The first thing I noticed upon my departure was a gorgeous ‘52 Ford Mustang, sky blue, with the optional Anti-Grav Drive © . The fine folks at Ford were the first to put the technology that trickled down from the development of the EmDrive to good use in a civilian vehicle. By 2052, the tech was tried and true and the Mustang was one hell of a car. The option to remove the rubber from the road boosted gas mileage to amazing levels, without sacrificing power or performance. The electric car, which had made such progress, was once again on the ropes.
The second thing I noticed was the raven haired angel leaning lightly against the fantastic car, her eyes focused on her Apple iScreen. She detected my arrival and the screen retracted back into a pen shaped tube which she placed in her purse. She stepped away from the Mustang and approached me with a smile on her inviting face. I still remember watching her as she neared me, the sway of her hips through her black pencil skirt, the careless way she tossed her hair back and adjusted her tight suit coat in such a way that allowed me a glimpse of her cleavage. It was nice. I looked at her with a hunger born of starvation. At that moment I was certain I had never seen such a beauty. Of course, to a starving man, any morsel of food causes salivation. Regardless, she was a looker.
“James Ratabaugh?” She asked in a musical voice, her hand extended toward me in greeting.
“You can call me Jimmy,” I answered with a smile, taking her hand lightly in my own. I considered kissing it, but decided that would have been a bit much.
“My name is Rosalie Chase, Mr. Ratabaugh, and I represent The Fellowship of Man,” she stated through her smile, her light pink lips were just a little wet, a delicious frame for her perfectly white teeth.
“The church group that makes all those tests we take in there?” I gestured at the prison. “What would they want with me?” I asked, truly perplexed.
One of the programs offered to the prisoners of the Alaska State Penitentiary, and I assume many other such fine establishments, was sponsored by The Fellowship of Man and was billed as “spiritual rehabilitation”. I attended the classes and took all the tests, not because I’m some kind of born again fanatic, but because prison is a mind numbingly boring place. That is why you won’t hear any more mention of my time there other than this short passage. It was a real downer. Anyway, I took every class and attended every group that I was able, not just the church stuff. I went to AA, NA, knitting (that didn’t last long, I’d hate to be the dipshit that approved giving felons knitting needles), cognitive therapy group; you name it, I did it. It was the best way to pass the time.
I have to admit that the Fellowship of Man class was one of my all time favorites. I took perverse pleasure in imagining some prissy bible banger reviewing the answers to my questions and squirming in discomfort, all the while judging my soul as condemned to hellfire.
The questions were always multiple choice and provided a fact pattern that created a moral quandary, followed by options of how one would act in the given scenario. Here is an example:
You are invited to restaurant by some older friends (you’re only 19) and they proceed to imbibe alcoholic beverages. You notice an intoxicated patron from the next table stumbling back from the bar. The patron drops his/her identification card without realizing it. You notice the patron bears a passing resemblance to you. Do you:
A) Pick up the ID card and return it to its rightful owner,
B) Ignore the situation entirely,
C) Laugh at the drunkard’s state of inebriation and leave the card,
D) Covertly take the ID for yourself and order a drink.
I’m a D) man myself, perhaps with a bit of C) thrown in, but I would definitely have that card. Hell, even if it didn’t look like me, I’d still take the card and sell it to someone else. The tests never provided space for further elaboration, however. That was probably a good choice considering the target audience. But I digress, my point is, my answers to such questions; honestly answered, certainly did not align me with the God Squad. I told Rosalie Chase as much.
“What do you want with me?” I asked her, hoping I could draw the conversation out so that I could enjoy the sight of her petite frame as long as possible.
“We at the Fellowship of Man believe in second chances, Mr. Ratabaugh. Our prison outreach group works hard to find employment opportunities for parolees such as yourself.”
“A job? You don’t say? Well, that is a welcome surprise.” A chance at a straight gig? I figured her words were too good to be true, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to feel out the situation, especially with such an enticing companion. Looking back on the encounter, I have to give the Fellowship credit, I most likely would have blown off a male representative.
“Yes, well you have certain skills in which the Fellowship has particular interest. It would be a shame to see them wasted.” She said with her fantastic smile, her eyes sultry.
“You’re referring to my natural charm and rugged good looks, no doubt.” I stated with swagger, giving her my best ruffian’s grin. Church chicks love dangerous guys.
Her red lips parted in that smile I craved and she emitted a tinkle of laughter.
“I was referring to your piloting skills, mainly,” she corrected. “Before you made your decision to relieve the United States Space Corp of a few of its ships, you made quite a name for yourself as a pilot. In addition, your test scores indicate you are a leader of men, and we are in need of such people to pilot our Seeder ships.”
“A leader of men, eh? Can’t say I’ve ever been accused of that before,” was my reply. Clearly, their tests needed some adjustment. “I’ve never been good with politics, ma’am.”
Another laugh escaped her, causing me to feel ridiculous elation. She had me for sure.
“It’s not a figurehead we want, we have plenty of those. We want someone who can pilot a ship and captain a small crew.”
“Lady, in case you haven’t noticed, me and my ‘crew’ ended up in this fine establishment.” I gestured behind me to the imposing government facility.
“Yes, but you weren’t leading that crew. Were you?” She cocked her head with a sly smile that warmed the front of my jeans. I found myself aching to get to know her.
“Exactly. You know why? Because I’m not a leader. I’m a company man. I do what I’m told.”
“We think once you get a taste of it, you’ll enjoy leadership,” was her coy reply.
Rosalie drove me and my plastic bag of belongings in her beautiful Mustang to a Fellowship owned hotel in Anchorage. There, she did a masterful job convincing me to fall in step with the Fellowship. Now, I am not one to kiss and tell, but when I say ‘masterful job’, I mean she released my long closed floodgates. And by that I mean we had sex. Lots of sex. It was awesome. But this is no romance novel, so I am not going to fill these pages with tawdry descriptions of heaving bosoms, aching loins, and sweat glistened body parts. I just thought it was important to record the fact that we did it, and that she loved it.
Again, I digress. Rosalie Chase was right. I did like heading a crew. The Fellowship of Man was shrewd in sending Rosalie to collect me. They knew just how to stroke my ego and pull my strings to make me dance to their music. But I was right too. I was (and still am, really) a company man. I am confident that they knew that already. Indeed, they were counting on it.
To be Continued