Stagnant Space Travel | Teen Ink

Stagnant Space Travel

June 12, 2012
By Kevin Tingley, Flemington, New Jersey
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Kevin Tingley, Flemington, New Jersey
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Sitting in front of the radio listening to who knows what and just relaxing after a rough day at school is Jake. About 17 years old and at 5’8 he’s not a small guy, but not fat either, due to the fact that his mother makes him run track in school. Although he doesn’t like it very much he is faster than most kids, so his mom encourages him to participate. After school, he normally comes home, rushes through his homework, then spends hours in front of the radio listening to technology and science stations. He has always been interested in astronomy but the school didn’t offer courses like that; so he would have to wait until college. Moments later, he hears his mother call to him from the room over,
“WHAT!?” He called back dramatically.
Tibbers, the family dog, had a history of running away from home, almost on a biweekly schedule. It was barely news anymore. All that would become of it was Jake chasing him into the cornfield until he caught up or Tibbers grew tired. However, tonight wasn’t the usual case.

Following Tibbers into the corn field, Jake was starting to grow tired and lag behind. However, he knew these cornfields quite well, so he was confident he would be able to find him. Or so he thought. While running through the field he noticed that some of the turns he was used to making were no longer there, and new ones had been opened. Better yet he came to an enormous clearing with an extremely bright light pointing at him as he approached the clearing. While covering his eyes, he moved forward confidently trying to recover the barking like mad Tibbers. He was met with a human figure. Thinking it was just his neighbor, he thanks him while still shading his eyes. However, the voice that responded was not his neighbor.
A high pitched, nasally voice responded, “Your very welcome young one.” Jake was 17 years old and hadn’t been called “young one” in quite some time. When he moved his hand away from his eyes he looked upon the figure and collapsed to the ground in fright. The figure stood around 8 feet tall with a skinny body, as Jake could see by the small spacesuit it was wearing.

If there is any person on Earth that was able to make humans look like scared little lemmings, Jake is that person. Cowering on the ground in fear isn’t how the first encounter should be. Mixed with a semi-manly exterior, he still has the heart of a scared puppy.
“Don’t be afraid little one” said the figure calmly, “We are only here to help you.”

Now let me tell you this right now, Jake isn’t the most social of creatures. Sure he may be very smart but his brain decided to compensate for that with a strong ability to turn invisible in social settings. Jake is great at saying the wrong things in different scenarios, so he mostly just stays quite.

“Who are you?” stuttered Jake.
“We are from a nearby planet, neighbors as you call them.”
“Why are you here?” he questioned.
“We saw you chasing your dog from our ship and decided to help you.”
“Well thank you. Did you change the cornfield around us?”
“Yes.” Replied the figure.
“Why?” he asked.
“All in good time. But first let’s get you and your animal home!”
“I can walk home thank you very much.” said Jake confidently.
“Nonsense. We are here to help you get home.”
“Okay.” Replied Jake as he climbed into the odd figures ship. A saucer in shape, he had never seen any plane like it. It was cramped inside, with only enough room for the figure and one other. He noticed immediately after the silent take off that they were flying incredibly fast and high. Where are we going? He asked himself nervously. It was only until they met up with another, much larger ship that he met the grim realization. However, before he was able to act on it, he became suddenly weak, collapsing to the floor almost instantly.

When he awoke, he was wearing a suit. Not a business suit but a one piece jumpsuit. It was blue and grey and made out of a very uncomfortable material which Jake did not appreciate. Cold, he jumped to his feet, only to be met with a dark, grim realization; he was not in his home. An itch on his neck alerted him of another piece of clothing. One that you would see on an animal. A type of cloth, hard and cumbersome, circled his neck. A box was attached to the outside of it, with two dull spikes jutting into his neck. He would grow used to it.
Standing in a white room, he quickly noticed that he was not alone. Staying in the same room was another, smaller boy. He was also awake, but they were not speaking to each other. Jake said to him. “Do you know what’s going on?” Only to be met by a quizzical stare and confusion. The child must not have been over 13 years old, still just a child. Jake couldn’t imagine what this kid must be feeling right now.
“They took us.” He responded.
“Whose “they”?” Jake said back.
In that exact moment, a buzz rang out into the room and all occupants fell to the ground in crippling pain. A shock ran over Jake body without warning. It was apparent that whoever was running this place did not appreciate talking. After the first shock, it seemed that even the littlest noise would set of a large shock throughout the entire room. After a while, a bang and a jolt ran throughout the ship and 3 more figures came rushing into the hold. Grabbing them by the collar, these figures took them outside of the ship.

The first thing that he noticed was a wall across the valley from him, a glass bubble of sorts raised up hundreds of feet. Next was the red sand which burned under his naked feet, followed by the village. However, this village was not anything Jake had ever seen before; the sand backed houses were made of clay. However, the shapes they were able to make were glorious. A mix of old and new technologies formed beautiful structures; he would have loved to gaff over on Earth. Being a space nerd, Jake knew in the back of his head, he was on Mars, but was having trouble convincing his brain. Everything was pointing towards it, the heat, the red caked sand and dirt, and the rocks. Jagged and serrated, they cut into Jake feet with every single forced step. He was being dragged along into one of the houses, separated from the other child.
“Where am I?” He asked his captor through the shocks.
“Home.” The creature retorted.

Walking into the first house, he noticed that it was much larger on the inside than it looked on the outside. At first glance everything looked normal, until he saw the cages. Inside of the house were 3 cages, the first with the strangest thing he had ever seen in his life. There was a slimy creature that looked like a smashed piece of Swiss cheese. Over the next couple of weeks Jakes would grow to be great friends with this creature that he named “Smash.” Next came a dog, the first familiar thing he spotted in the house, who growled as he walked past it, not a good sign. The next cage was empty. Jake assumed it would be for him.

Jake eventually grew accustomed to the house, and unlike the other creatures was not kept in the cages at all times. After living there for what seemed like days, he was moved. A Martian that he did not recognize came into the house spoke to him hurriedly then put a leash on his collar. This was the first time Jake would be taken for a walk.
Throughout the town he could see many Martians doing oddly human things. Almost as if they belonged on Earth. Walking past another house he spotted a familiar color. Black, the hair of the small Asian child he met on the mother ship.
“HEY!!” he screamed at the child.
After receiving a strong tug from the Martian, he was pulled to the ground into submission.
“WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!” he screamed out of desperation, but the child ignored him completely.
That was something that was different about Jake. He was the only one who hadn’t given up hope. All the other humans were content with their captors, facing the fact that they would never go home ever again. Jake was going to get home, or die trying.
Over the next couple of weeks, his captors began to grow more lenient with what they allowed him to do. In the span of a couple of weeks he went from having to be watched constantly and go for walks on a leash, he has been given more freedom. He now stays at home alone with the Martians are away at work, and is taken on walks without his leash.
With his new found freedom, Jake decided that he would soon need to make his escape. It needed to be simple yet effective. After watching the pilot carefully take him to the mother ship, he thought he might be able to fly a ship by himself. But only if he could find one. He made a plan that went something like this:

Step 1: Get away from house (With Smash)
Step 2: Get into UFO.
Step 3: Fly away.

His plan included many gaps that he assumed he could just improvise. However, he would need to find the right moment to carry out his daring escape. He also needed to find the key to Smash’s cage. For some reason, Jake was fascinated by this ugly creature. They had never spoken, but Jake was so curious just how he must feel and wanted to help him escape.
After being fed his dinner for the night, meat pudding, Jake started to get pumped for his escape. He waited until the dead of night to make a break for home. When he had arrived, his captors had made a cage for him that fit him at the time. However, since his capture he has lost over 20 pounds, making him much thinner. After squeezing narrowly through the pipes he was finally out. Looking for the keys around the room he finally found them hanging on a dusty hanger. Grabbing them, he quickly started unlocking Smash’s cage. Knowing he was friendly Smash approached him quickly. Jake reached out to pick up Smash, only to glide right through his body. After a squishing sound he noticed Smash go cold and stop moving. Smash was made out of slime, almost like a giant bacteria being cut in half, Smash slumped to the group in a pile of gunk, lifeless. Jake stood there momentarily, mouth agape, stunned and confused as to what just happened. Jake backed away silently and worked his way towards the door, still looking at the lifeless organism.
Making his way silently outside he started looking for the landing yard. After taking so many walks, Jake was beginning to understand the layout o the neighborhood. Behind all of the houses was a giant landing yard. Everyone on Mars shared vehicles, so they were all parked in one section on land. Making his way towards the yard, he heard someone call out.
“Pst. HEY!” It was the Asian child. He had changed so much since Jake last saw him, he seemed much less friendly.
“HEY HE IS TRYING TO ESCAPE!!” yelled the child. Jake could not figure out why the child was giving him away but as soon as he heard the kid yell, he took off towards the yard. However, it wasn’t more than 5 seconds later he realized that he was being followed by a very tall, very angry Martian. Being taller, the Martian was gaining ground much faster than Jake could. Jake pressed on, the red clay burning his feet with each step. Until a force launched him forward that is. The Martian had tackled him to the ground, effectively pinning him. Jake lay motionless as the Martian began to drag him back into the town. A failed attempt, he would try harder the next time.
When Jake was brought back into the house, he was given a savage beating by his captors. However, due to the telekinetic nature of the Martians, their hands have grown soft and weak. Although Jake didn’t mind being hit repeatedly in the face with 2 wet sponges, he did want to get back to his room to go over his plan once again. He needed to get rid of the child that would give away his position. Luckily, he was living on the edge of town, so that was his only obstacle. Jake then remembered his collar; it had been so long since it was first put on that he had become accustomed to it, almost ignoring it all together. He needed to find a way to get it off if he was going to make an escape.
After spending another week finalizing his plan, he was ready to make another break for home.
At midnight he crept out the door into the dusty world. Next he found two rocks and smashed them together to make one very sharp, and one very dull. Next he took the now sharp rock and started to cut away at his own neck. After cutting of the collar, he crept his way towards the house where the other boy was sleeping. He took the dull, heavy rock and heaved it at the child’s skull. He heard a defining “thud” and looked over the fence, only to see that he had missed with his attack. The noise woke the child however, who promptly shouted.
Before he could even finish the sentence, Jake launched the sharp rock at the child hitting him right in the forehead, knocking him unconscious.

Now, I wish I could tell you that Jake continued his daring escape with confidence and prowess, stealthfuly sneaking through town, jumping into a UFO and zooming home with skillful grace. However, it went something like this;
After knocking out the child, Jake ran like a small child running up the basement stairs thinking a monster was chasing them. Sprinting as fast as could, not sure what, if anything was chasing him, Jake tripped on a rock. Hard. Hitting the ground at full running speed he skinned his knee pretty bad. However he pressed, until he finally reached the alien aircraft. He climbed onto the side of one and reached for his pockets. After searching everyone he realized that he left the keys at the house. Walking calmly to the house he grabbed the keys quickly and quietly then started for the aircraft yard. Keeping the pace of running from the invisible stalker, his face contorted in a panic, Jake reached the aircraft quite quickly.
He climbed aboard the aircraft and started up the engine. The noise of the engine starting was louder than he intended, and seemed as if he was able to wake up the entire town in one fell swoop. With a shaky takeoff he proceeded to the skies. Before zooming off into space he took one last moment to look down at his old prison, only to see twelve more silvery discs chasing right behind him. As he rocketed through space, he was unsure where to go.
He soon found himself being sucked in by Earth’s powerful gravitational pull, not much he could do about it. Trying his hardest to slow down, and failing, he just aimed for the land that looked the most like North America. As he grew closer to the earth he realized that he was crashing into a desert looking place with no cities around it at all. Coming in at a 15 degree angle he was able to look at his terrain before the crash.

A desert town, much like his hometown, but with more hills, it was rocky, and dry. Falling closer and closer to the ground, a sound erupted from the back of his skull, approaching a louder decibel with each passing second. It was a name, his name that was being called. Right before impact everything went dark.

Waking up from an afternoon nap, he walks over to the radio, flicking it on. Taking his time finding his favorite channel he surfs though until he sits down out of boredom and hears a familiar voice from the next room.

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