Grumpt Group, LLC: An Excerpt

At sea in the north Atlantic, Klaus wearily pushed away from the desk in his cabin. He had thoroughly analyzed Einstein’s gravitational field equations and he still wasn’t convinced they actually predicted antigravity propulsion, as Marlowe claimed. “Let me get this straight,” he remarked as he stood from his chair: “These equations are saying it’s possible to accelerate a space craft to near light speeds without crushing the contents of the craft?”

Marlowe stood to face him, and eagerly responded: “Any mass moving faster than approximately sixty percent of the speed of light will gravitationally repel other masses lying within a narrow antigravity beam in front of it. The closer a mass gets to the speed of light, the stronger its antigravity beam becomes.”

“And we can use this repulsion of a body speeding through space to highly accelerate large spacecraft, while reducing internal tidal forces that could tear the cargo apart?”

“The payload will fall weightlessly in an antigravity beam.”

Listening from the bedroom cabin, Nell hollered out: “My payload’s about to fall. But it’s far from weightless. I could use a strong gravity beam right now.”

“Just stay relaxed, honey,” Mauve insisted, getting up from her chair beside Nell’s bed to adjust the pillows.

“Leave me alone, mother,” Nell snapped, readjusting the pillows to help her sit up: “I don’t want to relax.”

“I can’t leave you alone, dear,” Mauve patiently responded: “You should be in a hospital right now, with a doctor, not out here in the frigid ocean.”

When her water broke, Nell started to panic. She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and then held her breath. Although she could feel the motion of the ship pitching, rolling, and buffeting through the water, she concentrated on what was happening inside of her.

“Just stay calm, honey,” Mauve advised, struggling to stay calm herself: “Contractions don’t always come right away. Let’s clean you up first.”

Alerted by the commotion, Klaus stood by the bed, and Marlowe watched from the hatchway, as mother assisted daughter in the basic ritual of child birth. “It’s a boy,” Klaus shouted as the baby slid into the world, gasping for breath.”

Immediately afterwards, while Mauve still held the baby in her arms, Nell became excited and talkative, saying: “That was so intense, I couldn’t even judge the time. How long has it been since contractions began?”

“I’m not sure how long, darling,” Klaus responded, taking Nell’s hand: “It was probably no more than an hour or so.”

“It was fifteen minutes,” Mauve chimed in while placing the baby on Nell’s stomach.

During the birthing process, Marlowe couldn’t take his eyes from Nell. When the baby’s head crowned, she let out a scream, arched her back, and started hyperventilating. With her eyes nearly popping from her head, she finally gained control of her breath. Then her face turned red as she squeezed mightily to push the baby out. He came with a twisting motion, already gasping and grasping for air. Minutes later, as the placenta and fetal membranes were expelled from the uterus, Marlowe moved closer to observe.

“Don’t cut the cord,” Nell insisted: “The placenta is an amazing organ. It formed directly from the cell division of the fertilized egg, not from me. It’s a part of the baby. It’s not something to be cut off and thrown away.”

“I hope you’re right, dear,” Mauve replied as she lightly salted the placenta and then wrapped it warmly in a blanket, following instructions they had previously agreed upon.

“Keep it level or slightly lower than the baby,” Nell directed, sitting up in bed with the newborn in her arms.

Overwhelmed by emotion, Marlowe backed out of the cabin and went topside. It was early in the morning and a faint glimmer of sunlight appeared from beyond the eastern horizon. Standing alone above the ship’s pilothouse, he began talking to himself: “I have never felt so ambivalent about who I am. Or what I want to accomplish. Throughout my existence, I have never wanted responsibility for anybody but myself. That’s why God had me cast from Heaven, when I was Lucifer. It’s also why I can’t stand living in Hell anymore, as Satan. I don’t want the responsibility. Then why am I so envious of Klaus and his family? Why do I want to know how it feels to be human, to father a child?”

When the dried up umbilical cord separated on the forth day, Nell wanted to eat the remaining placenta but Mauve protested: “Animals in the wild do that, honey, because they’re forced to. They have no other choice. They can’t order a gourmet dinner from the kitchen like you can.”

“It might help my milk,” Nell replied, looking down at the nursing baby.

Mauve set the covered placenta on a table away from the bed, saying: “You have enough milk already, dear.”

With her eyes still on the baby, Nell said: “Isn’t it amazing how, right after he was born, he found the milk on his own? You set him on my stomach and he knew right where to go from there. He immediately crawled up and latched on without a problem.”

“In a hospital, honey, they would have put him in an incubator to keep him warm.”

“The heat from my body is warming him, mother. He seems happy. I don’t want him separated from me. These first days together are important.”

“When are you going to give him a name, dear?”

“I want to name him Kevin, after dad. It starts with a K, like Klaus, and Karl, and many of the other Grumpt men’s names. He responds when I call him Kevin. Klaus says it’s up to me.”

“Then Kevin it is.”

“I wish it was Kevin O’Shea, like dad’s. I’d prefer that over Kevin Grumpt.”

“Get used to the Grumpt, honey. You and the baby both belong to Klaus now. And he’s not the kind of man who neglects things. Young Kevin Grumpt couldn’t have a better father at this time in history. Klaus seems destined for world leadership. I just hope he doesn’t plan to rule the world from this ship.”

“Klaus doesn’t want to rule the world, mother. I think that’s Marlowe’s influence. Marlowe is awfully cleaver. Too cleaver for my liking.”

“You can’t argue with their results, dear. Between the two of them, they’ve managed to reduce the number of conflicts around the globe, to disengage belligerent forces, and to effect a partial disarmament by the major military powers. Even bitter opponents have united to face the impending global catastrophe.”

“A catastrophe only Marlowe can see, mother. I don’t like that. Klaus is taking Marlowe’s word for it. And the military leaders are going along with Klaus because he has demonstrated his power over a new technology which they covet. Plus, he is now showing them how to make more money through space exploration than war.”

“But, if Marlowe is right, we need to get ready. That’s what they’re doing. And so far it’s been all for the good.”

Nell drifted off with the baby sleeping in her arms and her mother’s last words producing subconscious impressions of well being.

In a dream, she had a vision of God sitting enthroned above the firmament with globe in hand surrounded by singing seraphim. She saw Lucifer, along with the other white winged angels being cast from Heaven: a chatoyant harmony of colors reflected from their extraordinary falling movements until they eventually disappeared into a deep, dark void.

“Lucifer?” she shouted aloud in her dream: “The anointed angel? Who God has created perfect in all ways, who has been set apart for a Divine purpose, God has found iniquity in him? Put there by Lucifer himself and not by God?”

She saw Lucifer, now transformed into Satan, regaining consciousness and rising from the flames of a burning lake, experiencing his new form for the first time, not weakened by God’s fury, but made stronger, and even more determined. She saw him rising from the fire and flying onto land. He stood on a ledge overlooking the burning lake, calling to his legions, who were lying inert on the firy surface. She saw them awake, fly onto the land, and assemble around him in military fashion. And when she zoomed in on Satan, it was Marlowe.

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