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Altitude, Part 4

Captain Ray waved the children back to their seats. "Strap yourselves in, we're going to reenter." They floated to the front seats and bound themselves into the acceleration couches.

The spaceman looked over to the kids. "This will be a little rough." He turned the ship. They had been pointing nose down. Now the rocket's tail pointed in the vector they'd been travelling. The spaceman fired up the drive torches. It felt like a giant hand was pushing them into their couches. Cord grunted with surprise.

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Altitude, Part 3

Captain Ray opened a pocket on his p-suit and pulled out a bar of candy which he broke into three pieces. He passed them to Cord and Cliff. Cord sniffed hers. "This isn't really candy, is it?" asked Cliff.

"We'll be weightless soon. It hits some people the wrong way," said Captain Ray who then popped his piece in his mouth and chewed. He swallowed. "Don't want to chunder, do you?" Cord and Cliff ate their candy.

"What's chunder?" asked Cord.

Captain Ray chuckled. "It's a loud, colorful mess that is especially unpleasant in a weightless environment."

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Altitude, Part 2

They climbed up the side of the rocket. Halfway up, Cord pointed out her friend's house. "The tracking's broken on their solar panels. They're all pointing in different directions." Cliff looked down and his sister, just below his feet. The ground was far and he felt he hands begin to sweat. "Don't look down," said his sister. "Look sideways or up."

"Shut up," said Cliff. He turned his head to the right and saw the patchwork browns and greens of the fields and the metal sheathed rooftops. He felt the beating of his heart grow loud and quicken. His breathing was too fast.

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Altitude, Part 1

The sign was handmade and read "Ride into Space $10" in black marker on brown cardboard. It was posted at the edge of the field. In the very middle of the timothy grass, in the center of a burnt-out circle, was a rocket. It was taller than a grain silo and was a squat obelisk resting on three legs.