The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

Payback

gunpoint

Image: International Business Times UK

From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

Oh crap! I just remembered that the Bio Research Center for Evolutionary Design located on Delta Epsiloni Four put out a hit on me over two years ago. Really, it wasn’t my fault that I lost their shipment of hundreds of thousands of biosamples developed on over a dozen worlds in the Consortium. It’s not my fault that a jump drive accident sent my former ship, the Cynnabar Breen, on a one-way trip out of known-space and into the ocean of a young alien world. It’s not my fault that all of their samples, mutated by radiation from the Breen’s ruined space norm drive, began to breed at a geometric rate, contaminating the planet’s biosphere and resulting in the Consortium quarantining said-planet for tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

It’s not my fault, but those crazy geneticists don’t see it that way.

Oh, by the way, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m the owner and operator of the hyperspace freighter Ginger’s Regret. Ginger, the ship’s named after her, is the co-pilot, engineer, and literal personality of the ship (long story, but if you’ve been reading these long entries for a while, you’ll know).

We took a job ferrying some DNA analysis equipment from our main port of Marconii to the Bio Research Center for Evolutionary Design on Epsiloni and now we’re approaching Marconii’s jump point about to deliver the goods. I remembered too late about how the scientists at that place hate my guts (I assume they still do) and hired an assassin to off me.

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The Homecoming

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

Thanks to the revolutionary Roddenberry-Cochrane drive, Ellis Vanderberg was able to travel to Proxima Centauri A, the closest Earth-like planet to our own, perform a year-long survey of its one continent and the six largest islands, and then return home in a little over four decades.

Of course, due to the time dilation effect, much more time passed on Earth than Vanderberg experienced during his trip. That’s the good and bad thing about traveling in interstellar space at a significant faction of the speed of light.

Vanderberg was twenty-two years old when he was launched into space. The only son of Billionaire Charles Vanderberg, he had volunteered to test the space craft and experimental drive his father’s corporation invented. The government first insisted that the journey not be made, but the Vanderberg fortune and influence insisted otherwise. Then they insisted that a team of trained astronauts and mission specialists be sent instead of Ellis, but again, the Vanderberg fortune and influence won out.

In the end, Charles Vanderberg got his way and Ellis Vanderberg got the singular honor of being the first person to travel to another planet outside of our Solar System.

Now he’s back. Ellis knew that much more time had passed for the people of Earth than he experienced. Subjectively, he was a man in his mid-sixties, but he expected his parents, his sisters, his friends, everyone he’d ever known would be dead.

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The Last Flight of the Cynnabar Breen

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

I’d just finished the hyperjump and arrived in the Delta Epsiloni star system when the meteor struck my craft’s main drive section. Fortunately, it was a small meteor, otherwise the ship might have been destroyed and me along with it. Unfortunately, it was large enough and going fast enough to pierce the re-enforced outer hull, punch a three centimeter hole through the jump drive’s control systems, ripping them to shreds, and exit out the other side of the hull, making a hole much, much larger than the first.

Also unfortunately, it hit at just the right angle and velocity that instead of rendering the drive inoperable, it triggered another jump through hyperspace. With the control systems gone, the ship jumped blind giving me an over 99% chance of emerging somewhere outside of known-space. Now I have no idea where I am.

Oh, for the record, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m the pilot and owner of the freighter Cynnabar Breen. Hey. I didn’t name her. The pilot I bought her from did. But that’s her official designation in the Consortium’s ship registry and I’m stuck with it.

On this run, I was assigned to take a large number of diverse microscopic biosamples, all suspended in stasis, to the fourth planet orbiting Delta Epsiloni, specifically the Bio Research Center for Evolutionary Design. The docs and lab geeks like to take what we’ve got and see if they can make it better.

They won’t be getting their shipment on time. In fact, they won’t get it ever, at least from my ship.

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