To the Moon

This is Day 7 in a series of essays inspired by a writing prompt from In which I attempt a narrative. Tally-ho!

7. The Rocket-ship: Write about a rocket-ship on its way to the moon or a distant galaxy far, far, away.

One moment he was weightless, the next his forehead smashed against the window.

When you’re in zero gravity, though your brain knows you’re moving, your body doesn’t. Your speed is constant, and there are no air pockets or turbulence, like in a plane.

So when he was suddenly thrown into the window he’d been taking pictures through, he knew something was seriously wrong. His training kicked in immediately.

In split seconds he’d done a sensory check. Touch: what did he feel? Pain in his forehead. No sudden temperature change, no drop in pressure. Taste: blood. A quick probe with his tongue found that he’d bitten his lip in the impact. Well if that’s the worst of it… Smell: any leaks or fires? Nothing. Not yet, at least. Sight: could he see any damage? Not from his position. Hearing: were any alarms sounding? The bump to his head must have been strong because his ears were ringing. But before that thought had even fully formed, he realized the buzzing was an alarm coming from the cockpit.

He shook his head to try and clear the fog of the bump. Pushing himself off handles and walls, he made it to the cockpit. His colleagues were already there. Marian looked dazed, as if she’d hit her head, too. Then he saw the droplets of blood floating from her temple. She’d been running one of the experiments when the collision happened and had been thrown into a door frame. Karl was examining the wound.

Though it was fewer than 20 seconds since the impact, Liudmila and Ewan were already running diagnostics. Mila was on the radio, and Ewan was identifying the source of the alarm.

They were two days and four hours into their journey. Theirs was to be the first crew to land on the moon since 1972, when Gene Cernan stepped off the lunar surface with a promise to return. Coming through on Cernan’s promise had been his dream since childhood.

Twenty-three seconds since the impact. Another alarm began to sound, followed by another, bringing him back to the present. “Gabriel,” Ewan said, “Come with me. Don’t forget your radio.” They fitted their radios into their ears and glided off. As he glanced back, Gabriel saw Marian already moving into Ewan’s seat, a bit of bandage haphazardly stuck to her temple. Some of her dark hair was caught in the bandage, and it floated next to her face  like a wisp in the wind. Karl was checking sensors, the fine lines around his mouth deepening in concentration. Mila was relating to ground control all the information she could glean from the computers. She was pale, focused, aware of each alarm and its meaning, impervious to the noise.

He followed Ewan from one chamber to the next, pulling himself through the narrow openings after his crewmate. They didn’t get far. At midship they encountered a sealed hatch, blocking their path. The emergency closure had activated. While Ewan checked the readings on the control panel, Gabriel glanced through the window next to the now-sealed door.

A feeling of cold panic shot from his forehead, down his spine and into his arms and legs. His throat suddenly felt dry. His fingers and toes tingled. Adrenaline flowed through his entire body.

It was gone. The entire rear of the ship had been blasted apart.

“Mila…” he began weakly.

“I know.” Her voice came clear and cold through the radio. I know.


The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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