Home Winds of Change
Rosebud
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

Who'd have thought five years ago that telekinesis would be a viable method of surface-orbit propulsion?

Hmmm..., I think that needs a bit of expansion, though it might work as the opening line of my thesis when I finish it.

The voice of the outside world brought me back to earth. "Pearson control to TX1. Your window confirmed in 2 minutes."

"Rosebud acknowledges. Prepped," a quick glance at the chronometer and, "for liftoff in 1 minute 58 seconds."

"Acknowledged TX1. Good luck."

"Thanks Pearson." My voice sounded calm to me, though I could be wrong.

"Nervous?" Mary asked. Her voice hissed through the wires; even though the capsule was sealed, we were still in sealed suits as a precaution.

Actually it was probably better that we were sealed off from the interior of the capsule. The scent was at least distracting, and could be overwhelming. "No, not at all."

"Ha! Hanson, just keep that chin up and don't let go."

About my chin again. Just because my head is like a horse's with the long snout, or chin... I refused to be drawn back into that argument. I motioned at the greenery surrounding us, "You just keep them happy."

Mary adjusted a control and the interior light brightened slightly. She had one of the more unusual powers, sort of telepathy, sort of empathy. Her ability was to sense how plants felt, and, so she claimed, to give them strength. I figured-

"So Hanson, you never told me, what happened to you during The Change?"

"Huh?" She was asking again? Every night we'd worked together, she'd kept asking. I'd told her again and again what had happened, but she'd never believed me.

"I'm curious. You've avoiding answering me for a year, but now we're stuck here."

Bloody hell but she was persistent! A quick check of the chronometer revealed another minute to wait so I had no choice but to answer, again - the last thing I needed was something else to worry about. "Nothing."

She turned and looked at me through her helmet. "Nothing? We've been here before."

Dear God, why can't they just leave it alone? Fifty seconds, bloody... Turning away I answered quietly, "I slept through it."

"You what?!"

"I'd been up all night finishing a lab report and slept through it. I didn't even realize anything until 2 in the afternoon when I was in the shower. Happ--"

She laughed, a harsh sound with the hint of a screech at the end of each stacatto syllable.

I snorted, and then answered, "So I sleep well."

She just shook her head. "Had you realized yet when you went swimming?"

Bloody hell! At that I whipped my head around and glared into her round yellow eyes. Five years! They hadn't let me back into the pool for 2 months - played hell with my exercise program. Would anybody ever forget that-

"30 seconds TX1."

Thank you! "Acknowledged Pearson control. We're all set here." I needed to relax, get my mind off my harsh breathing in the helmet.

"You haven't answered Hanson."

I rolled my eyes - women. Different species had only made them worse. "I've told you one secret, and that's all you're getting out of me today."

"Oh come-"

I swallowed, my throat dry. "Please Mary, not now." I closed my eyes and began a light mediation that I'd learned after the pool to help me relax. My muscles were tense and I forced my ears to relax from where they were pasted against my skull.

"It can't be--"

"10 seconds TX1."

Finally she gave up and I heard her settle back. "Here we go," she whispered.

I didn't respond. All my mind was concentrating on reaching out and gently cradling the life that wrapped itself around and around the framework that bounded the interior of TX1. That was it's official name, though I preferred Rosebud.

"5 seconds TX1. 4... 3..."

It was odd. Other telekinetics could affect anything, but I could only affect living objects. They thought it was a psychological limitation, but they hadn't convinced me.

"2... 1..."

With my mind enmeshed with the life all around me, I pushed and the branches moved slightly, pushed against the framework, which pushed against the interior, and Rosebud launched. My push was gentle - if I pushed too hard and killed the bushes, we'd be screwed if the parachutes failed. They'd been tested, but...

"TX1 we have you on radar. Your track looks clean."

My breathing quickened, and I felt rolls of sweat form on my legs before being absorbed into the layers of material around me. Moments of mist appeared in front of my eyes before the dry pure oxygen absorbed them as vapour. Years of planning, years of dreams that existed before everything changed. My mind pushed harder and dimly I felt my body press back into the padding, and a spark of pain from my tail. Five years and they still hadn't worked out seats.

"TX1, you're accelerating beyond planned parameters. Height 2500 m, velocity confirmed at 200 m/s."

I was trying to keep our acceleration at 1 G, though it felt like 2 G to us, and it was hard. Practice had improved my control, yet I could feel a headache beginning...

"Hanson, I can feel their pain, can you hold back a little?"

Even though my ears were pressed flat against my head, I forced a response through gritted teeth. "Understood."

"Hanson, are you all right?"

"TX1, your acceleration is still above plan. Height 3750 m, velocity 280 m/s."

"Hanson, CALM DOWN DAMN YOU!"

I was trying, but it was hard. I remembered years ago at the pool a few days after and lifting all those people without even knowing it. This was simpler, yet harder. Sweat coated my legs and my mane was damp against the back of my head."

"They're in pain!"

I was panting now, my tongue hanging out, my eyes closed. I realized that my hands were clenched into fists so tight that I could feel blood oozing out of rips in the flesh. Slowly I forced them to relax-

"You're killing them!"

"TX1, your acceleration is increasing. Height 4800 m, velocity 350 m/s."

For a second I thought I heard them, crying out for me to stop, crying out that they had been happy. For a second my mind lost its grip-

"TX1, you've stopped accelerating! Abort!"

And then I felt Mary's hands on my hands and I couldn't fail her. Gently I wrapped my mind around the branches and leaves and gently pushed, ever so gently.

"TX1, we monitor acceleration. What's your status?"

I closed my eyes and concentrated, melding myself with them and gently pushing on the life that was all around us.

It was Mary who answered, "We had some problems, but it seems to be under control."

"Acknowledged TX1. You had us worried. Is Hanson all right?"

I felt my body relax and let Mary's hands slip into mine as I gently pushed.

"I think he was just a little bit too eager."

"That's one for the books TX1. The engine was too eager..."

I felt her hands gently squeeze mine as my breathing calmed and I relaxed, feeling the headache recede. I'd practiced and I could do this. I could and I would.

Mary continued her conversation with Pearson. "It's a new age. Once we figure out how this actually works, we won't need overeager pilots. How are we looking?"

"The launch site measured a temporary increase of the local gravity field density to 1.02 - make sure Hanson knows that. You're ahead of your flight plan and will reach orbital velocity 8 seconds early. We're transmitting the update to you now."

"Acknolwedged Pearson. Just relax Hanson, let Mary handle all the details."

"I thought I heard their pain..."

There was silence for a moment and I felt her checking something, and then mumble something, but I couldn't make it out. "Who's pain Hanson?"

"Theirs..." My eyes were still closed as I gently pushed. "They don't want to go."

"Temperature's fine... Hanson, don't you worry about them, they're my problem." She paused. "They like you, you know."

"They do?" I asked in a whisper.

"They want to go, let me show you."

And then I felt them again, in my mind, singing. Basking in the light, joying in the simple transformation of photosynthesis.

"Shhh... It's not your imagination, I'm projecting what I sense from them into you. I may have done that by mistake earlier."

I didn't reply, but just relaxed in their simple joys, holding them gently at arms length, pushing and pushing at them but never seeming to get anywhere. They were happy, if their simple joy could be called happiness. I relaxed with them, never letting go my pressure because I couldn't drop them. Never opening my eyes because I didn't need to see, I could feel them all around me. Dreaming, photosynthesizing.,

"Hanson..."

"HANSON!" Mary's shrill voice finally broke my trance. She may be lowD, but her vocal cords were all screech owl.

Bloody hell! I'd lost it! I had to get it back.

"Hanson, we made it."

Huh?

"We're in orbit. NASA confirms. You did it."

It couldn't be. I forced myself to relax and opened my eyes and looked around. Only then did I realize that we were in free fall - my stomach made its displeasure known.

Her hands fumbled around and with a hiss she unlocked my faceplate and raised it. Belatedly I realized that hers was already up.

"TX1, satellite control reads you as slightly off course. Recommend a burn of 5 seconds 22 degrees clockwise of your axis."

I snorted, forcing my mind off my stomach, and away from the scent that was already filling my nostrils. "NASA we don't have rockets but I'll see what I can do."

"Hanson, they asked me to tell you-"

"Not now," I hissed.

"Sorry TX1. You should commence your... acceleration in 8 seconds, mark."

"Acknowledged." I tried to relax, but the scent was too strong, but then Mary opened my mind to their mind and it was easy. "Push commencing in 3 seconds... 2... 1..." and I started to push. It was hard, much harder than it should have been. I remembered hearing something... .1.02? Mary was supposed to tell me. That suggested that I was pushing against gravity somehow, and it was lesser up here... Who'd have thought that a little steel craft could reach orbit before the end of the century?

"TX1, stop... now."

"Acknowledged," and I let go and felt their pleasure as I stopped pushing.

"TX1, we read you on course for the ISS, rendezvous in 27 minutes. Congratulations."

"Thank you NASA. Keep us informed."

"Got you TX1."

I opened my eyes and looked up into Mary's smiling face, her eyes wide and rounder than usual. But all I could see was the life behind her, the life that was all around her. "Hanson, could you rotate us so that we can see the Earth?"

I smiled and gently pushed and watched the window behind her brighten in a brilliant white speckled blue, and then stopped the rotation where her face was haloed, both by the light and by the brush around her. Gently, mindful of the extra effort that would be required, I grasped her with my mind...

"Hanson?"

... and spun her around so that she could see. I heard her gasp at the sight and I just relaxed. All around us was the life she'd nurtured, grown, that now filled the air with the intoxicating scent of roses. Hundreds of them, all around us on the branches that weaved and entwined their framework.

Rosebud was definitely a more appropriate name. Maybe for both of them. Ignoring my stomach I reached over to pick a bud for her hair.

Home Winds of Change

Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard.  Please send any comments or questions to him at mwbard@transform.to