Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rocket Men

Editor’s note: This story about a man who blew himself up at a party with an improvised rocket was recently brought to our attention, and it reminded Steve of a dream…

Coincidentally, I had a dream last night that a group of astronauts-in-training (rocket men, so to speak) where hanging out in Mom's back yard.  They had somehow helped my wife, Nancy, maybe even saved her life, so I was grateful to them and we were giving them food and drink.  They began building a dam out of dirt and leaves and this caused flooding into the next door neighbor’s yard.  There was still plenty of water in our yard as well, and all sorts of latent aquatic life started blooming out of the soil, including a tadpole that had already sprung one leg and stubby little arms.

This was cause for celebration, so I broke out some of my brother John’s home-made fireworks.  One was just a jar of gunpowder with a wick punched through the screw-on lid.  The other was a rectangular metal can of butane (for filling fancy lighters) which was labeled "Rossignol."  The can had been emptied out and filled with gunpowder, match-heads, etc. – much like the Michigan guy's home-made rocket.

I took the thing out to where the astronauts were and lit the wick.  There must have been some fluid left in the can that had saturated the wick, because the end of the wick immediately popped like a firecracker, scaring me.  I ran to hide behind the big tree next to the deck, and everyone starting mocking me.  What was left of the wick was burning normally, and it looked like it had about 30 seconds to go.  The astronauts, being cocky military types, were clowning around, standing right next to it, laughing at my cowardice.

The thing detonated, sending fragments of metal all over the rear yard.  The concussion was deafening.  John took some metal splinters to the face and his arm, which protected his eyes – not too bad.  There was a red mist of blood and fat in the air.  One of the astronauts had lost all the skin and muscle on his forearm, leaving his hand intact.  He was in shock, making motions in the air like he was folding laundry.

"Guess he won't be going to the Moon," I said, and woke up.

--Steve Kilian


Steve’s Video and Pat’s Video

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