The launch rocket sat waiting on the tarmac, massive in size, red rust falling from its skin like snow, steam surging out of its engines – the countdown stopped at Four Minutes.
A rapid-fire exchange of orders and counter-orders crackled over the radio in the ship’s cockpit. The crew, suited and strapped into their pods, only knew the launch was delayed. The only thing that concerned Lt. Milburn was he had to piss.
It always happened before any flight. Typically he would wait until liftoff and let his MAG do its job. The adrenaline rush from smashing through the earth’s gravitational pull coupled with the visceral pleasure of emptying his bladder was as good as sex.
This trip, his catheter would ruin any self-gratification.
His rumination was interrupted when the countdown started again.
“T-4 minutes and counting,” a cheer could be heard in the background of the Mission Control’s transmission.
At two minutes, the crew closed and locked their chamber seals. Milburn settled deep into his seat, bracing for liftoff. When the main engines started at six seconds, he closed his eyes.
Once he felt the rocket leave its launching pad, Milburn opened his eyes, gauging their distance from the earth by the sky’s shade of blue. When the view from the windshield darkened to indigo, Milburn pressed the “active’ button on his suspension chamber. When he awoke in six months, the view would be the red atmosphere of Mars.
“Goodbye blue skies,” he murmured as he felt his consciousness fade to black.