SHORT STORIES

Tranquility

Jack sat outside his favorite café. Lyssa, his wife, sat across from him sifting through her large polka-dotted purse. The warm sun bathed them. He enjoyed sitting here, drinking a fresh cup of coffee as the winds danced through the flowers. He loved being with her. Today he tried to enjoy it, but his headache was back again. The dull throbbing detracted from the otherwise perfect day.

 

"What are you looking for?" Jack asked.

 

"I think I have some medicine in here somewhere for you." She responded. "So, you really want to do this?"

 

"Lys, it's not every day someone gets to travel outside of the Moon's orbit, let alone Earth's."

 

Lyssa stopped searching for a moment, exasperated she replied "I get it, but why you?"

 

"We've been over this a thousand times. It's what I trained for, this is MY JOB! You know all the safety checks we do, all the training, all the years of research and design. I'll be fine."

 

"I know, I know...I know." Lyssa threw her hands up in surrender, then went back to her search.

 

The pounding in his head grew louder. "God this headache! Feels like they're doing construction in there."

 

A buzzing noise broke into his concentration. "Lyssa do you hear that?"

 

"What?" She looked up, distracted. "Oh, is it your phone?"

 

He realized his pocket was vibrating. Reaching in, he slowly pulled out his phone.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Jack?" The voice on the other end sounded frantic.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"Oh thank Christ, Jack we've been trying to get in touch with you for hours!"

 

"Who is this?" Jack winced as another bolt of pain dashed through his skull.

 

"Jack, the FAO says you haven't logged into the mission computer, we were due for your up-link three hours ago. Guidance is telling me your NAV is offline. We've lost all communication with the ship. What is going on?"

 

Lyssa turned to her husband "What is it Jack?"

 

"I... I don't know."

 

"Jack...Jack do you copy?"

 

"Yes, I'm here."

 

"Jack, just hang up, we're in the middle of a conversation." Lyssa pleaded.

 

"Hold on, just give me a minute!" Jack grew impatient.

 

"Who are you talking to?" Came the voice over his phone.

 

"My wife, now WHO IS THIS?"

 

"Jack, you don't have a..." The voice grew scared, off in the distance Jack could faintly hear the voice say "MANIAE PROTOCOL..."

 

"OK Jack, let's take this once step at a time. CAPCOM tells me they can't get a hold of the crew...where's the crew Jack?"

 

The pounding in his head intensified. To his right, a red button pulsated on and off. Without thinking, he leaned over, and with a bloodied hand pressed the button.

 

A loud bang, then silence. The pounding ceased.

 

"Jack...what was that?"

 

Outside of his cabin window, Jack watched as several lifeless bodies danced peacefully into the inky void.

 

"They're floating now."                                             

 

Lyssa snapped his attention back to her. "Oh, here it is, here take this" She reached over the little table and held a pill in her hand for him. "This should help you out," she said smiling.

 

Jack loved her smile; it was what attracted him in the first place. He had no memory of when they met, or when they got married. But it was that smile that told him he was going to be fine.

 

He put his finger up to the headset. "Just going to take something for my head."

 

"JACK, NO! STOP! LISTEN TO ME GODDAMMIT!" came the cry. "JACK!"

 

He grabbed the pill out of Lyssa's hand and popped it into his mouth. She smiled at him, then turned toward the shimmering sunlight. The wind tussled her hair, gently lifting it up, then down again. She sat there motionless, then faded.

 

Jack took his headset off; screams from its earpiece attempted to disrupt the tranquility of the moment. With a sigh, he bit down on the pill, and positioned himself looking out the cabin window toward the sun. The lights of the controls blinked on and off in the shadows; much like Jack’s perception of reality. He floated there, relaxed, until the cyanide’s effects slowly let him drift away.