Helplessly Above It All

I’m fourteen days, three hours and twenty seconds into the mission. So far the spacecraft has performed flawlessly, surpassing all expectations. It’s been rather comfortable as the capsule was designed with more room for the occupant than previous spacecraft.

When I was selected to be the commander of this mission, my wife got the biggest kick out of watching me jump around our little apartment with a big shit eating grin on my face. She said that…

…she said… why am I even bothering to mention her?

She’s dead.

So is everybody else.

I should never have taken this assignment. Prior to the launch, the administrators had told me to say a proper goodbye to her as tensions were high with our rivals across the pond. The risk of nuclear exchange was at its greatest, even more so than during the Cuban crisis.

I didn’t take it seriously.

The officials were still going ahead with the launch and I treated it as business as usual. I cringe remembering my last words to her.

“Keep the steaks warm.”

I watched helplessly above it all as hundreds of nuclear missiles launched from their silos. Had it been a simulation, I would have described the mushroom clouds sprouting up from the impacts as mesmerizing; however, knowing each one signaled the eradication of civilization, I felt numb. My radio had gone silent after a partial scream was obliterated in a roar of static.

That all happened on the second day of the mission.

Through each window, I can see the planetoid carcass that was once Earth. It used to be a beautiful sight with shades of white, blue, green and brown; a source of wonder and full of life. Now it’s an inhospitable cancer, smothered with the unnatural, burning clouds.

I left my radio on over those twelve days but only empty static and the ghosts of my memories kept me company. I would have loved to hear another human voice – even if it had been the enemy.

Not anymore.

I’ve just initiated my reentry procedure. Within minutes, my ship will fire its rockets one final time, propelling me back towards the nuclear polluted earth. When the moment comes to deploy the parachutes, I will simply sit back and enjoy the ride. I’d rather die in an impact crater on the earth’s surface than orbiting above it.

They fire right on cue and I feel the ship slowly descending into the atmosphere.

“Can anybody… me?” The voice crackles through my headset. “My name is…” A burst of static hisses then fades. “If anyone can hear me, please acknowledge…”

I lean forward to reply then stop. There’s no way I can interrupt the reentry procedure. Even if I could, what would be the point? As the flames begin to engulf the outside of my ship, I turn the radio off and lean back into my seat. There’s no reason to give him a false sense of hope.

Sorry buddy. You’re on your own.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved


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About jonolsonauthor

On top of working full time as a Security Checkpoint Coordinator at the Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport and still learning the ropes of being a father, Jon is also a writer of horror and dark fiction. While he writes predominantly about the dark and horrible, he will step out into other areas if the interest is there. Jon is a proud member of Pen of the Damned and is also a member of the Horror Writer’s Association (Affiliate level).

20 responses to “Helplessly Above It All”

  1. Juliette Kings says :

    You had me with every single word. More please!


  2. Craig McGray says :

    Reblogged this on From Bright Minds Come Dark Things and commented:
    ‘Helplessly Above it All’ by Jon Olson


  3. Karen Soutar says :

    Oh, that story was like a short sharp punch to the gut. Loved it!


  4. jonolsonauthor says :

    That was definitely the intent! Thanks a lot for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it!


  5. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    My story HELPLESSLY ABOVE IT ALL is up this week at Pen of the Damned


  6. blazemcrob says :

    This is your best story yet, Jon! So much said in so few words. Chilling, with just the kind of reaction I would certainly have had if this had happened to me.



  7. Magenta Nero says :

    short, sharp and not so sweet. I like it Jon!


  8. Sarah says :

    Quick, with a sharp punch. I really enjoyed it. Great story!


    • jonolsonauthor says :

      Thank you for not only reading but taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it and I’m glad you liked it! I’m happy that you felt the desired intent! Thanks a again!


  9. dooteronomy says :

    Well done, Jon.

    Short, sweet, and oof, delightfully wicked.


  10. Joseph Pinto says :

    Fantastic story, Jon!! 🙂 I loved it because hell, it sadly could become reality one day (so should I love it then?… lol), but also because you delivered your story in chilling, concise fashion. *high-five* Awesome job! 🙂


    • jonolsonauthor says :

      *returns high-five* Thanks a lot, Joe! My parents grew up in the U.S. during the Space Race and Cold War so their experiences have always made me think long and hard about it. You’re right in that even though it’s not on the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s still a very real possibility. Thanks again, brother!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thomas Brown says :

    Marvellous, Jon. Really heart-felt and despondent. Isolation is a terrifying thing.


  12. Hunter Shea says :

    So cool, Rocket Man. Every astronaut’s nightmare! Good stuff.


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