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Random Fiction #1 – 112918

“And away we go!” Brad said, a smile crossing his face as the rush of G-Forces plastered his vast body against the wall.

It was the last statement he'd make for five minutes. He closed his eyes and tried to center himself as yet another training simulation got underway.

Training for the first of its kind launch into the secluded Hrandela system wasn't getting any easier, even after the fifth session in the sim. At least now he knew what to expect and had the rhythm of the five minutes embedded in his brain and body.

He quickly learned after the first two to close his eyes and think of England, or something like that.

The trainers had his brain wired that thinking about anything would get him in trouble with his wife, Julie Ann. She wasn't happy with him volunteering for the mission in the first place. She knew marrying a test pilot wasn’t the path to easy street and the nuclear family with the white picket fence.

“One minute down, sir,” the corporal at the console whispered in his ear. It wasn't really a whisper but sounded like it with the whir and roar of the spinning simulator otherwise occupying his thoughts.

“Four minutes to go,” Brad thought.

He'd scrubbed out at that point on the first go-round, making a mess inside his helmet and other areas. They sent him back into the training program with the rest of the newbies for remedial training.

He expected that since it happened to the best of them. He wished they would have told him that up front, or maybe not. The training program used that experience to weed out the weak ones. Brad barely made the cut by surviving a full minute. One poor sap didn't even last ten seconds, even after months of prep work.

“Happy thoughts, happy thoughts,” Brad repeated over and over to himself. He amused himself with his witty mantra.

“Not as boring as that ‘Om’ stuff, eh, Corporal?” he thought, hoping to get a chuckle out of the corporal monitoring his thoughts. He knew he shouldn't be making jokes at a time like that, but he couldn't help himself. The success of this mission dealt with the future of humanity. It was a lot of stress for everyone involved. Brad coped with the pressure by cracking wise and keeping the mood light.

Everyone was on edge, threatening to snap at any moment.

“Two minutes down, sir,” the corporal whispered again, taking on a more professional tone.

“Jackpot,” Brad thought. “I knew I'd get you to laugh, Corporal, even if you can't show it, I know I got you.”

The spinning continued. Pinned against a rough carpeted wall, Brad felt the prickliness of the dense plastic fibers through his space suit. “Maybe you could get the Appropriations Committee to spring for virgin wool Berber next time,” he thought. “This crap is killing me.”

Before the corporal could reply, Max Johnson, the training project manager tapped the comm link. “Okay, Brad, duly noted,” Max said. “I'll tell Congresswoman Kinsey that her carpet selection made one of our toughest test pilots uncomfortable. Would you like me to request a cashmere t-shirt to wear as a base layer, too? I'm sure they could take some money out of the hammer or toilet budget to ease your suffering.”

Brad wanted to smile and roll his eyes, but the 5Gs pressing against him made that impossible. “No, sir, that won't be necessary, it was just a suggestion.”

“Three minutes down, sir,” the corporal said.

“Well, it’s all downhill from here,” Brad thought. He could feel his body beginning to sweat through his cotton t-shirt and briefs.

“You know, Max, if we can't get cashmere out of her, how about some basic merino wool?” Brad thought.

This time he wasn't joking. If his test sim were any longer than the five minutes, he'd sweat through his base layers and suffer in misery for the rest of the mission. And stink, too.


Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

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Yong Chuan

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