Continuing the “-punk-” subgenre challenge I set for myself for this year’s WEP contest, I thought about what I could do with the April theme “Road Less Traveled.” While I originally considered doing an “Atompunk,” themed piece, I realized after a few paragraphs I would break the word limit. After a few days being stalled in the idea mill, I concluded “Raypunk,” would make an oddly good choice. Raypunk started out in the 1930’s as speculative ideas focusing on space travel, rayguns, robots, jetpacks, and rockets. Trying to focus on most of the key ideas behind Raypunk, I realized I could take some inspiration from the Space Race. Intertwining the ideas of the two, and the theme for this month’s challenge, I started writing. Managing to create a retro-inspired science fiction tale, I titled “Journey into Unknown Space.”
Journey into Unknown Space
The mission control room was busy going over last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s mission. Deputy Administer Smith had brought in every person he thought was necessary, filling the room with scientists, engineers, and, human calculators. Turning to ignore the chaotic crowd of people behind me, I peered out the window. Archimedes rested on the launch platform, bathing in the vibrant orange and red light from the setting sun. Contrasting the colors of the sunset with ivory and sapphire colored shell. The ground crew was running about the platform, walking over fuel lines and in-between passing vehicles. If things went well with the launch, this would be history in the making.
After an early morning test of my space suit, rocket pack and experimental ray gun, I walked over to the small stage where the press eagerly waited. My expecting wife and ten years old sat next to my boss. Setting my helmet down on the podium, I glanced at the media. Letting the flashbulb cameras and video cameras record me for a few seconds before speaking; “Various members of the press, I welcome you on this warm October morning. Today marks the end of years of work, and the beginning of my journey into the universe,” waving my family forward. Pulling my wife to my side, before taking my son’s hand. “There are a lot of people to thank, but first I want to thank my wife and son for the enduring love and constant support leading up to this day. Along with the numerous staff at National Space Exploration Agency for making this day possible,” kissing my wife on the cheek and ruffling my son’s hair. Grabbing my helmet, giving the press one last picture before walking to the launch platform.
Climbing up the stairs into, where the lid to Archimedes was hinged open. Stepping into the cramped red pilot seat with care, making sure not to start the launch prematurely. Securing myself to the seat with durable cloth straps that ran crisscrossed over my shoulders and chest. Reaching up and grabbing the lid’s handle slamming the top down. Feeling a slight pressure over my body as the airlock was sealed.
The in-helmet microphone crackled before the voice of Deputy Administer Smith came through, “You’re all clear on this end. Launch when ready, John.”
I said “Affirmative, Deputy Administer Smith,” grabbing both control sticks. Feeling mission control angle the platform holding Archimedes toward the sky. Pressing down on the ignition switch, just seconds later. The four secondary rockets were building up thrust against the clamps, making Archimedes tremor. “Releasing clamps now,” before pushing the second button on my right. Using the pent-up thrust to accelerate the rocket forward rapidly. The incredible g-force was pushing me back into the seat. Pressing down on the primary rocket’s ignition switch at my feet, increasing the g-force exponentially.
Breaking through the atmosphere, feeling the weightlessness all over my body. The moon and stars were bright against the darkness of space. A mesmerizing sight to behold this close up. Pulling both control sticks back, activating a prototype wormhole drive. Encapsulating my ship in a bubble of spacetime, protecting it as the ship rocketed through the universe.
Archimedes was slowing down rapidly as planetary designation Terrutius came into my view. The sphere was possessing an Earth-like appearance, except with a different layout. Deactivating the primary rocket, letting my ship go forward. Feeling the planet’s gravity pull Archimedes towards it nose first. Carefully rotating the wings holding the secondary rockets, using the thrust to turn the ship. Bringing Archimedes a whole hundred and eighty degrees feeling the ship begin to warm the more gravity pulled it downward. Quickly deactivating the secondary rockets to accelerate my descent.
Managing to land on Archimedes on a flat piece of land successfully. Releasing the lid with a powerful pull-back, breaking the airtight seal in the process. Undoing the straps before carefully getting out of my seat. Turning my jetpack onto a low thrust setting to land on the ground with ease. Glancing out at the surrounding land, seeing something had cleared this land in a perfect square. Dark brown twisting helix looking trees with broad hexagonal green leaves encompassed the cleared area. Unlike the sky of Earth, this place had a burnt orange hue to it. The temperature seemed mild enough for life to exist here somewhere. Taking a few cautious steps forward, my hand hovering above my raygun.
Pausing as something dropped down from the nearby trees. Keeping my raygun holstered, I saw a bipedal creature at the tree’s base. Its skin changing hues from green to a light blue color began to appear around its muscular body. A segmented tail was wrapping itself around the creature’s waist. Two arms of different lengths erupted out of the shoulders of the alien life form. Each was having almost claw-like fingers at each end. Two unblinking black eyes stared at me, as the one on the things slightly elongated forehead blinked rapidly. Hiding behind a series of pincher like attachments was a thin line, I assumed was its mouth. In silence, we studied each other with unflinching gazes. Seeming uncertain what would happen next, as more of them dropped out of the trees.
Two years have passed that historic day that changed my life. Improving the lives of the humanoid life forms on this planet. Feeling it was time for me to return to earth, confirming we weren’t alone in the universe. Stepping into Archimedes once again, looking out the crowd. Feeling saddened to leave yet optimistic about returning home to see my wife and child again.
Critique level: Full Word Count: 936