Who is F.C. Shultz?

F.C. Shultz is the one that got me really going with writing. He is one of my featured artists on the website and I encourage you to support him as well.

In the short time I’ve known him, he has inspired me to pursue things that I didn’t think were a high priority. When I heard that his first book was coming out, I was happy for him. But, it was at one of the artists meetings that we attend that I found out that he writes everyday.

That struck a cord with me. He has a set goal that he strives for daily and I only write when I can muster up the willpower. It caused me to do some heavy thinking that ultimately led me to completing my first short story collection and submitting to my publisher.

If it wasn’t for F.C. Shultz, I would still be working on little to nothing and barely getting there. This is my thank you to him for being the inspiration I needed.

I took the liberty to ask some questions in order to get a little more information out of him and these were the questions he chose to answer.

 

What moment or event was a major turning point in your life?

Deciding to attend Ozark Christian College changed the trajectory of my life.

 

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

A trip to the moon! Although I’d be terrified the entire time.

 

What are some small things that make your day better?

Writing every day, reading every day, jelly-filled doughnuts.

 

What are some things that you’ve had to unlearn?

I have a broad definition of art, but it hasn’t always been that way. I like exploring those boundaries and talking about the reason and purpose for art.

 

Who inspires you to be better?

My wife is the most compassionate, hard-working person I know. Also, Ray Bradbury.

Here is a link to his books. If you like the following original story by him, share your support by purchasing some of his other works.

The Concrete Casket by F.C. Shultz

Published with permission. Copyright F.C. Shultz.

Nobody thinks they will die alone.

Especially in an underground bomb shelter on an abandoned
dwarf-planet. I doubt the people who built this concrete safe house knew they were building an oversized coffin. Nobody thinks they are building coffins. Nobody except coffin makers of course. But not airplane designers or cruise ship manufacturers. Or space station engineers or Infinity Spacecraft ejection seat developers.

Nobody thinks their brother will leave them on the other side of
the galaxy either. Especially deep in enemy territory.

Memories surface of being locked in the closet so I would leave
him and his friends alone. Teenage brothers don’t care much for
elementary sisters. But never in those adolescent years did I think that he was capable of leaving me on the other side of this Godforsaken universe.

I knew I was in trouble when I heard that brother say, “All fighters
return to the ship immediately. We’re…making a tactical maneuver.”

“Yeah…I’m going to be a minute,” I replied. “I’ve got two ringers
following me pretty close. If you send help I’ll be there in a jiffy, Ferris…er Captain Klesia.”

I knew he wasn’t going to send a support ship. As soon as he made
the surrender command those tail between their legs pilots peeled their ships off the main line like a flock of birds playing the wind. Not to mention…

“Negative First Pilot Klesia,” my brother said. “You broke
protocol. Your orders were to stay with your squadron in sector E983-F. You’re too deep in enemy territory. And they are sending back-up from their bases on the surrounding dwarf planets. Lose those ringers and report to the ship immediately.”

“Aye Aye Captain Ice Heart,” I said with my communicator
switched off.

I could see the main ship on the opposite coastline, but since every
other Infinity Spacecraft pilot had retreated, that left me on the wrong side of the enemy brigade. Now, instead of having to lose two ringers, their entire fleet was focused on the only foreign ship still deployed.

Mine.

One hundred and fifty-eight vs. one. It was a death sentence. Or a
quasi rite of passage while the mother ship simply watched from safety.

I pulled the thrusters to full throttle with all intentions of burning
through every ounce of fuel before returning to the ship. I’d use my
momentum to glide the rest of the way. I planned to make a large arch
under the enemy fleet as fast as I could. Something like the forward
momentum of being in a swing on the playground.

In space it is less comfortable to fly downward than it is to fly
upward. A pilot has full view of what is above, but there is a natural blindspot under every ship. I planned to exploit that blind-spot and be full speed past the fleet before they knew what happened.

I failed.

But, since I am biased to my own abilities, I’d say I was over
halfway through the Dead Sea of destroyers before twin light beams struck my ship’s nose and left engine simultaneously. Control HUD; disabled. Power-assisted maneuvering; disabled. Left thruster; disabled. And the big winner: communications; disabled.

Real fighting in space is not like it was in those old timey space
movies. Those ships used to take serious damage and still be able to escape at light-speed. I am lucky to be alive after two hits. Usually one hit and your airlock gets a hairline crack and your cockpit depressurizes and game over. Fortunately for the pilot this all happens in matter of seconds. It’s quick and painless.

Descending deeper than I intended, and now slower with only one
thruster, I had a clear line of sight to the Infinity Mothership. I shifted my eyes toward the picture of Kristos and grasped the engagement ring hanging from my neck. I was close. I’m coming home.

Without warning, the cockpit became frigid. A burst of light like
open curtains after a restless night flashed for a half-second. That was the first time I wished those ringers had better aim. The ship was gone. Mother had abandoned me. As if the odds of my survival were impossible before, now I was literally alone with the enemy ships, and my own ship was in worse condition than when I started. There was only one thing that I could do.

I hit the ejection sequence.

Ejector cockpits in small fighter space ships are a relatively new
implementation. After all, the idea of ejecting out of something is to eject from something dangerous and then use a parachute to float to safety. But in space there is nowhere to float down to safety. So I ejected from something dangerous, a fledgling ship with a marred wing, to a more dangerous situation; becoming a clay pigeon on an interstellar skeet shooting range.

I’m glad that ejection cockpits on fighter space ships have more
features than their predecessors. One of these features is that the cockpit is constructed of a glass-quartz composite that conceals my heat signature. My oval home looked like space junk to an enemy ship’s scanner. The brilliant engineers that designed our fighters have also programmed the Infinity Spacecrafts to dismantle after the ejection has taken place.

Just seconds after the renegade mother ship gave me the galactic
middle finger I did a braking barrel roll to slow down and position the
bottom of my ship toward the enemy fleet and the top of my head aimed into the endless abyss. Ejection sequence complete.

Plan C or D, I can’t remember at this point, worked flawlessly
given the situation. And after I had floated for awhile I could no longer see any ringers; or anything. The adrenaline wore off. I fell into an exhaustion induced sleep.

•••

It didn’t last long.

The problem with space is that once you start moving you don’t
stop moving. This includes a cock-eyed three hundred and sixty degree slow turn every ninety seconds or so. Turns out I wasn’t fully rotated when I ejected; thus sending me hurtling through space inside a bowling ball on an infinite alley. And when I say hurtling I actually mean hurling.

After the third bout of motion sickness there wasn’t any lunch left
to lose. I passed out from exhaustion again.

A fist of mid-digested space lunch woke me with an uppercut to
the face.

I felt better. I took the opportunity to turn on the auxiliary glolamp
and clean up a little. I didn’t know how long I’d be living in this shot glass apartment and my mom always taught me not to leave my space puke floating around.

I managed to get most of it into one sock. I used the other sock for
the…other stuff.

I did have rations. Two days of food and five days of water. The
only way I could define a day was by checking my watch. I tried to not eat as long as I could. My main concern was my oxygen supply. Since my HUD was damaged there was no way to know how long until I choked to death. I tried to stabilize my breathing and limit my talking.

“Seriously Ferris. Come on!”

I have never been good with limitations.

“What did I do to you? How could you leave one of your people to
die? What about all those ‘this squadron is a family’ speeches from training camp? Come on, Ferris. We are family. It was all a lie. Family doesn’t leave family to die. Big brothers are supposed to protect little sisters.” I thought I was done.

“And just when I found someone who loves me. Someone who
chooses to forget my past. Someone who would do anything for me.”

Silence.

My eyes were locked on the photo of my first love.

“I need that. I need you. I’m coming home Kristos.”

I kissed the photo paper and switched off the glolamp.

•••

The new plan was to wait until I had visuals on a planet and then
use my thrusters to slightly change my trajectory to enter that planet’s
gravitational pull and then parachute to the surface.

But the spinning.

I had slept roughly nineteen times at this point. I guessed it had
been about fifteen days Earth time. I could barely reach rations to my
mouth. It wasn’t just the lack of energy. The sensory depravation that the void brings had begun to scramble my mind. And with a full rotation every ninety seconds I had done over fourteen thousand rotations since I last saw any form of life. I knew that I could use the thrusters to stop the spinning, but the reward was not worth the risk of running out of fuel.

At least I wasn’t just floating through this void in just a space suit.
The cockpit seemed to expand as I learned to use the space. I had a decent range of motion in the top half of my body. And I could scratch my nose if I got an itch or clean the vomit off of my mouth.

Or wipe the tears from my eyes.

Sometimes I had Earth dreams and sometimes I had Space dreams.
Even the most mundane dreams, like picking out a car, are rejuvenating. Being able to put feet on the ground and walk and talk to Kristos is like fantasy. Dreams about leaves falling and rain soaking through clothes is pure bliss. There is no weather in space. There are no seasons.

The space dreams are nightmares.

Encountering an enemy ship and the blasters malfunction. Coming
into the airlock but forgetting the correct sequence to seal it tight. Not
triple checking the tether and floating off into space without anyone
knowing you’re gone. Being abandoned by your crew and ejecting into
space.

That one is the worst. And most frequent.

But when I woke up on the sixteenth or seventeenth day, the space
dreams stopped.

A planet.

From my glass shack there was no way of knowing who owned this
planet, friend or foe, but I didn’t have any other options. The good news is that I was heading in its direction. The bad news is that if I used my thrusters too soon or too late, I would miss the planet completely. But the other good news is that I didn’t need a direct hit. I just needed to get into the gravitational sphere surrounding the planet and it would pull me in. I guessed it would take about a day to get to the planet.

Correction: It took 39 hours before I was close enough to make my
maneuver. With no heads up display, there was no way of knowing how fast I was going. There was no way I could risk sleeping too long and missing my opportunity.

It’s not difficult to get caught inside of a planet’s gravitational pull.
It’s something like gym class. If you show up, you pass. You just have to make sure you’re there, and the gravity will do the rest.

Rest.

Even after being successfully captured by the invisible planetary
net, there was no resting. I would have to wait until I was through the
atmosphere, assuming there was an atmosphere, and then manually deploy my parachute. Then I had to make sure I was safe. Then I had to find shelter. Then I could rest.

I passed through the atmosphere without any problems. There
were no fires inside the cabin or alarms going off. The cockpit was
designed for re-entry. And my parachute deployed perfectly, albeit a little early. Well way too early. I was hovering nearly an hour. But that could have saved my life.

When I reached solid ground I landed with a hollow thump. I was
relieved to find that there was nobody waiting to kill me. I was
disappointed to find that there was nobody waiting to save me. There was just nobody. But there were trees.

Trees mean life. And possibly oxygen. I put my helmet on and
reached outside of my glass house and tested the air with my suit.

Eureka!

The last time I touched organic solid ground was after I kissed my
fiancé and walked down our dirt road to get into the government standard car waiting for me.

I need to sleep. That thump. What did I land on?

My life support chamber had come to a sliding stop in an open
field. I had agitated the dirt on my landing, and there was a large slab of concrete exposed in my wake. It didn’t take long for me to search around and find a metal submarine hatch.

Every step down the ladder brought more darkness; like the Sun
was on a dimmer switch. I stumbled around on the floor briefly before
finding something soft. I fell asleep without hesitation.

When I woke, I thought I should cover the exposed concrete just
in case someone did come upon my ship. I also grabbed my helmet and used it’s light to navigate the bomb shelter. It appeared that this shelter had never been used. The power worked brilliantly. I ate and slept and recovered for a few weeks until I regained my strength.

Then I decided to write this letter. I’m leaving this bunker to start
my trip back to Earth. My birthday is coming up on the third. That is my target departure date if I can get all of my supplies ready. I feel strong again. It is time to go. I need to see Kristos again. And frankly, I don’t want to wait around here and make coffin builders out of the fine people who made this bomb shelter.

 

I’m coming to see you Kristos. And even you Ferris.

Signed,
First Pilot E.K. Klesia

•••

A ship had tracked the ejected cockpit as it floated across the
galaxy. The ship landed and a man not in uniform sprinted toward the
grounded cockpit. He found nothing. The search party surveyed the entire area until the submarine hatch was discovered. The man who left the ship first was the first to enter the hatch. He read the letter.

“She’s alive. We have to keep looking. Ferris, what is today’s date?”

“June sixth, Kristos.”