Author Topic: Coming Home  (Read 1051 times)

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Forgotten_Bard

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Coming Home
« on: June 24, 2010, 05:34:22 PM »
this is a short story, please tell me what you think
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The world was still.  Silence... silence couldn't be told as the crowd spoke and chatted amongst themselves, talking back and fourth and pointing off into the distance.  They stood there several miles away as others gathered in auditoriums or sat at home with their families, watching screens or televisions so they wouldn't miss it at all.  Far away gleamed the launch tower, a tall structure of metal that reflected the brilliant sun as steam and smoke puffed out at various areas as the rocket was ready.  The tall structure painted almost pure white with those towering rockets underneath.  Soon, it would go up into space.

In ground control the final calculations were being made, green numbers and text scrolling past dozens of faces that carefully tried to pick out anything that could have been wrong, making sure everything was perfect.  Unease settled around them, since this launch was delayed constantly for bad weather but now, the sun was out and the clouds were sparse.  Though the uncertainty remained as they looked for any indication to call it all off.  So far there was none...  Project Ares had launched 20 unmanned rockets before this one, none of them made it.  The issue was declared to be something a machine couldn't handle, so that is how Lieutenant Major James Brown came to be the astronaut chosen for this launch.

Far from ground control, and farther from the crowd, sat Major James Brown as he sat in the cockpit, his suit on and his visor up so he could check a few last minute items.  The hard part of this job was the silence got to you when it was at a time like this.  He turned on the radio one last time from his seat on earth, "Hey, uh, Major James Brown to ground control... If you are planning to hold me any longer, is it possible to send me up my last drink on planet?"

A few smiles flickered on the faces in ground control as a response was sent, "No go Major, We are dialing in the count down now..."
"Well... I guess I will just have to wait to get back, could you put mine on the rocks and hold it for me?"
"Can do Major, We send you our best wishes...."

The radio went silent until the countdown began.  Even this small conversation was recorded and played across the world, as Ares was the world's hope to help make sure nothing came to harm their planet.  That one small talk, helped lift some of the hearts out there that feared what happened to the others of Project Ares... every little bit helped.  Though there was one face, far away and sitting in a chair at home, the radio also playing as she hugged her knees close to her as she prayed.  Mrs. Brown prayed for her husband's safe return, because she too felt something that was off today.  It was something she could do little to change.

"Ten..."  The world fell silent.
"Nine...
Eight....
Seven....
Six..."
All faces looked up at the large screen, no one payed attention to their screens as a single red error scrolled by without notice.  Smoke was gathering as ignition drew closer as the crowds and families seemed to rock closer to what they watched.  Even nature fell silent to the Countdown.
"Five.
Four.
Three.
Two.
One.
Ignition!"

The silence was shattered by a roar.  Tubes and fuel links broke away as the rockets put all their effort into lifting the massive ship up off the ground.  The ship rocking barely noticeable to the human eye as it slowly forced its way into the sky, building up speed faster than most could assume as the white trail of smoke took it up high and higher.  The world held its breath.  As the cameras followed and zoomed out to show the rocket Mrs. Brown suddenly felt a horrid sense wash over her but she couldn't stop watching as her husband climbed higher and higher into the sky until he vanished in the blue.  The news began to go back to the announcer and she shut it off, looking to the radio channel that was tuned in to the control tower... Her last link to her husband.

Reaching high in the atmosphere, James watched as the systems switched to their second stage to carry him into orbit, all systems green as he started to feel gravity leave and the weightlessness of space take over.  His head counted down the time until moving to cut off second stage and save fuel.  Looking around the cockpit he began to key in the tests for why he was here.  Get it done and head home.  That was his only goal for today.  He tried the scanners and various electrical systems, waiting for ground control to send up the next message.  He turned his head to look at a few more instruments as a single light began to flash red.

Ground control was working hard now, visual gone as they worked to make sure nothing went wrong.  The launch was without problems, but that was the easy part.  They began to recheck all systems to make sure nothing was up.  At one console one of the technicians began to flip through all in space flight commands and checking them once more.  Soon the tests would be over so the hard part would begin, a timer ticking down those precious minutes they had.  He wiped the sweat from his brow and began to click a few more keys when he suddenly froze at the code before he punched it up on the big screen.  "Sir!"  Everyone froze as turned to the screen before looking back at the man watching it all.  They fell silent and slowly fell silent looking back at him.  He read the message flashing on the screen without breathing.  ::GO TO THRUSTERS FULL . . .  NOT RESPONDING::  He read the red blinking code once more before his hand to the radio and picked it up.

Mrs Brown shivered as Ground Control's voice came over the radio.  "Ground Control to Major James Brown, are you receiving?"  The silence went in as she sucked in a breath, soon she would hear her husband's voice and everything would be alright.  She waited.  Soon the radio crackled as static ran back.  The world was still once more.  "Ground Control to Major James Brown, do you read me?"

Major heard the broken voice on his radio and tried to respond, yet a light flashed that his radio was failing.  He felt cold and looked to see if anything else was not working properly.  He read the light and what it meant as his hand punched a few buttons as he moved to the console, pulling off the panel, hands moving to reconnect the radio to earth as his ship continued its silent orbit.

Long minutes were filled with Ground Control trying to reach the space ship, long minutes drifting into hours as only silence and static responded.  The world said nothing.  The radio crackled once and a voice filled it as Major James brown began to speak.  His voice was calm but he didn't open with the usual response as slow breathing could be heard as the man in space tried not to sound troubled.  After another breath he spoke clearly..."

"Send my wife my love.... Then I will be..."

The radio cut to static once more.  Mrs. Brown wrenched a sob and knocked the radio from the table as she covered her mouth with her hand, falling to the couch and crying into the pillows.

Ground Control went silent, the radio silent as they clicked theirs off, each man standing up slowly to watch the screen as the timer ran past designated return and ran red, a plus sign falling next to it signifying they were behind schedule.  Each man watched as slowly, as one, they raised up a single solute to the screen.

The World mourned.  Families and crowds were in shock of the final message as they realized that the Ares Project claimed its first and only life, a human life.  TV stations began to broadcast the news as radio stations tried to overcome the impossible.... The man in space... wouldn't be returning...

High above it all, stuck in the endless orbit, Major James Brown moved silently as he tried to correct what he could, the blinking light telling him what he already knew, but if he could do anything it was better than staying there.  Keying in the command he activated the engines, though they were unable to go to full power he set them at half as they pushed his path across the atmosphere, the shop growing hotter as he reentered.  The world though he was dead and, as he looked over the blue planet, he knew after this he might well be but, he was coming home...  Tears ran down his face as he removed his helmet to get rid of them, his gloved hand rubbing the locket his wife gave him earlier that morning as he smiled.  He adjusted hit path a bit more and watched as the nose hit atmosphere and he began to fall through.

As he smiled he whispered softly, "I'm coming home..."

The wreckage was found across the desert.  What was left of the ship that didn't burn away was stretched across miles of cracked earth and clay, burnt black and twisted beyond recognition.  As of today, the day after the incident, no indication of the cockpit or Major James Brown has been found.  In accordance to the loss of life on a mission he has be granted a posthumous two ranks and a memorial service will be held.  His wife will recieve a flag and a medal in his stead.

As of today the Ares Project has been scrapped and won't be reopened.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 05:36:59 PM by Forgotten_Bard »
A letter, a word
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A sentence, a paragraph
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A page, a story
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A book, a novel.
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They all mean so little when you can't take time to put your soul into the work.

Ruben

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Re: Coming Home
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2010, 06:01:21 PM »
I've finally found the time to read your story. :>
It was really a nice short story and I like the idea. It was obvious from the beginning, of course, that something wasn't alright, but you built up suspense quite well in the second part of the story when it became clear that James Brown wouldn't be able to return to his wife.
This is the sentence I liked most: As he smiled he whispered softly, "I'm coming home..."
Quite a sad and touching short story.

Well done.  :seraismile:
One thing, though: You might wanna read over your stories again once you finished them  because in this one, there were a few mistakes made in haste that could have easily been avoided.