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A short science-fiction story...
It was August 17th, 2088 when I boarded Chandra; a luxury orbital cruise ship. My wife Sarah and I were to celebrate our honeymoon on our first trip into space. We launched from earth in a space plane named Gagarin V. It was a smooth and extraordinary experience; to look out the plane window and see the bright blue sky fade into a blackness scattered with diamonds. Then the passengers ooed and awed at the sight of the two spoke-wheel shaped cruise ships spinning in perfect harmony. It was The Royal Emerald and Chandra; named after Chandra OíBrien, the first person to set foot on Mars. The only jolting moment was the docking between Gagarin V and Chandra. Our ears popped and suddenly a fresh-cool air breathed into the passenger cabin. We didnít even need to collect our baggage. We were immediately shown to our suite where we were directed to wait for our luggage to arrive along with further instructions and rules for our experience.
The ship was magnificent and beautiful. It was littered with giant windows, giving view to a britght-blue Earth slowly rotating and circling upside down to right side up from your perspective. There were great restaurants, fun dance clubs, exercise rooms, pools, gamerooms (and weightless gamerooms), casinos, bars and private weightless rooms. The private weightless rooms were stationed at the center of the giant spoked wheel. Sarah and I had a great night in one of the private rooms. The walls were padded with black leather and dark blue carpet. It had an amazing sound system with an infinite selection of music. There were a total of twelve one-way octagon windows on three sides of the twenty-foot triangular room. Sarah and I discovered one of the fantasies people on Earth have dreamt about since the first rocket carried a man into space. The phrase "exploration in space" has never been the same. Needless to say, our experience on Chandra was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
On our scheduled final night of orbit, Sarah and I were at an oldies-party in one of the dance clubs. They blasted music from the mid-1900ís and everyone danced and drank late into the night. There was a song playing where the lyrics repeated; dream-dream-dream-dream-dreeeeeam, when suddenly it seemed no one was dancing anymore. Everyoneís attention was to the giant window facing Earth. It was on the night side and was submerged in darkness. Only now there was light. Small speckles of piercing yellows and oranges lit up light stars all over the globe. Everyone knew, it was the global war that everybody feared for the last five years. It was happening now. The song continued as the DJ himself was transfixed to the horrifying scene. Nobody said a word, but many women cried and screamed. I kept waiting for the fireworks to subside, but they would not. I held Sarah, and could sense her crying. I couldnít say anything that would make her feel better, for my heartís pounding was enough to communicate a fearful mutual feeling.
We held hands as people started leaving the club. The walking turned into running and shouting among the passengers. Soon all music was off and all emergency lights were on. A voice came over the intercom system and reminded people to remain calm. But they would not remain calm, their Earth as they knew it would never be the same, and they may never be able to set foot on Earth again.
Days later the panic slowly turned into a depressed fearful state. People were urged to consume as little food as possible and the ship turned from a luxury cruise into a life support boat. People brought up the SS Titanic, and how similar our situation is. I talked to Sarah about this and she remembered that there werenít enough lifeboats to save all the passengers. Sarah and I cautiously wandered about restricted areas in search of lifeboats. We found them, using a stolen access card from security personnel. There were a few and they were heavily guarded. They were all open for access, attached to the outside of Chandra, sitting quietly to the enclosed storage and supply area.
Weeks later, when Sarah and I were sleeping in our dark hissing suite, we heard a faint thunder and a light rumble. We scattered to the suite across the hall and watched in disbelief as the Royal Emerald was disintegrating into nothingness. The fire exploded into space and quickly dispersed. The debris seemed to shatter away. Soon the debris was plummeting upon Chandra. Sarah pulled me away from the window by my hand and started out into the hallway. As we ran down the hall where doors started opening, I wondered how the Royal Emerald could have been destroyed. Could they have been hit by a nuclear weapon? Was there a malfunction? The Royal Emerald was older and was considerably less technological. Either way, it was no more. Sarah dragged me down several spiral stairways and "personnel only" exits until we reached the guarded room and ducked down into an emergency escape module hatch. The hatch was already suctioning to an airtight seal when the six stunned guards turned away from an observational window. We sat and secured ourselves in the first two seats of twelve. Sarah peeled away a bright orange seal from the central control board between us and pulled out the orange lever. We were jetted back into our seats as we shot away from Chandra. Then it became weightless, and the hissing and loud venting noise remained. The small oval vessel misted off into the darkness of space.
We have been able to survive quite sufficiently for the past three months. At first we couldnít sleep for a couple days, then the first time we did, were startled to a loud buzzing on the communication system. It was the final transmission from what used to be Chandra. There is a large amount of packeted food and drums of water packed below the twelve seats. There is a small bathroom and kitchen/disposal area to the right of the ship, all accessible through passage tubes just large enough to pass one weightless body. We left the lights off most of the time, probably in vain.
Eventually an atmosphere-alarm started to abruptly beep (as you can hear) and bright lights started flashing a constant strobe out into the void of space. I canít see Earth anymore. Itís just another star. Sarah and I may be the only humans left alive, although she is now sleeping and I am too afraid to try and wake her. Iím talking into this emergency module logtrack, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I have this horrible feeling that if I fall asleep, mankind too, will be put to rest. If anyone ever hears this recording, pleaseÖ give.. Thatís funny. Thereís some kind of bright light outsideÖ I donít have the strength to get up and see.. (scrambled static) Oh my Go- (high-pitched buzzing) ItísÖ
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© 2003 Jesse Landon
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