Fiction Fragment Friday
This weeks story finds inspiration in multiple places. First it was inspired by all the recent space flights by the commercial sector. Second it was inspired by my own personal phobia of flying which is extremely at odds with my obsessions around the space program. I am in sheer awe of the advanced being made and strongly frustrated with myself knowing I would be too afraid to take advantage of them.
I gripped the arm rests on my seat not quite sure what I was about to experience. I had never been on a normal flight let alone a suborbital flight and there are not a lot of firsthand experiences to read about in preparation. There was even less to research about the craft I found myself in since it was still highly classified. If I didn’t need to be in Antarctica in under two hours, I would have never agreed to it. When the President of the United States sends a man in a black suit to tell you that they found an alien spacecraft buried in the ice and he wants you to be with the first group that goes in you do not decline no matter how scared you are. The more I looked back on it the more I wondered if it had been a question at all or if the man had just been informing me that I was going.
It didn’t make any sense at first. I am an author not a scientist and I don’t have any sort of security clearance. Sure, I do a lot of research for my books, but that is not the same as being a real expert. The agent who said I didn’t need to know his name confirmed that the president knew all of that. I was chosen because of my books. The president wanted to make this discovery public knowledge during his time in office but didn’t want to cause a panic. He felt that if his favorite Science Fiction writer were to experience the ship and write a novel about it that would help prepare the public for the announcements. Social media has changed the way that disclosures happen, and he thought that his administration could take advantage of that. So, there I found myself sitting in a classified vehicle, on a classified runway, getting ready to fly to a classified dig site, to see a classified alien spacecraft. It certainly was not how I expected my Monday morning to go.
As the plane started to accelerate the situation became very real to me. I watched as the buildings of the military base rushed by my window. There was a feeling that I had crossed a line of no return. The plane tilted upwards, and I felt my stomach drop out from under me. The best was I can explain the sensation is that it was like being on a roller-coaster, but instead of feeling like I was falling I felt like I was being yanked up. Rationally I know it didn’t take long, but in the moment, it felt like an eternity. Finally, there was a brief moment where the seatbelt tugged on me and it felt like there was a minor drop. That was when the rocket boosters triggered. I fought back my anxiety as every sensation I had experienced came back far stronger. Just when I didn’t think I could take any more all the pressure ended.
I looked out the window and truly saw the Earth for the first time. The curve had a thin hazy layer that I realized was the atmosphere. It looked so small in comparison, and I could help but feel a bit small myself. For the briefest of moments my fear was replaced by awe. My mind started racing with all the ways I would describe the planet in my next novel. It was then that I realized we were weightless, and I couldn’t quite decide if I was happy or terrified. As I let out what sounded like a crazy giggle, I realized that I was both. I looked around the cabin and realized that I was the only one on the plan who looked nervous. I guessed they were all used to it.
In a little over an hour and a half we had landed. While I was nervous about landing the sensations were not nearly as strong. The bite of the cold when I stepped out of the plane however was something I had underestimated. It was not just the cold, but the wind that assaulted me. For a moment I thought I might fall backwards into the cabin of the plain, but a general reached out and helped me steady myself. I think I expected to see the spacecraft as soon as we landed or possibly arched metal structures. Instead, there were sleek buildings on steel beams about 20 feet off the ground. There was also one large blue domed building in the center. I didn’t have much time to look though as the general rushed me into one of the raised buildings. Since I was freezing, I was glad he was in a hurry.
After a short briefing a military escort took me into the domed building. They had explained that it was a drilling facility and that there was an elevator that would take us down to the cavern containing the ship. The elevator opened to a large cavern lit with spotlights. I was focused on the man before me. The president was standing there with his hand out for me to shake. He introduced himself and told me what a fan he was of my books. Once again, I was in awe. The whole experience seemed more like a dream than something that was actually happening to me.
The moment I saw the ship I knew the real reason he had asked for me. It looked exactly like ship on the cover of my novels. It wasn’t just a passing resemblance; the design was exactly the same because this was the ship I had written about. They had found my grandfather’s spacecraft. He was the sole survivor when it crashed a hundred and fifty years ago. His race looked enough like humans that with a bit of modification he could blend in. He had told me enough about it and given me his records so when I started writing novels, I based them on it. The one thing he would never tell me though was where it had crashed. Now I knew, and I also knew as I looked around at the weapons being pointed at me that I was going to be asked a lot of questions I didn’t want to answer.