Adrian Michael Longfield was an old man. He was near his hundredth birthday. But he was still alive. His doctor said he would only have a few month remaining. He didn't care. He had his life lived and had his adventures had. His heart, though, longed for an adventure he had never been able to experience:
Adrian came to the Space Centre Office on his wheelchair. He entered the huge building over the platform for disabled people. His personal assistant, attached to his wheelchair, guided him to the Civil Space Flight Agency. There was no waiting line and so he entered after the door had been swung open by itself.
“Good day Sir, how can I be of service? A flight to the stars for a grandchild of yours? I can recommend the Marsflower. She is a beauty of a ship and travels to Mars every Mars-Period. That is... ehm …?”
“Every twenty-and-six month!”, said Adrian with a low voice.
“Ah, yes. Every twenty-six month!”, repeated the woman, looking like trying to affirm this with her memory.
A short pause followed.
“Well. No! It is I who is looking for an adventure among the heavenly bodies out in space!”
The woman did not say a word for a long time and looked at Adrian with absolute disbelief.
“You … want … to go … into … space?”, stammered she.
“Yes. I want to go to the Moon, that is!”
She had her mouth wide open with a look that suggested that she would start to laugh in a second, waiting for Adrian to give her a sign that she shall do so.
“I am absolutely serious, my dear lady! As the doctor has said, I have only a few months to live. I have had my life. I, in fact, have had everything a man can wish for his life. Though I have one last wish: I have never been to the Moon and it is a wish I have had ever since. Now that this is possible I want to do it.”
“I am sorry Mr. eh...?”
“Longfield ... the name is Longfield!”
“Yes. Mr. Longfield. I am entirely sorry but space travelling in the condition of yours is neither allowed by the policy nor would any captain agree. The load of weightlessness for an old man like you would kill you in no time, let alone the flight with a rocket ship.”, said the lady trying to sound kind and convincing at the same time.
Then, a man of the age of about thirty entered the office.
“Good day Mrs. Burrow! How's business going?”, said the young man.
“It's doing it's best, Sir!”, said the lady.
From the uniform the young man was wearing Adrian concluded that he was a captain.
“How's the Moon?”, Adrian said.
“She's as beautiful as always, Sir!”, said the Capitan with an eager smile. He then saw Mrs. Burrow's face indicating that something was wrong. The young man then looked closer at the old man in the wheelchair.
“Are you flying to the Moon today?”, Adrian asked.
“Yes. I do!”, the Capitan said.
“I'd like to come with you!”
“Well. I'm afraid you can't. It seems you are not strong enough to bear the stress of zero-gravity. Let alone the initial flight sequence. The burden of 4 g will rest on your breast and very likely kill you instantly.”
“I shall die in the attempt to leave Earth, which will release me from this already burdened life. But I am afraid nothing else would kill me then. All that keeps me alive is the fact that my heart desires to be on the surface of the Moon. To walk on the White Marble of the nightly Skies. Otherwise I am afraid I have to vegetate until my body can do no longer which might be more than just a few months. Though my heart is already weak it is strong otherwise!”
Both were silent. Mrs. Burrow stopped typing on her computer-system after having heard these words. Adrian had spoken with all the power his lungs could give.
Then after a while of hesitation the Capitan said, “There is no 'Yes', I am afraid. I can not let this happen. No one will die on my ship!”
That said he left the office.
Adrian's head sunk into his breast. Tears started to drop down his cheeks. He was not ready to die.
Mrs. Burrow then said , “Dear old man! You shall have your flight to the Moon. If this is the only thing you want: You shall have it! Choose your own final doom!”
A few moments later Adrian Michael Longfield held his ticket in his hand, the ticket which would send him to the Moon. He looked at Mrs. Burrow with tears in his eyes, tears of joy and happiness.
“Hide your face with huge sunglasses and cover your body so no one will see your physical condition. I suggest you leave your wheelchair behind, if you can. With it, I assume, you will have little chance to get into the spacecraft.”
He gave the lady a gentle smile and left the office. Mrs. Burrow knew what his smile meant.
Adrian came to the gate where the spacecraft would leave Earth to enter space and then head towards the Moon. All in all it would take about seven hours to get to the Moon. Seven hours of non-gravity would surely have a negative impact on his already weak condition. But Adrian was confident that he would overcome this burden. As suggested by Mrs. Burrow, Adrian wore huge sunglasses and a hat that covered his face efficiently enough to fool those who needed to be dazzled.
So he was still sitting in his wheelchair, not quite certain whether he could get up without help. No one noticed him.
“I have to get up!”, he thought. “If there is a way to force me to get up there is only one: The Moon will be mine. Not for ever! But for the rest of my life! I will be walking on the Moon! And maybe will rest there forever. What a thought. What a wonderful thought. Adrian Michael Longfield: You can go to the Moon. At last. Your dream will come true if only you get up now from this disabling chair that chains you on Earth forever. Get up now you old fool!”
And he raised his body. His hands still attached to the armrest, he at first did not dare to let them go.
“Now let it go. Leave it behind you. Your dream Adrian Michael Longfield! It begins at the entrance to the gate. Go now!”
He let go. At first it looked as if he fell back into his chair, but then he had this expression of finite desire in his face; a desire to make his dream real.
He made one step after the other. He had nothing to hold on; no arm to help him, no wheelchair. Slowly he came towards the entrance where two stewardesses welcomed him.
“Good day Sir!”, they said with a mechanic smile.
They then looked at him in a suspicious fashion.
“Ugly face!”, he said. “Young but ugly!”
They put their mechanic smiles back on their faces.
“Tickets please, Sir!”
Adrian handed his ticket over to one of the ladies.
“Thank you Sir! Please proceed to section A. Your seat number is 11c. Have a nice trip!”
He proceeded and when he came through the tunnel which was the gate to the spacecraft, he had to rest. He nearly fainted and had to hold on to the wall of the gate.
“Breathe, ugly youth! Breathe! Just a few steps and you've made it!”
So he let go of the wall and carried on, his will in his mind and his desire to touch the surface of the Moon in his heart.
At last he was at the entrance of the spacecraft. Two other ladies awaited him there smiling as automatically as the other ladies. He showed them his ticket without having to say anything, for his breath had gone already. He tried not to breathe too loud.
“Second left, Sir! Have a nice trip!”
He summoned all his remaining strength and placed one foot after the other to get to his seat. When he was there he fell into the seat and at the same time he fell asleep. It had been too much for him. His heart was beating at a hundred-and-twenty-seven. Too much for this old heart and it would have killed him hadn't he had his desire and will to survive.
“T minus one minute!”, a gentle voice said. He fainted again. His heart was still beating at a hundred-and-ten.
“T minus thirty seconds and still counting!”, he heard the voice saying. His heart was now at a hundred. The Moon! He already could feel the presents of Luna.
“Luna, the beauty of the night sky.”, he thought. He always liked books about the Moon. All those since-fiction authors called her Luna: The Lady Of The Night, The Guard Of The Heavenly Stars, The Warden Of The Blue Jewel.
“T minus eight seconds. Ignition sequence start. All looks well!”
He didn't dare to be awake when the sudden force of over four g, accelerating his body towards heaven, would squeeze him into his seat. He fainted.
“T minus seven seconds ... Five .... Engines start … Four ... Three ... Two. …”
His whole frame rumbled like crazy. He was no longer conscious. Then the heavy load of four g pressed him into his seat and for some time he was unable to breathe.
He came back to consciousness when weightlessness had effect on him. He took some breaths as if he had been under water for too long. Then he calmed down a bit. At first the weightlessness turned around his stomach and he was quite certain that he would chuck but then he remembered he had had nothing to eat for the last two days. He was hungry no more. He calmed down more and fell asleep soon after.
There were no windows in the spacecraft but Adrian didn't care. He was asleep. Sometimes he woke up finding that he stopped breathing and so rejoined the living in continuing to breathe one breath after the other, realizing that it got harder after every time he had stopped.
“Igniting landing sequence!”, it came from the speaker above him. And again his body got very heavy and was squeezed into his seat letting him breathe no more.
“Oh God! I know I've never believed in your existence, but if you are out there somewhere, please, let me live a bit longer. Give me a bit more time. Just a little. I've almost done it. Please!”
After he had said these words to himself he felt a slight relief in his breast that made him certain that he would make it. He thanked the God he had never believed in. He realized that the spacecraft had come to a halt. He heard the engines stop and felt a slight rumble which indicated that the spacecraft had landed.
“I am on the Moon!”, he said out loud. “I am on the Moon!”, he repeated.
When he got up he felt (for the first time) the ease of walking on the Moon. Then he looked for a window but none was there.
“I must get out!”, he said to the stewardess.
“Patience my Sir! We need to wait for the gate to be docked on. You wouldn't walk out on to the surface of the Moon just like this. It would spoil your whole day! Believe me!”, said the stewardess with an approach to sound funny.
Adrian looked around, everywhere. But he couldn't see a single window to look out.
“You are now safe to leave the ship! Connection established!”, said a voice.
Adrian could wait no longer and headed towards the exit like a child not wanting to lose a single second of what could be fun and game. He was breathing with ease. He was walking with firmness.
When he entered the gate no window was there. He started to run. He ran down the tunnel without stopping. His heart was at a hundred-and-twenty (with no difficulty). He went on with long strides. Then he came into an immense huge hall. He again looked around for windows but he couldn't find any. He looked around in disbelief. Was he on the Moon? Where is he? There was no proof that he was on the Moon.
“I want to see the surface of the Moon, now!”, he thought to himself.
Then he found something that would make his wish come true, his dream become real, his heart contended. He could read:
---SPACESUIT RENTAL AND SALE - DAVE WELLS INC.---
He wasted no time and went to the shop. He entered on easy foot.
“Good Moon-day, Sir!”, said the salesman laughing out loud. “Moon-day, ha?”, he repeated. Adrian didn't think him funny, nor did he laugh. The man was fat and his face was red and pimply all over.
“Sir, I want to buy a suit!”, Adrian said.
“Sure you wants to do that!”, the man said. “But you won't needs those glasses and that hat.” He laughed out roaringly again. “Anyways, how ever did you makes this hat stays on your head?” He again roared like crazy. “Well, why don't you first rents one and then if you likes it you buys it, eh? What's a say?”
“No!”, said Adrian. “I want to buy it now!”
“All right. Me was just asking!”, said the ugly salesman. “What size you has, eh?”
“I have 38.”, was his reply.
After having handed him the money Adrian went out of the shop, the spacesuit under his left arm.
“Have fun, he he he he!”, the salesman called after him.
Adrian knew that he had paid the ugly man too much for the suit, but he didn't care. It was his last capital investment, whatsoever.
He was searching for the next gate that would go to the outside. He found one when he saw another man in a spacesuit walking across. He got to the next lavatory and changed into his spacesuit. When he got out and towards the exit gate, no one asked him a question or stopped him. When he came to the exchange chamber his oxygen was checked.
“You are clear to go!”, said a man.
So he went into the chamber. Behind him the man closed the gate entrance. He felt the outside of his suit change. The pressure inside the suit held him together. The spacesuit was cooled down so he would not burn when exposed to the sunlight on the Moon, also reflected from the powdery glass, making the surface of the Moon.
When Adrian stepped out of the shadow of the building and into the sun he did not see the Moon at first. The Moon was like blended away by something he had seen his whole lifetime.
When he was standing there, alone, in the light of the sun he saw something else indeed. Something so much more beautiful than the Moon ever could be. He saw a shining blue and white Jewel in front of the endless blackness of space, hanging there and shimmering at him with such beauteousness that tears started to drop out of his eyes and hovered downwards inside his helmet.
The Good Old Planet Earth was there, standing in the background of black endlessness. This Beauty was his Home. He had lived on this Jewel of space and he didn't know how beautiful this place, he had called Home for all his life long, was. Now that he was old and on the Moon he could truly see what luck he had had all his life. Why did he complain about the Earth? There is no other place in the whole universe where he'd feel safer than on Terra. No other place would have let him live, would let him had have his life. He had never thought about it. He had wanted to go to the moon but instead he travelled to his Home: The Earth.
He was paralysed. The beauteousness of the blue and white and brown Jewel hanging there made his whole frame freeze in awe and after a while of thinking what he could do, two words he spoke out loud to the face of the Earth, “Thank You!”
Then he remembered everything at the same time. He saw his family. He saw his friends and all the other people and how badly he had treated them and how thoughtless he had treated this planet he called Home. And when he had realized all this, the wonderful Jewel of space got bigger and bigger and came towards him and he reached out his hand to touch it once more before he died.
Created: Feb 19, 2010Document Media