Too Late
By: David K. Montoya

Welcome to the future, hundreds of hundreds of years from now… Welcome to the year of 2891 A.D., while scientific and medical knowledge have advanced, human life as we knew it remained basically the same over the centuries.

One break through that eluded us human beings, was space travel. While we as a species had mastered basic short range journey (from Earth to Mars, or any other plant away from ours), we had never traveled beyond Pluto and left the Milky Way Galaxy.

Until now…

The heels of Jason Williams' boots echoed while he moved through the empty hollowed halls of the Global Aeronautics and Space Administration building, he had received word that he was chosen to head a classified space mission called, Operation Player One.

Operation Beyond was the Space Administration's first real effort to go past Pluto and land on the moon named Hydra. Once on the moon, Williams is charged with claiming the moon as a domain of Colonized Earth, reload the spacecraft and head back to Earth. A total of Eight Billion miles and would take ten years to complete, a task never achieve by a human.

The idea of a single person in space alone would drive someone mentally insane, let alone the problem of storing ten years of food without rot. It was until it as decided to attempt a hibernation system where the body floated in a liquid substance that keep all living cells healthy. When the memo went out requesting volunteers only Williams and one other that were bold enough to willfully enlist their services.

Williams and his opponent were even in every aspect except for one thing, Jason had no family or private life. As a child he grew up in an orphanage and by the age of eighteen, saw him in the Air Patrol Squadron. Never had time for anything other than his one true love, becoming an astronaut for the Global Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Once Williams achieved that goal, he vowed to dedicate his life to the stars—after all, look where family got him, alone, beaten and orphaned. He often wondered why anyone would choose that type of life over one of freedom and self reward. It was the most logical choice to have Jason as the sole candidate for the mission.

After with swift, yet firm knocks on the door a surprisingly soft and delicate voice on the other side said, "Who is it?"

"Master Sargent Jason Williams. Requesting permission to enter." Williams replied.

"Enter."

Williams was surprised to find who awaited on the other side of the door. She stood as he walked inside, the lady was physically fit, and her mocha skin tone stood out against the blue in her formfitting uniform, with straightened shoulder length black hair. Her dark amber eyes focused in on him; her lips were full and inviting.

"Captain," Williams muttered, he tried his damnedest to remain deadpan in appearance.

She glanced up at him, with those amber eyes, as if to devour his soul. He felt beads of sweat on his forehead as he stood at attention in front of her desk. After a brief pause she spoke, "Is it the gender, or the age, Sargent?"

"I was not expecting you to be so young, Captain. I meant no disrespect," Williams replied while he remained at attention with his eyes fixed straight ahead.

"Go ahead and have a seat, Sargent. You're sheet white."

Williams quickly took a seat in a comfortable chair which faced the Captain's desk. For her, she decided to stand as she begin to speak, "Ever hear of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Sargent?"

"Sure. R.O.T.C. Cadets." Williams replied.

"I served four years in High school, and two in college. Once I finished there I went straight into OTS at the age of twenty. Nine and a half weeks later at the age of twenty–one, I exited the program as a Second Lieutenant." She explained. "Jump a head two years and hear I am."

Williams looked at her puzzled.

"I'm twenty–four. I was born in November." The Captain said with an almost flirty smile.

"That's remarkable, I've never heard anything like that." Williams responded.

"That's because it's never been done before," she said and pulled out her chair. The Captain stared Williams' in the eye as she had a seat, then continued. "I want to say about two hundred years ago, so twenty–five year old made Captain. Then comes along little ole me, to break that record."

She leaned forward and pulled a folder with TOP SECRET on top to her. The Captain opened the folder and begin to shuffle through the papers inside. "Let's see what it says about you."

The Captain thumbed through the pages, then came to a stop. Williams watched as she ran her finger tip across her lip; he was sweating again. She tilted her head while she read, eventually she looked up at him and said, "You're impressive, Captain Williams."

A modest smile wiped across his mouth. "Please, call me Jay."

"Alright Jay, you may call me Captain Morgan. But for the sake of formalities my name is Monique."

"Nice to meet you Captain."

She continued through the folder for a moment, then responded, "I'm surprised, Sargent."

"About what?"

"From your psych eval, you are completely normal. I figured you'd have to be off your rocker to volunteer for a mission like this." The captain rumbled through a few more papers, before she spoke again. "Nope, You appear completely normal."

Williams leaned forward and said, "Well, normal is an awfully strong word."

"I will tell you what Sargent. Pick me up at nineteen hundred hours and I will decide if you are normal or not." The Captain said bluntly.

"Yes ma'am."

#

Five weeks later, the date of the launch. The relationship between Williams and Morgan blossomed into a romance, one of desire and passion. They walked hand in hand out of the locker room, the nerves and excitement are written over his face.

"Promise you'll wait for me Monique," Williams said with conviction in his words.

"Of course my love, it will be over before you know it and both of us will be in the history books," the Captain said which was followed by a smile and a kiss on the cheek.

Once they reached the PREP room, they are met with two armed guard. The couple embrace one last time. The Captained looked up to him wide eyed and a big smile and said excitedly, "Now, lover, go join me in the record books."

"I will." Williams said, before one last passionate kiss.

Williams walked up to the two armed guards and they saluted him. After he acknowledged them Williams turned back toward his lover and said in a shaky voice, "Wish me luck."

She blows him and kiss and then said, "Good luck my love."

He responded with a worried smile and then enters the PREP room.

Once in side, Williams found a circular room with a single white bed in the center. Next to it was a podium with all the controls, and the walls of the room where wrapped with a white projection screen. Williams was lost in the simplicity of the area, he had actually expected more. Then overhead speakers became active with: Sargent Williams, please remove your uniform and place then in the basket.

Williams looked up puzzled and asked, "What basket?"

On cue, a small cylindrical container ascended from the floor. Without farther word, he undressed and lied atop the bed in the center of the room. As if it were rehearsed a million times before a man dressed in white entered the room and the projection screens automatically retracted to showcase holographic images behind it.

It was the launchpad, with the spacecraft on top. Steam and white smoke traveled up the length of the vessel, it was a magnificent sight.

"There's your rocket, Sargent, isn't she a beaut?" The man in white said, as he turned a few knobs on the podium.

"Why a projection screen, isn't it right outside?"

"Absolutely sir,but you're in your birthday suit, we are doing it this way to maintain your privacy." He said with a smile. The main in white walked over to Williams and inserted an IV line. Again, like it had be rehearsed a million times before another man enters the room with a metal pole on wheels and a transparent bag of liquid hung down from it.

"What's that for?" Williams asked as he shifted around in the bed.

"This is the medication that is going to have you fall asleep. Insertion of the tube that will go into your body for the tank is quite unpleasant." The other man explained.

The man at the podium asked in a rather cheerfully manner, "Would you like to listen to some music while we wait for the medication to take effect, Sargent Williams?"

"I've always been a fan of Mozart's A Little Night Music," Williams answered. Before he finished his sentence, the music was pumped through the overhead speakers. The fluid which entered his body gave him a warm and comfortable feeling. His mind wandered and locked on to the memory of Monique and then time they spent together, the hours they spent going over the steps of the mission.

As Jason eyes begin to close, her final words triggered: go join me in the record books… With his index finger he signaled the man next to the IV pole over to him, and has he leaned down, Williams mumbled, "It's never been done before. How do you know it will hurt?"

Williams' hand dropped to the bed and he expelled his last breath. The man next to him check for a pulse and after a moment shook his head no. The man in white at the podium flipped a switch and the music ended. The screen wrapped back around the room and Captain Monique Morgan walked into the room.

"That was fast." The Captain said to the two men.

"I think he figured it out at the last moment," the man who stood by the pole said while he removed the IV line.

"It doesn't matter, he's dead now. And think about how many of starving people his remains will feed once it's transformed into wafers."

THE END

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