January 1, 2342
We sat in front of the TV splayed out across the sofa munching on leftover candy from the previous day’s celebration. Volume on low as not to wake the others the news played across the screen. A slender, black-haired UNSEF official dressed in a tailor-made black suit explained the ins and outs of their program to a young, sharp-featured reporter who introduced herself as Mary Taylors.
“Every year a random eighteen-year-old is selected to become a member of our Moon colonies”. The official said. “There are several examinations and a health history search. If the candidate is proven able-bodied and capable of adapting to life among the colonists then an announcement will be made on the first day of the new year at 10:30am”.
“And if they don’t hear the announcement, sir?”...
I drown out the rest of the conversation. It was almost always the same with only slight tweaks to the system. Blah blah blah space. Blah blah blah exams. Blah blah blah colonies.
“Isn’t this exciting Chris?” Shara asked, bouncing while hugging her United Nations Space Exploration Foundation pillow. I stared at her.
Shara. Cute little pigtailed Shara. With her glossy brunette hair and sapphire eyes, she could have been a top model like our mother. Or, with her understanding of all things mechanical she could have been an engineer like our dad, but no. She is obsessed with all things space. When she grows up she wants to be an astronomer. To study the endless, dark, empty void. The vacuum...
I shuddered at the thought.
“Maybe it could be you this year,” she said, the zest clear in her voice.
That snapped me out of my thoughts. Suppressing another shudder I returned weakly. “Why? You want me gone so badly you’d send me to the Moon?”. She giggled. “Besides what are the chances that I would be picked? There are tons of Eighteen-year-olds”.
Please please please pleeeeeaaassseeee tell me I didn’t jinx myself. Please.
Ten minutes later as I sat leaned back, feet propped up on an ottoman, I’m all relaxed when a piercing scream tore through the air. I jumped, slipping on a discarded pop can and nearly face plant into a pile of candy wrappers.
“Who died” I shouted, hopping to my feet, turning to my sister as the scream died in her throat. The ruckus that came from upstairs signified that the others wanted to know the same. Shara squealed, jumping up and down pointing at the TV.
I turned and to my horror saw my name.
January 2, 2342
I held the envelope in my hands fumbling to get it open. Once I managed I began to read.
Dear recipient of this letter; Christina McCafe
You have formally been accepted as a member of the United Nations Space Exploration Foundation’s Moon colonization mission. Your presence will first be required at…
I fainted, not finishing the letter until several hours later.
Two words echoed through my head for the entirety of the day. Why me.
February 3, 2342
I didn’t want to leave, but I did. I put one foot out of the car and then the other. I knew that it would be the last time I would ride as it’s passenger.
The month passed by at breakneck speed. As if trying to make up for all the years that would be lost my family crammed in as much fun time as possible.
Every day was packed to the point that outside of using the facilities my odds of being alone for more than a minute were lower than that of being hit by lightning twice and winning the lottery. In one minute.
With so little time alone I never truly had the chance to dwell on my, almost unreal, situation.
When it came time for me to leave home everyone put on their happy faces pretending that my send-off would be the best occurrence to ever grace our family. In truth...It might be...For my descendants at least. For me, it would be nothing short of pure terror.
I turned to look at mom. Her face held a pleasant smile that would usually signify a calm sort of happy. Her eyes spoke another language. They spoke of sorrow and terror matched by no one, not even me.
Until now I never thought about how this would affect my mother. Gazing into her brilliant azure eyes I saw a woman who was about to lose a daughter in order to allow her a better life. A chance that many could only dream of. A chance that haunts my nightmares.
Try as I might I couldn’t stop them. Tears streamed down my face as I began to lightly sob into my mother's shoulder.
“Don’t worry Chrissy” my mom said. “I’ll stay with you as long as I can”.
We entered the building duffel slung over my shoulder. Mom did all the talking, explaining who I was and why we were here to the receptionist.
One of the workers gave us a tour of the museum part of the building, stopping to point out interesting facts, items, and models. It was intriguing, but not enough to make me forget about the pain and fear inside of me. Not when it came time to say goodbye.
June 22, 2342
My time at the facility had been interesting, almost enjoyable. I kinda didn't want to leave. Who am I kidding? I didn't want to leave.
I became familiar with the place and became accustomed to the routine even finding it to be a minor comfort.
All of the crew worked together completing training exercises and other tasks assigned to us. We ate together and shared stories. We even talked about family, cheering up those who were suffering. We were a tight-knit community. We did everything together.
Then came the day…
The rest of the group was loaded off on shuttle buses sent ahead a day prior to me. I was left alone with no one other than Mr. Mccoy and a few members of the local staff who were so caught up in preparations that they didn’t notice me no matter what I did. One even managed to run straight into me. Not even a sorry left his lips as he scrambled to retrieve his scattered papers.
Mr. Mccoy wasn’t much better. He was supposed to prepare me to board the ship yet he paid me no mind. When I asked him what I should do he begrudgingly turned away from his papers.
“Smile and wave, kid. Stand quietly during the speech”. He snorted.
“What about boarding the craft?”.
He rolled his eyes. “Haven't you watched the launch before? All you have to do is step into the pod”. He snorts again before mumbling “It’s a no brainer”.
Like I’ve ever been in a spaceship.
June 23, 2342
The ride was long, but luxurious taking place in a limousine fully stocked with all sorts of delicacies. I couldn’t think about that. No. I was too focused on the fact that it would be my last ride on Earth. EVER.
Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. I repeated it in my head over and over and over again. I was panicking. On the outside, I looked fairly calm, if a bit jittery. On the inside, I was now screaming trying not to lose myself. DON’T PANIC.
My family would have seen this, would have comforted me had they been here. But no, they were out there, lost among a sea of faces.
The crowd parted as the limo arrived. Pulling through, for a second, just a second, I could have sworn I saw Shara standing amongst the crowd turning to give me an encouraging smile. To cheer me on.
And then she was gone, lost in the crowd once more. Maybe I imagined it, just saw what I needed to see, but I feel sure that somewhere among the onlookers stand those I love willing me forward.
The door was opened for me as I prepared to disembark. A loud cheer spread through the crowd as my feet hit the ground.
That's when I decided to follow Mr. Mccoy’s advice. Smile and wave.
The cheers of the crowd increased tenfold to a near defining roar.
Once the cheers started to wind down I began to climb the steps. More cheers. They only stopped once I reached the top. There stood the head of The United Nations Alliance.
We stood there in silence for what felt like hours but in reality, was only a few minutes tops. He broke the silence. “I am honored to welcome this year's civilian draft member of the United Nations Space Exploration Foundation’s Moon colonization mission Christina McCafe”.
The roar was louder than ever, some people even screamed my name. Then by some nearly unfeasible chance, I heard it through the chants and cheers, the joyous shouts, and the roar of the crowd. “We love you, Crissy''. Scanning the crowd I see them. Every last one of them. They're here. Mom, Dad, Aunt Sadie, Uncle Mark, Damian, Aunt Evelyn, Logan, William… And Shara, just as I saw her before. For a second we locked eyes. Then she nodded. Good luck. Be safe out there sis.
We broke contact. It’s time.