This is a tale for a little bit of amusement. A short story of sorts. Something different from me, and light-hearted for you. I hope you enjoy….
Oh, and I wrote this when I was fourteen #NoExcuses #ItShouldStillBeGood
One day. JR Manawa.
“Lift off in T minus 10……9……8……”
Distantly Amy could hear the smooth voice of Houston control in her earpiece.
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Even if she had been able to scratch her left cheek through the heavy space suit, she certainly couldn’t take her finger away from the keypad and the big red button that loomed only an inch away, not now that the countdown had been initiated.
Her nose was itchy too, which was ridiculous. But she knew from all the assessments and training that this had something to do with her being nervous. They had taught her how to control it.
“T minus 5……4……”
Everything was going blurry. She could feel the cold sweat clamming up her hands and crawling down her neck as she moved her finger closer to the button. This was the big red button she had dreamed of as a little girl, though that seemed a rather laughable memory now. She inhaled deeply and then let the breath out in a silent prayer.
The man next to her, the astronaut who had done it before, he was watching her. If she made a mistake, he could override. But this was her one chance to prove she really had what it takes. She’d been over it so often in the last year that she could do it with her eyes closed. She could launch a space shuttle in her sleep; all the knowledge was there in her brain, but somehow it seemed disconnected just at this very moment.
His name was Bruce, the one who had done it before. They had spent months in training together, but experience made all the difference. His face was calm, not a drop of sweat across his crease-less brow. Maybe he had done this too many times?
Amy swivelled her helmet to look the other way. Scott looked marginally worse than her, and he hadn’t let go of her free hand since they had been strapped in. This minor sign of affection was forgiveable given that they came from the same womb, but only just. Scott had followed Amy all the way to NASA, always a year behind her, but always there. Then the engineer assigned to Amy’s voyage had failed his final tests. Unfortunately Scott had been the understudy in this stage-worthy drama. They didn’t get along at the best of times, but right now hand-holding was okay. She told herself not to tease him about it later. He was just an engineer after all.
“T minus 3……2……1……”
“HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT OFF!”announced Amy, the rocket scientist and co-pilot of the mission. She forced her voice to remain even as she pulled her finger back from the red button. She dialled in a safety code with her free hand before she let her spine relax back into the chair, but only for a second.
Just beneath the skin of her neck her pulse was fighting madly with the tight collar of her suit. She could barely breathe.
Adrenaline shot through her veins just like the fuel as it shot though all the conduits and into the rockets before it was kissed by the spark of flame at its final destination.
Amy did not remember much of the next few minutes – the hair-raising feeling of your frail human body being launched into a speed it was simply not created for can make that kind of thing happen. When her brain re-connected with her mind, it seemed she had been doing all right. The demands from Houston were coming in fast and hot. Bruce, the pilot, had taken back control, punching in codes and commands with a calm face. Amy was relaying data back to him in a level voice, and following his responses. Bruce had definitely done this too many times.
The craft picked up speed and shot faster and faster, out of the atmosphere until it breached the vast and empty territory of space. As quick as it had begun, the launch was over.
Amy breathed deeply and finally allowed a laugh of relief to escape her lips as someone leaned forward over her shoulder from the seat behind. It was Fiona, the nurse.
“Where are we going?” Fiona asked.
Amy frowned. The nurse shouldn’t have taken her belt off yet.
Bruce sighed, “Neptune.” he informed her, “In search of water to replenish Earth’s diminishing supplies.”
“Hold up, what year is this again?” Scott interrupted. He had let go of Amy’s hand a few minutes ago. He’d also unbuckled his belt.
Amy was jealous that he had gotten to float in space before her. But that was childish. “Scott, really? We are in the year two-thousand-and forty-five. You should know this, you were writing the date on your exam papers only yesterday,” she jibbed at him.
It was funny, and everyone laughed, but she knew she would have to apologise for it later.
Bruce frowned, and everyone stopped laughing. “I’m switching to auto-pilot now, so we can make the jump to hyper space,” he told everyone, as he turned to the keypad.
“I’ll do it!” Amy volunteered.
“Buckle up!” Bruce barked at Scott and Fiona.
The jump to hyper space happened much smoother than the rocket launch.
“Can I get out of my seat now? I’m hungry.” Scott asked, after they had watched the universe flicker by for a few awestruck minutes.
“Scott really?” Amy didn’t put herself beyond punching him like she used to.
“Hey, I’m honest. You don’t need me right now. I’m am engineer, not a pilot, sis.”
He reached down to undo the clasp on the belt once more, when suddenly the spaceship lurched sideways.
Fiona let out a scream.
Scott stopped undoing his belt.
“Bruce?” Amy turned to their pilot.
“Amy, take over. The ship is falling out of hyper space. We must have hit something. I need to go and check.”
Scott looked worried that Bruce would ask for his help. But he did not.
“Bruce–” Amy began, but he was already up out of his seat.
“It’s all on you Amy. We are making it to Neptune this time!”
And then he was gone.
Suddenly the ship started to rock. Violently.
“I’ve lost contact with Houston!” Amy exclaimed. “Houston, are you there? Come in Houston? HOUSTON? ARE YOU THERE?”
Scott was too scared to even bother thinking about mechanical difficulties.
Amy tried in vain to punch in commands she knew. All of them. But the ship was not responding, and neither was NASA.
The electricity flickered.
Amy went cold. Her heart dropped in her chest, and this time it was she who reached for Scott’s hand.
To the side of the craft there was a painful grinding sound, a thousand times worse than nails on a blackboard, and then everything went dark.
A burst of light, and the screeching sound of metal tearing.
Amy could feel her body flung far, and then tumbling.
Tumbling like a rag doll into nothingness.
Tumbling back down to earth.
Amy rolled over and opened her eyes. She pushed her braids out of her face and sat up.
She was lying in the backyard along with Scott and Fiona, a few feet away from the big cardboard box the new fridge had arrived in the day before yesterday.
“Did I make the asteroids big enough that time?” asked Bruce, the boy from next door as he peered down at her.
Amy sighed. “We almost made it that time.”
“I don’t think I like space much. I think I’d rather be an actress when I grow up,” said Fiona, jumping up and brushing off her dress.
Scott frowned. “I thought you were gonna be a nurse!”
“That was yesterday.” Fiona giggled and raced off to find her mother, who was probably sipping coffee with Scott and Amy’s mother in the lounge.
“Do you want to come see the electronics kit my Dad got me for Christmas?” Scott asked Bruce.
“Sure kid,” Bruce shrugged and followed Scott back toward the house.
Little Amy finally rolled over and stood up.
She walked over to her big brown space ship, shining magnificently in the afternoon sun.
‘One day,’she thought, ‘one day.’
Written by JR Manawa