Civilian Space

by Stephen M. Resar © 2002

It has been twenty years since the beginning of the cold war, those two giant space wheels, perpetually encircling, and watching each other. Earth has remained neutral over the years, forbidding any inbound or outbound travel.

Several attempts have been made by few to leave the militarized stations and travel to civilian space, the oasis that is nothing more than a decrepit refueling platform now adrift somewhere between Earth and Mars. This is the Captains log from one such attempt; we are not certain why they go.

Day one. This is Gabriel Pascal, sole crewman. I have managed to commandeer a patrol shuttle from the Space Wheel Nebraska. I have limited supplies onboard, and less fuel. If I can survive the next six hours without detection, I may be able to reach civilian space.

Day three. By keeping my flight vector primarily at negative Z to the Nebraska; I have managed to avoid detection. But, they know the hardware is missing, and theyíll come looking for it.

Day six. Radar has been clear for hours now; perhaps Iím outside the treaty area. Iíll need to initiate a main engine burn soon, and lock in a steady course. Itís very quiet here.

Day ten. All I can think about is Aletta, my wife; I have her picture taped to the glass. She looks beautiful against a background of stars. Her name means winged, she is my life.

Day twenty. System failures have kept me busy with repairs, I havenít slept in 36 hours. Even with all the work, the solitude is beginning to affect me. This ship wasnít designed for an extended voyage; itís all I can do to keep the carbon monoxide filters clear.

Day thirty-five. Aletta came to me in a dream and I touched her face. Her warmth filled me. I cried in my dream and awoke in tears.

Day forty-two. I should have been able to lock onto a homing beacon by now. Iíll try recalibrating my transceiver.

Day fifty-six. Iím now consuming only 20 ounces of protein drink a day. Not many REMs left.

Day seventy-eight. I performed a pitch and roll maneuver, and fired the primary engine for eight seconds. Iím nearly motionless in space. I calculate that I have provisions enough for four more days but Iím sure that I can stretch them for a fifth. The only problem is I have only twelve hours of oxygen. Thereís enough fuel left to make a spectacular display once I ignite it, and myself. Iíve taken the letters I have written to my wife and launched them in a probe; at its speed it should reach the Nebraska wheel in twelve months. As for this log, Iím jettisoning it with a buoy in hopes that some day it will be salvaged.

AlettaÖ I love you.

Gabriel Pascal was twenty years old at the time of his death; we presume his wife Aletta survives him.


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