And the Envelope Please ...
by John R. Dilworth
I was strapped tight in the 20 ton silver rocket ship named To Infinity
And Beyond with countdown within minutes. I reminded myself to "breathe"
according to basic manual training. "Body Functions" read high
normal. Don't want to get too high, it distorts the mind's reaction time
and I'll probably go in my suit.
So much prep goes into sending "off planet" pioneers into new
places. The training period alone takes years. Some trainees never get assigned
a flight. Some just get lucky. Like me. But, I love to travel "off
planet".What else would I do?
Two minutes to "Take Off". No matter how hard I concentrate I
begin to release water from every pore. I could feel the ship contracting
with compressed energy like a Cobra ready to strike. There's noise coming
from all directions. It becomes muddled. Ground Control is speaking to me
over the transmitter. I cannot understand a word they're saying. It could
be a laundry list.
Through a submarine telescope. Thirty seconds. I begin to want out. Somebody
get me out of this thing. How did I get into this in the first place. Ha
ha. I laugh from how ridiculous I feel. Who am I kidding? Mighty Mouse couldn't
drag me out of here.
I have thoughts of every timid event I ever experienced. I cannot remember
the actual events only the feeling of embarrassment and helplessness. And
the wish for it to end. Twenty seconds. My heart beat accelerates. It forces
the blood to expand the veins in my temples. More noise from Control. "Stay
cool, starting countdown..." Ten seconds. This is a reality. All I
want to do is curse. Every obscene word in the world gushes out of my mouth
like flushing a clogged toilet . Five seconds. I'm going to blast off. Four
seconds. Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Three seconds. I do not recognize my physical
self. Two. Suddenly the worst possible event occurs.
ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! The flight is terminated. The rocket shuts down.
An incredible release of energy escapes from my body and from the ship.
I am completely wet.
Every "off planet" pioneer knows there is an 80 percent chance
your flight will be terminated at the very last second. And for whatever
the reason you accept that as part of the training. I exit the rocket and
wipe down. I need to eat. Food becomes instant gratification. I am exhausted.
Hollow in fact. I was looking towards the stars and imagined the force of
ascent pressing against my face, till I looked like The Joker.
The next scheduled flight is undetermined.
Exclusive drawing by John R. Dilworth for Animation
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