Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | April 24, 2010

The Rocket Lottery

NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.

Image courtesy of NASA and Wikimedia Commons.

The blast shakes my beside table. The alarm clock quivers in its trap of duct tape, but doesn’t fall. A strip of velcro holds on to my book and toothbrush.

After the last rocket launch dropped a dinner plate on my cat, I bought a whole industrial role of super strength velcro, and attached it to everything I could find that might fall. My cat is okay, by the way. She just hates me now.

I sit up in bed and look out the window. The glare of rocket fire lights the night, shining like a shooting star heading the wrong way, back out to heaven.

“Who’s heading up?” I ask the disappearing metal star. “A president? A billionaire? A lottery winner?”

Sweat plasters my hair to my neck. I don’t sleep with any covers, but I still wake up drenched. I don’t dare open the window, though. And that has nothing to do with the noise. One puny window doesn’t stop the noise of a rocket launch less than a mile away. No, I don’t dare let the putrid, steamy, polluted air in.

“You’d think they’d build more of those rockets. They’d make billions sending people up.” I tell my cat. She’s glaring at me from the doorway, a safe distance from any plates or other dangers. Like I planned this midnight disturbance just to annoy her.

They already make billions, since a trip costs more money than most people see in about ten lifetimes. That’s why you have to be ultra rich or powerful. Or ultra lucky. My cat paws at the small, overfull trashcan in the corner, pulling out a crumpled ball of lottery ticket vouchers.

I’ve been entering for the past eight years. Since I was fourteen and got an illegal ID. I moved here because it’s cheap. I can spend a few hours each day needling innocent internet users with annoying advertisements, then put half the money toward tickets. And I’m close enough to watch the rockets. To feel the rockets. My parents think I’m torturing myself, and my last boyfriend left me after I refused to go out with him and his friends on the same night as a rocket launch.

Whatever. Who wants to put on a mask to go tromping out on that sun-cracked wasteland of asphalt outside? They don’t understand that each launch feeds my determination. I wasn’t the one, but next time…

The rocket carries you to a paradise of slow-motion waterfalls and knobby, ballooning trees flourishing in the low gravity. There are flowers of all shapes and sizes, all edible. No poisons, no predators, only insects and birds to pollinate the gardens. Most people, the rich and powerful, come for a visit only. They have business earth-side. Summits and Wars and Concerts and Commercials.

Others stay. The lucky ones. They throw off their masks, let their muscles adjust, and float-jump through the flowers, inventing new sports, new laws, new languages, and expanding their home. The space-city is still being built, new wings and gardens are added with each launch.

My cat steps a bit closer, watches me open my computer and log in to I don’t even have to look at the screen as my fingers fly across the selection options. A minute later, a voucher prints off on my computer. You need to have physical evidence of entry to win.

Maybe this is the one.


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