Thomas Larson #201

Professor W. Schlecht

Writing for Publication

26 March 2009

Liftoff

Sometimes, I wished I could fly off into the stars. Thinking that as a child, who would have thought that I would be doing just that? The engines vibrated expectantly underneath me and the other colonists, waiting for the moment when they could unleash their fiery hatred of Earth.

The view port beside me offered a dull scene of a small, dirty launch pad surrounded by equally dull skyscrapers. Each of them jostled for room in the planet-wide city, packed into mathematically perfect grids that drove people like us insane. They rose miles into the sky, now a perpetual overcast of toxic smog. The poor below, who worked in the industrial buildings, were a pasty white and never saw the sun.

That was us: Colonists who desired so much to escape the tyranny that we had practically begged to be shipped off. The rich wanted Earth for themselves. They resided among the clouds, a shining jewel miles above the under-city--and they were oblivious to the misery below them.

I said let them have it, and had then applied for an off world visa. I had never seen the stars, only maps of the galaxy. Earth was located somewhere around two-thirds of the way out from the galactic core, a mass of shining, clustered stars--mostly "O" and "B" type stars, too hot to sustain life. Our destination was an orange "K4" type star, dimmer, cooler and slightly smaller than Sol.

Though, smaller on a stellar scale is still relative to a terrestrial scale. Even the planet orbiting our new star is smaller than Earth. Every now and again, I would flip my wallet open and gaze dreamily at the satellite photo of the planet. She--I constantly referred to the planet as "she"--was a lot like what Earth used to be. She was green and blue, but with a hint of turquoise. Oceans covered about two fifths of the planet, as far as we knew, all fresh water. The ice caps were small, owing to a closer orbit and more evenly distributed heat. She was a paradise.

"This is your captain speaking," a voice said monotonously. The autopilot had been set for two destinations: there and back again. It would stay until we were up and on our feet, then it would leave us. "Please prepare for launch."

I strapped myself in with the padded belts attached to my seat. Families sat close together, huddled and nervous before the unknown. I would have doubted that any of them had been on a launch before. Neither had I, though, and the hesitation infected me as well.

The engines had revved up to an audible hum and our seats quivered, as if with the tension we all felt. Loose items rattled overhead, and underfoot a two hundred thousand-ton bomb prepared to ignite.

"Engines firing in five…"

The shipped throbbed.

"Four…"

Steam erupted from beneath us.

"Three…"

The ship lurched violently.

"Two…"

Engines roaring, we held tight.

"One…"

Liftoff.