CHAPTER 3

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur. I remember the lift off being extremely fast. Before long, i was already out of the atmosphere. I knew I was out in space when the gravity started fading away, and nearly all of earth could be seen from there. With not much things to pass by, it seemed that I traveled slower. Maybe I was travelling slower, due to the loss of gravity? I might as well enjoy the view while I'm here. Afterall, I was in space. Kind of a once in my lifetime experience right? I was startled by a robotic voice telling me that we were an hour away from the International Space Shuttle Station, and that we were going into orbit.

"Ah there's a vocal response thing! Yay..not alone...What's your name?"

Silence.

"Okay then I'm calling you Siri then. By the way Siri do you have music or any in flight entertainment? It's getting damn boring sitting here. I mean the view's good but..."

"Sending request for permission to use in flight entertainment to ground control."

"you know you could've just shortened that sentence to a short and easy 'I'll ask'?"

"Permission granted."

I switched on some music and stared out of the window. It felt like i was in one of those music videos. All this felt so surreal.

"ground control requesting video call." said the voice.

"accept the call." I said, turning my head away from the glass. What would it be again this time? I asked myself as the music's volume got lowered and the screen came alive showing Richard's, or Dr Robinsons', face. "Hey."

"Hey Jen. How's the view up there?" he said in a relaxed tone. Seems like it's Richard I'm talking to then.

"Stunning" I said glancing out and back at the screen. "But not half as good-looking as you are." I laughed.

"Are you flirting?" he laughed as well.

"well what do you think" i rolled my eyes sarcastically. "Anyways, how's things down there on earth? Think I'm passing above you guys right now...wait no, that's China, wrong place." I laughed again. It was the first time in weeks, maybe even months have i felt this happy. Maybe even longer. It felt nice, it was like having the huge weight of all the burdens and responsibilities and everything lifted off your shoulders. And it felt nice to be able to breathe like this again, to laugh like this again. "I wish we had more time together." I said sadly. "I'm assuming I won't be able to talk to you like this again?"

"No." He said, with a pained expression. "I'm afraid not...I-I...we don't have the technology to do this. I mean we, we can but-"

"hey, it's fine. Just appreciate our last talk then." I smiled. I was seeing that his eyes were starting to swell up with tears even from here. "By the way where did you go after uni? It's like you just disappeared off to nowhere." i said, trying to change the topic. I was curious to know anyways.

"I've been here and abouts. I got recruited here right afterwards."

"We were all wondering where you were! You just disappeared off to nowhere. You didn't even come to the graduation ceremony."

"Well, you know that companies these like to make a grand entrance."

"You didn't even tell your parents about it!"

"I was doing it to keep them safe!"

"Safe? Really? They've been worried sick about you all these years!" I realized that the conversation was starting to get a bit heated. I'd have hated my last conversation with the man i loved to be an argument. I tried to calm myself down. Deep breath, I thought. Deep breath.

"Is that why you broke up with me before you disappeared?" I asked finally after a very long awkward silence. He looked at me gave a small nod. "Why didn't you tell me then? I thought you were running off with some freshman chick!"

"Well I'm sorry."

More awkward silence.

The electronic voice broke the silence. "Approaching International space shuttle station in 15 minuets. Video calls will be closed in 2 minuets. All in flight entertainments will be closed after 10 minuets."

Suddenly I felt that there were so many things to say, but so less time. If only i had more time.

"So, say this is the last time I'll talk to you again." I said, starting to choke on the words again. "Anything I should know?"

"Jen, you know ,I love you," he said. I knew the type of people he was. He'd rather die to admit his feelings for someone sometimes. It was also obvious that he was trying his best to get those words out. "very much. I love you very very much. Just, just take care of yourself up there okay?" he said rubbing his eyes.

"Well I guess this is my last chance to say that I love you more than anything too."

"There's something I've gotta tell you" he said, his face suddenly all serious again. "The place isn-"

The screen turned blank and his sentence got cut off in the middle.

"Couldn't you do that later?" I yelled at the air, frustrated.

"Sorry." replied the mechanical voice without any tone of being actually sorry. "But the ISSS, international space shuttle station, is requesting a video call."

"Fine, whatever," I said, slouching back into the chair again. "Accept call."

The image of a man wearing a deep blue uniform with headsets appeared onto the screen.

"Hello this is the ISSS mission control center. Space shuttle 970, do you copy?"

"Yes, I copy." I replied tiredly.

"You will be approaching landing in..." he looked at something else, probably another screen, "3 minuets. You are a bit ahead of schedule. You will land in landing patch 5, there will be guards there so do not attempt to run away." as if there was anywhere to run to, cause outer space sounds so comfy doesn't it , I thought sarcasticly. "There will also be medical assistance there. You will be taken for a heath check. Your connection flight heading for PI2164 will leave at exactly 1 hour after landing."

"Okay."

"We'll see you here then." He gave me a slight nod and the screen went blank again, just like before. Although I could see he was just following procedures, i could tell that he was scared of me, and looked down on me. As if i was some unwanted disgusting bomb that could ignite and kill everyone any second. But i guess it was fair for him to think so. Afterall I was the first criminal to be exiled into space, they must think i've done something really bad, right? Bad enough to be exiled to another universe. I'd be scared too. I guess this is who I am now. A dangerous mass murderer. Nothing I said was going to convince them that I didn't do it. Now I've just given up trying to convince them. Whatever, they can say what they want. Guess what, I don't care anymore.

I looked out of the large window, looking for signs of the ISSS. I was shocked by what I saw. That was most certainly not what I expected. I'd expected something plain and small. It was about 10 times the size of what I expected, 1/4 the size of the moon. My mouth fell open. It looked like a spaceship in movies.

"How did no one ever notice this thing when they looked into the sky?" I asked myself. "Or do people just don't do stargazing anymore?"

The shuttle drew closer and closer into the station. That was when I realized it was too big to be just a station. As i got closer I could see the details a bit better. Through one of the windows was a child running towards her mother who was by the window and bent down to pick her up from the floor. The two walked away laughing and smiling. In another was an old man in tweed suits, sitting by the window, drinking and looking at a newspaper. They have newspapers up here in space? Don't tell me they've got a park too. It felt so odd seeing them so used to something so unusual. It was like being back on earth without being back on earth. Then I realized that I wasn't the only space shuttle going into the station. Shuttles of all kind going in and out of the station. It was like a busy train station but with space crafts other that trains. There were quite a lot of cargo ships from earth. It was easy to recognize them since the word cargo was painted in bright orange against the white shell of the shuttle. Slowly my ship went onto the landing pad. I felt something grab onto the side of the shuttle and slowly the shuttle went down with the pod, spiraling through the darkness into a piece of well lit clearing beneath. I felt gravity come back again, making the pen and my DIY origami cranes that was floating in air fall back down onto the floor with a soft thump. After staying in the darkness of space, the bright light seemed blinding to me. It took me a second or two to be able to see the place around me. There were many other space crafts, so many I started wondering how no one's realized all the sheer number of space crafts flying above and all the people that disappeared and never came back. People wearing pilots suits rushed from one place to another while others helped with transporting the cargo. Others inspected the shuttles and made sure they were fit for their next trip. The sudden sound of my shuttle's cabin doors opening made me jump and snap my head around. Three men wearing same black uniform stood outside the opened cabin door. They must be the security guards then.

"Oh hello." I said as another man in gray suit and tie walked towards me, the guards giving him way to the front. He was a man around 40 years old, not exactly tall but I wouldn't call him short either. He had the look of superiority so I'm guessing he's the one with more authority here.

"Hello Professor Monroe. Welcome to the ISSS."