Die Writing

The void at the end

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on February 1, 2012


Some details might not match up with a previous version. Sorry?

To the skies!

I’m holding this pamphlet in my hands again. I’ve kept it with me this whole time, for some reason. It’s kind of worn and beat up now. “Defend the Future. Take the Fight to the Skies!” I remember the recruiter who handed it to me, his firm handshake, steely eyes, confident smile. I remember bantering about the Fleet, and how he got hurt in boot camp and that kept him out of the cockpit. He never got his wings. A few months later, though, I did.

I run my hands over the paper. It feels rough and odd. It feels jagged under the fingertips. Paper’s rustling sounds like a bucket of broken glass. It’s all turned up too loud, colors over-saturated. That’s normal, though, everything seems weird and unreal for about an hour after you get out of the cockpit. All that stuff they inject into you to keep you flying… it’s like they took the whole 24-hour day and squeezed it into a five-minute firefight. The rest of the time comes off bland and empty after flying.

The brochure features a young pilot posing in front of his craft. He is handsome, with his pressed dress uniform and movie-star smile. That’s Jake. Around here, everyone knew this guy. A fighter pilot superstar, the best of the best, all talent, all hard work, with a list of kills that’s a mile long. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was assigned to fly in his wing. That was literally the best day of my entire life.

Jake’s dead now. Crashed his machine. He wasn’t shot out of the sky. Nothing failed in his craft. He didn’t run out of fuel. He fried his brain.

A moment before his starfighter went belly up and spun out of control into the ground, I happened to open a comm channel to him for a status check in. His face appeared on my screen. Normally, you’d see the face of a focused pilot. Everyone’s got that hunter’s look on them.

Jake looked absent. He seemed to be looking out a side port at something far, far away. There was zero concentration on that face. Jake looked relaxed, and there was something like an absent-minded smile on him. I called out, but he did not respond. His craft began to spin, spiraling into the moon below. His head rolled onto his shoulder. His lips seemed to move, but I could not hear any words. Then the video cut out.


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