To Voyager and Back

To Voyager and Back

A Story by Rob Churchward
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Short story about a Grandfather and his Granddaughter

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To Voyager and back.
“Wish you were coming with us Gramps,” Eva had said before leaping onto my lap massively disrupting this time of rest that I need to recharge my batteries whenever I’m in charge of entertaining her for the afternoon, after a moment or two of fidgeting to get comfy and with her face nestled into my chest it was now time for my arms to slip around her.
“Sweetheart as I’ve explained about a thousand times, you your mom and your pops all need to spend some quality time together without me in the way. Believe me little one the place where you guys are going I guarantee you will love at least a million per cent.”
“If you say so Gramps…” her lovely little voice said with a slight trace of sadness.
Eva is my one and only grandchild my beautiful dearest granddaughter. 
Aged four and a bit years she was the centre of my universe and I love her more than words could ever say and I’m happy to say she loves her old Gramps almost as much. 
It’s a thing between us that when either one says “I love you”…we’ll both add…“to Voyager and back,” then excitedly she would likely grab a hold of my mobile phone input the pin and on the home screen press the NASA icon and be taken straight to the website to look at the information of the speed and distance the spacecraft has travelled since it’s launch way back in the mid-seventies. 
Eva never ceases to amaze me and her parents that’s Halle my daughter and Rupert my son-in-law, another thing she’ll do and she’s been doing this since she could barely walk and that’s unclip the bracelet on my trusty age old wristwatch take it off of me and go straight to the alarm set it for either 5 minutes or 10 minutes and then every time it rings we have a kiss and a hug.
She also has a wonderful sense of humour and is for most of the time laughing either at me or her parents, yes my little Eva is a sophisticated mixture of brains, beauty of person and fun.
“Gramps?” she asked thoughtfully,
“Mmm” I murmured,
“Because I’m going away for so long, will you forget about me?”
“Oh my baby girl, how could I ever forget you, I’ll be thinking of you every minute of every day and besides you’ll only be gone for five days and I’ve promised your mum and dad that I’ll phone and talk to you every evening before you go to bed.”
“Goody goody, I love falling asleep listening to you talking or reading,” she said shifting her position slightly to snuggle up just that little bit closer and of course I had to squeeze her just that little bit tighter.
“You know lovely one, every so often in my mind I’m going to imagine cuddling you. Got to make sure though I’m not out shopping at the time otherwise the other shoppers will think I’m a right silly old fool standing there in the middle of a shop kissing and cuddling fresh air.”
“I love you silly Gramps,” with that she turned round stretched her head up and kissed my cheek,
“And I love you too,” we both looked at each other and after a few moments of each daring the other to say it first but instead as more often than not we said it both together,
“To Voyager and back!” then we both dissolved into a fit of the giggles until Halle’s voice from the hallway shouted out, “Haven’t you two said your goodbyes yet?  it’s time for us to go.”
“Ok Mumpy I’m ready now.” Eva called back as she climbed down off of my lap.

“Ok then Dad we’ll see you in a couple of days time, but if you need to get hold of us well you got our number anyway, you take great care of yourself and enjoy the peace and quiet, it won’t be long before we’re back and I know little missy here will have lots to tell you,”
“I’m going to be fine, a bit of ‘me’ time is always a good thing to have, you all have a fantastic time. 
Oh yes! and don’t forget to pick up your husband from the office on the way,”
“I knew there was something else we had to do,” she turned in her seat and tickled a laughing Eva’s belly as she told her that Daddy can walk as he needs the exercise.
Waving and blowing a kiss to the occupants of the car as it drove off the drive and down the road, the sight making my heart sink just a little.
“It’s only mid-afternoon, so what shall we do?” I asked Katie while tickling her under the chin. Katie has been our family Cat since way back when, love her dearly and so does Eva who spends a great deal of time playing with her. 
I can remember the day clearly as if it was earlier today when my late and very beloved wife Mary chose her from a litter that a Cat belonging to one of her friends at work had produced.
Black with a white blob on her neck and chest, she is a beauty and a constant reminder to me of the loss of my Mary.
It was to be a quiet cup of coffee followed by a couple of hours in the garden to do a bit of grass-cutting, some general tidying-up and of course my surprise project.
I just couldn’t believe how quickly the grass had grown and in such a short space of time too. It had taken best part of an hour to cut, but now the electric mower had been cleaned oiled and put away in the shed, it was a good time for a coffee break. 
Katie came over to where I was sitting on the garden bench and jumped up to get a bit of attention, does she sense that maybe I’m a bit down after having said a fond farewell to both my girls?
The next hour and a half was spent working on the new project that I wanted to surprise Eva with…a small telescope in it’s own little shed. 
An old dilapidated and derelict tool shed that hadn’t been used in a long time had now undergone a total rebuild, all it needed now was a coat of paint and maybe the addition of a few home comforts and then me and my girl would have our very own observatory. 
For us to view the heavens now all we have to do is slide a roof panel sideways and poke out the optical equipment and then in the comfort of our snug little home from home gaze in wonder at the Universe, well our little dot of it anyway. 
Tomorrow the last few bits would be done and then by the time little one gets back it’ll be ready for her to look and wonder at the beauty of nature in all it’s magnificent, heavenly glory.

The evening meal was one that Halle had prepared for me…lasagne and chips, “It really don’t get much better than this,” I said forcing myself to swallow this last mouthful of this minced beef cheese and Tomato pasta masterpiece. 
It was a done thing that most of the times we go out for a meal me and Rupert my son-in-law and friend would end up with a Lasagne, we were huge fans!
Moving off into the lounge I turned on the TV and flicked through the entire listing of programmes on the Sky platform but was unable to find anything of any interest and so stuck it on to a channel playing music videos from the 1980’s.
It felt so good to relax these 56 year old bones and muscles, have to say for my years I’m still very active and mentally firing on all cylinders and some say looking at least ten years younger than I actually am.
My thoughts turned to my own happiness, in particular when Rupert and Halle first approached me about selling their property and moving in with me so that they could use the money and borrow the remainder to set themselves up in business as freelance computer chip designers and producers of specialized security CB’S, well I knew that they were exceedingly good at what they do, I mean you only have to see the amount of work they do for British and American security forces and you can also throw in the Australians, Canadians, French and Germans as well. 
I had no qualms about piling in with my compensation money to save them talking to banks or whoever for a loan. 
I had told them that when the money from the business comes rolling in, “You don’t want to disrupt Eva by moving out so you stay living here and I’ll find somewhere else?” I was told in no uncertain terms by all three that my place was here alongside them, “Besides this house is yours, it should be us moving out and anyway it would break Eva’s heart to lose her day to day contact with you and mine as well, so it’s settled then, this family unit stays intact,” Halle said all defiant like as Rupert standing shoulder to shoulder with his wife nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

Time seemed to be dragging until the seven o clock alarm on my watch buzzed to remind me of a phone call I needed to make.
“Hi my beautiful girl, how’s it going?”
“Gramps this is so cool, we went swimming and then we went on some dodgy cars Pops was driving our dodgy car and Mumpy was in hers and we kept bumping into each other it was so funny and not scary at all,” she took a deep breath and that was my cue to get a word in.
“It certainly sounds like your having lots and lots of fun sweetheart,”
“Yes we are all having a good time but yuk! pops and mumpy are always holding hands and kissing it‘s so embarrassing.”
“Well that’s a really good thing it shows that they are both happy, relaxed and most important of all in love with each other. The best thing you can do is to throw your arms around them and tell them both how much you love them.”
“Mmm,” was her not-to-impressed response.
“Right then missy are you ready for me to read or do you just want to talk?”
“Well I am very tired so can you read to me please.”
“Of course, Ok then this story is about a young girl who goes fishing with her father.”
I was about to start the third page when I heard her exhale loudly, a sure sign she had fallen asleep.
“Goodnight sweetheart, happy dreams, love you to Voyager and back.” Halle’s voice then came on the line, 
“She’s fast asleep dad as always thank you,”
“My pleasure, so how’s this centre park place?”
“Brilliant, one of your better ideas dad,”
“You sound as tired as little missy so I’ll say goodnight and I hope tomorrow is as enjoyable as today obviously has been.”
“Cheers dad goodnight, talk to you tomorrow.”

A shower to wash away the heat of the day and I was ready for bed, not bothering to put on the TV I just lay down and at the instant my head touched the pillow so began my descent into what would be a deep rewarding sleep part 1.
The clock was reading 3.46 and I’ve woken up for my usual early morning Pee, for some reason my mind had decided to fill itself with a thousand and one thoughts and visuals of my beautiful and still so badly missed late wife Mary. 
The need to go was now imperative, once out of bed I stumbled my way across the bedroom out through the door and then down to the bathroom, even half asleep I couldn’t help but notice how much darker than usual  everything seemed. 
Urination finished I made my way back to the peace and sanctuary of my  bed. 
All snuggled up under the duvet and with the wonderful memories of Mary giving me a spiritual inner warmth I soon began to drift back off. 
At the precipice and about to fall headlong into the abyss of deep rewarding sleep part 2 when a scary realisation pulled me back with a jolt…I’m being observed, one hundred per cent being watched by someone. 
But there was no fear more a feeling of reassurance, filled with this woozy almost drunk like sensation I pulled the duvet over my head curled myself up into a ball and said a silent prayer of thanks to Mary for watching over me. 
The part of my mind that was still thinking with some degree of clarity and rationality recalled an article recently read about individuals claiming that loved ones who had passed had paid them a visit from the spirit world, is this what I’m experiencing?
Then a thought struck in my muddled mind and that was how about I reach over to the window and pull the curtains open just enough to let more light in and see for myself if I had indeed been joined by her, surely that simple task would prove decisively whether I was either awake or dreaming. 
My arm slowly moving away from the comfort and warmth of my body heat soon experienced a sudden change of temperature as it met the cooler air coming in through the night vent of the window which confirmed my wide-awake status  .  
Feeling the cold air inside my throat as I inhaled and then inside my lungs as they inflated, I could see through the window that outside the half moon was shining brightly illuminating the trees and bushes in the garden also reflecting off the newly painted white fence and double gates. I was now to put it mildly in a state of high anticipation bordering on excitement.
Turning around there was now enough light to see that I was sadly completely  alone.
There was no way I was going to get back off to sleep in this truly bizarre  state of mind so I decided a shower and a hot beverage was needed.

In the bathroom under the hot steaming shower the tears had been flowing as thoughts of just how much I was still missing Mary stung my still fragile mind. 
Drying myself off I quickly sprayed on some deodorant, slipped on my dressing gown and went downstairs to sit quietly with a hot drink and hopefully rationalise and make some kind of sense of this nights events.
Katie appeared displeased with the interruption to her sleep and came wandering over to me only stopping to stretch and give the largest yawn I’d ever seen her do.
“Katie you would not believe what happened earlier, I think Mary paid me a visit and yes I know full well that she is no longer with us, but I know for sure I was being watched. ”
“It wasn‘t your late wife observing you,” a male voice spoke from behind me, in that fraction of a second adrenaline and other assorted hormones had flooded into my system enough to mobilise the entire British Army, I span around not knowing what I would find as Katie crouched with her fur standing on end and her back arched hissing at the figure. 
Dressed completely in black he was more like a silhouette the only colour being the light reflecting off of his shiny white skin, but it was his eyes that caught the attention, they were a pure brilliant white the iris on both a deep blood red, making my heart rate and blood pressure increase even more, not afraid to say I was scared, bloody pooping my pj’s scared.    
 
“Who are you?” I demanded ignoring the fear and panic that was dangerously close to taking me over.”
“I’m the Overlooker, bet you wished you hadn’t asked now huh,” he half laughed while those deathly eyes bored into me.”
“How did you get in here? the place is locked up tighter than…well what do you want, there’s no money here!”
“I haven’t come here for money, I come for a commodity worth much more than money, more than all the money on this world and all other worlds there may be.” 
Edging my way towards the kitchen I was about to open the cutlery drawer and grab the biggest and sharpest knife I possess, when his words stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Don’t bother going for the knife, it wouldn’t have any effect on me, look.” He lifted up his arm and with the other swatted it with his hand which passed straight through it.
“Oh my god your like a ghost or something, how about you just go the way you came and leave me alone.”
“Nah can’t do that, you see you mean a lot to me or at least what you can do means a lot to me,”
“Look I really don’t get what your saying so please just go, the dead of night isn’t really the right time to be visiting folk.”
Ok I accept your not glad to see me, but we do have to talk, this is serious and important.”
“What do you mean serious and important?”
“Just that, listen as the Overlooker it’s my job to…I think it’s best I show you, have no fear no harm will come to you, trust me, Ok?”
All I could think was that he could so easily have overcome me and yet he hasn’t made any kind of threatening move, something is telling me that yes he means me no harm and that I can trust him, also the fact that so far this night has been off the scale in weirdness, so I answered, 
“I don’t understand, but Ok.” 
As my words came out so everything began to turn darker the whole of our surroundings appeared to be slowly blurring melting away as if we were moving out of range of our sight, soon there was nothing but total blackness and all I could see was the white of his eyes and the piercing red of his iris, still I felt no fear from him or about what was happening to us.
The blackness began to lighten as things came into focus it was then that I began to feel not fear but some kind of extreme anxiety through the not knowing of what or where the hell I was.
“That’s exactly where we are,” he said before continuing,
“On your world you believe that when you die you either go to heaven or hell, well welcome to hell!”
“Have I just died, is that what the darkness was?” I asked looking ahead and seeing something so far off the scale that I was absolutely lost from not  having a reference point to match what I’m seeing against.
“No, you are very much alive,” the Overlooker reassured me.
It seems like I’m in a outer space kind of environment, all around is a darkness, but now far in front of us is what appears to be a large hole with an enormous cloud of light, now we are closer I can see that this cloud is made up of billions and billions of pinpricks of light that appear to be slowly circling around it. 
“Where are we and what is this?” Questions to which he answered.
“As I said this is what you call hell, those pinpricks of light are actually the spirits or souls of the people who didn’t quite make the cut.”
“The cut?” I asked.
“Yes the cut, you see they lived lives of zero evolution in fact some went backwards and actually de-evolved, yes in that cloud those souls will forever re-live their lives, their failures, their missed opportunities, they are the unfulfilled ones doomed to forever circle around the opening but never able to enter.”
“If those unfortunate souls are the failures, what happens to the ones who evolved, the winners.” I asked.
“You see that place they are grouped around?” 
“What the big hole?”
“If you must address it as such, but it’s the gateway to another life on a higher plane where they will continue to evolve until they reach perfection and by then they will have evolved into pure energy without the need for anything, that is the heaven that you all seek.” 
“So heaven isn’t a place, it’s a state of evolution.”
“Correct.”
“So why have you brought me here?”
“Because a wrong needs to be righted and it is sadly only you that can achieve this.”
“What wrong needs to be righted?”
“Mary was very well evolved and should have by right been moved up to a higher plane, but because of you and the strength of the bond you shared she did not move on, somehow she returned, let us go and continue our talk in the comfort of your home.”
Within a blink of an eye we we’re back in my kitchen seated beside the table where my coffee was still warm.
“Mary is alive! where is she, will I find her, meet her, can we continue our lives together?”
“You already have contact with her, she is Eva.”
“No…no surely not, please say that’s not true, my love for Mary is different than my love for Eva and to know who she really is…no I cannot and will not live with that, you must do something.”
“The only thing I can do to balance things up is to accept a life, are you willing to give yours?”
“What! I have to give my life so that Mary can live on as Eva?”
“Yes that will satisfy me and restore the balance,”
“But…but…lets talk.”
As the sun began rising in the sky and the world began to brighten so I returned to my bed. 
Being both mentally and physically drained I soon fell to sleep.

It had rained during the night and even now at this time of midday the ground  was still wet the grass beginning to sparkle as the sun grew stronger having  almost burned it’s way through the layers of clouds. 
Rupert had his arm protectively around Halle with Eva tucked between the both of them, the three standing still like statues each wearing a pained expression as tears rolled down their faces. 
Family and friends had backed away to give the young family space to say their final farewells to the dearly loved father and grandfather. 
It was Rupert who spoke first,
“He left us so early, so much more life left in him, just wish we were with him, it’s painful knowing that while we were enjoying ourselves…well this happened,” Halle responded with,
“So many people have said “Dying in his sleep, at least he didn’t feel the pain from the heart attack,” but maybe if we were there we could have somehow known and…and,” Halle burst into another round of crying as Rupert’s arm around her shoulders squeezed even more tighter as if he was sending her his strength love and energy to bolster her tremendously draining upset as Eva held on even tighter to her mothers leg.
Eva looked up at her parents and tearfully asked,
“Will I always feel this sad and will I always cry when I think of Gramps.”
Rupert let go of Halle’s shoulder and ignoring the muddy grass kneeled and ran his hand through Eva’s fine blonde hair in the process sweeping back a few stray strands from off her face.
“We are all feeling the same way sweetheart, but I promise you as the days and weeks pass our pains will ease and then we will remember all the good times and the millions of laughs your Grandfather left with us, always remember you, me, mummy, we all carry memories of him in our hearts and with just a thought we can in our minds make him appear and then re-live all those happy times.” Standing up his arm wrapped around his wife once more as his hand remained on his daughters head, stroking and soothing.
Undetectable by even the most sophisticated of present day instruments, a spirit energy materialised just behind the grieving family.
At the same instant that the sun broke through the last of the clouds sending shafts of light to illuminate the area surrounding them, both Halle and Eva jumped as if shocked followed a second later by Rupert, instantly tired, strained and sad faces became surprised faces and then beaming, smiling faces, an emotional and excited Halle spoke first,
“I can feel him, he‘s here with us,”
“So can I mommy, he is everywhere,” Eva squealed as she slowly turned around in a unsteady circle,
“Me too, I can even smell his Old Spice aftershave, Oh lord  I remember him saying a while back that if necessary he’d negotiate with god almighty himself to be always near to us, Ha! he’s done just that,” Rupert confessed.
“Gramps I love you,” Eva called out,” now through tears of joy and happiness,
“Love you my wonderful, dearest friend and incredible father,” Halle called,
“And I love you my father-in-law, with all the respect and admiration possible,” then as if prompted all three shouted together…”To Voyager and back.” 
Turning and walking away Eva whispered quietly,
“Love you,” and then mouthed the words…thank you my dearest husband.

*********

© 2022 Rob Churchward


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Added on October 10, 2022
Last Updated on October 10, 2022
Tags: Short story, fiction, fantasy weird.

Author

Rob Churchward
Rob Churchward

Clacton-On-Sea, Essex, United Kingdom



About
Never fully grew up and to this day much prefer hanging out in my dream world. Two wonderful grown up kids who never cease to amaze me with their beauty of spirit. We used to write stories togethe.. more..

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