Scene one of Chapter Thirty is in the bag, and it went a lot differently than I thought. Or maybe it didn’t. Either way things came to an end, and in the process a little bit of history was told as well. Without a lot of preamble, it’s time to get into the story:
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry held Annie’s chair, pushing it in as soon as she was seated and making herself comfortable. She looked over her meal as Kerry joined her. “This looks delicious.”
“Oh, they are. Two top sirloins—two hundred twenty-five grams for you, and five hundred grams for Kerry—prepared just as you both requested.” Isis hovered over Annie. “Garlic butter for you, and grilled onions for your other half.”
Kerry glanced to his left. “What else did you get?”
“Pan fried potatoes and tomato juice.” She examined Kerry’s plate. “And you?”
“Corned beef hash and tomato juice as well.” He glanced up at Isis. “Can we start?”
Vicky was sitting down at the table against the wall, where two new plates had appeared. “Go ahead—” She sat at the same time as Isis, who took the chair on the flight instructor’s right. “Dig in.”
I should point out here that two hundred twenty-five grams is an eight ounce steak, and five hundred grams is a little over a pound. It would seem Kerry needs more meat. Or maybe he just eats a lot. I’m looking at the later.
And garlic butter and onions? Man, it’s a good thing these kids are kissing anyone but each other:
“Let me finish my breakfast, love, and then I’ll knock you down with my breath.”
Let’s get to eating, shall we?
Annie cut into her steak and began savoring the aroma. She was aware of how good a well-prepared cut of meat smelled and tasted as her mother prepared steak at least once a week when her father was home. She always had a small cut when home, much like the one before her. She sliced off a small piece and popped it into her mouth. “Mmmmm.” She chewed slowly, relishing the flavor. “This is delicious.”
“The kitchen always does steaks perfectly.” Isis cut into her steak. “Haven’t you had them before.”
Kerry nodded. “I had one for my birthday last year—”
“And I had a filet mignon for mine this year.” Annie finished another piece and cut into her eggs before mixing her potatoes with the spreading yolk. “Why didn’t the email say we were having steak for breakfast instead of a ‘beef dish’?” She sipped her tomato juice. “I thought it might be steak, I just wasn’t sure.” She cast a playfully evil glance to her right. “And why were you being so mysterious last night?”
He began smiling as he chewed, speaking as soon as he swallowed. “Having steak and eggs is traditional for pilots heading out on important missions, though most people know about this because it’s what they used to feed astronauts back in the 60s and 70s before they left on a mission.”
Vicky nodded to herself as she glanced at Isis. “I told you he’d know.” She faced Kerry, who was seated directly in front of her. “You know what day it is today?”
He nodded. “Yep.”
Annie held her fork still as she glanced from Kerry to the adults and back. “Is there something important about today?”
Now we’re learning why they’re having this breakfast: it’s due to the historical significance of pilots and astronauts having this before heading off into the Wild Blue and Black Yonder.
He waited until he received a nod of approval from Vicky. “It’s Cosmonautics Day. Today’s the day Yuri Gagarin took off in Vostok 1 for the first maned space flight.” He made a circular motion with his right hand. “Once around and down, but that was enough to make him the first human in space.” He eyed the adults across from him. “That I know about.”
Vicky was suddenly interested in her breakfast. “Space flight is covered in D Level history.”
“Right . . .” He had a bit of juice before continuing. “Twenty years later the shuttle Columbia went up on the same day, and that was kind of an important flight ‘cause it was the first known reusable space ship—” Once more he noticed Vicky and Isis avoiding his gaze. “Anyway, today is like a big dead for space flight, and a lot of places around the world have what they call Yuri’s Night, which is used to keep people aware of how important space flight is to us.”
He tasted some of his hash with eggs before turning to Annie. “You’re doing your last solo flight on the same day that history was made twice in Normal space programs, so, you know, having the traditional breakfast that astronauts had before they flew kinda gives you a connection to those events.”
Annie sat in silence for a few moments pondering Kerry’s last statement. She’d never once connected her ability to fly to anything important, just as she never thought of being able to do magic as anything special due to her being around it all her life. Now she discovered, through her association through Kerry, that others could find important connections to events that, until now, she didn’t know existed. “I come to school to learn about advanced forms of magic, and I discover so much more.”
“Well, we knew about this, which is why we scheduled the flight for today.” Vicky poked her steak a couple of times, looking as if she were deciding to have a bite first. “If you’re gonna make a little history, then do it on a historical day.”
“I like that.” Annie patted Kerry’s left wrist. “And you’re going to make it with me.”
He shook his head, chuckling. “No I’m not—” Kerry set down his fork so he could take Annie’s hand. “You’re the one making history: I’m just there to be your witness.”
Now, for a bit of history. Everything Kerry said is true: 12 April is considered Cosmonautics Day, or as some say in the US Astronauts Day, or as the UN proclaimed in 2011, International Human Space Flight Day. 12 April, 1961, was the day Yuri Gagarin blasted off for a one orbit flight around the Earth making him the first human to do so.
He looks pretty chill for a guy who’s about to ride a rocket that had a tendency to fail fifty percent of the time.
Then, twenty years later, 12 April, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia, mission number STS-1, took off from Cape Canaveral and spent a couple of days in orbit before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. A few months later it took off again, becoming the first reusable spacecraft. That we know about.
Riding the rocket is always more fun when you bring your own engines.
There was also mention of Yuri’s Night, which is an annual celebration held on 12 April since 2001 that’s meant to heighten awareness of space flight and all that it’s done for mankind. Maybe after Annie finishes her flight she can get Kerry to explain these things to her. Between onion and garlic kisses, of course.
Now, the one thing that Kerry didn’t do, and probably for good reason ’cause as I was writing this scene I was also thinking, “Nah, doing that would be bad“–what he didn’t do is mention what happened to Gagarin and Columbia. For Yuri things didn’t go well after his flight. Though he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union, his life became more restricted as he was turned into an overnight celebrity by this country, and there were reports that his drinking took a turn for the worst. He was kept from further space flights, and at one point the Soviet Union tried to keep him out of the cockpit.
Eventually he became the backup pilot for Soyuz 1, which was going to be piloted by his best friend Vladimir Komarov, with whom Yuri had a bromance that, had it occurred a hundred years earlier, would have been the subject of Russian poets.
And today would be a movie staring Ryan Reynolds and Channing Tatum.
However, this is Russia we’re talking about, and so you know this relationship is doomed. It turned out that the Soyuz spacecraft was a death trap, but being this was early 1967 in the old Soviet Union, no one gave a letayushchiy yebat if they were about to rocket someone into space in a death trap, and Yuri decided the only way he could save his friend was, on the day of launch, to arrive at the pad early, suit up, and take Komarov’s place. However, Vladimir Mikhaylovich knew his best friend Yuri Alekseyevich would pull just that sort of shit, and he arrived even earlier than Gagarin and was already on the way to the pad when Yuri arrived.
So the Soyuz death trap went up with Komarov instead of Gagarin–and things turned out pretty much as you’ve probably come to expect:
In old Soviet Union, spacecraft crash you!
The mission went to hell, the Soyuz reentered spinning hard because it had lost the ability to maintain it’s attitude, and when the parachute popped the lines tangled and the chute never filled. Komarov hit the ground doing about two hundred and fifty miles an hour, and Gagarin was, by all accounts, devastated. About a year later Gagarin himself was dead, kill when he lost control of an aircraft he was piloting and spun it into ground.
As for Columbia—
Yeah . . . let’s not go there.
It broke up on reentry, killing all seven astronauts aboard, and that pretty much started the end of the shuttle era, which means that when we want to go into space today, we have to ask for a ride from the Russians, who are still flying the Soyuz capsule, which isn’t nearly the death trap it was in the beginning.
Yeah, you can see why Kerry didn’t want to bring any of this up–
When your sweetie is about to head out on an important flight of her own, you damn sure don’t want to jinx things.