A Detour to Mars from the Jordan Valley — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

A family in crisis after its first-grader skips school for a space trip.

illustration by Avi Katz
Paltiel held the plastic container up to the rays of the morning sun coming through the living room window. Transparent, with a close-fitting red lid, it was filled to the halfway point with what looked to be powdery sand, the kind that the hamsin winds blow up from the south each spring. The kind that is the bane of soldiers, that forms drifts against the hills of the Judean desert in which feet sink deep, making every step an effort and running impossible.

Heli’s lips were pursed angrily, and there were tears in her eyes. She stood erect, a few steps behind him, her fingers curled and rigid.
Yoav, their six-year-old, stood between them,… continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreA Detour to Mars from the Jordan Valley — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Brine Drain–“Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

Avi Katz -- Brine Drain

illustration by Avi Katz

When Daniela woke up she saw Jupiter glowing brightly in the sky. Or was it Venus? She would be able to tell if she could find her binoculars. Jupiter would have its four Galilean moons ranged around it and Venus would show a phase. Sometimes, while out camping in the Negev, she had been able to see, or think she saw, those distinguishing marks with her naked eye. But everything was blurry now. She felt for the binoculars, which should be here beside her in the tent, but she couldn’t find them. B, her little brother from hell, must have taken them. Whenever she needed something badly, it turned out that he’d run off with it. She tried to lift herself up on her elbows to see if B was with her in the tent, but her head suddenly went woozy and she fell back down on her back.

“It’s ok,” a friendly voice said. “Take your time.”

Daniela glanced to her right and saw a woman who looked like a Fox News anchor sitting in a wooden chair next to her. She herself was lying on a cot. What she’d thought was a planet was in fact a naked light bulb. The walls were bare. She knew the scene from countless movies. And now she remembered the raid on her lab at Georgia Tech. She was the planetary geophysicist who had come in from the cold.

“My name’s Cindy,” the anchorwoman said. “I’m really sorry we had to bring you here. Rich, your research partner, and your grad students are just fine. You’ll get to see them in good time, after they all wake up.”

“CIA?” Daniela asked. “NSA? FBI? Shin Bet?”

“YKVK,” Cindy said. “But that’s just a moniker. The real name is ineffable. Far more secret than all the others.”

Read moreBrine Drain–“Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report