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The Last Manned Space Flight

by Dale de Silva

Haziz lowered his hands onto the dials casting shadows onto the control panel. They were cold to the touch – even with the streams of light falling from the port hole above. He brushed them with his palms as he pretended to turn them. They were made to fit together, but this was the last time. Syn stood behind him and took in the sight of the last man at the controls. She would be the last woman.

They ate breakfast together at the pier cafĂ© overlooking the city. The SS Champion moved across the sky, casting a shadow over the buildings, and Syn’s leftover bacon seamed to jump off the plate and complain about being discarded. The waiter’s metallic hand placed the bill down; There were others waiting. Haziz pushed back in his chair. He reached forward for the bill to find they’d been given less than they ordered – but there was no more time.

The earth followed them to the launch site as if to say “welcome home” and “I told you so” both at the same time. Each disconnecting step was no longer a small victory against gravity but a giant reminder for mankind. The ground offered no assistance and there was no spring in their steps. Their existence felt no more tuned for this planet than it was deemed for any others.

At the entrance to the STS Frontier, they turned and looked back at their unintended home. Its curves made them nauseous and it’s air suddenly seemed stale. On its horizon, the SS Champion loomed in the distance and the two turned to embark on the last manned space flight.

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