This is the 105th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Accidental Astronauts, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 16th March 2013
Word count: 957
“I may have been the only man in the world who is in space, but doesn’t want to be here,” Simon, the young scientist stated, “Bring us back.”
“Prometheus, we unfortunately at this stage a return is not possible. You’re going to have to dock with the International Space Station until we have the problem resolved. Houston out,” the man in ground control disappeared from the small monitor.
“Great now you’ve pissed them off Simon,” Mike said.
“I pissed them off? I? They’ve kidnapped us and put us in space!” Simon shouted, knocking a bottle of coke which subsequently released a few drops of its contents, which floated around and bothered the young scientist.
“Okay calm down, we’re all safe, there’s no need to panic,” Carol said soothingly.
Twelve hours ago they had been visiting the commercial rocket, Simon had won a competition. As they were looking around the cramped capsule it had all gone very wrong. Mission Control would just say that there had been a computer fault.
“Its kind of cool really,” Mike said playing about in zero gravity.
“Cool? We’re in space, in something that wasn’t meant to go up for another day,” Simon said panicky.
“He’s right Simon, stop and think about it. You always wanted to be an astronaut,” Carol said. Carol was Simon’s sister and Mike’s girlfriend.
“With oxygen!” Simon protested, as he looked around the dials and screens.
“What do you mean?” Carol asked concerned.
“The rocket wasn’t ready for launch, they…” he stopped suddenly.
“What is it?” Mike asked suddenly concerned.
“Okay we need to strap in, stay still, and stop breathing so much,” Simon said stiffly.
“What?” Carol asked.
“Air meter only shows twenty five percent remaining,” Simon said.
“That bad?” Carol asked.
“The ISS is thirty six hours away at least,” Simon said, “I need to contact Houston.”
Mike went over to Carol and squeezed her hand, “The old Simon is back, we’ll be fine.”
“Houston, this is Simon Monty, come in,” he paused waiting to see if he’d get a response.
“Prometheus, this is Houston copy,” the same Mission Controller from before reappeared.
“We’ve got a problem,” Simon began.
“Mister Monty, we know you don’t want to be there, and that you nothing to do with this,” the controller said preemptively.
“No, no, it’s not that. We’ve only got twenty five percent air remaining,” Simon reported.
“We’re aware, and we’re currently working the problem. We’ll get back to you shortly. In the meantime, sit back, and try to remain calm. We will not abandon you.”
Six hours fifty seven minutes later the Prometheus completed its complicated docking procedures with the ISS.
“Its massive,” Carol marvelled looking out the small window in the capsule.
“It’ll feel an awful lot smaller on the inside,” Simon grumbled.
“Oh shush,” Carol said, having grown tired of her brothers moaning.
“Simon, we’re in space, we beat the odds, and made it to the space station. We’re living the dream,” Mike said pulling himself out of the seat.
“Prometheus, please hang tight,” a new face said on the screen. “We’re sorting out a quarantine for you guys.”
“A quarantine?” Carol asked.
“You know, make sure we’re not bringing any deadly and not so deadly diseases. We’re about fat from the nearest GP,” Mike explained.
“Okay Prometheus,” the face said returning, “In about an hour we’ll be ready, the main hatch will open, step through and follow the red line to the capsule we’ve set up for you guys. It’s a little bit roomier than your capsule, but it has all the mod cons,” the man said easily.
“Who is this?” Mike asked.
“Captain Christopher Grey, I’m one of the astronauts you’ll be visiting with until we’ve got this sorted out.”
Exactly on time the main hatch opened, and they floated into a tunnel, sticking to the red line, they arrived at another hatch and went inside, the hatch closed behind them and sealed with a hiss.
The three were left alone again, so they elected to get some sleep.
Simon was first to awaken, the sound of tapping on glass brought him around. He unstrapped himself and went to the viewport that looked out on the corridor. Captain Grey was there, he pointed at the hatch, lifted up the piece of paper, in which was written “Follow the yellow line.”
Simon pointed at his sleeping companions, but the Captain shook his head. So Simon opened the door and stepped out into the fresh canned air. He closed the hatch behind him, and it locked again. He followed the yellow line and arrived in the galley.
Captain Grey was already hovering there.
“Your name is Simon Monty?” the Captain asked.
“It is,” Simon said seriously.
“Good, our mutual friends has your orders now your here,” Captain Grey said nodding. “Follow them to the letter, and this will all work out.”
“Yes, Sir,” Simon said with a snappy salute, “Anything for the cause.”
“You’ll need to do something about your companions,” the Captain said.
“I need them for cover, they’re hapless enough to make this whole thing appear one terrible mistake. Trust me,” Simon said. “Besides, as far as anyone is concerned they’re the ones excited to be coming here. I’ve demanded to be taken back every step of the way.”
“Yes,” the Captain mused, “I can see how you’ve worked that. Very well, nothing will hapen to them, as long as you get the job done.”
“Understood,” Simon saluted again, and without waiting to be dismissed made his way back to the quarentine capsule. He quietly entered, and then closed the door. His sister, and his friend were both still soundly asleep, they would have no idea what happened, and never would if things worked out.