It wasn’t in my room. I looked all over, checking my bed, the desk and even my workstation. The clutter of machinery and electronics held nothing but failed creations and mediocre electronics. With all that done, I left my side of the bunker and went to ask Jeremy.
“Jeremy!” I called. “Where is the remote? I need to run the test!”
“Don’t ask me,” he replied walking out of his room.
Behind him I could see his messed up looking room. If mine was untidy, his was apocalyptically untidy. Smiling at the joke in my head, I decided to not take Jeremy for his word and go search his room.
After climbing the rusting stairs carefully, I walked past Jeremy and entered his room. There were crates of broken metal, a bed that was molding and a skeleton propped up on his desk, leaning casually on its arm as if it were a model reclining on a couch.
“This place is awful,” I murmured. “Do you ever wonder why you didn’t make it the first year? Well, here is your answer.”
I gestured around the room for Jeremy who wasn’t there, but reclining on the couch.
“Now, c’mon, don’t give me the silent treatment again,” I told him. “You were talking to me earlier. Now, what places have you checked?
Again, no response, so I resigned myself to skipping the bit and walking over to his skeleton, reaching inside his ribs and gripping the remote.
“You know, you always were the ‘heart’ of the problem,” I murmured softly.
Going down the stairs I approached the launch pad. The bunker was illuminated why the warm light from the windows above the garage doors. Not that they led anywhere now that the tunnel collapsed. Where else did the light come from?
However, despite the radiation seeping in through the walls, I still felt I was a lot more safe inside than outside. In front of the garage doors was a launch pad where the rocket sat. In normal circumstances there would be a second rocket that I could test to see if I was making the right calculations.
However, with limited resources, that was no longer an option. The rocket was intended to go to space and deposit a satellite up there for the Russians, however, with a few course adjustments, it would change trajectory and land outside the radiation infected country that I was in.
The hull would protect me from radiation, but certainly wasn’t secure enough for space, at least, not secure enough to last long. Remembering this I pulled on the makeshift suit and mask, preparing myself mentally for the many possible deaths that I may encounter.
With all this in mind, I sighed deeply and approached the computer to check a few readings. None seemed to make much sense, but they were all green so I took that as a good sign. Next, I approached the generator which powered all the electronics of the rocket. With any luck there wasn’t a bad connection and the power would remain long enough in the batteries till I made the jump.
With nothing left to lose or check I did one last walk around the bunker.
“What are you waiting for?” Jeremy asked.
“I’m just taking it all in,” I murmured. “I mean, there are a lot of possible problems, but the reward is a chance to live another life.”
“You know you didn’t escape all the radiation, right?”
“You know, a little radiation is good for you, they say.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Just shut up, Jeremy. What would you know about anything? You were left clueless in your room because every time you interfere there were setbacks. And that’s exactly why I left you in that radiation infested room, because maybe you wouldn’t be a problem any longer.”
I told him right out and with that he walked back to his room after nodding knowingly, and resigning himself to his death. My last walk around was butchered once more by the memory of Jeremy, so I collected myself and climbed into the rocket.
I didn’t waste time with launch countdown, I just wanted to get out there or die in the process. Once the aperture opened for the rocket, I hit the go button which began the sequence of launch procedures. Electronics came to life, heat filled the room, a rumble became a roar and despite all my doubts, the rocket lifted, not slowing down.
With extreme force I was pushed back into my seat, stuck with the view of the sky as it gradually cleared the higher I went. The noise was deafening and I didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps something would give way and the force of the push would rip me apart, perhaps a wire would cross in the wrong place and I would disappear into fiery inferno. All were equally likely with me.
I closed my eyes and waited for death, letting all the adjustments I made do the work. Minutes passed, silence took over. I waited for what seemed like so much younger. Sound was returning, ears were popping several times and then I opened my eyes. I saw it, the world that I was in.
In other areas of the world it was greener, the water was clearer, but my country was clouded with grey and sickly yellow. The damage of science gone wrong was irreversible and to think I was living through all that only made me feel much worse.
Nearing the country that appeared a lot cleaner I waited for the rocket to centre before hitting the eject button. It soon did and the sky returned, although there was nothing but blue and a beautiful sun. To think I was free of it all made my eyes water, but death was still closing in on me.
I hit the eject and my chair launched threw the hole once the panelling shot off. I was floating above it all. The world as it was, repairing, struggling on despite the mess across the ocean. I felt no fear now, no fear as I pulled the parachute, no fear as I landed a few miles from a city.
How do you like that, Jeremy?