david blankenship

Words in long lines with periods and commas and sometime a dash.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 22)


The building would cover a good square city block, at least two acres,   Inside it was warm and humid with outside light coming in from all sides and the top.  On tables, about thirty inches off the ground were thousands upon thousands of small green sprouts.  Each sprout was in it’s own brown container and each brown container was on a tray of a hundred or more containers.  Trays were side by side covering tables that covered all the floor space leaving only enough room for walkways between the tables.  Everything but the plants and their containers was coated with a heavy coat of army green paint.  My fellow students scattered throughout the building and busied themselves reading gauges, taking notes and picking at plants.  I stood with my mouth half open for a good minute until Sarah decided I might need some instruction.

“Come on,” she pulls me by the arm a little until I start to follow her, “every other day we have Agricultural class and plan our on-site day.  Most of the time, when it’s raining, we come in here.  This is more of a just do whatever you find to do day, ‘cause of the rain.”  She walks me to a pile of smelly dark brown dirt and points to stacks of the small brown potting pots.  “We can put that in them,” she said, “if you want, or look around, just do what the others have found to do.”  I grab a pot in one hand and a scooper in the other and fill a pot while she talks.  “Pack it in just a little,” she says.  I pack it and then, without even being told I place it on a tray from a stack of trays sitting on the potting table.  Sarah nods at a job well done and starts filling pots herself.

“I bet they’re having a big meeting on you right now to decide what to do with you.  You worried?”

“Already had the meeting.  My life is planned.”

“They sending you back?”

“No,” I start to tell her I’m her new brother but think better of it.  I should let her parents break the news.  “Some kind of work study program Mr. Jasper got me into.”

“Really?  Never heard of it.  I’d bet Jasper just made it up.  You stowed away on a barge?  How’d you think of that?”

“We lived near a space dock.  I watched the ships come and go all the time and I knew I wanted to go.  There aren’t many stowaways?”

“Jasper’s is always looking for workers but they aren’t kids.”

I look up at the clear plastic ceiling at the sheet of water covering us, “how long will it rain?”

“We’ll get some sunshine before the end of the day.  People will be back in the fields in the morning, they’ll have to wait a while before the equipment can go back in.”

I watch the water come off the side of our building and run away in channels it has made in the ground outside our protected area, “do you have any idea how beautiful this is?”

“I’ve lived here my whole life.  My parent’s came with Jasper on the first settler ship but I’ve seen films of Earth, I’m glad I’m here.”

We fill pots for a good hour more before a bell rings and various transportation comes to pick up students.  I get into the car with Sarah.  She doesn’t seem to think anything of it.

I do get in a bit of a rush to finish my homework in my room but it comes with cookies and milk so I feel pretty good about it.  I hear a loud, “what? You’ve got to be kidding? come from the kitchen but it was just something Sarah was required to say if she’s going to be a proper adopted sister.  My next task in achieving my goals is sitting before me.  Half the homework sitting on the small desk in my room is the same as in my classroom on Earth but half is very different.  I hurry through the old stuff and then slow down and really start studying.  Instruction in horticulture, agriculture, cultivation and a short article in “Today’s Farmer” are all on my reading list and these are not about how to grow a bean in a jar but things a real farmer needs to know.  I get lost in pages about irrigation, hurry through my dinner as much as I can without being a total jerk and then return to my room.  I’m not only behind the rest of my class on these subjects I’m behind the kindergarten classes.  

There is a tap on my bedroom door.

“Come in.”

Mrs. Armstrong peaks into the room, “You’re still reading?  Time to sleep, young man.”

In class I move to the lead in English and near the lead in math within days but when it comes to farming my question’s are considered to be worthy of laughter.  I even get sent to room two afternoons every day and a couple of times I go out into the fields with the almost babies in room one.  While my classmates are grafting branches onto root stock I’m learning how to tell a weed from a desirable plant.  Over the next months I slowly move from being the class joke to at least being trusted to do some basic stuff with irrigation and I’m a decent tractor driver.  By the end of my first school term on Jasper’s World I’m awarded the “Most Improved Dirt Farmer” award.  It’s not a traditional award, it was created just for me by my fellow students.  It’s a cube of clear plastic filled with what I’m pretty sure is manure but I accept it with pride that is in no way contrived.

I make friends.  Working together for an hour or two every day makes it easy to get to know each other.  There are sports too and I’m a natural runner.  Running outdoors in good clean air on dirt is something I could do forever so cross country is my sport.  I do okay, I’m not the star or anything like that but I keep up enough to be respectable.

I get a vid chat from at least one parent every night.  My sister even misses me enough to poke her face in once in a while.  Within six months my mother’s eyes don’t even water.  The whole group is planning a visit but space travel is expensive when you travel in the passenger section of a ship.  It could be awhile before they can come to Jasper’s.

Instead of summer vacation on Jasper’s they have planting season.  There is a constant shortage of people and equipment.  Everything with an engine is  involved and everything with two legs is working from sun up to sun down.  Before the war farming techniques were becoming fairly advanced, at least on Earth.  When Jasper’s World first started farming it was almost like caveman days, they were using hand tools and homemade tractors made out of parts of old cars and trucks.  It’s not all that much better now-a-days.  With some of the war effort tapering off Jasper’s has a deal with the Army and army green equipment is getting more common but real, made for farming, equipment is still rare. 

One of the things Mr. Armstrong is good at is putting together different parts from several vehicles and creating useful farm equipment.  On rainy days or when the crops can do without him he creates his visions in a small green plastic barn near our home.

“Grind that down good and clean, that arm needs to get under the ground and push the potatoes up the the surface but it can’t be sharp so it’s going to have to handle a lot of force.”

I run the grinder until I can almost see myself in the metal and then Chester hands me the end of the wire feed welder, “you sure?” I ask, he’s only trusted my welds to things of lesser importance.

“You’re getting good at this Trenton, just take your time, I’ll check the weld.”

I join up the metal with clamps and find myself a comfortable position; by the time I’m through even I would compliment myself on my welding, if that sort of thing were considered polite.

One of the most important tasks while plants do their growing is to check on them.  There is some skill involved.  Although there are very few insect type pests on Jasper’s World there are a few and when they make a stand it is important to deal with it as soon as possible, so I needed to learn how to identify these small creatures.  A basic understanding of irrigation in order to see malfunctions, even though most of these malfunctions come with large flooded areas, is needed.  The primary skill is that a person be able to walk long distances without getting too badly lost; turns out I’m pretty good at walking and not very concerned with getting lost.

The cotton plants are just getting started good and only come up to my knees.  I walk in a foot wide path that receives no irrigation if everything is working right.  If I find myself walking in mud it’s a sure sign something is wrong but I also look for plants that are not getting enough water.  I carry a round point shovel balanced on my shoulder and stabilized with one hand on it’s wooden handle.  My baggy knee length tan shorts contain a pair of pliers in my left back pocket, my right front pocket is filled with peanut sized replacement water emitters, my left front pocket holds a bottle of water, my right back pocket contains a smashed packet of trail mix and a small steel safety pin is pinned to the edge of my right front pocket opening.  These are the tools of my trade.  For comfort I have a broad brimmed woven grass hat, a very white tee-shirt (to reflect the sun) and light weight running shoes.

The cotton seed was drilled into place, two plants eight inches apart then a foot of space before the next set of two plants eight inches apart. I can hear the gurgling of water on each side of me as water drips from emitters located in between every two sets of cotton plants.  I scan from side to side taking in two rows of cotton plants on each side of me as I walk at a brisk pace.  On the next row over to my right I spot a set of plants that have wilted slightly.  I carefully pass through the wide spot between plants, stand my shovel in the dirt path and unclip the safety pin from my pocket.  I bend down and find the thin black plastic tube with an emitter pressed into its opening.  Very carefully so as not to damage the emitter I clear a bit of scale from the orifice of the emitter and water starts to drip out of the tiny cleaned exit hole.  I watch for a few seconds and time the drip to make sure I have not damaged the emitter.  I set the emitter back into place between the two cotton plants.  Another life saved, actually two lives saved.  Life, as we observe it, is never created, it never begins, it is just passed on.  Life that comes to an end cannot be restored, at least not by people and I have saved two.  There is no way to know how many other lives will come from the seeds of these two plants or how many people will benefit from the cotton used in materials or the seeds pressed into oil or used for feed, it’s good to be a farmer.  I continue my brisk walk constantly scanning from side to side looking for another life to save.

Sometimes I think about all the things that could have gone wrong with my plan and I’m amazed that it worked at all.  Without the people here going to bat for me I’d have been on the first barge back to Earth before the mud dried on my shoes


Leave a comment

My Life (part 21)


The building would cover a good square city block, at least two acres,   Inside it was warm and humid with outside light coming in from all sides and the top.  On tables, about thirty inches off the ground were thousands upon thousands of small green sprouts.  Each sprout was in it’s own brown container and each brown container was on a tray of a hundred or more containers.  Trays were side by side covering tables that covered all the floor space leaving only enough room for walkways between the tables.  Everything but the plants and their containers was coated with a heavy coat of army green paint.  My fellow students scattered throughout the building and busied themselves reading gauges, taking notes and picking at plants.  I stood with my mouth half open for a good minute until Sarah decided I might need some instruction.

“Come on,” she pulls me by the arm a little until I started to follow her, “every other day we have Agricultural class and plan our on site day.  Most of the time, when it’s raining, we come in here.  This is more of a just do whatever you find to do day, ‘cause of the rain.”  She walks me to a to a pile of smelly dark brown dirt and points to stacks of the small brown potting pots.  “We can put that in them,” she said, “if you want, or look around, just do what the others have found to do.”  I grab a pot in one hand and a scooper in the other and fill a pot while she talks.  “Pack it in just a little,” she says.  I pack it and then, without even being told I place it on a tray from a stack of trays sitting on the potting table.  Sarah nods at a job well done and starts filling pots herself.

“I bet they’re having a big meeting on you right now to decide what to do with you.  You worried?”

“Already had the meeting.  My life is planned.”

“They sending you back?”

“No,” I start to tell her I’m her new brother but think better of it.  I should let her parents break the news.  “Some kind of work study program Mr. Jasper got me into.”

“Really?  Never heard of it.  I’d bet Jasper just made it up.  You stowed away on a barge?  How’d you think of that?”

“We lived near a space dock.  I watched the ships come and go all the time and I knew I wanted to go.  There aren’t many stowaways?”

“Jasper’s is always looking for workers but they aren’t kids.”

I look up at the clear plastic ceiling at the sheet of water covering us, “how long will it rain?”

“We’ll get some sunshine before the end of the day.  People will be back in the fields in the morning, they’ll have to wait a while before the equipment can go back in.”

I watch the water come off the side of our building and run away in channels it has made in the ground outside our protected area, “do you have any idea how beautiful this is?”

“I’ve lived here my whole life.  My parent’s came with Jasper on the first settler ship but I’ve seen films of Earth, I’m glad I’m here.”

We fill pots for a good hour more before a bell rings and various transportation comes to pick-up students.  I get into the car with Sarah.  She doesn’t seem to think anything of it.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 20)


No one came to take me back to the Armstrong’s place instead I was given an umbrella and pointed to a building about fifty feet away from Jasper’s office.  A concrete walkway had been poured between the two building but the water from the rain was washing over the top of the walkway.  I splashed through about a half inch of rain the whole fifty feet.  I was having way too much fun and by the time I reached the school house my socks were full of rain water.  A person at a desk just inside the front door of the white plastic building said, “hi Trenton,” without asking my name and told me to go to room three.  Down the hall there were only three doors with numbers on the doors and three was at the end of the hall.  I was doing my best to keep quiet but the door wasn’t one of the most silent doors and when it swished open it made enough noise to be heard all the way to Jasper’s office, at least that’s the way it sounded to me.  A room full of students all turned in their chairs and looked at me like I was the most interesting thing to happen; looking back I probably was, watching grass grow is a common pastime on Jasper’s World.  Sarah Armstrong’s table had an empty chair so I kind of tiptoed to her table and pulled out a chair as noiselessly as I could.

“Welcome to our class Trent,” the young teacher lady at the front of the room said.

“It’s Trenton Ma’am,” I’ve found that you have to nip things like this in the bud or you’re likely to be called something like Trent for the rest of your life.  For some reason most of the class giggled which did not keep the teacher as happy as she started out to be.  Once everything settled down school turned out to be exactly the same as on earth.  There was even a half finished essay on my computer from eight days ago on Earth.  It was weird but welcome to have things in front of me that didn’t need explained.  I could have been sitting inside my school dome on Earth for most of the day until after lunch.  When what would have been my last class on Earth ended we all lined up and trouped down the hall.  I thought we were headed for some sort of transportation but we ended up inside a covered greenhouse filled with sprouting plants.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 19)


The room is small and not at all what I expected.  There is a desk but it looks like an old army surplus clerk’s desk.  The chairs, one of which I am sitting in, are metal folding chairs of the type that has been used everywhere for the last fifty years, they are all stamped “discard” in army stencil.  The floor is bare, roughed up so it’s non-skid, brown plastic.  I’ve been told to sit here.  The lady that gave me my instruction seemed nice.  She offered me a cup of coffee but I don’t drink coffee and that’s all she had.  It’s still raining outside and I can hear it hitting the top of the plastic roof of this government surplus field hut.  

Mr. Jasper walks into the room and he’s not what I expected either.  I’ve seen him on news shows and in photos many times but he’s much smaller and more like a grandpa in person.  He nods at me, smiles and then instead of sitting behind his desk he drags a chair and sits next to me along the wall.

He opens a clunky laptop, which is also probably army surplus, “Mr. Trenton C. Armstrong.  Born October third, thirteen years old, almost fourteen.  Right so far.”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m Henry Jasper,” he holds out a hand for me to shake.  

I feel like I should take a knee or bow or something but I shake the great man’s hand, “I know, sir.”

“So call me Jasper, people around here call me lots of things but Jasper is one of the nicest.”  

“Yes sir,” he waits for more, “yes sir Mr. Jasper.”

“We’ll allow the Mr. for now.  So Trent..”

“Trenton, Jasper.”

“Excuse me, Trenton, Your father is a tail gunner in a Z-44 amphibious fighter?  You should be proud.”

“I am sir, I mean Jasper.”

“Not an easy job.  Hard to find good men like your father.  I talked to your mother Trenton.  I was very encouraged to hear you talked to her about your travels before you left.  She did not know where you had gone but she was not surprised to hear you are on Jasper’s World.  Your school sent your records, you’re a bright boy.”

“I try to be Jasper,” I was starting to feel like he was the kind of old man you could call by Jasper without being disrespectful.

“We’re working some things out.  I’m pretty sure we can set up some sort of foreign exchange program but nothing for sure yet.  You understand?”

“I do Jasper,” I was almost giggling at the thought of being able to stay on Jasper’s.

“I’ve just heard bits and pieces of how you traveled Trenton.  I’m impressed, sounds like some of the things I did at your age.  Would you mind telling me the story?”

“Sure.”

“Start with the planning stage, that’s always the most important.”

Mr. Henry Jasper, the founder of Jasper’s World, called for a couple of coffees and we moved our chairs to the metal clerk’s desk.  I added a bunch of cream to my cup, Jasper kept his black.  I talked and he listened.  When I rushed by something in my story he slowed me up by asking questions.  It was the perfect morning for a long talk, without the rain Jasper would have been rushed.  I talked and talked until I was telling the part about hiding in the cornfield and his laptop beeped with a message.

Jasper scrolled a couple of pages, “Would you mind living with Chester May?”

“Where I was last night?” I had never heard Chester’s last name.

Jasper nodded, “you’ve been accepted into our foreign student exchange program.  You’ll have all the regular classes plus you’ll receive credit for field work.  If you stay here you’ll be trained as a farmer.  You understand we are all farmers here?”

“I do sir, Jasper, it sounds wonderful sir.  I feel like I’m dreaming Jasper,”  I lose all control and get up and hug him.  He squirms a little but doesn’t complain.

When I allow him to break free of my hold he adds, “The Mays receive a stipend for taking you in and you’ll get paid, at a student’s scale, for the work you do in the fields.  And I have a helicopter waiting for me.  I need to see if anything is washing away in this rain.”  Mr. Henry Jasper shakes my hand and leaves.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 18)


A true window to the outside covered a third of one of the front room’s walls.  My home on Earth had no windows at all.  We had a few screens that could be programed to look like how we wanted the outside to be but the true outside was not something we wanted to be reminded of.  Chester was standing near the window watching the rain when I returned from my scrubbing.  I joined him watching the sheets of water pouring down as the sun found a break in clouds near the horizon.

“Who are you?” Chester startled me with the question.  “Janet!  Come here and look at this!”

Chester’s wife hurried into the front room and looked at me, “Oh my, there was a boy under there.  And not a bad looking boy at that.”  She walked up to us and I think she started to pat me on the head but thought better of it.  “Jasper called, he wants to see Trenton first thing in the morning.  I can take him if you want,” she said to Chester.  I must have looked worried because she added, “He’ll be very fair and try to help in any way he legally can but there are laws that protect children you know,” she said to me.

“I know,” and it’s true I have known all along.

“How old are you Trenton?” she asked.

“Thirteen, almost fourteen.”

“It would be better if you were at least sixteen.”

“Should I say I’m sixteen?”

“They will get your records from Earth in less than a day.”

“So, I’ll go back?”

“Wait and see.  Jasper has a way of making things happen that he wants to happen.  Be honest.  He’ll be fair,” this time she did pat me on the head.

At dinner I met the very pretty girl who turned out to be Sarah the thirteen year old daughter of Chester and Janet.  She didn’t say much but I kept looking at her when I thought no one else was looking.  She caught me looking a couple of times and I think, once, she kind of smiled.  

The spare bedroom had a bed that was amazing after sleeping in the fuel cell container but I still spent half the night thinking about what I should say to Henry Jasper.  Henry Jasper, the man I have thought of as some kind of savior for most of my short life and I was going to meet him face to face.  When I first decided to come to Jasper’s World it had little to do with the planet.  I wanted to grow food for Earth like Henry Jasper does.  First thing in the morning I would meet Henry Jasper.  Seeing this planet of plants, feeling clean rain on my face, meeting real farmers and a talk with The Henry Jasper; if I’m back on a ship to Earth tomorrow night it was still worth it.  I could hear the rain hitting the top of the plastic house and it talked me into sleeping.  The rain was still coming down when I woke up the next morning.  Breakfast was wonderful.   Real fresh eggs, I’ve had real eggs on Earth a few times but nothing like these,  potatoes that had been in the dirt only days ago and milk like nothing I had ever tasted before – almost like liquid ice cream. The whole time all I could think about was my meeting with Mr. Jasper but it was still one of the best meals I had ever eaten.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 17)


The door slides open and we enter what looks to be an air lock with a bench along one wall.  As the outside door slides closed the door to the front room of the house opens.  The door to the house opens before the outside door completely closes.  I gasp and my hand covers my mouth.

Chester sees my reaction and picks up on what happened, “it’s not a air lock.  It’s a mud porch.  We take off our boots and coats here.”  Chester sits on the bench and starts to demonstrate as a pretty lady comes into the mud porch and gives him a kiss on his forehead.

“And you must be Mr. Trenton,” she says as she turns to me and gives me a little hug even though I’m all wet and smell.

“This is my wife Janet,” Chester announces as he pulls off his second muddy boot.  I look at my socks that look almost as muddy as my tennis shoes do so I pull them off too.

“Ann brought by some of Alex’s things,” Janet says to Chester.  She turns to me and explains, “Alex is Ann’s son, he’s about your size.”

“She’s saying, in a nice way, that you need a shower and would is be okay if we burn your clothes?” Chester says as he stands in his stocking covered feet.

“Not true, Chester, we’ll wash your clothes Trent.

“Trenton,” Chester says for me. I’m guided to a room in the back of the house.  On my way I notice a very pretty girl peeking around a door frame.  When she sees me she ducks back into the room.  I’m taken to a bathroom and pointed to a shower.  I must smell pretty bad.  The door swishes closed.  A neatly stacked change of clothes sits on a small stool and thick towels hang from a towel bar.  Soaps and shampoos are lined up next to the shower.  These people have been busy preparing for me.  The shower is hot and nice.  I worry at first that I will clog the drain but after a bit of scrubbing the water coming off me clears up.  I wash my hair twice and after the shower I brush my teeth twice with a brush sitting on top of the clothes.  The clothes might be a little baggy but clean feels so good I can’t even think of complaining.  Mrs. Janet even thought to provide a hair brush.  So far my first day on Jasper’s World is turning out pretty good.


Leave a comment

My Life (part 16)


Everyone piled into a big break room.  The room was filled with tables and chairs, the walls lined with coffee machines and platters of baked goods.  I filed in with the rest of my crew  of fifteen workers as we joined at least another forty farmers who were already sitting around talking about the wind and rain and about what they were going to do with the time off.  I grabbed a cup a coffee with a scone and sat at the table with my work mates across from Sally and between Mike and Ricky.  They were already making plans for the rainy day that was forecast for the next day by the time I pulled my chair up to the long white plastic table and took a sip of my hot coffee.  I grinned and bit the end off my fresh made scone.

“I suppose we should do something about this,” Sally said looking straight at me.  

“I’m fine,” I said.  “No trouble at all, that’s me.”

“You can’t sleep in the barn and it’s going to rain for about twenty hours straight.  Even if it doesn’t burn you can’t sleep out in the rain.”

“Oh,” I chew my scone for a moment, “I guess I will be a bit of a problem.  I have very low standards of comfort,” I add, trying to help.

“I’ll make some calls.  There is always someone willing to take in a wanderer.”

“All who wander are not lost,” it just popped into my head and out my mouth.  Something I read somewhere.

“A wandering poet,” Mike said.  “Everybody wants one of those.”  The people at our table gave Mike a laugh.

“I’ll make some calls,” Sally said. “Don’t run off,” she said looking at me straight in the eyes.  Sounded like a good next step to me so I just grinned back at her and chewed some more off of a pretty good scone.

Ricky shouted to someone at the next table, “hey Chester!  You got some people on Earth that would take a free ride to Jasper’s don’t you?”

“Could, what you got in mind?”

“Key words, fuel cell container,” Ricky nudges me to let Chester know what he’s talking about.

Chester gets up, walks to our table and stands across from me, “you did that?”

I nod.

“What’s your name boy?”

“Trenton.”

“That’s like a week’s trip.  How’d you manage that Trent?” He sounded like he really wanted to know.

“It’s Trenton, sir.”

“I’m sorry, Mr Trenton,” Chester slid a chair from another table over and sat down next to Sally.  “I’d really like to hear your story.”  Several others in the group had gathered around so I started my story from when I first started planning my trip and ended it with the rain that did not burn in the cornfield.  I got a few laughs here and there.  Several people stayed for the whole tale.   At the end of my story Chester reached across the table and ruffed up my still damp hair a little.  He looked at his hand.  He smelled his hand.  “So no showers in that box right?”  I just grinned.  Chester left the table, I presumed to wash his hand.  I fielded questions for another ten minutes but the group in the break room was getting smaller and smaller as people left to go to their homes.  Sally still hadn’t made any phone calls and my instructions were to stick by her side so that’s what I did.  I finished my coffee and my scone.  It seemed like we were waiting for something but I had no idea what.

“Okay kid, I mean, Mr. Trenton.  Time to get you a shower.  If that’s alright with you?” Chester said standing across the table from me.

I looked at Sally.  She nodded and said, “he’s a good guy.  He’s got a daughter about your age.  You’ll be in good hands.”

“I left a message with Jasper’s office.  He won’t get it till morning.  I’ll get him cleaned up so he looks like a human by the time Jasper sees him,” Chester said to the group but mostly to Sally.

“Henry Jasper?” I gasped in unbelief.”

“Yes, Henry, but don’t say it like that he already thinks he’s God, we don’t want to encourage him.  Come on if you’re coming.”

I scooted away from the table, “Sure, thank you Sir.”  I waved goodbye to the group.  At this point I firmly believed farmers are good people, just like all the stuff I read said.  

Chester walked me to a three wheeled, two seater scooter with an enclosed canvas cab parked in a protected from the rain area built onto the side of the barn.  He showed me how to unzip the passenger side door and we plunged into a solid sheet of water.  I couldn’t see how he could see at all.  A single wiper blade hanging down from the top of the small windscreen whipped itself back and forth but didn’t seem to accomplish much.  I just watched with my mouth open and my eyes as wide as they could go.

“Decent rain,” Chester said as he bounced the little vehicle along a muddy dirt path that I hoped he could see.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“You said Bakersfield, California, right?”

I nod and then realize he’s not taking his eyes off the narrow path, “Yes, my whole life until now.”

“I’ve heard of it.  I don’t think it rained much there even before the war.”  Chester continues to drive through the curtain of water for another half an hour before he slows and takes an even smaller path that leads us to a white plastic redi formed house in the middle of some sort of trees planted in rows.

“Home sweet home, Mr. Trenton.  He parks the scooter as close to the front door as he can and we wade the ten feet to the door in rain so heavy I feel like I’m breathing water.  On Earth I’d be dead by now but here on Jasper the water from the sky is good enough to drink.