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Two Stars

Into the Silent Void

By Lynn JordanPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 4 min read
4
Two Stars
Photo by Lionel HESRY on Unsplash

Ben looked over at his nephew Tony through his helmet. Their eyes met.

This had been their dream come true. Ben, an astronaut, had been on a few space explorations, and his biggest fan was his nephew Tony. Tony was determined to be an astronaut like his uncle, eventually becoming the youngest to graduate from the astronaut program. They often talked about traveling through space together.

They got their chance when the newest state-of-the-art mini-space station - The Mintaka - was ready for its maiden voyage. Ben had been on a standard space station before, so operating The Mintaka would be like going from a motorcycle to a bike. However, for Tony, this would be his first time in space. Since The Mintaka could only support two people, it took a lot of work, but Ben and Tony made all the right moves to be the Astronauts selected to staff it.

For Ben, this would be his last trip before his retirement. The sentimental value of Ben taking this trek with his nephew tugged at the heartstrings of the usually stoic and hardened program superiors. They watched Tony quickly pass all the tests and sail through the training for The Mintaka’s operation. They agreed that he would lead the next generation of American astronauts. Ben showed he had the physical and mental stamina to endure his closing mission.

The launch went without a hitch. Ben’s heart was exploding with pride, watching Tony handle his duties easily and beaming while Tony gazed with wonderment at Earth, shrinking into the inky miracle of space. It made Ben remember the first time he watched it and relive a moment that had become almost routine.

By ActionVance on Unsplash

Scheduled to float in LEO - Low Earth Orbit - for three months, The Mintaka was to gather scientific information about the changing atmosphere. But the trip was more about gauging the performance of this small space station than the information it was collecting. Downsizing from the standard space station to the smallest one ever constructed turned out to be much more complex than anticipated, and while the design was sound, getting it up into and staying in space was a risk.

Ben and Tony knew about the risk but had faith in the team that put this incredible machine together. They were honored to be the first men to run it and understood its success would allow them to make their mark on history and leave a proud legacy for their family.

Ben’s favorite thing was spacewalking. No matter how jaded he had become about space travel, spacewalking was the thrill that reminded him of why he wanted to become an astronaut. He was excited to witness Tony’s first spacewalk, feeling Tony’s joy through the void and cold walls of The Mintaka. Tony was emotional as he bobbed into space, seeing things in person he only saw in books or simulations. The stars twinkled, and stardust floated like lost veils at what seemed to be arm's length but may be years away. There was nothing like it. He knew he would never tire of it and could do this forever!

By NASA on Unsplash

By the third month, Ben and Tony had experienced all that life on a space station offers, both the good and the bad. There were a few minor technical incidents, but Ben and Tony handled everything coolly and calmly. The ground team was happy and relieved that the station was performing well and manned by such a skilled team.

The outside of The Mintaka had several routine maintenance requirements that Ben and Tony would have to handle together. They had done a few of these tandem spacewalks, which deepened their bond and, more importantly, their non-verbal communication, which was critical for astronauts.

A few days before their return home, a tiny short caused by a routine tandem spacewalk began a series of failures across the station, but they did not realize this until they tried to return inside. They watched in horror as the lights, section by section, went out across The Mintaka. They could not know if an emergency signal was sent automatically to the ground team.

Ben looked over at his nephew Tony through his helmet. Their eyes met. There was nothing to communicate but love and farewell.

They reached each other using the rope that tied them. Together, they glided further from The Mintaka into the nothingness. Even if their voice transmitters were working, they didn’t need them; their mental and emotional disconnection from Earth was their connection to each other. Tethered to their dying space machine, they didn’t consider whether a rescue ship would arrive in time. They didn’t see their lives flashing before them, their loved ones, the failed mission. Buoyant and free of time, direction, and obligations, this moment of softly coasting through the velvety blackness specked with glitter was everything. After decades of noise from people and machines, the utter silence of space was like a warm blanket lulling them into a trance and a peace that, like space itself, no human could truly fathom.

Balls of tears that floated from their eyes began to fill their helmets. Ben and Tony had made their dream come true. They would do this forever. Two drifters.

Two stars.

By Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

short storyScienceHumanity
4

About the Creator

Lynn Jordan

Gen X writer of published music reviews now putting my fiction, non-fiction & the occasional poem out there. Every piece I write, regardless of genre, is a challenge accepted, and crafted with care and love. Sit a spell & enjoy!

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  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    Beautiful story and great entry for the challenge.

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