Wednesday August 20th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the rocket.

A friend of Kat's and her three kids arrived this afternoon for a visit. They'll be here until Saturday morning, so things will be a little crowded around here for the next few days. My parents are sleeping in their camper van out front, two of the kids are crashing in our guestroom, and their mom is sharing a tent in the backyard with the third.

After dinner we took them on a tour of the farm. Well, Max did. I think he's going to have a lot of fun with the boy, who at 7 is the youngest of the three children. But, you know, he'll pretty much have fun with most anybody.


Back in high school, they used to say old Benjamin Harris was faster than a rocket. He dominated every track meet he attended, never losing a sprint he competed in. The other kids knew it, too; you could see it in the way their shoulders slumped and heads dropped when they realized who they were lining up against.

I knew Benjamin well in those days. You could say we were best friends, of a sort. That's what I told people, at any rate. I heard old Benny mighta said different.

Nobody was closer to him than me, though. I can guarantee you that much. Maybe because I was smart enough to never challenge his supremacy. All the other boys were too stubborn or foolish or proud to back down.

You don't run against a rocket, man. That ain't a race you're gonna win. Any damned fool could see that.

What nobody saw coming though, not even little old me, was the day he brought an actual rocket to school and blew the whole place straight to hell...


Greg said...

That sounds like a very full house you have there! I hope you don't get this kind of thing happening in winter, as I suspect the tent and the camper van might be much less attractive as options then!
Heh, I definitely wasn't expecting your punchline today, though I think it's quite nicely done. There's a touch of foreshadowing early on that's easier to see when I re-read it, but it's still very well hidden!

The rocket
The rocket was on the launch pad and the last of the four astronauts had just boarded and settled into their acceleration couch. Two assistants were moving around still, strapping the astronauts down and checking their suits one more time. A third assistant tapped brief commands into the computers, confirming their readiness and requesting final diagnostics. When they were done they retreated from the rocket and along the gantry, and the astronauts were alone, waiting for the countdown to commence.
The door to the rocket wheezed shut, hydraulics forcing it tightly into place so that air couldn't leak out of the seals once it had left the atmosphere. Damien lay still, unable to move until the rocket had launched and the acceleration had finished, after which time the restraining straps would open automatically. He stared up at the ceiling, tense but still slightly bored, waiting for the mechanical voice, a Siri for the rocketship, to start counting.
He blinked, puzzled that there seemed to be a shadow above him, and then blinked again. He wondered if he had a floater in his eye as the shadow seemed to be moving, so he carefully rolled his eye around, trying to see up at his eyelids and then down at his nose. When his gaze returned to the ceiling again the shadow was still there, better defined.
There was nothing in the rocket that could cast a shadow up against the ceiling.

Marc said...

Greg - hah, yes, a flood of visitors in winter would likely get shunted toward Kat's parents house.

I like how your scene opens so normally, then near the end things get unsettling in a hurry. It's very nicely constructed, though I'll admit I'm left expecting a continuation at some point :)