"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear." ~ Author Unknown
A Song Only You Can Hear
The Darkness Shows You the Stars
The Jumper lifted off and banked around to head toward the sunset. Jennifer looked out the window puzzled. "Rodney, what are you doing? This isn't the way to Atlantis."
His smiled smugly. "It's a surprise." He set the autopilot and walked to the back of the Jumper. Pulling down several overhead storage compartments he removed an air mattress, sleeping bags, pillows, a tent and an insulated cooler. "We are having a picnic under the stars just as I promised."
Jennifer was speechless for a moment. "I thought you'd forgotten."
"That was the plan." He moved back to the pilot seat and switched the controls back to manual. Jennifer put her arms around him from behind and nuzzled his ear.
"Mmm. I love you, Rodney McKay."
He took her hand and kissed the palm. "And I love you, Jennifer Keller."
"So where is this place you're taking me?" Jennifer was excited and curious but mostly excited.
"One of the teams found it on a scouting mission shortly after we arrived on New Athos. There's an open field, some caves, woods, and a small lake. We'll be all alone for two whole days. We can hike, swim, watch the stars, whatever we want."
"Mmm. Sounds like…fun."
He looked over at her. Every day he thanked God that she was in his life and loved him. Reluctantly he turned back to the HUD. "Look." He pointed. "There it is."
A few minutes later he landed the Jumper and they disembarked. Jennifer looked around at tall trees that reached bright green leaves toward a sky that was blue and cloudless. The lake was a shimmering crystalline blue and she was speechless.
"What do you think?"
He put his arms around her and his head on her shoulder. "So, impressed with the man who loves you?"
She turned to face him. "Always! This is just a little icing on the cake."
"Oh, I love cake! Um, just a little?"
Her lips met his. "Mmm. Depends on what else you have planned."
He waggled his eyebrows. "That's a secret." Rodney went back into the Jumper and brought out a pair of folding chairs. He opened one, positioned it where he could see the lake, the woods and the gently rolling hills that included the caves. He bade Jennifer to sit then handed her a chilled bottle of her favorite beer.
"Huh? Don't you need help bringing out the equipment?"
He placed a hand over his heart. "I will do that. You will drink your beer and enjoy the view. Let me worry about everything else." She looked at him, her eyes wide. "What? Oh, I know what you're thinking but I'm all alone up here." He pointed to his head. "Now sit. Drink. Enjoy."
Rodney chose a spot for their camp far enough from the Jumper so that it seemed like they were roughing it. Then, employing his vast intelligence, some strategically place grunts and groans and judicious use of swearing, he eventually had all of the equipment necessary for their nights under the stars unpacked and set up. The tent was pitched nearby in case it got chilly during the night and the air mattress was filled and ready for sleeping. Once that was accomplished, he began getting the food ready for their picnic. It wasn't difficult. The Mess Hall staff had done all the work. All he had to do was take it out of the insulated containers and serve.
Jennifer had orders not to turn around until told to so she kept her face resolutely toward the sun setting over the lake. She marveled at the colors: shades of pink, red, yellow and orange that are possible only in nature and later, when the sun was nearly gone, purple made an appearance.
Scents drifted on the warm breeze, so Earth-like yet not. Birds sang their last song of the day then were silent. One fearless creature that looked like an Indigo Bunting sang until the sun was completely down as if singing the sun to sleep.
Jennifer turned to see that Rodney had spread a red and white checked tablecloth on the ground and set out roasted chicken, tossed salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, avocado and bleu cheese dressing, rolls, and chocolate covered strawberries. There was also a bottle of Australian Sauvignon Blanc Semillon chilled and ready to pour into crystal wine flutes.
"Wow! It all looks great. I'm starving."
"Yeah. Me too. Shall we?" He offered her his arm and she hooked her hand through it.
They were about to start eating when the warm breeze turned colder. They tossed everything into the cooler and moved into the tent. Supper was consumed, wine was drunk and pleasant conversation was enjoyed.
He'd promised her they would lay out under the stars so they moved the air mattress outside, covered it with one of the sleeping bags unzipped and laid flat then covered themselves with the other.
"Do you know the names of any of the constellations?'
He didn't but pretended to. "Uh, yeah. Let's see…over there is The Treasurer, better known as Caspar. He's a very friendly constellation. And there is Drake the Dragon. One of the suns is in the process of going nova."
"Hmm. And over there?"
"That would be the constellation, ummm…Fred."
Jennifer giggled. "Fred? And I suppose that one next to it is Wilma?"
Rodney pulled her close. "Exactly. I knew you were smart."
"Oh, look! A shooting star." Jennifer closed her eyes. "Quick! Make a wish."
"Don't need to. I have everything I want."
"Everything?" She was skeptical but only a little.
"Well, aside from a Nobel Prize."
She snuggled close and they just lay there together watching the sky.
The next morning they were both jolted awake by a loud crashing sound. "What-" Rodney sneezed in the cool morning air. "What's going on?"
"I don't know. It's coming from the direction of the Jumper." She tossed back the sleeping bag they'd used as a blanket. They'd both fallen asleep fully dressed including their shoes. "Oh, man. I really gotta pee."
"Yeah, me too. They never show this part in the movies." He complained. They went behind nearby bushes and were back in less than five minutes.
As they walked toward the Jumper Jennifer handed Rodney a bottle of hand sanitizer. He was still rubbing his hands together when they rounded a large boulder shielding the Jumper from their sight and came to a stumbling halt.
"Oh, no!" Somehow, the Jumper had been flipped over onto its roof with the upper edge of the hatch imbedded nearly six inches into ground. They rushed forward examining it from all sides. It seemed to be okay other than being upside down. He tried the remote but the hatch remained frustratingly closed.
"Rodney! What could have done that?" He didn't answer and she turned to see him crouched near a large patch of flattened grass and small bushes.
"Whatever it was, it was big."
"So, what do we do now? Can you still fly it like this?"
He sighed as he brushed dirt from his hands. "Yes, if I can get inside and it's not damaged beyond repair."
She rubbed her hand up and down his arm, giving him a confident smile. "We'll figure it out."
He pulled her close to his side. "Of course we will. But there's one other problem."
"The weapons are in the Jumper. If whatever that was comes back…"
Jennifer hung her head for a moment then brought her eyes up to meet Rodney's. "We are so screwed."
The coolness of the morning had turned warm by the time they'd eaten what was left of their meal from the night before. They shed their jackets and continued with the task of digging out the top edge of the hatch so it could be opened. The ground was hard packed and difficult to move with what they had as tools.
Jennifer sat back on her heels and wiped perspiration from her forehead leaving behind a streak of dirt. The spoon she was using made her task difficult because it kept bending at the neck. She reached for a knife to break up the larger chunks of dirt and the roots of the grass around the hatch while Rodney did the same on the other side.
They both looked up when they heard tearing, screeching and metal rending. Without a word they headed back to the camp darting from boulder to tree to large bush to boulder again. There they found that the last of their food was gone and the tent, camp chairs, air mattress and other items had been torn to shreds and broken as if crushed by a heavy weight.
"There goes the last of the food." Rodney stated with a sigh. "At least there're MREs and water in the Jumper."
"The water in the lake is potable. It may not be the cleanest but at least we won't become dehydrated. We'll get into the Jumper soon and get you something to eat."
"You have to eat too, Jennifer."
"True. But I'm not hypoglycemic. You should be fine for few more hours at least."
"Yeah. Come on. Let's get back to digging." They returned to their task.
Hours later they'd finally cleared enough dirt to open the hatch. Items that had been lying loose around the cabin were now on the ceiling which was temporarily posing as the floor. Rodney did a preliminary systems check and found that everything seemed to be in working order. All he had to do was find a way to get himself into the pilot's seat in order to turn the Jumper right side up.
Jennifer gathered up all the items lying around and secured them in a side storage area. Except for the life signs detector, which she slipped into her back pocket, just in case. She then began the hunt for the food stores she knew were here. Ah! MREs, power bars, canteens of water, and a couple of bars of chocolate for dessert. These she stuffed into a backpack though she wasn't sure why. She was confident that Rodney would figure out how to right the Jumper and they'd return to Atlantis. The romantic picnic could be continued at a later date. Maybe someplace where weird things didn't happen. She laughed to herself. That left what? Chippewa Falls?
Rodney was fully engrossed and didn't hear the sound of rustling grass and hissing. Jennifer looked out the front window but the trees were still indicating there was no wind. What could be making that noise? She went to the hatch and stuck her head out. The sounds were louder now as if something were coming closer. When she saw what it was her eyes widened in fright.
"R-R-Rodney." She stammered as she backed up.
"Hmm? Almost done." He answered distractedly.
"Rodney!" Now she was close enough to poke him in the back.
"What?" She pointed then threw herself into his arms. "Oh, my God!" He whispered in horror.