World of Fiction

A serial format to new stories written only waiting to be published!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Joe "Fat Man" Lucas

If only he knew. That was the one sentence that went through Christina’s mind as she left Fort Franks. It was time for her to get her second interview. She had to drive over to Industrial Sciences because they wanted to the pilot to train there. His name was Joe “Fat Man” Lucas. It seemed a little odd to Christina, but she was confident that all of it would explain itself when she met the man.

Little did she realize how accurate that statement was. Lucas was a shade under six feet tall, but had to weigh at least three hundred pounds or more. For man his size, though, he appeared to be rather agile. When he saw Christina, he extended his paw of a hand. If Christina was afraid of anything, it was that this man would crush her.

“How are you doing?” asked Lucas.

“I am good.”

The two walked along the outside of Industrial Sciences. Christina began to interview with minor questions, but eventually got to the mission. “Why were you chosen to pilot this mission?”

“I was an ace on the simulators,” replied Lucas. “Also, I was the only guy who knew how to hald Phoenix. She is a tough bird to fly. Part of the problem with her is that you need to fly her out of the planet from the ground. So instead of having a booster rocket, you are doing it yourself.”

“How long have you been preparing for this flight?”

“Its been about six months,” said Lucas.

“Why that long?”

“When I heard about the mission,” said Lucas, “I volunteered right away. Something like this does not come along very often. Besides, I am the best.”

“Because you are an ace?”

“Exactly,” replied Lucas.

“If a dangerous situation were to present itself and you needed to get away from the planet, would you be able to make sure everyone was safe onboard the Phoenix?”

Lucas stopped and looked at Christina. “I guarantee, if anyone tries to do something to my ship, I will get her out of harms way. There is nothing that will cause even a scratch on her. I guarantee it.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Lieutenant Koch

The next day Christina went to Fort Thomas Franks to interview the lieutenant in charge of the platoon of soldiers assigned to the Phoenix. She went to the main administrative building and sat in a small conference room. The most notable thing she had seen thus far was how nice everyone was to her. It was common courtesy to be nice to someone, but she couldn’t help but feel that due to who she was the reason for why she was there, Christina was getting some kind of special treatment.

After almost a twenty minute wait, the door opened and a young man entered the room. He was about six feet tall, with short blond hair. He looked like the average poster boy for the military. Lieutenant Charles Douglas Koch had been chosen because he was a smart command officer with a very level head on his shoulders. The men he was in charge of trusted him and knew that no matter what they did, he would do as well.

Shaking hands with the young lieutenant, the two sat down at the table and began their interview.

“Before we begin, I have to ask, how do you pronounce your last name?”

Koch chuckled and little and said, “It is pronounced like Cook. You would not believe the number of times I was made fun of in school growing up.”

Christina smiled and then pulled out her pad and pen. “So how does it feel to be going on such an important mission?”

“This is a big deal for all of us,” replied Koch. “I had to chose very carefully who I wanted to come along for this mission. I wanted to make sure everyone was qualified and up to the task for this mission.”

“What does the age range look like for your platoon?”

“It is a strong mix of young and middle aged individuals. The sergeants are veteran soldiers who have the most experience in difficult situations.”

“How did you choose these individuals? Since Mars has not had any real major conflicts, it must be difficult to actually choose the best of the best.”

“I can be,” said Koch. “However, we do drill here and do our best to make sure that every person here is ready to go in the event of a major situation. The people I chose can act independently of each other in the event something were to happen and we got separated. By having this kind of training in place, we can be prepared for anything.”

“Are you sure you are prepared for everything?” asked Christina.

“We are ready,” replied Koch. “In my opinion, there is nothing that can surprise us.”

The Mission From Mars-A New Horror

Christina got back to her apartment and threw her bag onto the couch. She went to get a pad to take notes on when her phone rang. Going over to the monitor, she pressed the talk button and saw the face of her editor.

“I got an interview for you with the pilot of the Phoenix and the lieutenant in charge of the soldiers accompanying everyone on the voyage.”

“How did you manage that?” asked Christina.

“Press has to have some strings to pull,” replied her editor. “Besides, with the mission public and a timetable in place, everyone is going to want to know who is involved. Your interviews are tomorrow. One in the morning, the other in the afternoon. I want an article set on each one after the interview is completed.”

“Got it.” The screen went blank and Christina returned to her couch. She pulled out the micro tape and placed it into her player. It took the machine a few seconds to prepare itself, but the wait was almost nonexistent. When the machine had the tape ready, it started to play it.

The screen was blank, but then showed what appeared to Christina to be a communications room. The older man on the screen was looking off camera to his right, her left. There was banging on the door. Although she could not see it, it sounded like the door was not able to back whoever was trying to get into the room.

“Oh no,” said the older man. “Mars colony, do not come back to Earth. For the love of God, do not come back to Earth.”

The door broke open. The sounds of a lifeless moan could be heard, but no sign of who was making the noise. The older man Christina saw on the camera began to walk backwards. Slowly coming onto the screen was a stiff person. The man was absolutely lifeless. He reached out towards the older man now off camera.

More lifeless people began to be seen on camera. A scream could be heard and the older man from before could be seen on the screen. He fell towards the camera. “Help me,” he groaned.
The lifeless people began to claw at their prey and tear him to shreds. Christina could only watch in horror as the man giving the last message from Earth was dying in such a cruel and horrific way. His hand reached out to try and terminate the communication link. Christina moved her eyes away from the victim and saw that the lifeless people were taking pieces of his flesh and eating them. From where Christina sat, it looked as if their eyes were completely lifeless, as if the lights were on, but no one was home. With a final lunge, the older man cut the communication link and the screen went blank.

The tape was not very long. Christina shivered and made herself into a ball. After a few moments, she made a frantic dash to her bathroom and vomited. Now she knew why Spiro was hesitant about coming out with this story. Something made the people on Earth become cannibals.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Careful Planning

“What in the world are you thinking?” asked Thomas C. Williams.

Mentor watched the portly politician pace around in his office. The fat man had been complaining for the better part of a half hour. Why was Mentor going on such a dangerous trip? Had he finally lost what was left of his mind? It was a rather amusing scene to watch. Mentor sat back in his chair and waited to see what Williams would say next.

“What is even worse is that you are taking that girl scout of a reporter with you on the mission,” said Williams.

Mentor bit the inside of his lip, trying not to laugh. Williams was really becoming quite comical. At the rate things were going, he could easily work himself up into a frenzy and give himself a heart attack. If only there was a way to guarantee something like that could work. Blinking his eyes. Mentor focused back on Williams.

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat what you said?”

“I said ‘What were you thinking by bringing that girl along?’”

“Simple,” replied Mentor. “By having her onboard, we will have an official, unbiased, record of the trip. Anyone who says I am making a fake film will have to deal with the fact that there was a person who had skepticism on the trip. As a result, the history written about the film will have two perspectives on it, the true believer and the skeptic. Either way, it is a win win scenario.”

“What happens if even a part of her absurd story is true?”

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” replied Mentor. “Until then, I suggest you calm down and relax. I know what I am doing.”

“Things like that are easier said than done,” commented Williams.

Mentor nodded. He stood up and began to walk around his office. “You know,” said Mentor, “you remind me of an old colleague of mine. This was an old battle axe of a woman. My first year here at Industrial Sciences, I could do no wrong for her. Second year, she seemed to listen to what others said instead of trusting me.”

Williams sensed there was a message imbedded into the story. “What happened to her?”

“Oh she retired,” answered Mentor. “When my third year was complete she decided her time in Industrial Sciences was over and ended up handing the reigns of the department over to me.”

“She decided her time was up?” asked Williams questioningly.

“But of course,” replied Mentor with a sly grin. “Now, granted, she might have had a little bit of influence in making that decision, but she did retire nonetheless.”

“I see.”

Mentor knew the truth behind his ascension to head of his department in Industrial Sciences. It was that job which led him to the executive board, and then being in charge of the entire company. It wasn’t as if Mentor lied about the former department chair deciding to retire. In fact, she really did do that. The influence for retirement came from many different sources, but Mentor was the most vocal on it. He simply reminded the old battle axe that she was not quite as spry as she used to be. After that, he threatened to blackmail her on all the dirt he had on her to the executive board. The fall would not have been so bad for him as it would have been for her. So, the only honorable course of action left for the old battle axe was to retire. The day after she did that, Mentor made a note to visit her at her apartment. While she was not happy to see him, he made sure that her angry rants would take care of themselves. Nothing says silence like syringe full of air emptied into a vein.

The memory of doing that made Mentor think about his situation with Williams. It had potential, but needed timing. Since the politician was portly, people would only assume he had a heart attack. Timing was still the issue that needed to be addressed. Mentor had to think about the usefulness of Williams for the near future. If he had his uses, then the fat man would live. If not, well, the planet might get a little lighter.

Mentor walked over to Williams and slapped him on the back. “Don’t worry Tommy,” said Mentor. “I have a plan.”

“You better,” replied Williams. “Because if you don’t, she could cause trouble.”

“She won’t,” said Mentor. “Trust me.”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Mission From Mars-A New Revelation

Staring at Spiro was a tragic thing to do now for Christina. The man looked as if he had aged so much over the past couple of weeks. According to nurses at the retirement center, there was a mixed reaction to his story. On the one hand, some folks thought he might be telling the truth about what happened. Those people tended to be the residents of the facility. These were the people who were old enough to remember their last days on Earth and could believe much of what Spiro said. Then there were those who did not believe him. These people tended to be younger and generally the staff of the retirement center. From their point of view Spiro was telling a bunch of wild stories to get everyone riled up. As a result, they would do everything in their power to try and sedate him. It didn’t take Spiro long to realize what was going on, so he made sure not to swallow all of his pills when they were brought to him.

Christina was always a welcome sight for him. If there was at least one young person who would believe him, she was that person. She came back to him for more information on that damned tape. Spiro had wracked his brain with any kind of memories he had about it. There was only one left to share with her. He had kept this one secret because it was more devastating than anything else. However, now he was forced into a position where he had to reveal it.
Looking out the window, Spiro said, “There is only one part of the story I never told you.”

“What is it?” asked Christina.

Sighing, Spiro rested his head into his hand. “After I watched the tape, the images in it frightened me. I needed to do something to the tape. I contemplated destroying it. In the end, I decided to do one small edit to it.”

Christina felt the color in her face drop away. If Spiro edited the film, how much did he edit? The old man was more than willing to let her know. “When I first watched the tape, there was something smeared on the man’s shirt. At first I thought it was grease or oil, but ten at the end of the tape, I realized it was blood. The reason for that realization was what happened to the man in the tape. There was a banging on the door. He looked towards it and then that is when it happened.”

“What?” asked Christina.

“I can’t tell you. Words can’t describe what happened. I opened the cassette and carefully cut the tape at the point of the banging and then reconnected the tape when it went blank again. I even copied a brief moment when he turned on the camera.”

“Why did you do it?”

Tears began to roll down Spiro’s face. “I just had to. If you saw what I saw, then you would understand.”

Christina sat back in her chair. Her ace in the hole was something big, but how big? Biting her lip, Christina tempted fate. “Is it possible for me to see what you saw?”

Quietly sobbing, Spiro nodded. Trembling, he stood up and walked over to his dresser. Opening one of the drawers, he pulled a small micro tape out and gave it to Christina. “That is the only copy of the ending of that message.”

Quickly placing the tape into her purse, Christina wrapped her arms around Spiro. He needed a little comfort. His life was not going to be easy anymore. The two parted ways after a few minutes. Christina needed to get home and watch the tape Spiro gave her.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Mission From Mars-Press Conference Reaction

“I just can’t believe you are going on this voyage Christy.”

Christina very rarely allowed people to call her Christy. The few who did were close friends and her parents. After getting out of school, she decided to go by her full name in order to sound more professional. While she didn’t have a boyfriend, Rob Dell was the closest thing to a brother/boyfriend she had. He knew all of her secret, but at the same time there was some chemistry between the two of them. Rob was three inches taller than Christy and looked like your average athlete. He was a coach for the high school track team and a part time teacher at the school.

Christina looked at Rob and said, “I had to say yes.”


“Because Mentor forced my back into a wall,” replied Christina.

Rob rubbed his hands over his face and said, “I know it was a trap, but now you are playing closer into his hands. What if he tries to do something to you during the voyage?”

“He can’t,” replied Christina. “We are going to have troops there with us.”

“Don’t be naïve,” said. Rob. “I bet those troops will be on his payroll.”

“You don’t know that,” replied Christina.

All of these things had gone through her mind already. Only a fool would not have seen Mentor was trying to set her up. When she had accepted the last spot on the voyage, she had to give the right kind of answer to throw Mentor off balance. The problem for her now was that she was off balance. There didn’t seem to be anything she could do. Backing out of the trip now would make her look like a coward and that her story had no merit. Going through with the trip could lead to some kind of disaster.

“I wish there was a way you knew what was coming,” said Rob.

“What do you mean?” asked Christina.

“Mentor probably knows something everyone else doesn’t know. If there was a way to know something he doesn’t know, then you could use it on him when the time was right.”

Christina leaned against a wall and bit her lower lip. Science was not a strong subject for her. People on the other hand was her strength. In many cases she could read and person and know whether or not they were telling the truth. It was a strong trait and one she used when dealing with interviews. It was the one way in which she knew Spiro Wilson was telling the truth.
Eyes widening, Christina grabbed her purse and said, “I got to go.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get my ace in the hole.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Press Conference

Since Christina was the person responsible for break the Earth message story first, her editor decided to give her the nod and allow her to cover the press conference being made by Richard Mentor. When showing her press credentials, she was directed to go to the front row and be close to the podium. It seemed a little strange that she would get to sit there, considering there were other people who normally get to sit there. Often times, a few plant reporters were placed there who would give softball questions and guarantee safe moments for the speaker. If Richard Mentor thought he would get that from Christina, he had another thing coming.

A chime sounded over the crowd. Everyone stopped their conversations and watched as Richard Mentor walked up to the podium. To his left was a giant screen showing the Industrial Sciences logo. Most likely he would be putting pictures up during this conference, but no one was sure what it would look like. Everyone anxiously awaited to hear the first words Mentor would give in regards to what was quickly becoming the story of the year.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” began Mentor. “I have called on you today to announce that the search of the vault in Industrial Sciences has revealed a number of interesting artifacts.” Looking towards the screen, Mentor continued with his speech. “As you can see, a number of periodicals were found in the vault, including magazines covering what must have been some very important moments in Earth history. As such, I do not wish to comment on this, but allow the historians to take care of these details. In addition to this find, we also discovered a series of tapes in the vault. A number of them were security tapes and other inconsequential tapes that showed construction of the city we live in now.”

Mentor gave a pause in the speech for a moment. He wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention. “However, we did find a tape of some interest. This is a communication from Earth. We believe this is the last one. At this time, I would like to play it for you. The man in the film is unidentified, so we can only assume he is a technician or someone of some kind of importance.”
Mentor turned to the screen and the lights dimmed. The screen showed a young man, very unassuming, speaking into a camera from Earth. “Mars colony. By the time you get this message, things here on Earth may be different. Recently, diplomatic relations between a number of countries have been tense. As you know, the issue of space travel and human colonization of another planet is something that has sparked a great deal of debate on the planet. Geological activity on the planet has begun to get a number of leading scientists to believe the potential ‘Big One’ is going to happen. In the event that happens, the landscape of the western North American continent and much of the Pacific could be greatly affected. We will keep you notified as new situations develop.”

The screen went blank and Mentor returned his attention to the audience. “As you can see, this tape does bring into question much of the story Mr. Spiro Agnew Wilson brought forward. Most likely, in my opinion, Mr. Wilson watched this tape in his youth, but as time went by, his mind began to ponder the events that happened after the message was sent. By the time he reached such an elderly age, Wilson convinced himself that a war did occur. However, we all saw the concerns over the issue of a geological disaster. By taking this into consideration, we must assume that it was this which occurred. One way or another, I believe the only way to answer the question is to send our spaceship to Earth. Actually, lets stop referring it to spaceship and call it by its proper name, the Phoenix.”

With a slight nod, Mentor gave the cue for the press to begin asking questions. Like vultures on an open prey, they pounced. Hands went up and voices were laboring to get louder and louder and sound more important than the others. Internally, Mentor was beginning to like he was a puppet master. Externally, he allowed his eyes to scan over the group and pick one that he would begin with. Naturally, he had his primary target: Christina Long.

“Miss Long.”

Christina stood and asked, “If this theory of yours seems so logical, then could you explain to me why it is that the schools on Mars does not seem to support it?”

“Well, it has been awhile since most of us were in school. I do not think many of us can recall exactly what our teachers taught us back in elementary school.” Many of the people in the press conference began to laugh.

Christina was undeterred. “Why is it then Mr. Wilson would wait this long to announce the story of a tape detailing the final message of Earth to Mars? Would it not have been wiser to do it when he first discovered it?”

“You would need to ask Mr. Wilson that question,” replied Mentor.

“I did.”

“What did he say then?” asked Mentor. It was a risky move on his part. He was giving his biggest foe an opportunity to surprise him. The only thing he felt confident of was that whatever answer she gave, he could punch a hole through.

“According to Mr. Wilson, the tape was so horrific that he had to keep it a secret. If that is the case, don’t you think the tape you found might have been an earlier one, which lead to an even worse tape?”

“It is not my place to suppose anything,” replied Mentor. “However, if there were another tape, it was not found.”

Now the other reporters came in for the kill. Pointing to different reporter, Mentor was beginning to get bombarded with new questions.

“Was the search as thorough as you thought?”


“Are there other vaults this possible second tape could have been placed into?”


“Are there any other details of the situation on Earth which Industrial Sciences knows about, but is not disclosing to the public.”

“Of course not.”

“Will the press be given an opportunity to do a search of their own?”

This was the last straw. Mentor thought he had given a witty answer to Long’s earlier question. Now, he was on the ropes. Every second he delayed in giving an answer would hurt him and the space program. He needed to think on his toes.

“I am confident in the job done by our people in Industrial Sciences,” replied Mentor. “As such, to call into question their professionalism is unnecessary and an insult to their work.”

That put the reporters off balance. No one wanted to insult hard workers. If there was anything people on Mars took pride in, it was the fact that nearly everyone pulled their weight in this society. Christina stood up and was acknowledged for a question.

“If that is the case, then how do you plan on trying to prove your theory or disprove the story of Mr. Wilson?”

Now it was the time for the moment of truth. Mentor had dreaded this question from the beginning of the press conference. He had thought about this for a little bit and considered his options. The best one he had still made his stomach a little queasy. For show, he began to slowly nod his head and look down at the podium. Everything that needed to be done had to be considered very carefully.

“Since there does seem to be some questions as to how true the final message between our planet and Earth looked like, I want to take this opportunity to make a second announcement which was going to be held off for sometime. I plan to launch the Phoenix in three weeks time. The ship will carry a small platoon of twenty soldiers to act as protection in the event things on Earth are hostile. The primary crew will consist of two engineers, who will monitor the ship and its ability to travel through space, two scientists, who will be conducting some scientific experiments on the mission, and our pilot, who will also double as captain of the ship. This will bring the size of the mission up to twenty eight people. Overall, the Phoenix can hold thirty people on board. As such, I have decided the twenty ninth person shall be myself.”

The gasp in the room was more than audible. Mentor took a real risk in breaking this news now, but as far as he could tell it was worth it. After a moment of silence, the questions from the vultures began again.

“What prompted you to make this decision?”

“After hearing all of the stories from the press,” replied Mentor, “I decided that there was only one way to make sure my theory was either correct or incorrect. By doing this, not only do I take the risk of getting embarrassed, but I also take a giant leap forward in showing the importance of this mission.”

“Who will be the last person to join the crew?”

Mentor smiled. “I am glad you asked that question. I carefully thought about this as well. So, I would like to ask the final member right now, with everyone present, if they will join this mission. Ms. Long, I would like for you to join this mission and act as our press correspondent on this epic voyage.”

Now it was Christina’s turn to sweat. She looked back behind her and saw all of the other reporters staring at her. There was really only one right answer. She looked back at Mentor and said, “I accept.”

Mentor smiled and replied, “Excellent. With that ladies and gentlemen, the crew of the Phoenix is set. As such, we will be preparing for our voyage. Miss Long, my people will be contacting you and giving you all the information you need for the trip. This concludes our press conference. Thank you.”

Turning around, Mentor walked back towards his office. The entire way there, he had a scowl on his face. He was muttering to himself, but the words weren’t too audible. He had banked on her not wanting to join the mission. By doing that, he would have crushed her completely. Then he would conveniently get sick right before the mission was to start and then he would be free to stay on Mars. No one would blame him for being sick. What everyone would remember is Christina Long chickening out of a mission of a life time. Now he would have to go through with the mission. He still had the option of trying to take care of Christina, but, no, that would be less than opportune for him Everyone on the planet might suspect him. The mission, naturally, had dangers in it. Perhaps somewhere in it an opportunity would present itself for him. Patience. That was the one word Richard Mentor had to remember. Patience.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Mission From Mars-The Press Hounds

“That damn annoying little brat,” said Mentor. This Long woman was proving to be more trouble than she was initially worth. The three follow up articles she wrote on the last message tape was proving to be a media sensation. What initially began as a daily progress call become a twice, three time, four time, to almost hourly call. Every reporter wanted the next big scoop. Something had to be done.

The phone began to ring. It was becoming almost like clockwork with those damn reporters. They would never leave Mentor alone. Grunting as he walked over to the phone, he turned the screen around and took a deep, cleansing breath. “Richard Mentor.”

“Mr. Mentor, this is the Times,” replied the caller.

“How can I help you?” asked Mentor.

“How goes the search?”

“Well,” replied Mentor. “The search has shown a great deal of things were placed in storage we did not even know about. For instance, the number of periodicals from when the Founders first came to Mars is amazing. We plan on donating these artifacts to both the museums and libraries for public use. However, as for tapes, there have been a few found, but nothing which indicates any signs of a message from Earth.”

“How soon before the search will be completed?”

“I am confident that if all our available employees work at this particular task, we could complete it by the end of the week.”

“Thank you Mr. Mentor,” replied the reporter. “Our readers will be very interested in this.”
Mentor smiled and pressed the end button on the phone. He scowled at the blank screen and started to pace his room. The indignation of having reporters contacting him all the time was beyond belief. Even worse were the rumors he was beginning to hear about the government considering a repeal of their recent vote to appropriate more funds to his space program.
Going to the phone again, Mentor punched in a few numbers and got Williams on the phone.

“What are the chances of a bill being brought up to suspend my funds?”

Williams shook his head and said, “The President is considering it. There are a few Senators who are also thinking about it, but I am still holding the line on going forward with everything. It will set a bad precedent if we pull your funds so quickly after giving it to you.”

“Good,” replied Mentor. “I want you to let the Senate know in some way or another that I am going to do something to crush this story once and for all.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Williams.

“My concern, not yours.” Mentor disconnected the call and sat down behind his desk. He picked up the piece of paper which had the names of people he was going to have on the ship. What was originally going to be a mission having all of the most famous people on board turned into a mission with the military. Now he had to consider a few other things. He could consolidate a few of the positions together and create a couple of extra seats on the ship. If that were the case, he could have some fun with this. There were already cameras onboard the ship in order to document the trip and let everyone know exactly what would happen.

A few different thoughts were going through his mind. Killing off Miss Long didn’t sound like too bad of an idea, but people might wonder about the death of a young reporter after such a big story came out. Scaring her might be a good idea, but then again she could print the threats and link them with Industrial Sciences. Nothing like a little reasonable doubt to make readers think. This was something that needed some careful planning. Mentor realized that if he wanted to kill two birds with one stone, he not only had to something to discredit this story, but make everyone involved with it save face and look good. It wasn’t as if he wanted to crush the young girl, but he did want to weaken her position.

The phone in his office went off again. “Richard Mentor.”

“Mr. Mentor, this is the Chronicle.”

“Ah yes,” replied Mentor. “I do have a statement for your paper. Please let everyone know there will be a press conference in two days. I was just notified that the search of the vault has been completed and there are a few items that have been put aside for my viewing.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied the reporter. “This is going to be a scoop for all of us.”

Mentor turned off the screen and looked at his paper. Two days was not a lot of time, but giving himself a time limit was always a good thing. It forced his mind to think a little faster. The question was how he would take care of Miss Long’s story while allowing them both to have their dignity. With a snort, Mentor amended that thought to just letting him keep his dignity. Perhaps a good knocking down the old ladder would be a good thing for the girl. She was young and could rise back up, but not until after he had achieved a number of his own goals.