Falling Sky

‘Go and think about what you have done, young man!’ Harrison heard his mother yelling from the bottom of the stairs. He hadn’t meant to poison his sister’s hamster. He had sincerely believed that hamsters loved raw potato. Apparently not. Squeaks was lying on the kitchen table, gasping for air. Harrison stared through his bedroom window. In the farmyard, not an animal stirred. He loved the farm, despite its many chores. However, his true passion lay in space. He gazed upwards at the vast carpet of stars above.

Harrison often imagined that he could go to space. It seemed so delicate and peaceful, yet also unfathomably large and full of magic and mystery. Harrison’s family didn’t understand how he could stare at the night sky for hours on end. They never understood. ‘A waste of time,’ they called it; ‘Futile and pointless.’ Harrison saw a shooting star flash across the sky, distracting him from his thoughts. He smiled. That shooting star was a chunk of rock flying through the atmosphere at 20 kilometers per second. He found it fascinating.

“Approaching earth!” called Darcy Mawfod. Captain Mandon smiled. They were home. The NASA Orion’s first mission to Pluto had been a success. Mandon’s heart swelled with pride as he remembered his graduation, his first day as an engineer and his first mission. Now, he was the captain on NASA’s largest expedition. He had seen things most only dreamt of seeing. Now, he was returning home. He could picture his wife’s face when she saw him again. He was disturbed from his thoughts by a shout from Marvin.
“Captain! There’s an electrical failure in the control unit. We cannot control the ship! We are trying to contact the base.”
Mandon’s heart missed a beat. Had they really come so far only to die so close to home? The communication manager returned a minute later. “Communication has been lost, Sir.”
“Alright. Attempt to activate a landing sequence.”
“Antonio has already tried. It has malfunctioned also.”
“Thank you, Marvin.” Captain Mandon sighed. He never imagined that anything like it could happen. Orion was NASA’s latest project; it was ‘guaranteed’ to be reliable.

Mandon thought back to when he was a small child, sitting by his window staring into space, admiring its beauty and expanse. No one around him had ever understood his fascination. He had always dreamt of going to space. He had never fully understood the risks. Now, his spaceship was hurtling towards the earth at hundreds of kilometers per hour. The ship would look like a mere shooting star, not a crew of parents, siblings and children. A tear rolled down Mandon’s cheek as he pictured his wife and son at home in Minneapolis.
He would never see them again. He stared through the window and watched the earth approach rapidly. No words were needed as the astronauts sat in silence, each thinking of their family. As the ground approached rapidly, Mandon closed his eyes in helpless resignation and prepared for impact.

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