The mission (Short Story)

Where did the time go?  I clearly remember that day, just before I left, Anya took my hands and placed it on her stomach and smiled. ‘I am pregnant’.

Nothing had prepared me for this. I wanted to cancel my space mission, to stay with Anya, to fulfill her every wish, every craving and see my child come into this world and see him or her grow.

Now, every cell in my body wanted only one thing – to hug and hold my wife and 10 year old son, who I had never met.

I have only seen Agastya grow up through videos, longing to be there with him. I have seen the loneliness in Anya’s eyes, craving to be with me again. And that day had finally come. In 24 hours I would be on Earth.

As captain, I had set the orbit and was having supper with my ship mates when the alarm went off. ‘Where the hell did this asteroid come from’?, I asked my mates in the control room.

‘It doesn’t matter where it came from, it is headed right for our ship and time of impact is exactly 24 hours’, cried my co-captain Mike.

Given the size of the asteroid, the only option was to destroy it.

‘One of us will have to go to the surface and trigger a nuclear explosion’, Mike said. We all knew in our hearts it was the only thing that could destroy the asteroid without harming the ship.

I looked into their eyes; none of them wanted to be the one to do it. Why should they risk their life for a mission which was suicidal anyways?

I put on my spacesuit with a heavy heart. The video I recorded was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. How could I tell my family that I am going for my certain death?

The turbo-jet vehicle could hit supersonic speeds and reach the asteroid in exactly 6 hours. It would take me a couple of hours to set up the bomb and 4 more hours to get back to the ship.

‘That’s 12 hours and we have already lost 4 hours’, Mike said. ‘You have a buffer of an hour within which we are safe. A minute more and the asteroid would be too close and would hit us even if it shatters.’ They all looked at me with pleading eyes, their only hope.

My fingers were numb. I just couldn’t set up the bomb. We didn’t anticipate the cold winds on the asteroid which didn’t allow me to land till now. And now my fingers were frozen. I had exactly 5 minutes of my buffer time left to set this up and get out of this asteroid.

I somehow managed to put the timer to 2 minutes, hopped on my vehicle and pressed to supersonic mode. As I looked back, the flash almost blinded me. I could see the boulder come at my miniscule vehicle with all the vengeance.

I was looking at Anya and Agastya and they had tears in their eyes. I told them ‘It is okay. I will visit you in your dreams, I will always be with you even if I am no more’.

‘No more? Oh honey, you are alive. And you are with us’, cried Anya. ‘You are a hero, you saved our planet.’

 

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