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18 January, 2017
Spaceship Broken, Needs Repair by Russell Nohelty
Sammy's had a tough life. His father is abusive. His mother is an alcoholic. He developed pulmonary fibrosis from asbestos and needs an oxygen tank to breath. His family is poor and getting poorer. One day his mother's had enough and steals him away to a life on the run. She'd rather be a fugitive than subject Sammy to his father's rage. It doesn't take long for life on the run with a sick child to catch up to her. In order to keep Sammy alive she has no choice but to move in with her emotionally abusive grandfather. Sammy just wants a normal life. He just wants to get along, but when he meets a homeless alien that all changes. Now, he has to help her fix her ship and get off the planet. This is a book about families, broken homes, and the power of friendship. Whether you enjoy whimsy, dark humor, or coming of age stories, there is something for you inside these pages. Sci-fi. It’s a YA book, but for very mature kids. Warning: There is some strong language and the book deals with abuse.
Buy your copy here http://www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com
Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and speaker. He runs Wannabe Press, which publishes weird books for weird people, and hosts The Business of Art podcast, which helps creatives build better businesses. Russell is the author of Gumshoes: The Case of Madison’s Father and My Father Didn’t Kill Himself, along with the creator of the Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, Gherkin Boy, and Katrina Hates the Dead graphic novels. He makes books that are as entertaining and weird as they are thought provoking.
Social Media Links:
@russellnohelty on Twitter and Instagram. /russellnohelty on Facebook
ONE It started with a bang and a whimper. Well it wasn’t really a bang. It was more like a slap. Well, exactly like a slap. Actually, it wasn’t really a slap either. It was – what’s the sound a fist makes when it connects with a woman’s jaw? Like a woomp, or a thud, or a thwonk. Well, that was the sound. The sound of my mother being punched across the jaw by my father; her hair, her body, suspended motionless for a second, then falling gracefully in slow motion, as I watched horrified and petrified, nestled in the corner behind her. He’d aimed for me, but Mom jumped between us so that I wouldn’t face his assault. She always did that. She told me that the initial blow was always the worst; that she became numb after the third or fourth hit. At least that’s what she told me. I never believed her. I too often saw the pain on her face when he kicked her ribs for the eighth and ninth times. I watched helpless as the tears welled in her eyes.
It was hell. Dad screamed the vilest things imaginable while he beat her. I blocked out the worst of it through years of wilful self-delusion. But a few burrowed deep into my memory. I used to wake at night, drenched in cold sweat. His screams jolted me out of my daydreams. They snapped me back to reality. “You vile, worthless WHORE!” “Lying sack of shit!” “Dumb Bitch!” Those were his favorites.
She would cry and cry, for hours it seemed, until giant snot bubbles came out of her nose. He punched, kicked, screamed, and stomped my mother within inches of her life on more than a dozen occasions. She spent weeks in the hospital, battling to breathe, hoping to die. Punctured lungs, broken noses, and cracked rib cages became the norm; Police reports and flimsy denials, standard operating procedure. He didn’t like lies, but truths only made him madder and the beatings more vicious. After a spell we kept our mouth shut and did our bid –hoping to one day get paroled.
* Mom wouldn’t let him take out his anger on me. Not on her twelve-year old baby with an oxygen tank; not to the little kid whose simple existence was a miracle. Not to the kid that she made this way. And I don’t mean in the way her egg and his sperm did the freaky-deeky so I could eventually be popped out nine months later. Though of course that’s 100% accurate in the most literal sense; I mean you could interpret it that way for sure. But more so my condition was brought on by their negligence. I have a condition called pulmonary fibrosis.
There’s a couple of causes from genetics to environmental factors. It basically meant my lungs were all messed up, scarred over, and didn’t work right. If they worked worse, I’d be on a lung transplant list, but they work just well enough that I’ll just have shitty lung disease for the rest of my shortened life. Now, one of the causes of pulmonary fibrosis could have been my mother smoking during pregnancy. As much as I’d love to blame her for that, she took impeccable care while I baked inside her. She didn’t smoke, took prenatal vitamins, listened to classical music, and stayed away from fish. She didn’t even drink. Not one drop. It wasn’t until after my diagnosis that the pills and booze took hold.
No, the cause of my condition comes from being poor; really, really poor; so poor that we couldn’t afford adequate housing. Poor enough to squat anyplace that accepted our meager cash, even if it meant buildings riddled with asbestos. As a child I was susceptible to all sorts of things that my parents’ immune system could withstand. I’m 18 now. I was 12 during this story. I was 8 when they diagnosed me. That’s the worst part. My condition wasn’t some genetic defect.
It wasn’t some moment-of-birth botch. It wasn’t something I’d lived with my entire life. I remember being a normal kid; playing sports, running, jumping, living outside a protective cocoon. I remember biting into a fresh apple without tasting sand. I remember breathing without pins and needles stabbing my lungs. I remember a life where my parents didn’t blame themselves for my existence, where even for a moment we were blissfully happy. I mean blissfully happy. Over the moon, laugh every night, Norman Rockwell, Kodak stock portrait happy. The kind of happy we would nauseatingly shake our heads at today.
The kind of happy that breaks my heart to think about, because I can never have it again. Seven though, that was a magical year. Dad came home every night to a warm cooked meal. He regaled Mom with stories of his day as she sat enthralled on the edge of her seat. We made pillow forts and watched old movies that went way over my head, all cuddled up around the shitty CRT Dad found at a yard sale. We were dirt poor. We didn’t care though. We didn’t need things to be happy. We just needed to be together. It wasn’t meant to last though.
I started getting winded at soccer practice, then I could barely make it home from school, my chest began to burn and ache throughout the day and into the night. Then, the wretched coughing started, followed by the blood. We went to doctor after doctor after doctor and our meager finances ran dry, but Mom and Dad were vigilant. They endured any cost, no matter how high, to ensure that my health was sound. Specialist after specialist shook their head and confirmed my parents’ worst fears. By my eighth birthday it was a foregone conclusion. They didn’t get me toys, or video games, or even books. They got me two shiny oxygen tanks. I still use them to this day. Happy Birthday to me, right?