Short Story: Safer at Home – Page 1

“The long road of man to get to this point is an achievement that will change humanity forever.”
Sean was speaking to the computer again, narrating everything. The flurry of activity occurring around me was loud, but not enough to drown out his voice. I tried to keep my cool, but there was something about the way he spoke that made me just want to slap him. “Do you really have to do that?”
An engineer laughed as he clipped my helmet into place.
“I could do it after we lift off if that would make you feel better.”
“Sir?” I responded back, waiting for him to clue in on his oversight.
“Right. I can do it later, sir.”
The sarcasm in his voice only served to irritate me more. I turned my attention to performing my final checks. With the engineers leaving the small arrow tip shaped pod, I locked the doors behind them.
“Three minutes until launch.” A body-less voice stated in a forceful timbre.
I couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement and anxiety in equal measure as a countdown update was broadcast. I had been training to go to space my entire life, struggling as every possible barrier was dropped in my way.
“A wave of tension fills the Renaissance as we get ready to launch.”
“Sean! Shut up!” Rhea shouted both through the comm system in her suit, and through her open visor.
Everyone in the crew, save Sean, laughed loudly. The tension Sean referenced cleared out, and an intangible change occurred. I felt as though we instantly refocused on the serious mission ahead of us. I pushed down the visor on my helmet, sealing myself in. Status checks happened in a timely manner and as the countdown reached its final seconds, there was nothing stopping us.
“Ten, nine…”
I couldn’t help but think of the seven scrubbed attempts to launch and the heightened anticipation before the frustrating delays.
“Six, five…”
A deep rumbling shimmied up the rocket, through my chair, and into my helmet. It all felt unreal, like a dream I was going to wake up from any second. I tapped my console, giving the all clear, double checking the pressure in the fuel system, and performing one last battery check.
“Two, one.”
The acceleration is unlike anything I can fully explain. The entire front of my body felt like it had hit a brick wall, my brain felt like it was bouncing around in my skull. I was pressed deep within my seat, it was uncomfortable, but not so painful that I wanted it to stop. The simulations, and preparation are nothing like the real thing, even the rocket sleds that we had tested in didn’t really compare to the real experience of fighting Earth’s gravity with huge controlled explosions pushing a small pod into orbit.
It lasted for several minutes as I watched the blue sky above me slowly shift from a bright blue to a deep rich blue before darkening. Rhea had been to space before, but Sean, Leonard, Kyle and I had never experienced something so transcendent. I couldn’t help but let a few, less than professional, gasps slip out, and over the internal communication system.
“Everything okay?” Rhea asked on a private channel.
“It is truly more beautiful than I could have imagined.”
Growing up in a city, I had only seen the full beauty of the night sky on trips between cities. Until I was ten years old, I had assumed there weren’t more than a few dozen stars. I remember seeing thousands of them litter the night sky with their beauty, and feeling as though I had been cheated up until that point. I had always known I wanted to go to space, but I didn’t realize how much there was to see. Being outside of the most dense part of the Earth’s atmosphere provided me with the same experience. The thousands of stars were joined by millions more, and the universe seemed infinite.
“It only gets better.” She responded, a smile in her tone.

2 Replies to “Short Story: Safer at Home – Page 1”

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