© Yael Mermelstein 2018. Lovingly handcrafted by Amrita.

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Separate Orbits

Action...Adventure...Intrigue...and a whole lot of heart - a sci-fi thriller Baylee Brenner's face doesn't look like everyone else's face - a fact she's been living with all her life,but which takes on much more import when it comes time to find her soul mate. When the first shomer Shabbos shuttle to Planet Myazma is announced, the Brenners see an opportunity for Baylee to find her match through a completely different model of dating. But the issues on Myazma are more than skin deep. The Zygode is up to nefarious things, his Zygoons are mindlessly doing his bidding, and honest citizens are being sent to The Edge, some of them never heard from again. And what Baylee discovers about herself on Myazma is enough to send her spinning into a completely different orbit. Action...Adventure...Intrigue...and a whole lot of heart - Separate Orbits is the new sci-fi thriller by Yael Mermelstein, popular author of A Fragile Thread, Chutes and Ladders, and Petalsamong many other riveting titles.

Prologue

This is a paid Advertorial

Due to popular demand, The Americana Shuttle is sponsoring its first ever Shomer Shabboss trip to the Myazma Star in Galaxy 8. The price for tickets will be $50,000 per person. Transportation, food and lodging by frum Myazman families will be included in the price. The Americana Shuttle has room for only eight passengers and this will be a single run trip. This trip has the haskama of many Rabbanim as the Americana Shuttle upholds the strictest safety standards. Candidates must be in optimal health. For more information about the shomer Shabboss tour please call Mel Shudminsky at 654-555-3276 or email planetmel@myazma.com. More detailed information will follow in future issues of Neitz Magazine.

               

Emory Lane, Earth

Baylee Brenner

                If Baylee had to choose the inanimate object that she’d least like to be friends with, she’d definitely vote for the mirror. Mirrors show nothing of our souls and everything of what’s covering them. But she had no choice but to primp in front of the hallway mirror as Dovid Shane was coming to meet her parents in – oh goodness where in the world did she leave her watch? She hated when she forget to wear watches on dates. She liked watching how slowly the time passed. Ha! Dates! As if she had so many of them! It had been nearly ten months since the last one.

                “Bay- I think you should wear your hair down,” her mother said as she passed her by. Oh, she was doing that ‘corner of the eye’ thing where she looked at her and didn’t look at her all at the same time, as if that made things better.

                “Ma. It’s not going to change anything.”

                Her mother shivered. She seriously thought she saw her mother shudder, like someone had dropped an ice-cube down her back. She looked at Baylee’s face and to her credit, didn’t turn away. She never did.

                The doorbell rand then Baylee was the one shivering.

                She stopped looking in the mirror and focused on her house instead. Her mother tried to spruce things up every time she went out which was only a yearly occurrence anyway. This week she’d gone out and bought a potted plant. Baylee didn’t know the name of it but it had purple flowers that hadn’t opened yet and she was hoping that wasn’t a bad omen. It didn’t help to cover up the brown carpet which has gone out of style eons ago. It was worn thin in a few places but her mother had covered the most threadbare spot with the plant. And she’d picked up a few new picture frames at Wal-Mart this week and hung some family portraits to mask some of the holes in the walls.

                She only prayed her mother didn’t serve with Alter Bubby’s fruit bowl. She had this thing about that fruit bowl – she said it brought some special kind of mazel with it, but that couldn’t possibly be true. She’d been in the Parsha five years already and her mother had been using the fruit bowl all along. It was shaped like a horn, her mother called it a cornucopia, and it had ceramic protrusions coming out of it that looked like horns. If she were served fruit from such a bowl she’d presume it was radioactive. If she were a boy being served fruit from his potential mother-in-law from a cornucopia she’d run for the hills.

                “Do I look okay?” her mother asks her.

                Baylee looked at her mother, her light brown sheitel perfectly flipped and sitting straight against her shoulders, a thin smudge of lipsticks matching the bright stain of excitement in her cheeks.

                “You look excited.”

                “Good,” she said. She took a long, deep, breath. “Well then I suppose someone should call Tatty and let him know that the boy is here.”

                Baylee tread down the hallway like she was walking the plank as her mother went to summon her father. When her father was submerged in his learning he could be in a submarine for all he knew. It actually lent a certain air of relaxation, knowing that her father wasn’t worrying about whether or not she was wearing her shirt tucked in or out or upside down.

                She saw her father hurrying to the door, his Gemara still tucked under his arm. He always forgot to put it away, it was like a third arm.

                Her father was about to open the door when he stopped and looked at her. He raised one thumb in the air and nodded his head. She raise a thumb back. Oh Tatty!

                Then her father opened the door.

 

Shrouded Rings, Myazma

Avigayil Hoffman

 

Gaylie stood at the window, doing absolutely nothing. No, that wasn’t true, she wasn’t doing nothing, she was looking and she was thinking. If that wasn’t something, then she was a woman prone to wasting scads of time. She spent so much time at the window, watching – not just watching though – waiting. She was waiting for. What was she waiting for? She didn’t even know except that she felt the waiting like an irritating tickle.

“Beautiful morning isn’t it?” Kalev said as he simbered into the kitchen, plugging his Simbralata into the charging port. Gaylie refused to use a Simbralata, a point of contention between her husband and herself. He believed that modern conveniences were put into the world in order to be utilized and Gaylie was still attached to the old fashioned notion of fresh air and exercise. As much as the Simbralata claimed to stimulate blood flow and oxygenation it didn’t give her the same feeling.

Gaylie was always all about the feelings.

Kalev leaned against the window next to her.

“That Myaz cloud cover. I never get tired of it. Seriously.”

Kalev was a former Earthian. He came over to Myazma as a teenager with his family. The Hoffman’s weren’t religious so they didn’t have to take any halachic considerations into account when traveling to their star. The family had originally intended to spend an earth summer (and Myazman winter) on their star but they’d ended up connecting with Rabbi Bakst, the biggest kiruv Rabbi in Myazma. By the time they were ready to leave, they realized it was very problematic to travel on Shabboss and the nearly week-long trip encompassing a Shabboss, with freeze dried pork as the main entrée, wasn’t going to cut it. They were stuck in Myazma. Lucky for Gaylie.

“I know. I could stare at it for hours if it weren’t…you know.”

Kalev snorted. “Eh. I don’t believe all the hype. Everything these days causes everything else. If you eat too much, if you don’t eat too much, if you eshcalate, if you don’t eshcalate, if you don’t use the Simbralata…” He wagged his finger at Gaylie as he said this. “I just don’t believe that staring at the Myaz for more than an hour could seriously damage your retinas. Not that I’d tempt fate.”

Gaylie definitely wasn’t one to tempt fate. Not after what she’d been through as a child. Not now that she was a mother herself. She would never knowingly risk any part of herself. Never.

The Myaz was blue this morning, like a thick cotton phantom, coiling itself around their star, hovering a few feet over the ground. Kalev told her that on Earth they had something similar only it was white and thin as milk and it would lift just as suddenly as it came. It was called fog. She’d seen pictures of it in textbooks and it looked like a poor substitute for the roiling, boiling, quilt-like Myaz. It moved like a serpent and Gaylie saw flashes of violet and red fire twisting in its innards.

“It’s angry today,” she said. “I’d planned on going to visit the cemetery this morning after we got the kids off but I don’t want to get stuck in that. I’ve idled in the Myaz for hours when it gets this bad.”

Kalev was already simbering across the kitchen to the percolator.

“Two coffees with cream and milk. One teaspoon sugar,” he spoke into the intercom.

“I don’t think you should go to the cemetery today,” Kalev said.

Gaylie already felt her heart beating just a tiny bit harder.

“And why is that? I presume it must be because of the Myaz?”

Kalev looked at her a tad too long.

“Yeah,” he said. But she saw him hesitate. She missed nothing.

She heard Elisheva kvetching upstairs.

“Ugh,” Kalev said, banging on the coffee machine. I hate when the intercoms get mixed up. It makes me feel like I’m drinking a crying baby. Do me a favor, can you call the Zygo later and report that all of our intercoms are messed up?”

Gaylie took the coffees and placed them on the counter before going to get the kids. Bracha was known to eshcalate over to the percolator and grab on to the coffee which was quite dangerous, even if she was already three years old, as her daughter liked to point out every time she did it.

“I’ll call them but take a number Kalev. The ever efficient Myazman Zygo has been the picture of inefficiency lately. It’s frightening…”

Kalev nodded. “I can’t say it doesn’t concern me too. It’s never a good sign…”

Elisheva was full on crying now. Gaylie turned toward the stairs.

“Take the Simbralata if you’re going upstairs. Please?” Kalev asked.

She sighed and pulled hers out from the port where it had been sitting since yesterday afternoon.

“Fine. But only because I’m a good wife.”

“As I am a good husband.”

She cocked her head to the side.

“Quite,” she said. “And as I mentioned, I’m going to the cemetery today as soon as the Myaz clears.”

Kalev shook his head.

“Let’s not play games Gaylie. You know exactly why I don’t want you to go.”

Elisheva’s crying was coming out of the oven now, a rather macabre little feat. Gaylie would harass the Zygo if she had to until they’d come to fix this monstrosity.

“You can’t live in the past Gaylie.”

Gaylie pretended not to hear him. She eshcalated her Simbralata up the stairs thinking only of how many hours it would take before the Myaz allowed her to get where she needed to go.

 
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