Up There so High

What do you get when you have a space fanatic, a runaway princess and a bunch of miscreants? Well, you get the three E's; Explosions, Expletives and Enemies.
You may not laugh along with this story but you may sing (because the main space man is very much fond of that).


5. The Accomplishment


~The Accomplishment~



Everett stared at the acceptance email for a long time. He was shortlisted for a trainee programme at the British branch of NASA.

“Morton!” He screamed and heard several crashes as books were dropped. Morton cursed as he pushed open his bedroom door, moving aside the fallen tower of books. Nothing had changed since his book lover ways in university.

“What?!” He screamed back as he held his mug of black coffee aloft and moved into the living room. Everett couldn’t find the words and instead sprung himself up from the sofa to make his way over to his friend, the laptop in his grip.

“I’m not seeing things right?” Everett asked eagerly as he balanced the laptop in front of Morton. Morton pushed up his glasses from where they had slipped down his nose and peered into the screen.

Dear Mr. Tyson,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been shortlisted for the Trainee Venus Program. Congratulations.

Morton screamed. The laptop narrowly avoided being crushed under their excitement, the shaggy carpet saving it from death.

Everett would travel to the NASA base in just over six months’ time and in that time he was determined to make himself as much of a worthy candidate as he could. If he was successful for this program he would travel to the American branch and from there he could only go forwards.

His mission to be worthy meant that he was doing a lot of reading, more than he had ever done before. He was almost as bad as Morton, the living room being dominated by towers and pyramids of books. Morton himself was planning an expedition to seek out Norse mythology, it would take place when Everett was at NASA and so it was only fair.

Everett’s mission also meant that he had took up running again. Again meant that he had once tried it when he was fourteen and then when he was eighteen but that only lasted a week at most. And only then he had went running three times in that week. He hated the way his muscles killed him every time he ran for more than two minutes and two minutes was hard enough. He hated himself for forcing this and Morton laughed at him every time he flopped on the sofa in a sweat sodden dead heap.

Then the train tickets came in the mail and Everett and Morton were screaming like children again. Everett took the tickets and jumped so high that he narrowly missed the kind of low ceiling of their apartment. “I need to pack!” Everett squealed and rushed off to his bedroom, Morton shaking his head fondly behind his back.

Everett was the kind of person not to pack lightly, and his case was mostly books rather than actual clothing. The letter said that he would not need many clothes as many were pre-issued from the space station itself.  He would totally steal a sweatshirt with the NASA logo on it, and then he would be able to say that it was authentic. He was sort of obsessed like that.

Morton only called Everett ‘bro’ when he was black out drunk. There were only a few occasions that that had happened. But it was only when Morton was loose and comfortable enough to let the word slip through his carefully built walls. He also called him ‘bro’ when they went to the train station to drop Everett off, Morton’s flight to Scandinavia the next day.

“You’ve actually got muscles bro,” Morton tearfully joked as they hugged. The train was coming up the tracks and Morton had gripped him in a fierce hug, the type of hug that could crack bones.

“You’ve actually got balls of steel bro,” Everett laughed in his reply and hugged him back with equal force. They both laughed and Everett didn’t mention the tears in Morton’s eyes. Then Everett boarded his train, suitcase and wits and all, and Morton was left on the tracks waving sadly at the windows. It was like something out of a romance film.

The train was metallic and sleek, something like a silver bullet with wheels. The trains of modern day were fast and comfortable, standard seating looked like first class and first class looked like something else entirely. On today’s standards it would take less than three hours for Everett to arrive at his destination. Everett cracked open a book, sipped on his train station bought coffee since it was cheaper than train bought coffee and resisted biting his nails. Biting his nails was a disgusting habit, one that he had left back in his GCSE days.

The closer he got to the base the more nervous he got. He didn’t have Morton to talk to and vent his fears, all he had was a notebook and three empty seats surrounding his train table. He filled his notebook full of small letters of anxiousness, a few pages being filled with blackness. His knees jerked incessantly.

Then he arrived, a shuttle bus waiting for him at the sleek train station. The driver looked just a little intimidating, a dark suit accompanied with a dark set of rimmed sunglasses. He wasn’t alone on the bus, it would have been even weirder if he had been, no there were five others. Only two of them talked to him.

Abbey Long introduced herself with a bright smile and a, “It’s a hard day for all of us, huh?” her olive skin and slanted dark eyes made her friendly. She had travelled all the way from Korea to be a part of the program which made Everett’s eyes resemble saucers.

Matthew Black was as British as they could come though. He held a flask of tea in a tattooed hand and he himself wore a tailored suit. Everett thought that he looked inferior in his casual wear compared to him but it could have been worse he supposed.

There was one other girl on the bus, nervousness personified with rattling legs and eyes glued to said legs. The other two were males, one muscled and wearing a tank top, the other dark skinned and shy.

Everett was too nervous to even attempt to talk to the others more than polite conversation. He would know more when he arrived at NASA.

They all knew when they were at NASA. For one a stone globe of the infamous logo was outside framed by oak trees. Everett was not the only one that swallowed their tongue at the sight of their destination.

“Right newbies it’s time to swim,” The driver hollered through from the front seats. He exited the bus and watched in tense silence as the people in the backseat did not move a muscle. It was Everett who made the first move because if he didn’t he would be stuck to that seat all day.

“Wouldn’t it be moonwalk rather than swim?” Everett murmured and gained a laugh from Abbey. The others followed and unbuckled themselves.

“We don’t all insert space into our vocabulary Mr. Tyson,” The driver replied and Everett bit down on his tongue to ensure that he didn’t ask how the other man knew his name. This was NASA of course they would know the names of the people they employed.

Once everyone had exited, the nervousness became palpable in the overcast day. It was hard to walk but Everett made himself follow after the driver.

“May we ask your name Mr. Driver?” Abbey asked walking in front of Everett so she was first in the rough line of people.

“Please refrain from calling me Mr. Driver Miss. Long,” he said in answer but did not offer another name to call him by.

“Then I’m going to call you Kurt. Kurt seems to suit you.” Abbey seemed sure of it and Everett seemed wary of her confidence.

‘Kurt’ directed them through a row of hedges, seemingly designed to hide the buildings that they were heading towards. NASA from the front seemed too modern to be in the covered landscape. A front wall of glass greeted them sheltered in wooden constructed triangles attached to the main building. A concrete block opening just below the glass windows appeared to be the entrance because it was plastered with words of welcome in fancy typography on the glass door. A series of locked gates greeted them and ‘Kurt’ used his lanyard and sometimes fingerprints to get them to open.

Everett’s eyes were definitely saucers by now.

“You’ll each get your own lanyard once you officially enrol.” ‘Kurt’ mentioned and watched as they each filed in with their cases.

When they actually entered the building Everett’s eyes past their limit and he guessed that they were wider than it was humanly allowed. The reception was big, a desk near the west wall but an open space full of blue sofas and armchairs, and polished floors of a white laminate. He was awed.

A woman wearing a beanie with braided hair escaping it to frame her face watched them as they entered. Her grip was lax on a clip board and there was a grin on her lips. “You must be the shuttle bus crew,” she laughed as ‘Kurt’ brought them over to her.

“I’m Emily Hart and I’m one of the officials that will be taking care of you Nova’s,” she watched as Matthew mouthed the last word she had spoken and she laughed a tinkling sound, “We all have our own names for the new trainees that come through here. For example Mr. Noland over there calls you Newbies. I prefer Nova’s since its Latin.”

They finally had a proper name that wasn’t Kurt!

Everett allowed himself to smile.

“Mr. Noland and I will be taking care of you for your time here, you close the line-up for the programme which is very exciting if you ask me.”

“How many of us are there?” the shy guy asked from near the back of group, Everett would have to find out his name, he felt bad for not knowing it.

“There’s twenty three of you in the British branch and twenty three others in the American branch. Only ten will be shortlisted from the forty six of you across the two countries. A bit of friendly competition is good I think.” Emily said and gestured them to the desk. “Each of you will receive a lanyard, they are green to signal that you are a trainee here and they have the programme name on it also. They’re computerized so they’ll update when we have your photo taken later on today and they’ll flash with messages and stuff when we send them to you. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.”

Everett looked at the lanyard as it was handed it to him. Everett Tyson, it read, twenty three years old. He may have been young but he had pushed a Masters in the space of a couple of months and if he hadn’t gotten the position at NASA he would have started his doctorate. He was smart and he belonged there he felt.

What didn’t fit however, was the name of the program on the lanyard itself since it wasn’t the official name which had been on the email. Program Venus Fly Trap.

“Program Venus Fly Trap?” he whispered to himself and jolted in place when he saw Emily turn to face him.

“Yeah that’s what we’re calling it,” she laughed a short tinkle, “my boss prefers to call you all Flies.”

That was comforting. 



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