The pain woke me on the morning of my first flight, racinglike molten steel through my body. I turned on the light and rummaged in my nightstand for my injector. I pressed it against my leg and pushed the button twice. I could feel the ice cold tingles of the medicine enter my bloodstream, clashing with the pain in my limbs. I closed my eyes and sighed in relief.
It had been a long time since I had a pain flare like that. I wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that soon I would never feel it again.
I took a quick shower, taking care to not use more water than allowed, and then I stood in my bedroom, eyeing the suit that I had, ever so carefully, placed on the chair next to my bed the night before. It gleamed at me. I put it on, the sentient fabric adjusted to my skin.
I moved, for the first time, in the suit that would be my home for the next year. At least. I felt the whispers of energy dash over my skin. I smiled. I put the hood over my head, careful to push every stray hair underneath. I moved my fingers in the motions I had trained for so long. I thought of the sacrifices I had made to get to this point.
Pain flared again. I bit my lips and turned my back on the apartment that had been mine for two years. I shuffled through the hallway into bay 12. My bay.
Hermes 11 waited for me, shiny and new. I would be her first, the beautiful star class shuttle was all mine.
I smiled a half smile in the direction of the control room, and then I entered the ship.
The hatch was already open. I smiled to myself when I thought of the rules. I had to get in there voluntarily. I had to show until the very end that I was going ahead with this. My own free will. I bit the pain away as I draped myself into my new home, the contours fit perfectly with my body. The suit whirred into action.
A smiling face hovered over my head. “Are you ready, Leona?”
Hands working above and below me attached tubes, adjusted straps and placed the mask over my face. Then the moment I was born for came. The doctor placed the connector in the base of my brain and connected the IV line.
I wanted to cheer, scream, giggle, all at the same time. “Oh hell yes.”
“Here we go.”
Pain screamed for bright, final moment, and then there was serenity, calm, joy. I could hear my maniacal laughter come through Hermes’ speakers. My speakers.
I viewed the closing of the hatch from my internal sensor.
We ran tests for the next hour or so. It was boring, I had done the simulations countless times. But, I knew they would never let me go before I got all signs on OK.
I yearned to fly.
Eventually, everyone left. I was left all by my lonesome, waiting for my pilot or as I tend to call him: company. I played with the sound system until I got a stern talking to from Control.
Finally, the door opened. Ray came in. I loved Ray. He had the kind of personality you just had to love, so heartwarming, open, gentle and kind.
I loved him since forever, but he never saw me. He only saw my pain and responded to it with tenderness and kindness, never with the longing I so yearned to see in him.
“Hey, Ray. Ready to kick some alien butt?”
Ray grinned and put his helmet on my dashboard. “Let’s first do a test run to the moon and back. You are new at this and all.”
I revved my engines. He squeaked and sat down in his chair. “Had no idea you were in such a rush, Leona.”
I laughed away years and years of pain and suffering in one split second. “You have no idea, Ray. Strap in, departure in ten, nine, eight…”
I ignored his protests as I sent the clear for take-off signal to Control.
I cheered as I revved my engines and turned my nose towards the sky.