploy to remain unseen until the last possible moment before he attacked his targets. For some reason the targets were getting harder to spot, and faster in eluding him. That wasn't a good thing.
“That isn't a good thing” Jet echoed his thoughts.
“What? Oh yeah. Right” Harry answered, his eyes focusing on the blurry blip before him. He adjusted his altitude and again plunged deeper into the lower strata of clouds that still veiled the American skies. There were more clouds these days since Hitler had nuked Las Vegas. The one town he had left untouched, even though he had taken out Nellis and Area 51 decades before in his initial attack. He had saved the nukes for the larger cities. Evidently some of his generals had convinced the Fuehrer that gambling was a waste of bombs.
“I see something” Harry hollered, not meaning to.
“Easy on the ear drums, Harry. Remember. You're right in my brain”
“Sorry, Jet”
“What you see”
Harry swept through the final layer of clouds over the Mojave Desert and then almost wet his pants at what he saw. Huge towering constructions of metal and highly polished mirrors that stood dozens of stories into the air. The whole complex he was reading was off the charts.
“They've got some kind of weird energy structure built”
“Tez it back to me”
Harry nudged the Tez camera and shots of the desert structures began to line up on Jet's screen back at the base. Einstein and Tesla eyed them solemnly. “They've managed to do it”
“Do what” Jet almost hollered at them, totally confused by the odd looking structures.
Einstein leaned over Jet's mike. “Harry, you've got to take them out. Now”
“What are they, Al” Harry's voice rang throughout the base.
Everyone was watching what he saw through his external Tez on huge screens about the interior of the base. When Harry fought, everyone supported him in prayer and anticipation, because the war effort hinged on whatever he did next. It had come to that.
“Your worst nightmare...and mine” Einstein almost gasped.
Jet looked at him. Al looked back and shook his head. “I'm all right. Chest cold”
Al leaned closer to the mike. “Harry, if those are activated they will create a screen of energies over America which are impenetrable to anything we have. We won't be able to pursue them there anymore”
“I assume they must be doing the same on the other continents” Harry sighed.
“Count on it” Tesla barged in, grabbing the mike.
“See the central tower”
Harry angled his helmet to glance to his right. “Loud and clear”
“It's the one you must take down for certain. It's the power hub”
“Are you sure” Harry asked. “I don't see any soldiers around that tower at all”
“It's a trick, Harry” Tesla blasted. “You know they're good for that”
“But what if their trick is to leave the real thing guarded, not the one that isn't”
“It has to be the power hub. The rest of the towers are too diminished. They have to be the ones that feed the energy screen once the power is added”
Harry shook his head as best he could in his helmet. “I have a bad feeling about this”
“You always do, Harry” Jet kidded.
“Suppose” Harry acknowledged. “But something stinks to Nazi hell about this”
Harry sent his suit into a sweeping arc of the complex. As he did he was able to see the complex better, weigh the positions of the guards. “They do look pretty nervous. The guards. I would too if I were standing in front of machines about to blast the skies with mega joules of power”
Al took the mike back. “Harry, you've got to take out the large tower. It has to be the source of power”
Tesla took the mike away from Al. “No. It's the smaller ones. Leave the larger one be. Take out as many of the smaller structures as you can”
Jet looked at the two scientists, took the mike away from Al. “Harry, this has to be your call”
Harry began to sweat profusely, even though the interior of his suit was a cool seventy degrees. “This really, really stinks”
“Okay. Al I'm going to take out the big tower”
Harry launched towards the larger structure. He let go with a barrage of his hand missiles. Below Nazi Storm Troopers looked up at the sound of the approaching rockets. Then they looked towards the large tower. As the missiles struck it, there were no explosions. The large tower shimmered for a moment and the missiles passed through it.
“Harry, get out of there. Get out of there now” Jet screamed at him.
Harry lit his rockets and shot upwards in arc of power.
Even as he did the smaller structures began to light up one by one, like Christmas tree lights. The soldiers below rushed away from the structures they had been sent to guard and turned to look, cheering and triumphant as the towers spewed massive forces of energy that gathered together in a swirling funnel, vortex of massive energies that slowly expanded upwards and outwards.
“Come on, baby” Harry coaxed his suit, giving it everything he had as his rear Tez showed him the inverted bowl of energies flaming upwards towards him.
“Harry”
“Jet. Calm down. Worst that can happen is that I'll get stuck here. This suit can handle anything”
“No Harry” Al hollered, taking the mike. “It'll fry every electronic in your suit. You'll fall like the dead piece of metal you'll become”
“Damn, don't go easy on me, Al. I gotta enough to handle” Harry spouted comically.
Then beneath his breath. “Come on, baby. Come on”
The sheathes of furious energies closed in on Harry as his rocket suit climbed higher and higher. “You didn't tell me those things could reach into the stratosphere”
“We didn't know. Till now” Al told him.
Harry looked behind him and the energies were hot on his heels and closing fast.
He felt the heat of them through his suit, even with the cooling now turned up sky-high. He kicked at the air beneath him, as if that would help, then grinned. “Idiot”
“Harry”
“Not you guys! Me”
Harry angled his suit and gave it full power towards the rapidly rising curtains of energy that threatened to engulf him.
“What the hell are you doing, Harry”
“Playing out a hunch”
Harry gathered speed. The glare of the waves of energy smote his eyes so powerfully that he had to raise the sunshield to protect his eyes. Even so, he could barely see. He eyed his sensors. “Closing in fast”
“Harry turn around. You'll fry”
“Maybe”
Harry did what was probably the most stupid thing he had ever done in his life. He fired his hand missiles into the conflagration about to overwhelm him. For just the briefest of moments as the missiles exploded, the energy bubble wavered.
Rocketman burst through the narrow opening and shot across the skies beneath the flaming canopy of catastrophic forces.
Harry swiped the sweat on his face with an invisible hand that did absolutely nothing to get it off his face, but he still relaxed. “It worked, Jet”
Static.
“Jet”
Static.
Harry frowned, then realized he was cut off.
He did the only sane thing he could at that point. He headed for the Pacific. Maybe the shield didn't go deep. He could.

Harry stood on the top of Mount Everest. From there he could see the towering, overarching shields of energy that enveloped Asia, Europe and the Americas. They were so large and massive and so bright and terrible that not even daylight could hide their horrible magnificence.
The Nazis had done it. They had finally won the war.
There was no way he could effectively stop them now. The continents were sealed. He had managed to escape beneath the dome over the Americas, hoping to return the same way, but soon afterwards the Nazi Command had extended the dome to include at least ten miles of offshore sea as well.
He was permanently and effectively locked out of America, Europe and Asia.
There was nothing more he could do.
He couldn't even speak to his friends in the Alps.
He stood on the peak of Mount Everest, storms of snow blasting around him and didn't care. There had to be something he could do. Something he could do to change this horrible course of history.
For there would be no more Rocketman. He knew his friends. He knew their abilities. His suit was the last one they could build with the resource they had. The jump suits didn't have enough reach and would run out of power once they were unable to secure more supplies from the Americas. Which was now. This day.
The resistance was over.
Sure, there would still be pockets of resistance. But inevitably, they would be crushed.
He rubbed at his eyes in a futile gesture, but his armored hands could only thunk the hardened glass of his faceplate.
Alone, like a Superman cast off from Krypton, he stood on Mount Everest, again and again trying to figure out what he could have done differently. Then he heard this weird sound. He turned around and looked up. It was Rocketman! Arching down from above, blasting way merrily on its twin thrusters of powerful forces.
“How” He asked.
Then a voice rang in his ears. “You're not the last Rocketman, you big jerk! Stop thinking with your emotions and use your brains”
Then the second Rocketman, the one that should not have existed, vanished as if it had never been there.
Harry stared at the empty skies a long time, his Rocketman suit pounded by the almost hurricane force of the winds and snow about him. He finally looked towards the horizon where the glowing domes lit up the skies.
The last Rocketman?
He grinned. “I don't think so”
He raised his arms and shot up into the sky, accelerating faster and faster. He remembered now. What he had tucked back into the interior of his subconscious. There was a way. A way to get back. To change things.
He shot upwards, higher and higher.
He had tested the theory one other time and it hadn't worked. But then he had chosen the situation and it hadn't been a true risk of his life. This time it was. Whenever he was in mortal danger. About to die, the timelines blurred and he was translated into an alternate timeline. It was his one and only chance.
He took it.
He arced around and shot like the rocket he was towards the nearest of the huge domes of energy. “Well, Harry, no one lives forever” He cried out as he shot at the nearest of the domes at a speed that broke the sound barrier over and over.

Jet laid down his hand, grinning at Harry, while Al smiled from his side of the table and Tesla from his. They were playing poker. “I win”
He had three aces and two kings.
Harry slammed down his cards. “You're cheating”
Jet spread his hands calmly. “Since when have I ever had to cheat at anything, Harry”
Al stood up and then Tesla.
“Good night, gentleman” Al said, exiting towards the right from the cafeteria they sat inside of.
Tesla swept his chips into a hand and pocketed them. He looked to Jet. “Tomorrow night”
“As always”
Tesla nodded to him, then to Harry and rushed to catch up to Al, whom he put an arm around his shoulder.
Harry heard them both laughing and gave them an angry scowl.
“Harry! Lighten up! It's not like you're facing death or anything”
Harry froze for a moment, the flash of huge columns of flaming energy burning in his vision, and just as quickly as the vision flared, it vanished. He let go of his anger. “Sorry, it's just the stress catching up, I think”
Jet swiped all his chips into his hat, then stood. “Spoken like the man you truly are. Have a good one, Harry”
He strode off, leaving Harry pondering the meaning of his vision for a long time. Finally, Harry also rose. He yawned. “It's been a long day” So saying, he headed for his room. Enough thinking. Enough...everything!

Below the dome a Nazi WarWing was roaring towards its destination. The co-pilot excitedly pointed upwards. “Something's striking the dome”
The pilot looked and shook his head. “Probably another one of those meteorites”
The co-pilot nodded. “Nothing could ever pass through those monstrosities. Not even us”
They both laughed.
The Nazi War Wing banked and headed for its destination, the lone disruption of the shield above forgotten and filed away as just another meteorite strike.
It was their first and final mistake as a barrage of missiles stroke their WarWing and it exploded.
Rocketman shot through the exploding debris of the demolished plane and headed for the Pacific on a mission to return home.

To see more of John Pirillo's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit John Pirillo's Website.

Images used for the story are from John Pirillo

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He stood at the top of Mount Everest, his rocket suit shining a metallic green in the harsh light of the dusk. He was exhausted, beaten up and weary. He had done as much as any one man could ever be expected to...

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