One with the Stars by Arash Sayedi

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John flipped a switch on the cockpit and watched a small gage light up. It indicated twenty four minutes of oxygen remaining. He tried to relax and slow his breathing. He brought up the positioning menu on the main computer one last time and hit the ‘locate' button on the screen. He watched a small progress bar reach a hundred percent.

"Cannot locate position. No known star systems identified," the Computer spoke.

John knew the computer would not find anything knew; he just needed to hear a familiar voice. Then he suddenly remembered something, punched up another menu and stared at the screen for a moment.

"Eight days now?" John said to himself. "God knows what's happening back at home."

With that he unbuckled his belt and began to gently float out of his seat. He slowly worked his way to the back of the cockpit and opened a small, portable computer. He looked up at the strange sights around him as he waited for the system to boot. Magnificent gas clouds and bright star systems filled his vision and made him feel one with them all. The scene seemed strangely like a poster on his wall back at home. It was almost the same sight that had so motivated him through lonely nights of equations and progress reports.

He started a video clip on his desktop and watched a news reporter's familiar features on the screen.

"Today we witness a historic flight," the reporter spoke. "The brightest minds of our generation, standing on the shoulders of history's giants, have made the impossible not only possible, but probable. Today's flight, or jump, as the experts call it, will bring the furthest corners of our galaxy within man's reach, and will usher in a new era of progress. The vessel itself, we have been told by NASA, is unlike any we have previously seen. It is in fact quite plain and consists of merely a square cockpit, enclosed in protective glass. The common body of an aircraft is not necessary here as the vessel will not be flying through space per se. The chosen pilot is a Mr. John Seaton who has been working on the project for the last fifteen years, and is currently preparing for the historic flight. And with this we take you to NASA headquarters where our reporter Sandra Sears is now speaking with the director of this ambitious project. We, here at the network, wish Mr. Seaton and his loved-ones all the best."

John switched off the running video as the scene changed and began to look through the jumble of files on his desktop until he spotted one titled ‘Jen and the kids'. He opened it and felt his chest tighten as his wife's dark hair and bright green eyes stared back at him on his screen. She was holding a small boy who had her mother's eyes.

"Hello, John," his wife said.

"Say, hello Daddy," she said to the child on her lap who was more interested in a toy car in front of him.

"'lo Daddy," he said without looking at the camera.

A little girl shouted somewhere in the background, "Mom! I can't catch Pete! He keeps getting away."

"Your daughter is bringing in frogs from the pond again.

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