Gravitational Constantly: A Novella

BOOK: Gravitational Constantly: A Novella
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Gravitational Constantly: A Novella

 

By J.A. Weddle

 

 

Dedication

 

With great humility and the utmost respect for my friends and loved ones, I hereby asininely dedicate this book to myself. Though I was never want for encouragement from those closest to me, the completion of this work was a labor of love that I dare not let pass thoughtlessly. This work would never have seen the light of day, if it weren’t for the vigilant nurturing of a dream. A dream that was planted like a seed, long ago, in the fertile soil of my mind. That dream was not of this book or any particular piece of work that has or has not yet been created. It was a dream about the possibility of creation. The possibility that an individual can create a world around them that is as real as the one they experience on a daily basis.

 

The dream was firmly rooted in the naivety of a child, and as such, it stood many years, weak against the weathering of apathy, lethargy, and any number of negative external influences. Its leaves withered and began to fall away. The roots dried and shriveled, threatening to give way to the storm of contempt and conformity. When all the light seemed to vanish, and there was nothing left to sustain the dream, it held on—because it had to. A small boy planted that seed. He still believed in it; he still needed it. And just as the weed sprouts through rock and pavement to annoy home owners and landscape workers, this book and dream has found its place too.

 

Thank you, Mom, for lending me your inherent desire of aspiration. And thank you, Matt, for being a constant companion on my journey to understand the world. Dad, thanks for teaching me to always see the beautiful things the world has to offer.

 

Thank you, Joe and Debbie, for making a son-in-law feel like a son.

 

Thanks to Nathan for keeping me company till all those sunrises, and to Kyle for letting me have that couch most nights – and for putting up with me all these years.

 

And lastly, thank you, Katie. Thank you for always believing in me. Thank you for always choosing to see the light inside of me, even when things looked cloudy and dark. You met me at the beginning of a long, strange voyage in my life and stood beside me when I was wavering and frail. I have and will always love you more than anything in this world, or any world that I create. I don’t know what I did to deserve you. Maybe it was just my luck, I always did say it was my best quality.

 

Chapter I

“Excuse me, do you mind if I open the shade?”

 

Though I wasn't asleep, but in that twilight state of consciousness, somewhere between dreaming and waking—the gray area of self-awareness, where auditory senses could easily alter the beginnings of a dream—the voice startled me. I hadn’t heard or felt anyone sit down next to me, and the sudden presence made my heart skip more than its usual feint beat. My head jerked up to face the attacker of my nervous system. He was a man in his late twenties like myself. Based on his Ivy League dress, he looked like a successful, cultured intellectual type. Even I could tell he was alarmingly handsome. He looked like the kind of person you would love to hate. Well, at least the kind of person that I would love to hate.

 

“I'm sorry, what?” I managed to mumble.

“Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I didn't know you were asleep. Most people don't sleep through takeoff.”

 

As he spoke I could hear the engines throttling up. It was louder than I thought it would be. After all these years I had imagined they would have improved upon the engine's design and made it more quiet and efficient. My attention to the noise must have shown; my new neighbor sensed I wasn't paying him any attention.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked. “You look nervous.”

“I'm not big on defying gravity,” I said with a dry throat.

“Really? I'd think that someone who sleeps through takeoff would be used to this by now. Is this your first time up?”

“Yeah. First time. I guess I just get sleepy when I'm nervous.”

“You'll do fine,” he said with a wink and a smile.

 

The flight attendant came on over the intercom. It was the usual dog and pony show involving safety procedures and evacuation protocols. I couldn't help noticing that everyone seemed to be tuning it out. They had all heard it before, I assumed, or maybe they didn't care. These people were my competition in the game of survival, should the unexpected happen. I felt confident that I had a lead in the race already. As the last few passengers were fastening in, I took another good look at Mr. Ivy League. He was checking his watch when he noticed my gaze. Perhaps my visage of uneasiness begged bedside manner. In any case, he smiled at me again, in a sort of knowing way.

 

“Godspeed. Jayce Godspeed.” He introduced himself.

“I'm Andy. Andy Wright. Nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand.

 

He had a fine handshake. Some people don't put much thought into a handshake. It's not as if I decide the person's entire worth in that tiny gesture of physical contact, but it can be telling of someone's character. Godspeed either had a great car salesman’s handshake, or he was a very confident and poised individual. I assumed the latter.

 

“May I ask why you are taking a trip up?” inquired Godspeed.

“I figured it was a good time. There isn't much opportunity left for me here, and nothing holding me back either,” I said with more conviction than I intended.

“Ah, I see, and what was her name?” Godspeed asked with that same knowing smile.

 

Her name was Elaine Heney. I had spent a year trying to decide whether I would marry her and settle down in a small comfortable home, in a small comfortable life. We would get up every morning before work and share a quick kiss. Come home in the evenings after the monotony and ask about each other’s day with feigning interest. We would eat a meal together and then go our separate ways for the evening, one reading some old novel and the other taking in a movie or serial. Before bed we would share another quick kiss and say goodnight. The next day we'd do it again, but we'd be happy despite it all.

 

I shook my head and with a little laugh said, “I'd rather not talk about it.”

Godspeed leaned in and again shot a grin at me. “Then why'd you bring it up?”

“I didn't bring it up, you asked me …” I paused for a moment and thought,
I guess I had been looking for some sympathy
.

 

Godspeed and I proceeded to talk as final flight preparations concluded. I told him about my decision to leave and about the Elaine Heney situation, the short and skinny of it anyway. After five years of college at a four-year school and scraping by just to make ends stop short, I moved back to my hometown where I secured a job at a bank. I saved up enough money to get married and popped the question. It wasn't long into the wedding planning process before we saw the writing on the wall. I probably would have been okay with our mediocre life, but I could tell it wasn't going to be good enough for Elaine. I woke up one morning to find the tiny closet in our apartment empty and a Dear John letter on the fridge. Though I couldn't help feeling sad, a new sense of freedom washed over me and breakfast never tasted so good.

 

Godspeed was apparently on business and returning home. He'd been away for over a month and was looking forward to his return. Just as I was about to ask him what line of business he was in, a sudden jerk pulled me back into my seat and my stomach tightened. I can't say that I was deathly afraid, but there are no atheists in foxholes. The roar of the engine was extreme now. Metallic vibrations rattled throughout the ship, and the energy from the thrusters thrummed along the framework like a tuning fork that had just been struck. My eyes closed instinctively, and I gripped the arm rests so hard I was sure the indentations would become legend. Perhaps they'd hang a plaque on the back of the seat in front of me with a blurb about this day.

 

“You're missing a great view,” Godspeed said, raising his voice over the continuous ignition of several hundred thousand pounds of liquid fuel pumping to the ship’s engines. “You ought to put the shade up.”

 

There was only silence from me. I was too occupied with worry, doubt, and regret to talk at the moment. The summation of all human fears had crept inside of me and now made its home in the bowels of my intestines.

 

“You'll want to be watching when we break through the atmosphere.” I felt Godspeed reach across my body and with a quick flick of the wrist, he raised the shade to unveil what I can only describe as the most profound moment of my life. There were many reasons I hadn't left the planet 'till this date, but none of them now justified why I had waited so long. The preconceived notion of the cosmic scale was not good enough now. At that moment when Earth began to lose its grip on me, I felt all of my worldly desires and burdens being lifted from my shoulders and mind. Gravity let go of my body and soul. I felt smaller and more insignificant than I'd ever felt in my entire life. I didn't know it at the time, but it would set me free—free from the tyranny of fear that grips men and women and parades them around on marionette strings, dancing over the make-believe fires of mass delusion.

 


 

The journey from surface to surface was not as long as I expected. One slingshot orbit around Earth and off toward the Moon we hurdled. The space between both heavenly bodies seemed thin and somehow made it hard for me to breathe. My head felt light and I noticed most passengers now slept or looked like they were about to. Godspeed sat quiet, but alert, staring out the window with a fixed interest. He had been respectfully quiet most of the trip, allowing me to take in the view. The Earth grew smaller as the ship neared the Moon; a giant blue marble with wisps of whipped topping swirling here and there, floating in blackness. It was an impressive view, even if it was being viewed by a now depreciated viewer.

 

We neared our destination and began preparations for docking. Runway lights blinked in the dark emptiness to guide us in. Godspeed explained the shuttle was equipped with a laser guidance system that locked and synced docking protocols with the control tower. The port's gaping maw of scaffolding and steel looked to be swallowing us whole, like the bigger fish eating the smaller. The precision of docking left little to be accounted for and as such, smaller vessels and space workers in shuttlecraft buzzed by at break-neck speeds.

 

“You did alright,” Godspeed said.

“It was a lot easier than I thought,” I replied.

“What exactly are you going to be doing here?” asked Godspeed. “Judging by your current situation regarding Miss Heney, I'd say, that is
if
you don't mind me saying so, that you don't have any plans.”

 

I
did
mind him saying so. I'm not sure why it offended me, but it kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps because it was so obvious that I had no idea what I was doing or why I was there. I must have looked like a fish out of water, with no course of action other than to flap around desperately, hoping to bounce back in.

 

“No, no plans,” I said curtly.

“Are you going to stay long?” asked Godspeed.

“Not sure.”

“Well the majority of people that live here are either in the tourist business or scientists. You could certainly do worse back on Earth,” said Godspeed. He handed me his business card. “If you fancy the place and think about staying, look me up sometime.”

 

The card was a light blue aluminum card stock with fine white print. A spark of earthly jealousy ran through my mind, like the last discharge of a dying battery, before I succumbed to admiration. It restated everything I already knew about him: style, confidence, taste, and most of all success.

 

Jayce Godspeed

Chief Planning and Research Officer

Futura, Inc.

 

The docking clamps made a loud
thud
that reverberated through the whole ship. We had arrived. The flight attendants came over the intercom, rattling off procedure. Passengers began to scurry about, collecting their things and departing down the aisle and out of the main exit.

 

“It was nice to meet you,” I said with the best smile I could muster.

Godspeed's smile widened and displayed a sense of foresight. “The Moon is small, and I have a feeling we'll meet again. It's just a feeling, but they are usually right. That's how I got here in the first place.”

“I'm sorry, I never asked you, what is it that you do here on the Moon?”

Godspeed turned back to look at me before making it to the exit. His eyes were sincere. “I'm looking into mankind’s future, with the best intentions of course.” With a wink he turned and left.

BOOK: Gravitational Constantly: A Novella
7.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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