Content copyright © 2019 Robert Jack

“That wasn't exactly what I was expecting,” Commander Sakamoto said, watching the shuttle detach and drift silently away. The first field trip to the International Space Station had been less than a hit.

 

 

Katya was still hard at work trying to reestablish communications with ground control, but over her shoulder she said, “No kidding. When I was a kid, I would have gone nuts over an opportunity like that. I don't think a single one of those little brats even broke a smile. It was kinda creepy."

 

 

Sakamoto sighed. “Somewhere along the way, we lost our spark. Life has become an endless stream of entertainment and junk food. When we grow up in an environment devoid of boredom, even the extraordinary loses its shimmer. We've stopped reaching, dreaming, exploring."

 

 

Katya banged the console with her fist. “And we stopped funding,” she said. “With equipment this old, its no wonder we lost contact. It's been almost three hours."

 

 

"We should have asked to use their phone,” Sakamoto joked, looking back at the shuttle. Strange. It was already out of sight.

 

"Hold on,” Katya said, “I think I got it."

 

 

Sakamoto floated over as the static began to give way. “Ground control, do you copy?"

 

 

The reply was garbled. Katya continued fussing with the controls, and the interference gradually relented.

 

 

"...control... hear from you! We have...news... Shuttle launch has been... Weather..."

 

 

Sakamoto frowned. “Ground control, can you repeat?"

 

 

"...shuttle launch...postponed due...weather. These kids are...to meet you. Try again...week..."

 

 

Katya went pale. "Then who...?"

 

 

Outside the station, the sun sank beneath the horizon. Somewhere between the stars, hidden by the perfect darkness, a flawless imitation of man was returning home. “A field trip,” Sakamoto said between quick, shallow breaths.

 

 

(c) Copyright 2015 Bobby Esckelson