A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Not since Apollo 13 had those words been uttered by a NASA astronaut. But there they were reverberating into the headphones of Jim Keller at NASA's Huston Control Center.
Keller needed to be sure of what he had just heard. “Repeat your last transmission,” asked Keller.
Keller turned on the speaker for the whole room to here. “Quiet,” he ordered.
The room fell silent as the words crackled from the intercom. “Huston, we have a problem. Major Levine has come unlocked.”
“Unlocked? Please explain, replied Keller.
Captain John Decker turned the modules camera toward the outside platform where Major Levine was working on the spacecrafts stuck solar panel. It was empty. “The foot clamps malfunctioned. They opened.”
“What about his safety cable?” asked Keller.
“Sir, you know this maneuver required it to be repositioned. He had it unhooked.” Captain Decker trained the camera on Major Levine as he free floated 100 feet from the capsule. His mike was turned on.
Levine was talking. It was a private last message to his wife and kids. Keller turned off the speaker and monitored the last words of Major Levine. The recording would be played for his family at the appropriate time.
Major Levine suddenly changed the subject. “I see a bright light. I'm heading toward it. It's surrounding me and I'm being pulled into it. I feel very calm, as if I'm being well taken care of.”
Keller thought he was hearing the last words of a dying man being drawn toward the lighted tunnel of death itself. What he didn't realize was that the light wasn't a tunnel, but a shaft. A beam that was pulling Levine into a craft that had been cloaked. It had been monitoring the NASA module for days.
No one could see the beam of light. What they saw was Major Levine suddenly and inexplicably disappear.
That afternoon, Lester Gibbs was at work. He owned the only gas station/convenience store within 100 miles. It was located in the middle of the Nevada desert. His head was under the hood of a car when he heard the noise. By the time he was able to look around it had stopped. His two dogs were barking wildly. He yelled at them to stop but they wouldn't listen.
“Damn dogs,” thought Lester as he continued to work on the car. After about fifteen minutes Lester had had enough. He walked around to the back of the building where the dogs were caged. As soon as he turned the corner he abruptly stopped. Sitting on a picnic table with his feet on the bench was a man dressed in a space suit. His helmet was in his lap.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“Aaahh, Nevada,” replied Lester.
“I can't move. This suit's too heavy, and I can't take it off without help. Do you have a phone? I need you to dial a number for me.”
© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.