SLATE: 126 Seconds Later
We hear the sounds of alarms and cockpit failure. It builds to a crescendo, then silence.
CLOSE ON Jackson's Eye.
We pull back as he sits up and surveys his surroundings. He is obviously confused. As we pull back further, we see the other two astronauts Baxter and Adams, also unconscious.
Jackson stands up, and looks around -- still very confused.
The environment he is in: Light Ground with radiated white walls.
A brightness illuminates the characters. The three men: Dr. Jackson, Capt. Adams, and Lance Baxter. Hero astronauts, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.
Suddenly Adams is awake. He shouts, "Engage emergency thrusters!"
Slowly he realizes he is no longer in the shuttle. He stands up, and moves toward Jackson. Baxter stands up slowly, also. He pats himself down.
Baxter speaks, "Guys, I -"
Jackson holds his hand up, signaling for silence.
There is a long pause, while the astronauts look around. They each explore their area, but eventually back toward each other in a triangle.
Baxter looks as if he is about to say something, then vomits.
Jackson and Adams back up. Baxter is on his knees throwing up, then stops. He looks up at the other two, and says, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to throw up. It's just that I don't know where we are, and I don't know what's going on."
Baxter throws up again.
He groans, "Okay, I think it's gone."
Baxter hiccups, then says, "No wait. No, I'm good."
Jackson says to him, "Lance, calm down. We are experiencing a mission malfunction, nothing more."
Adams looks at Jackson, and says, "Bullshit! There was no mission malfunction. The controls were working perfectly. The readings were fine."
Jackson quickly responds, "Captain, the mere fact that your instruments are no longer in front of you should indicate that something is wrong!"
Baxter tries to interject, "Seriously guys, I don't think-"
Adams cuts him off, "Don't throw up again!"
Baxter nods, and then speaks, "Guys, I have a confession to make. I didn't exactly read the manual. You know, the mission briefing thing." Baxter begins to get worked up, "See if we were in outer space right now, I know I would need to be wearing my helmet. I didn't know we were going to leave the shuttle, so I didn't put it on. God guys, I don't want my eyes to pop out of my head, and my skin to bleed!"
Jackson reassures him, "Lance, feel free to put your helmet on."
Baxter sees his helmet, and runs over to it. He puts it over his head, and latches it shut with a "click". Baxter breathes a deep sigh of relief, now that he is connected to his oxygen supply. A moment passes, then he throws up inside his helmet.
Adams says, "I think Lance just threw up in his helmet."
Jackson nods, and then says to Baxter, "Lance, your eyes aren't going to pop out of your head. Just relax."
Adams chimes in, "I'm not sure we should be so relaxed, right now. I don't exactly see the three million ton, four billion dollar space shuttle. The shuttle that in which, last I remember, I was strapped into the cockpit."
Baxter crawls over toward the other two. He takes off his helmet, and flings it aside. He takes another deep breath, and looks up at Adams and Jackson. Baxter says, "I know I said I wanted to be an astronaut, but I didn't sign up for this. I think I just want to go home."
"None of us signed up for this," Jackson gestures to his surroundings, "However, two of us at least trained for this. We chose this life, it didn't chose us. It's time for you to step up, and be a real astronaut. Try to pick up a signal on your radio."
Baxter pulls a 15'' pack from his back, and opens it up to reveal high-tech sound equipment. He starts to play with the knobs and buttons.
"Hang on, I'm just setting the levels," Baxter replies.
"Forget the levels, Lance! Just see if you can detect a signal!" Adams snaps at him, taking a step towards Baxter.
"Okay, wait!" Baxter announces, "I'm getting something."
Over the speakers of the sound unit, a faint beat is heard. Jackson adjusts the volume. It's Stomping Down My Heart by N Surge, Baxter's boyband.
Adams sighs and reaches down toward the unit. He presses the eject button, and out pops a disc. Adam holds it up to Baxter. N Surge Greatest Hits. Adams whips the disc like a frisbee as far as he can.
Baxter complains, "Hey, that was a triple-platinum masterpiece!"
"Lance please, focus on the radio!" Jackson commands.
Baxter goes quiet and begins adjusting the knobs on the sound unit again. We hear nothing but static as he switches channels.
"Nothing," Baxter says, "Just static."
Adams says, "Maybe the navigation system was faulty. We could have been sent back to Earth on autopilot."
Jackson responds, "This doesn't look like Earth."
Adams says back, "This doesn't look like the moon."
Jackson thinks for a moment, then says, "I can posturize only one plausible idea. A leak in the Levoxon fuel tank."
"Of course," Adams whispers.
"If one of the tanks ruptured, the gas would have made us lose consciousness," Jackson begins, "Due to the isotopes in the fuel, they would have had to put us in a stabilization chamber to quarantine. Which would look very similar to this. Sensory effects of the gas would confuse our perceptions of distance and color."
Baxter nods in agreement, "Definitely."
"Then that's it," says Adams.
Jackson hesitates, "The only thing is, the tanks were checked before takeoff. Levoxon gas takes up to 2 hours to produce side effects. Memory loss not being one of them, and I only was away from the controls for a moment."
"Are we ever going to get any answers up here?!" Adams shouts to the open sky.
The response comes from a melodic, booming voice that fills the space around the three men. The direction of the sound is indistinguishable.
"Yes, you will," says VOICE OF HEAVEN.
About the Creator
Insurance broker by day, library owl by night. Avid writer, proud father, devoted husband, and novice chess player. B.Sc. from Queen's University.
Currently living in Alberta with my wife and two children.