Goodbye: Short Story

February 11, 2020

I stood, powerless, as the rocket lifted off with an explosion to head back to Earth. It went up into the sky, lifting higher and higher until it was out of my view. I looked at the reddish-coloured craters around me. This is a world that will save our population: Mars. 

 

“This is Earth’s command center to Mark. Aleo, can you hear us?” a voice said, after a crackle and a brief moment of static. I looked at my brother, and he gave me a thumbs up to show he got the message as well.

 

“I’m here, on Mars with Aleo,” I said into the microphone attached to my space suit. I sat down, waiting for a response. A message from Earth to Mars could take a few minutes to send. Lacking anything else to do, I set up a telescope and a small shelter. This is where we’ll live for the next few months. We’ll be trying to make this place more habitable before a group of a few thousand people come to help with the colonization of Mars.

 

“Mark, Aleo, there’s been a prob–” the voice was brutally cut off by static. The last pieces of the message heard were “– come back – danger – help–,” before there was only static left. I looked into the telescope, and pointed it at Earth, and immediately found the problem. A stray missile has found its way to the atmosphere and was on a direct course to hit the Moon. 

 

“What the heck do you think that was?” Aleo said nonchalantly as he started moving rocks, a sort of barrier in case of a sandstorm.

 

“Aleo, look into the telescope. There’s a missile heading towards the Moon, and you know what it means if the Moon gets hit by a nuke,” I calculated that if the missile hit, the impact would knock the Moon out of the orbit of Earth, disrupting the waves and sending meteors raining down on Earth. I heard a crash, and turned around to see an object in a smoking crater, a few feet behind me. Inside, I found a piece of metal with nothing but a picture on it. But that picture changed everything.

 

“Aleo, you have to see this,” I said, and he walked over.

 

“Looks like a diagram. Here’s the Moon, and there’s the missile. It shows the Moon avoiding the missile by a few kilometres, and then it shows the missile heading to…” he faltered. The diagram showed the missile continuing instead to a planet with the number 300 beside it. A planet named Mars.

 

***

 

“Ok, we have 250 minutes before we get blown to bits,” I said, as I sat down stumped. It was surprising how quickly things could go from bad to worse. 

 

“Wait. Aren’t there meteors in space that will block the missile’s way to Mars?” Aleo asked, hopefully.

 

“Missiles don’t work like that, Aleo. If they blew up anytime something touched them, then they would blow up the second they’re launched because of the dust particles in the air around us. It'll only explode if it crashes completely into an object. The meteors aren’t nearly big enough for the missile to blow up against them – Mars is, though.” I turned over the piece of metal in hopes of finding something, and saw a plan (a terrible one, but a plan all the same) along with a diagram with all the things I’ll need. 

 

An hour later, I found myself equipped with a sharp aluminum hook attached to a rock handle, along with makeshift jetpacks attached to my boots. My new ‘jetboots’ were made of the jetpacks, rock, elastics, glue, and metal. To start the sequence, I had to press 2 buttons on the side of my jetboots. Once starts, there is no stopping. Obviously, I couldn’t tell my brother the whole plan, only part of it. Otherwise, he would never let me leave. He handed me one last thing before I went: a mini rocket. It would drag anyone around, at anytime they wanted on Mars, making movement much faster. I felt guilty knowing the sorrow I was about to cause, but I knew it was the only way.

 

Soon, I found myself up in the air, struggling to keep my balance, as powerful propulsors launched me into space, I held my hook with two hands, knowing the important role that it would play. I approached the missile, holding out the hook, that would hopefully grab hold on the missile, allowing me to turn it around to send it off into the sun, where it would melt before it could do anything.

 

When I got close enough, I smashed the hook into the missile as hard as I could. I turned around once the hook was in place, and I pulled the missile, with all my strength. I felt a jolt on the handle, and suddenly I was moving away from the missile. A quick look showed me that my hook has splintered into pieces from the pressure. I turned around and charged back at the missile. I was gaining on it when I started to slow down. I knew the problem immediately. I had run out of fuel. 

 

I panicked. I couldn’t fail. I was so close, and there was so much at stake. I pulled out random things from my pockets, anything that would help me: a wrench, a small screwdriver, a granola bar, a tiny model rocket, a pair of tweezers,…  Wait, I thought, before grabbing the tiny rocket. It was the gift from my brother. I turned it on and soon I was being pulled rapidly to the missile. Finally, I reached the missile.

 

Slowly the missile turned, and soon it was facing the Sun. I unhooked my brother’s rocket and aimed it at Mars, hoping my brother would find it and keep it. I hoped that he would keep me in his heart. 

 

“Mark, it worked! But how are you going to get back?” he asked over the radio, with a hint of worry in his words.

 

“I’m sorry, Aleo, it was the only way. I’m not coming back,” I replied with a heavy heart as I started to drift off into space.

 

“Mark, come back here right now. Mark, tell me it’s a joke,” he yelled desperately into the radio, “Tell me it’s not true.”

 

“Do not fear the end of these days Aleo. Do not fear the end of these days,” I said as my eyes filled themselves with tears, “Goodbye.” I turned off my radio in the middle of his sentence. I could now rest with peace in my heart.

 

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