A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese
The space station was beginning to feel confining.
Stan Powers, playboy, flyboy, top gun. A high achiever. He excelled in everything he put his mind to. Top brass, seeing his potential, tapped him for a special assignment. His mission would be a test of human endurance. He would spend three years on the International Space Station as a member of an elite team. But there was a catch. The rest of his team would only spend one.
Stan didn't need to be asked twice. He jumped at the chance to fly that high. To Stan, this special assignment was an honor and a privilege. The extended duration would be a first.
He figured a three year stint on the ISS would make him a national hero. His name would be in history books. It would set him up for the rest of his life.
He and four other men trained hard enduring a grueling schedule that lasted a full year. Launch date was set for a June liftoff.
In May, Stan was given a taste of the publicity he expected to receive when he returned. NASA paraded the crew before countless reporters and press conferences as they built up National pride in a program many thought to be outdated and over funded. Stan loved the attention.
Among his other duties, NASA planned to have Stan host a weekly radio show from the station. A publicity stunt to build up lagging support for the space program. Stan was all for it. He figured it would cement his popularity and assure the success of his future political ambitions.
On launch day good luck wishes made the rounds. The launch went off without a hitch. Stan was finally in space heading toward his new home on the ISS. Docking was picture perfect. The personnel change was quick and the shuttle returned to earth.
A busy first year flew by. The men he had docked with went back home and a new crew came onboard. Stan handled the crew's departure with class even though he secretly wished he was one of the men heading back.
In his second year, NASA informed him that due to lack of interest, the radio program was being canceled. He enjoyed the show and was disappointed to see it go.
After a long second year a new crew came onboard. Stan had been feeling homesick and when he was left behind once again he became depressed. He thought he was keeping it to himself but in such tight quarters he wasn't fooling anyone.
He started to get frustrated at small things and soon became belligerent toward the other crew members. At times he refused to carry out his duties. Eventually he became delusional, threatening to sabotage the station so he could “go home early”. The crew began to fear for their lives.
Early one morning a crew member was looking out the window.
Stan, in his space suit, floated by.
The crew members were more relieved than alarmed.
© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.