No matter how loudly the screams and shrieks of his alarm reverberate his spine and rattle his core, Gavin knows reaching over and clumsily depressing the snooze button is not an option this morning. A date once so far away in the calendar, seeming several lifetimes away and never to actually be experienced other than in dream, is today. Last night his mind was racing full throttle, burning up the track so fast the asphalt has turned black from the thick viscosity of rubber melting from the tires of his mind. The RPMs of his beating heart skyrocketed the faster his imagination flew around the speedway. His hopes, expectations, have already reached the Mesosphere, and probably will continue climbing higher until all layers of the Earth’s atmosphere have been conquered. The adrenaline keeps his muscles tense and locked, and no arrangement or orientation of pillows form clouds comfortable enough to cease the constant tossing and turning.
The Gillen family will all be sharply awoken at 0300, local. Mr. and Mrs. Gillen have slipped away into the land of dreams hours ago. The stress from the packing and planning of the entire ordeal has been exponentially swelling atop their humble shoulders for weeks. They have not wavered, but have been temporarily crushed into submission for the night as they enjoy the well deserved rest. “Don’t look at the clock,” Gavin thinks to himself. Strategizing that if he doesn’t know the exact number of minuscule hours of sleep he receives, then he may not psychologically be aware of how tired he should be. Years pass until the excitement and adrenaline exhaust his energy, his mind has exhausted every drop of fuel.
How long have they been awake? His eyelids diverge and snap open like a reverse-bear-trap. His eyes focus to reveal a world on its side. Wasting no time Gavin lifts his head from the pillow, rotating everything 90 degrees to return the world upright. He can see them, fully dressed, already hustling through the house, moving luggage, rustling papers, and reassuring all documents and identification for the family are not forgotten. Most important of all are the tickets. They are double, triple, quadruple, and quintuple checked. His parents’ minds are razors. You can see the neurons in their brain firing with perfect precision. However, their physical appearance is not contiguous with their mental state. They are no longer human, but have become dilapidated machines. Their faces lack lifeblood only leaving cold pasty flesh white as snow, bones that have endured five times their load bearing capabilities, and hair that will streak grey any day now. They have aged ten years over a weeks time.
Leaving a soft bed that’s radiating warmth to pursue the darkness of 03:01 a.m. is always less than desirable. Gavin begins to gather what little luggage he has. They’re not allowed to bring much. As he works he gazes around the skeleton of a home. The walls may be blank, refrigerator barren, and the house empty, but it’s filled to the ceiling with memories. As he is violently whipped back to reality he realizes the rest of his family is gathering around the table to eat breakfast with the only remaining food in the house, eggs and orange juice. The rest of the food was eaten or removed the day before. This is the last meal they will ever eat in their home. The frying pan along with the cooking utensils used will be discarded, and what remains of the appliances and furniture will be left behind.
The metallic clicking of seatbelts slice through the silence of the early morning’s darkness, almost as if to echo down the desolate street like a gunshot dissipating throughout the neighborhood. It’s eerily quiet out as everyone and everything is fast asleep at this unholy hour. Before Gavin could comprehend and process the events developing they were already down the street when it occurred to him the car was brought to life by the gentle hum of the engine, and his eyes gawked at his house through the glass until it was no longer visible. Still glancing out the window he returned facing forward in his seat, and hoped to take advantage of the drive to gain any precious moments of sleep he can.
The gentle vibrations and consistent purr of the tires on the road are soothing. Earbuds are placed in his ears shortly before he leans over against his sister’s car seat and closes his eyes. When music plays the world halts and disintegrates. You are static in a single point in space and time in which music triggers an explosion of everything around you to be blasted spherically and evenly into every direction. The ground vigorously crumbles, plummeting far below your feet, leaving you suspended in your original location, and the sky goes AWOL surging infinitely up and away from your head until any hue of blue is no longer visible. All objects, places, and people around you zoom away eternally at a constant speed, and you’re left alone in the vast solitude vacuum of space. Despite getting no sleep the night before Gavin remains frustratingly conscious for the duration of the car ride.
When they arrive at the terminal the imminent sunrise will be occurring soon. Parking directly in front they get out and unload their luggage and diligently scour the car because anything left behind will remain there permanently. A man promptly approaches Mr. Gillen and speaks, “Good morning. Papers and pink slip, please.” Looking around, this phrase is repeated to many other people arriving and exiting their vehicles. Mr. Gillen hands over the keys and paperwork, which includes a document indicating the value given to the vehicle when it was inspected. The man locates the corresponding paperwork matching the information he just was given, and a preprinted check for the value of the car is put into Mr. Gillen’s hands. He quickly tucks it away in the luggage containing the rest of the family’s documents.
A snake of people winds throughout the labyrinth of the terminal. This sight of organized chaos has only been observed by a small percent of the population. The procedure and incalculable number of signs must certainly only be understood by God and his infinite wisdom, yet everyone is finely dressed and seem to know exactly where to go. Gavin’s legs quickly reciprocate like mechanical pistons in an attempt to keep up with his father’s long unbroken strides. There are lines and security checkpoints everywhere as far as the eye can see. Sight of the entrance has been lost long ago.
After what felt like miles of walking they passed Gate 6032A. The most sickening and disgusting scene permanently etched this terminal number into Gavin’s memory for ever. A hysterical woman at the front of the security line was crying uncontrollably. Tears streamed from the faucets of her eyes down her burning red face, which heated the tears to their boiling point where they were converted to steam. She screams words of agony, except the words stuttered are incomprehensible. She’s possessed. Inhibited by a demon. She must be, as her body twitches and contorts with inhuman motion. If you have never seen someone beg for their life before, this was it. Walking hurriedly past Gate 6032A your eyes uneasily glare at this gruesome car wreck, unable to turn away no matter how much effort is used. Due to the insanity of the woman a small detail of the scene initially has gone overlooked. Moments later it is noticed that a young girl is permanently affixed to her mother’s leg. The jaws of life could not release her little arms that clung to her mother. Gavin’s heart stopped beating. The world faded away to black as his vision blurred. His hearing deafened, and the loud rumble and uproar of the terminal muted to a fuzzy tone. A cold sweat encapsulated his entire body. The shrill wail of the mother rose above all noise in the terminal, ”I HAVE A TICKET. I’M IN THE SYSTEM! PLEASE!” From across the room you can see her luggage spewed across the floor, and all compartments were unzipped as if she were either sloppily unpacking, or searching. Faculty consoled her, as security constrained her. Momentarily bursting free, her arms coiled around the young girl like two anacondas. She squeezed her tightly with unsteady hands, and then the daughter was taken through the gate, proper documents in hand, alone.
While being held by Mrs. Gillen, Juli erupted into tears. Too young to comprehend, but no doubt disturbed. Mrs. Gillen pressed her daughter’s head against her shoulder and buried her eyes in her hand, shielding her from the commotion.
The Gillens have finally arrived at their gate. Normally waiting in line is mind numbing and dull, but when you realize this is the last time you’ll set foot in the only place you’ve ever known, you’re surprisingly content, aside from the anxiety of the impending adventure. After an hour of treading in a sea of people, Mr. Gillen distributes each family member’s documents, tickets, and identification. Gavin clutches onto them as if he were saving a friend from falling to his or her death. “We’ll all meet on the other side nobody go ahead,” he instructs before turning to face to front of the line.
Each security personnel at the head of the line administering the inspections wears all black, and waves one person through at a time. Behind them a wall of soldiers provides reinforcement and intimidation armed with assault rifles. Each family member traverses the boundary successfully. On the other side more waiting begins; however, this is different than the other waiting, this is blissful. Several hours from departure, everyone on this side of security is grinning ear to ear. Carefree, the brain has been relieved of its laborious duties, and imagination is let off the leash again to run wild. Not only do metal detectors detect metal, but apparently strip away stress as well once you pass through. The comradery is outstanding, nothing like the real world. Everyone on this side of the security barricade is instantaneously bonded.
“Now boarding, segment: zero-two-four-delta-six-seven,” an automated announcement booms over the gate. The Gillens come alive and are on their feet in a blink, along with a group of twenty-or-so other eager people. Once more documentation, identification, and tickets with our boarding segment, “024D67,” reemerge from safe keeping. A smile confirms we are clear to board. Gavin’s stomach drops to the floor and heavily drags behind him as he realized he wished the the walk through the dimly lit jet bridge would stretch forever, knowing each foot print he leaves behind can never be retraced. It is at this point where everything became a blur emitting the disconcerting feeling that a section of time is missing from your life. You know where you are now, but you don’t remember the events leading up to it and how you got there. His mind, soul, body and internal organs all feel as if they’re floating, like the carefree euphoria feeling received after realizing you’re currently in a warm dream. Now sitting in his seat, Gavin had a thick window to his left, and family seated beside him on the right. He prayed there wouldn’t be an emergency, because he couldn’t hear the attendant’s demonstration and instructions over the thud of his heartbeat. She droned on for thirty minutes, he estimates, as he tuned in and out while focusing as powerfully as he could. This hypnagogic experience was far too surreal to concentrate. Everything was in slow motion as he panned his head. Looking at both sides of his hands he questioned his existence, “Is this really happening? Am I really in this body right now?” He could have just been observing someone else’s experience through their eyes, only along for the ride and not in any sort of control.
The cabin dims softly like a sunset in fast forward. The attendant is gone now, she may have been for awhile but all concept of time has been distorted to the point where time is meaningless. They could have been sitting there for five minutes, or a month. Gavin checks his harness once more reassuring he is secured. Everyone is silent, and in the low lighting solemn faces can roughly be distinguished. More time passes, probably, until the monotony of the silences is broken by various hums and mechanical vibrations produced by the engine start-up sequence. One could only imagine the extensive checklists they’re currently going through in the cockpit. A voice over the loudspeaker startles Gavin like a person unsuspectingly springing from the bushes, “All passengers prepare for takeoff. I repeat prepare for launch.” The feeling of a small earthquake begins to rumble and the sound of pure power emanates from the engines. The ground begins to abandon them, slowly at first but soon rapidly sinks away as they build momentum. The g-force, excreting pressure of a linebacker, squeezes the passengers deep into the cushions of their seats as they hurl vertically towards the heavens. Several people have their eyes shut with a look of discomfort upon their face. Gavin is glued to the window, similar to anyone who has their eyes open. The ground is continues to plunge further as they climb. The radiant glow of the Earth’s atmosphere illuminates the cabin. Gavin’s eyes shine blue, and he does not blink for this is the first and last time he will see the Earth with his own eyes. Deterioration on the face of the Earth is now visible and evident. Scorched, charred, and scarred from explosions, these are the blemishes that paint many continents. Any type of green or forests are virtually nonexistent. Colossal mining sites for harvesting natural resources deface the surface. He figures their altitude must be around sixty-thousand feet, or near the top of the Troposphere. A luminous turquoise halo resonating from the atmosphere surrounds the planet, and affectionately hugs it. Loyal to the planet in its time of duress. This beautiful band of light is a gradient of blue that burns white hot toward the surface, and slowly fades to blue, then violet, transitioning through all hues of blue until there is nothing but black as the empty edge of space is greeted.
For a long time Gavin peers down in awe at blue marble that is his home. The indescribable sight was so distracting, it was as if his sensory system and brainstem were too overloaded to autonomously control his respiratory system. It was literally breathtaking. His neck ached from watching the Earth until it was no longer visible from his window. Leaning back, he reaches into his pocket and removes the ticket his grandfather purchased for him over ten years ago with everything he had. He reads his name, “GILLEN, GAVIN E.” printed across it along with his P.B.I. (Personal Barcode Identifier), a form of identification attached to him since he was born. Below displays their segment, “024D67.” The first two characters “02″ indicate they are on the second transport ever launched. Six years have passed since the first transport, the absolute minimum time span possible between launches. A new transport must be constructed on Earth for each launch, because they are dissembled after landing to be used for resources. The following digit, 4, means they are on the fourth level of the ship. “D6″ is hexadecimal for 214, his seat number. The final number, 7, no one seems to know.
And now the vents gently begin to hiss.
They softly emit gas, and spew bliss.
Eyelids heavy, dreams are ready.
Captain please, hold us steady,
For Mother Earth, you will be missed.
From the stars, we blow our kiss.
Many years we drift in slumber,
And awaken, full of wonder.