(excerpt 10. If you missed the previous installment, scroll down the blog to catch up)
My ticket for the shuttle was stapled to the itinerary that was in my pocket - one round trip ticket to the moon. I handed it to the attendant and climbed on board. The shuttle cabin was luxurious, well-appointed, and very bright. Everything was white: the walls, the carpet, and the seats. The flight attendants wore all-white uniforms. Once everyone was strapped in, we departed.
After rolling down the runway and lifting effortlessly into the night sky, the lunar transport pointed straight up and the rocket boosters kicked in, slamming me back in my seat. The g-forces were overpowering. I could feel my eyeballs press against the back of my skull. As we climbed through the atmosphere and the sun broke over the horizon the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen was unveiled. Below the horizon was the earth in all its glory, growing smaller beneath us by the second. Above the horizon the universe stretched out to infinity. The space between the stars, which were too numerous to count, was the blackest darkness imaginable.
We soared onward and upward, gradually escaping Earth's atmosphere as we passed by the Intergalactic Space Station, which was something to behold. A kind of interstellar marketplace, it was five hundred miles long and just as tall and wide as it was long. Space ships from every corner of the universe were docked there, seeking to trade their wares with merchants from Earth – the richest planet in the galaxy in terms of garments, spices, precious metals, and other goodies.
Now that we were free of the gravitational pull of the earth my body relaxed and I was able to rest – once I'd read the details of the mission I was about to embark upon.
Break into StarCon's headquarters. Steal their plans for harvesting energy crystals from the core of the moon. Deliver the plans to a short man in a fedora in the lobby of the lunar shuttle terminal.
Once upon a time I was hands down the best mercenary in the galaxy and everyone knew it. After eight years in military special ops I'd decided to turn my talents and experience into a lucrative freelance career. I hadn't been on a mission in ten years. I'd sworn off that life. I'd grown tired of cheating death and inflicting it on others to obtain information and technology for the highest bidder. I'd decided to settle for a less lucrative, but more honorable way of life. This time, however, I had no choice. Hopefully it would all come back to me - like riding a bike.
The Moon Base Terminal was quite a sight. Towering glass windows on all sides provided a spectacular view of the universe. Depending on the rotation of the moon the scene out the windows was either the brilliant shining sun, with the big blue marble of the Earth in the foreground, the space station gleaming like a giant crystal in the sky; or a dark, serene expanse shimmering with the innumerable sparkling suns of a million distant galaxies.
I saw a woman standing by the windows looking out at the heavens, apparently as spellbound as I was. Her waist-long blonde hair reminded me of Janelle. Despite my best efforts to put her out of my mind, certain that she would only bring me heartbreak, I was infatuated with the lady of the locomotive and thought about her constantly.
“Hello, Parker, fancy seeing you here,” the mystery woman said without turning to look at me.
“Janelle?” I said, stepping forward to see her face.
She looked at me with those eyes - those cerulean discs. For a moment I forgot where I was and who I was. I remembered the train ride - holding her while she slept; her long, soft blonde hair laid across my arms. I dreamed about marrying her and raising a family in a grand home on a lake. I imagined her calling to me while I was out on the lake with Parker Jr. in our boat. “Parker,” she called to me from the dock. “Parker,” she repeated.
“Parker?” Janelle said emphatically.
I shook my head and closed my eyes, then opened them again to find myself back in the terminal.