About a Sci-Fi Story
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After a seemingly infinite wait the airlock door opened and Karl Andrews gazed out into space. Literally. Although this side of the ship faced away from the sun, the sharp contrast between the cold, eternal blackness and the even colder brilliance of the stars hurt his eyes, but he could not look away. His whole life, it seemed, had been in preparation for this moment and he would not waste a second of it.
Cumbersome in his spacesuit, Karl crawled slowly over the smooth metallic skin of the Ares I, a scarce quarter-million miles from her namesake. He appeared more like a giant armored beetle than the first man destined to land on another planet. The past, with all its work, successes, and disappointments, faded quickly from his mind as he caught the first direct glimpse of the Red Planet rising like a huge, mottled sun over the ship's nose. As he passed the forward camera bubble he automatically rested his glove on the metal, felt the slight vibration that ensured him it was operating properly, and continued on, eyes fixed hypnotically on the bloodshot orb ahead.
Reaching the beginning of the sleek curve that was the tapered nose section, seeming much too small to contain even the tiny control room in which he had spent so much time, Karl stopped and stared at the seemingly motionless globe he had watched grow from a dull, glowing pinpoint to this enormous sphere, dominating the universe. Vaguely conscious that he was in direct line with the camera, he was, as always, aware of the impressiveness of the scene he presented for posterity.
Although he knew logically he could not fall off, a part of his mind balked at standing without support on an exposed surface traveling only slightly less than 100,000 miles per hour, and he had to force himself to rise slowly.
On his feet in the clumsy boots, the uneasiness soon passed, and gradually he straightened completely. This was it, the moment he had worked towards his entire life; the moment he had been born for!
Unbidden, his life flashed through his mind: memories of his childhood yearning for the stars; the long, arduous years in school with space his constant taskmaster driving him single-mindedly beyond his native capabilities; his exhilaration at being accepted for astronaut training; more hard, grinding years of dull, tedious, repetitive training; the shock and disbelief upon hearing that sentence worse than death: "Psychologically unsuited for space." Then the aimless despair that followed; and now this! Redemption! Standing tall on two feet, as befits a man – the man – the very first human to travel beyond the moon, proudly surveying all of creation, he felt more god than mortal!
"Cut, cut!" yelled Travis. "That's a take. Lights on. Everybody take ten. That was super, Karl, really great, Man!"
Looking around dazed, blinking in the sudden lights, Karl staggered, then quickly recovered himself. With scarcely a glance at the huge, gaudy beach ball suspended at the other end of the set in front of the black cloth backdrop with its maze of tiny holes letting the stage lights shine through, he slid off the tin platform and raised his arms to expose the fasteners in his armpits.
Johnson, the propman, unclipped the fasteners and carefully lifted off the fragile tinfoil spacesuit. Karl replied with a curt, "Yeah, sure," to the older man's enthusiastic praise, slung the oven gloves to the floor and shoved his dressing room door open as he ripped off the silver motorcycle helmet, then kicked the door with its now mocking star closed behind him.
To no one in particular Johnson exclaimed, "So what the hell put a bug up his ass?"
"Oh, now he's a star he thinks he's gotta be temperamental. Happens every time: the cheaper the production, the bigger the ego," answered Travis absentmindedly, already involved in the script for the next scene.