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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Launch Rail Ticket (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a short story. Part 1 was posted on Monday and the story concludes on Friday.

(Start with Part 1)

With a little help from an independent day sailor, he'd made his way to the artificial island that hosted the launch loop's western dock. To survive his launch loop ride, Jeremy had purchased a heated, insulated compression suit. God bless E-Bay for that. To further his disguise, he had bought a maintenance worker badge and matching security code. God bless underpaid staffers for that. If this whole thing panned out, they would make souvenirs well worth the cost. He had strapped on a parachute and a small backpack containing jerky, water, rope, foam padding, and a flare gun. If anyone asked about the parachute, he was sure he could bluff that it was standard safety gear for the inspection he'd be doing today. It had all cost him a small fortune, most of the money his American father had left him when he died.

Entrance to the loading dock was simple, with no questions, no hassles. Casually, he surveyed the cargo boxes, and picked out a good candidate for his ride. He boarded the magnetized loading platform to inspect the large metal box. It had convenient ridges that would serve as hand holds, and loading hooks to which to tie himself. There was a nasty burr on one edge; he'd have to watch that.

A buzzer sounded, alerting him that the platform would retreat and start the metal crate accelerating into position on the launch loop cable. He tensed, then turned as if to dismount. As the cable's magnetic field caught the box, he grabbed a hook and pulled himself on. Someone began shouting. He looked back and a man gestured furiously for him to get off. Jeremy smiled and waved back. The box left the building, and began to rise. Jeremy hurriedly pulled out his rope and padding, and tied his left arm to a hook with a complex, yet comfortable coiled variation on a sailing knot. If his research was right, the acceleration would rise to forces close to 3 Gs. Holding his body on at that rate would be impossible for very long.

His mind thrilled. He was on! He was doing it!

And then he freaked. This was insane. Probability of death was high. What the hell was he doing? He could jump now, before it rose too far. He'd be arrested, locked up. He could handle that. Maybe he could convince them he was insane. Maybe he was insane. It was better than being dead, right?

He gulped and he could feel his face twitching from his panic. Would his parachute deploy in time? If he hit the water from even this far up, would he splat? He had heard of that happening, seen a commercial with squished pop cans dropped from a bridge. Splat. Staring down at the bright patterned water, slowly receding, it was all that came to mind.

(Continue to Part 3)


Unknown said...

How far is he going? What about oxygen?

I'll try to come by on Friday to finish it up.

Joel said...

Well, he's trying to get as far as he can. How far he gets is still to be determined. :) As for oxygen, his suit provides that, sucking up more when the atmosphere thins. I guess that's not clear in the currently-available segments, but will become clearer in the upcoming segments.

Thanks for reading! :)