“… Launch is in 15 minutes. Anybody not properly strapped into their crash couch by the time we launch will have a very rough time,” Captain Thaddeus Abbotsford’s harsh British voice came over ship-wide speakers. Asher heard the groan in the large common area as he saw the people getting up from their tables. He got up and followed one of the snaking lines of people heading to one of the many hallways near the edge of the room. He didn’t want to be unstrapped during launch.
Launching off Earth was one thing, but launching off Luna was a whole other beast. If this ship was taking off of Earth, strapping in wouldn’t be as much of an issue, as you could just lie down on the floor as the acceleration pulled you towards the floor. The complex vectors involved with launching off Luna would have anything not tied down turn into a projectile as soon as the reactors kicked in.
Asher strapped himself into his crash couch and checked his terminal. He still had five minutes until launch. He scrolled through the news feeds coming from Earth and Mars. Somewhere far off outside his room he could hear a banging noise. It was growing louder as the mysterious knocker got closer to his room. Probably someone checking everyone was strapped in, Asher thought. Until it got to his door, that is.
“Hello, is anyone in there?” the voice sounded frantic.
“Yeah, I’m strapped in,” Asher called out.
“Do you have any room in there?” the scared voice called through the door.
“No, it’s a single room.”
“Can you help me? I’m lost.”
Asher tapped the control for his door on his terminal. It opened and a young woman in a powder blue jumpsuit stood there, cheeks red, breathing heavily; seemingly stressed out. Asher unstrapped and stood up, “What room are you supposed to be in?”
“I’m supposed to be in 505B,” she said. The stitching on her jumpsuit said Landon.
“You’re a few levels away, but I don’t think,” Asher checked his terminal, launch was in three minutes, “I don’t think you’ll make it back up to your room in time.”
“I’m well aware of that,” she wiped her eye with the back of her hand and sniffled. She stepped into the room. “I’m looking for a cabin with a spare couch for me to ride out the launch.”
“Well,” Asher said, gesturing around the room, “I don’t have a spare couch.”
“Attention all passengers and crew,” Captain Abbotsford’s voice came over the ship-wide speakers. “We’re taking off momentarily, and in the interest of safety, we’re closing all your doors. They’ll open again once we reach our cruise acceleration of three-quarter g.” Asher’s door slid closed. He looked at the woman in his room, eyebrows raised. He turned to his terminal and tried to open the door, but a red window appeared saying “SHIP OVERRIDE”.
Asher cursed under his breath. He turned to the woman, still looking spooked, and said, “Get in my couch, I’ll find a way to strap myself down.”
“You can’t fit two people in there?”
“Not safely during a launch.” Asher went over to his drawer and started rifling through them, making sure not to let anything fall out. The woman went over and strapped herself in to Asher’s crash couch.
“Attention all passengers and crew,” Captain Abbotsford’s voice crackled again through the speakers, “We’re going to launch in a minute now. Brace yourselves.”
“What are you looking for?” the woman yelled.
Asher pulled out a roll of black tape from his drawers, held it over his head to show the woman behind him, and locked up his drawers. He ran over to the corner of the room and lay down on the floor with his feet against the wall, and his right side touching the wall. Asher ripped a large piece of tape off and taped his legs to the floor.
“You think tape will keep you safe?” she called at him.
“It’s Space Graft Tape. We use it to keep ducts together on ships. If it’s good enough for a space ship, it’s good enough for me. Gonna be a pain to get off later though. It’s got a grip harder than a lonely basement-dweller,” Asher replied without looking.
Captain Abbotsford came on the coms again and began to count down from ten. Asher taped his torso to the floor, leaving enough room to slip his arms in. He put a piece of tape on his forehead, but didn’t tape it to the floor yet.
“Hey, toss this in the storage locker under the couch,” he called to the woman. Asher tossed her the tape and in a fluid motion she caught it, slammed it in the locker, and locked it. Asher taped his head to the floor, and slipped his arms in the holes he made as the ship began to rumble and Abbotsford reached zero on the countdown.
It felt like an earthquake. Asher grit his teeth as the g forces tried to pull him first through the wall by his feet, then through the wall be his side, and finally through the floor. He grunted to keep himself awake. The ship bucked sideways and Asher’s head shook from side to side. I’m gonna be so bruised up after this, he thought. And then finally, as quick as it started, he felt almost his normal weight again as the ship reached its cruising 3/4 g.
Asher coughed for a few moments. “Hey, what’s your name?” he finally asked after he was done.
“Elsie. Elsie Landon. I’m in bioscience. Thanks for saving me before the launch,” she said.
“I’m Asher Stenson. Head of Mechanical.”
“You alright down there?” she asked.
Asher sighed, “I’ll be alright. Could you help unstick me?”