Matt Wilcox

Creative Writing

Practice May 01st 2015

Earthbound

Writing Prompt: Due to overpopulation, your parents' generation has been living abroad a self sustained space station for the past few decades. Born and raised on the station, write about your first ever trip to earth. (via Reddit)

I turned back from the docking hatch window, but didn't really see the interior of my capsule. Instead the faces of Mom and Dad remained in my vision; their hope, their worry, their pride. We all knew how risky this was, irrespective of shit Earthside. The fact of the matter is I'm not equipped for life in a gravity well; my bones aren't dense enough, my heart isn't strong enough, and all the high-science my family has expended on me through my life can only do so much to make up for my mal-adaptions. Truth be told, I was considering once again aborting the mission - we all knew it was one way for me, and the hope of being able to get my family back down the well was slim from a pure biology standpoint, forgetting any of the other obstacles. My parents may have been born planet-side, but three decades of age and no gravity takes its tolls.

Certainly there was no chance I'd make it back up, even if everything went perfectly - the perils of one standard G would likely kill me sooner rather than later, once I was on the surface - and that was assuming the landing was gentle enough not to kill me before that. The multi-G acceleration of take off and escape velocity was simply a more immediate death sentence; a non-option. Doing this was to leave everything I know, permanently. With only a vague hope that some of the people in my life might make it down later.

I forced back the ache in my chest and made myself see the consoles in front of me. I pushed off the walls, flipped into my suit, and felt the various gizmos attach, insert themselves, and grasp my body; preparing to act as my life support. The chirp and chatter of communications washed over me, maybe because I was used to it from all the tests and drills. Maybe because I had other things on my mind. I didn't want to do this, but of course I had to. Fucking earth politics. Early space stations could only survive so long without re-supply and re-boost missions, and it turned out that the later ones had a similar problem over a longer time, with or without EmDrives and regenerative bio-stock. They don't last as well as they were supposed to. So here I am, the last hope for all I knew - my mission; get down to Earth, shore up the faltering political will to save us, then either get my home resupplied and upgraded, or get my family back down the well. Why me? I was the only remaining non-essential crew aboard.

However you looked at it, there was only a decade or so left where we might be together; either I died in around that time down the well, slowly crushed to death by the mere proximity of a fucking huge rock, or I died with everyone else up here when our systems finally failed completely. Going through with this though... then they have a chance of a long life - in space, or maybe on earth. If I don't... we all die. I felt bile rise in my throat, and anger blurred my vision momentarily. All we needed was a resupply mission, how can the Earther's be so cold as to leave us up here to die? How could it be a question for them?

I spoke the words to launch my craft. Nothing happened. I cleared my throat and spoke them again, this time without my voice cracking. A metallic clunk surrounded me, gentle motion began, and a strange calm settled within me. The decision was made, I was going through with it. My family might yet live. I just had to survive the next few hours, and inspire the people below enough to give the politicians no choices.