(Note that the author was 17 years old when she wrote this story.)
If you would have ever asked me where I would like to go on my dream vacation, my prompt reply would have been, "Well, outer space!" Now, I really regret the fatal choice I made, which changed my life forever.
A few months ago, NASA announced an all-India essay-writing contest. The first prize was a dream vacation for the winner on his/her own choice. I was desperate to win the contest because I knew they were the only ones who could fulfill my dreams. I remember writing about going into space.
One afternoon, just after returning from college, I opened my computer and found a mysterious email message in my account. I opened the message to find that I had won the contest! I was so excited!
The next few days seemed to fly past me. Before I knew it, I was there in the NASA space station. The authorities there had specially introduced a space program for me! It was a trip right around the solar system! I would be flying in my own shuttle with an autopilot system controlled by NASA.
The day for launching loomed over me very soon. There I was, sitting inside the space shuttle, the computer showing the countdown. Three, two, one, BLASTOFF! A loud roar filled my ears as I felt my stomach emerging into my throat. Thank goodness for the seatbelts or I would have been squashed like a pancake.
By the time the shuttle had left the atmosphere, I had settled down. I looked out of the front glass to find the earth as small as a golf ball. With a slight click, the seatbelts slid open and there I was, floating in space. So much peace!
I was enjoying myself pretty much. Sitting at the pilot's seat, I was checking out all the cool buttons, though I knew about the hazards of pressing the wrong one. The NASA people kept regular contact with me so there was nothing to worry about.
21st December 2009. 1:30pm GMT. The voice on the speaker was loud and clear.
"Hello, Seagreen 1, everything alright?"
"A-okay! Roger!" I answered. "What time is it?"
Suddenly there was a loud boom! The shuttle started to move extremely fast. I looked out of the front glass to find myself right inside a black hole! I picked up the radio and shouted, but no one answered! Everything outside the window seemed to zoom past. Now, the stuff inside the shuttle also seemed to go berserk and head towards the epicenter! A battery came out of nowhere and hit my forehead hard. Everything around me seemed to grow bloody and faint. I lost all consciousness.
* * * *
Oh! The pain! I groaned out loud. Slowly, my senses seemed to come back. I opened my eyes, slowly and painfully. My vision was still blurred. As I tried to wipe my eyes, something sticky met my touch. Blood!
A sudden beep brought me back into control. A button on the control panel was shinning brightly. Over it was the message, 'Autopilot shutdown'. I looked through the front glass to find the shuttle out of the black hole heading straight towards a bright red planet. I yanked at the steering and tried to control the shuttle, but the deed was impossible! As we entered its atmosphere, everything turned red-hot. My mind drifted back to Kalpana Chawla's death a few years ago, when I was a little child. Was I destined to die the same death?
Suddenly, with a loud bump, the shuttle hit the ground. It was lying upside down. I was not hurt and managed to climb out of it through a broken window. Where was I? Everything around me was bright red. There seemed to be no trace of life. Wait a minute! What was that poking me? I turned around to find huge apes around me, holding sharp daggers pointed at me.
Help! Right now I'm a prisoner for the apes. They intend to eat me right after their research is complete! Life is terrible here! I still remember my old days when I used to wish for space. Right now, the place for my dream vacation would be as close to home as possible!