The Word Upon the Moon by arcticeli
Day 1. Launching.
I did not know how I missed it. But I did. I remembered as the shuttle roared up into the sky. Flames flashing from the rockets set firmly on the bottom of the aircraft. I forgot everything but fear when it launched into the morning air, only that I thought I would die, like the rest of the astronauts that failed in their mission. My partner had clearly passed out or was screaming. I could not hear, nor could I speak, the roaring and the speed was too great. But once the black midnight nothingness of the great void, Space, stretched in front of the shuttle, I remembered. How could I have been so stupid, why did I forget I thought, scornfully. I knew I had lost something, but what?
My mind was racing over empty files, frantic. I shook myself; my mind seemed to fall away like the earth as we climbed into the darkness. It was not Alzheimer’s, for I had not had any psychological problems before the “Apollo 11” had launched. My blood was pulsing; some adrenaline was building inside me, like the final and very detectible leap as the racer dashes over the finish line. My partner, Buzz Aldrin, was gasping, sweating but altogether okay. I did not care about him yet, I was too frantic, too full of building up power.
Then I noticed it. An object I could not focus on was floating, delicately levitating itself into the stuffy air of the cabin. I gazed at it, confused. I flicked it and very precariously it turned a summersault in midair, the current of some swift moving air pushing it forward. I reached out and clutched it my silver gloved hand, it was a bolt of some kind. Stars seemed to follow us and engulfed around us as we flew. No, it was not flying we were not directing it in any way. It was more ‘flipping’ in Space, but it was not turning or any gymnastics, the shuttle was gliding in a indistinct and jagged line toward the silver marble that drew steadily nearer. The passion inside me was receding; I could feel my chest heaving. The air seemed to have been sucked by some invisible force out of my lungs, stretched into a precarious organ, unused and beaten like a deflated bicycle tire. All the saliva in my mouth had been evaporated and my mouth was pulled taut. Nausea was waving back and forth between me, like cramps. I was dizzy, and I wavered a bit, unsure and confused.
Buzz was panting. He turned toward me and grinned, weakly. “Well, that was the adventure of a life time,” he said, “I don’t see how I can take the excitement and pressure of actually landing on the moon.”
I did not smile.
Day 2 The Vital Loss
I did not know how many days had passed. I guessed it had been one maybe two days. Leastways, I was not dead and I was bound not to be ever dead, unless somehow the shuttle, Apollo 11, lost power. I felt subconscious and I felt also like anyone could easily get access of my brain. Buzz Aldrin seemed more or less cheerful and moved about the cabin at some ease. Something in the back of my head something was pricking a thought, or a memory. After the shock of landing, my mind seemed to have floated out of an immense shadow or blackness. I realized the importance of my loss.
A simple slip of paper was the vital loss and upon it the phrase, the saying that would be remembered for all time I was to say as I placed the first human foot onto the face of that ghostly orb of light, the moon. It was quite long, stretching over 123 words. Also, it had told to me by Richard Nixon himself, face to face. I had foolishly not had time to analysis and study the words, therefore I had written it on the paper. And if I stood on the moon, the cabinet of the president would be crowding around their two dimensional screen of their television watching what I would say expectantly.
Where had I placed it, before the launching? It was after I had drunk the mug of coffee and after I had dressed for the launching. Then memory seemed to snap back into my mind like a certain executive toy: I had placed that piece of white paper on the table while drinking coffee. The hotel cleaner had been on a cleaning spree that morning. She had most definitely thrown it into the rubbish basket.
What a fool! I told myself. I placed my head in my hands and screamed in silent loss into my silver gloves.
One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind
The moon covered half my vision. It was drawing closer at enormous speed. “Now many men from earth have that to look on every day,” laughed Buzz Aldrin as the moon steadily advanced. The moon’s silver glaze seemed orbit around us.
Michael Collins, another astronaut partner of mine, hobbled up to the scene. “The moon,” he uttered in a voice so quiet. “Never before ventured on by a human being…”
I began to realize (I thought I had, heck, been realizing) how massive our moon expedition was. To beat the Russians was major enough, but to step onto what seemed just ball of light in the velvet black sky.
Suddenly a voice seemed to be generated by the dashboard of the Apollo 11. Michael Collins leaned in toward the dashboard, though it was not very quiet and it seemed to come from everywhere in the cabin: “Apollo 11, this is HQ calling from the Launching Pad on earth. Prepare yourselves of intricate landing. On earth we’ve detected that the Apollo 11 cannot land on the moon. The Eagle is a small craft built exactly for this reason. One of the astronauts besides Mr. Neil Armstrong are ordered to take orbit around the moon and stay in control of the Apollo 11. Copy that?”
There was an ominous pause.
Michael looked up. “I’m staying,” he said, “you guys go down.”
I flicked on the radio. “Copy that,” I repeated.
“The Eagle is located near the main cabin, it’s a small capsule and more or less unreliable. It was made to direct itself to the moon. We are uneasy about the landing, death or serious injury could be caused. Be careful.”
Another long silence, then Buzz Aldrin said, “We better get set.”
“How long till we enter the atmosphere?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“It’s not our intention to enter the atmosphere, ‘cause I might as well have landed with you if we were to enter it. But the Eagle will have to break off the Apollo…fast!” Michael Collins put a tone of extreme urgency at the last word. The moon had taken up all of our vision now unless we turned south toward earth. There was clamor as we rushed into the small capsule that was the Eagle and… then I heard Michael shouting something like, “One, two, three!” There was another roar like the launch off. I was upside down, and then I was right side up. Now, we really were ‘flipping’ through Space.
Suddenly, Buzz was shouting. “We did it! We done it!” his voice trailed away. The Eagle seemed to get control and it was now going in a more or less straight direction. The speed was getting slower. I held my hands to my helmet steadying myself. The Eagle was descending rapidly, but not with at all tremendous speed.
The surface of the glowing moon was beautiful. A landscape of silver-white rocks and earth stretching for miles. I knew now we had done it, we had beaten the Russians to the moon. I felt the Eagle press onto something solid. Both Buzz and I looked around then we cheered, our silver gloves connected in a high-five. The Eagle has landed.
The television flickers and blinks on. The family group around it. A capsule lands on the moon. A man appears, he is dressed in a silver suit, a black glass guards his face. His name is Neil Armstrong. My mind raced. I then stepped onto the silver surface of the moon. My mind was still racing, my heart thudding. My lips seemed to open and speak before I could think at all: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The famous words were spoken.
President Nixon sees the two dimensional screen of the television. He is smiling, his white teeth shining. A group of blackly dressed figures stand around him, pistols on the serene sides. The voice of Neil Armstrong says, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Nixon’s grin vanishes. He stands up, seemingly startled. “What?” he asks, quietly.
My lips closed. I knew that President Richard Nixon was now annoyed and angry with me. I had spoken the wrong words. The first words on the moon. I did not feel at all proud I had just made a historic phrase; I stood sullen, wondering stupidly what to do next. Something about America? My brain suggested. I realized I was gripping an American flag. I held it aloft. “America.” I simply stated that and speared the flag at the white ground. America. And I as I stood on the moon, it came over me. I was the only man to have stepped onto the ball of silver one on clear nights when the breeze does not ruffle the clouds into the view of the moon. I am the first man to arrive on an inhumanly or human inhabited face of earth. I had made history. I, Neil Armstrong, was the first to step on earth’s moon. My moon. Everyone’s moon. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…