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by BlueNight
BlueNight -- all rights reserved

Jimmy was sitting on the grass hill in the public park across from the fireworks.

He was happy, because this year he didn't have to watch from the trailer park. He was happy, because this year his mom had gotten him a new dad, and they all lived in a big house. He was happy, because this year, he had toys, and a nicer dad who was there more of the time.

A brilliant green light shot into the night sky, and Jimmy's eyes got big. His mouth opened as he followed it up, up, watched tiny green sparks split off like leaves from a stem, and saw it open like a big purple flower.

Kim grinned at the ingenuity of the fireworks manufacturing artists. The flower was a wonderful show-opener. He wondered what would come next. A single point of light whistled up, up, and popped, the sparkles glittering and shining halfway to the ground.

He smiled, remembering his flight to this wonderful country, held in his mother's arms as they stepped onto Hawaii for the first time, then on to California. Alan Conglomerated, the sponsor of this show, offered him a job as software engineer, had paid for his training, and had even paid off his college loans.

It was worth it. A clean environment, a company outing to the fireworks this year...

A silent pop, and the yellow sparks turned orange, then red. The crowd sighed, and Kim realized he had said, "Ooooh." He grinned. His emotional reaction was the same as everyone else's, and for once, he liked it that way.

Bill watched the sky. It reminded him of the first fireworks display he'd seen as a kid. Their plane was descending on Albuquerque, and he had seen it from the plane. The pilot managed to let them see much of the half-hour show, and they did see the grand finale.

This was far from a finale. That would not happen for twenty minutes.

A small red burst formed, lingered, and without warning, a white burst grew from its center and surrounded it. He clapped with the crowd.

Tanya grinned. She had been out of school for a month, but until today, it had just felt like a long weekend. Finally, she knew summer had come.

Clearing her mind, she watched the sky.

An oblong white burst was followed by a spherical green, and as the sound of the pops hit them, two more burst, and two more, timed so that the people in the park would see them burst as they heard the sound.

Stephanie watched with her family. Her face wrinkled as she cried. She was thinking of the last time her son had seen the fireworks, before he got that job, before he died.

A big blue sphere made a deep BOOM two seconds later.

She remembered her mother, who had been age-reduced to forty, who had decided to sail around the world and was killed in India.

A yellow split, the second turning green, and both exploding at once.

She remembered her daughters, one marrying far too soon, one not marrying at all, yet. She had a grandchild. She was a grandparent.

A yellow burst oblong vertical, somehow curved like a banana. Shaped charges had made for interesting shows in the last few years.

Tears dripped down her cheeks.

Mike thought of his ancestors. He knew two had come over on the Mayflower, thanks to his grandfather, interested in geneology.

A purple burst, the sparks turned green.

He had watched an old DVD, The Patriot, and thoughts of the Revolutionary War were running through his head all day. He wondered if any of his ancestors had fought to be Americans instead of Colonial British, taxed by a government to which they felt no emotional ties.

A green burst, the sparks turned purple.

He wondered if any had fought in the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American war, or World War One. He knew his great-grandfather had stormed the beach, his grandfather had taken out the Cong, and his father had been a Clinton "peacekeeper" in Bosnia. He wondered if he should have entered the army instead of going into computers, but shrugged the thought away.

A twirling, twisting burst that flew high, twisted and twirled down, and cast a cone of sparks downward.

That cone was awesome, thought Beth, as she snuggled with Caryn on the blanket. Luke really knows what he's doing.

He had told her to watch for the downward cone, and said the next one was for her and Caryn. She felt Caryn's attention drift to the sky.

A red mortar shot into the air, and split into four parts. Each flew away from the others for a few seconds, then they all exploded at once.

They were hearts, four red hearts that turned into white sparkles.

Beth wondered why the sparkles were shimmering, then realized it was the tears in her eyes. She hugged Caryn, and looked into her wife's tearful eyes.

They remembered their wedding day in Utah, the vows they had said, the six kisses they had shared, binding them together for as long as they all would live.

They knew the third was for their wife on the Moon, taking care of the inanimorph colony.

They knew the fourth was for their wife in Heaven, their funny, playful, genius, sometimes-squeaking, always gentle mousewife.

BlueNight gathered, formed a mortar at his base, and fired its contents upward with a whistle. He let the air that was himself spread the sound to the air that wasn't, as he prepared to explode.

The package exploded, as he let physics do its job. Sparks that were him watched the other sparks inside the big bubble of air that was also him.

The sparks were a deep blue, a rich blue, a pun on the multi-billionaire BlueNight. The living pun sparkled like a giggle, turned into ash, and were -pushed- into that nothing from whence they came. Another mortar was prepared.

Thanks to the inanimorph that WAS the show, Alan Conglomerated didn't have to spend a nickel on firepowder or ash cleanup. The designer of the show was a minor player in the fireworks market who had gone bankrupt, thanks to a client whose product had been a fraud, a scam.

Hank Farnorth, an Inuit tribesmember, third-generation pyrotechnics designer, and an engineering/chemistry grad student, had come to the States with the image of the Northern Lights firm in his mind. He had been lured

by the promise of showing their beauty to the people of America, Mexico,

and anywhere they couldn't see it.

They had taken his ideas and given his name to their debtors.

One of those debtors was Alan Con, a company known for its honesty in doing business. Their labs had worked day and night to get an Aurora Device completed and patented before the scammers who had taken Hank's money and ideas.

Now, it was showtime.

BlueNight launched the Aurora Device far above his bubble. It burst, and a shimmering wave of green appeared above the city. It was gorgeous, environmentally safe, and huge. Simulating the conditions of solar winds hitting the ionosphere hadn't been easy, but from the ooohs and aaahs of the crowd below, it was worth it.

Grinning inwardly, he launched another him-mortar, and exploded. Shimmering sparks were magnetically designed, and the sheet of rippling green became orange above the sparks. The orange spread slowly through the wave.

Another burst, this one red, caused the artificial aurora to become purple.

This went on for ten minutes, and then sky went silent. The finale was next, and those who had seen previous shows watched in breathless anticipation.

The crowd watched.

Jimmy's step-father looked at his son and wife. He was the luckiest guy in the world, to have this loving wife and perfect child. Tears filled his eyes, and he looked back at the silent, shimmering sky.

Kim was designing a screensaver in his mind that would simulate the display. He could do it in C++ with his eyes closed. He did it in his mind with his eyes open, waiting for the big finish.

Bill smiled, and watched. Without noticing, he was shrinking into the body of a child, his mind becoming slightly simpler but still appreciating the beauty.

Tanya wondered if her classmates would mock her for liking something so mundane, so normal, so old-fashioned. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind, and waited for the end.

Stephanie again thought of her son, not aware that he -was- the fireworks she had been watching. He had always loved fireworks.

Mike wondered if he had any Mountain Men ancestors who had trapped in the cold reaches of Canada, who had seen these displays. He wondered if his great-great-great grandfather had seen such colorful displays, or if they were plain puffs of light and smoke back then.

Beth and Caryn (and Shelley on the Moon, from the quantum faster-than-light TV linkup with a local station) watched, waiting.

Hank Farnorth grinned, amazed at how well the Aurora Device had worked, and marvelling at the distortions in the field caused by the magnetically-enhanced fireworks. It was almost as beautiful as the real thing.

BlueNight mentally took a deep breath, prepared the finale-launching mortars, and slowed his personal timescale.

Boom. Boom. Two were fired upward. A blue and a red blossomed, one after the other, as three more were launched. Pop. Pop. Pop. An oval, a sphere, an oval oriented vertical. To the crowd it seemed like an instant, to BlueNight it was a minute.

Careful, don't alter the physics. Keep it real. Pop, pop. Another two, within an instant of each other. The big finale has to be obvious. Too bad it couldn't all be this good.

The distortions were green, red, orange, blue, rippling through the lit-up sky, rippling through the false aurora.

Another three, pop, pop, pop, and it looks like a wave going from one side to the other.

Two minutes of slow-time, ten seconds of real-time...


Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Four huge bursts, almost on top of each other, paced to make it exciting, and obvious.

Boom. Boom. Primary colors, secondary colors. Boom. Brilliant red. Boom. Perfect purple.

Boom. The most beautiful green you ever saw. Boom. Yellow as golden as the sun. Boom. Orange that would make an orange-picker's mouth water.

The next one came a little slower. Boom. Obviously slowing down the pace, almost at the end, a small red with invisible white that comes from the center to start glowing as if it sprang from the red.

Boom. A green that turns purple.

Boom. A blue that turns yellow.

Obviously slower, the audience will think this is the last one. Boom. a twirly one that splits and becomes a dandelion in the sky.

Two long, agonizing seconds after the sound reaches them for the audience to wonder, is that it, is it over?

This one flies silent into the air, twirling, golden. It hangs for a moment, and everyone holds their breath.

The whistling sound reaches them as it explodes, once, twice, three times.

The top portion is red.

The middle band is white.

The bottom part is blue.

It is the largest one they've seen tonight, and the whistling noise it made as it went up reaches them. The sparks turn to glittering sparkles, which take forever to fade. The pop pop pop reaches them, and they clap, and cheer, and yell, and stomp their feet, and howl, and chitter, and yell to the sky, and grow louder every moment.

Because somehow, the artificial aurora was affected in an unusual way. On one corner, the green becomes blue with glimmering, intermittent white. The rest is stripes of red and white.

The night sky has become a flag.

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