The Voyage of The Echo

This essay was written as an allegorical representation of America’s future as a result of the current age of fake news, blind nationalism, and fear of otherness. Originally submitted as a creative writing class flash fiction assignment.

The Voyage of The Echo 

By Kayla R. Schwartz

If I had to do it over again, I never would have boarded the Echo. After months of physiological preparation, years of advanced training in pilotship, and nine years of being told that my generation is the only one that can “save this motherfucking country,” I found myself onboard that godforsaken rocketship. 

Let me first tell you about my father. He had no money and no true vocation. Instead, he dedicated the last twenty-seven years of his life to the American Society of Supreme Humans on the Lunar Enclave and Soil. They were a society founded by civilians, inspired by the recent overhaul of democracy and subsequent institution of a nationalistic oligarchy. The society tasked him with protecting the United States from intergalactic war as their commander-in-chief. I watched in awe as he paraded around in his faux-armor and “military” garb, crafted from felt and aluminum foil.

He didn’t know of any country besides the USA. The government made sure of it. My father called old textbooks “propaganda manifestos.” Like the rest of the Society of Supreme Humans, my father was convinced that some foreign power was prepared to wage galactic war by using some sort of sonic, biological, or chemical weapon pointed at us from the moon. 

Twenty-one years ago, he began his fertilization crusade; creating thousands of his own spawn in cities throughout the country. His motive was probability. He was bound to father at least one genius child. 

I first met him on Monday, June 12th- my sixth birthday. Shortly after, He began frequenting my mother’s home and brought me strange games and fun quizzes. He used to tell me that I was “gunna ride a rocketship one day.” I became fond of him, but my mother did not. I played with my Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and Stormtrooper action figures whenever I heard the yelling and beating. By September, my mother was gone. At the time, I was happy. I loved my father and was sure that he loved me.

The engineering of the Echo. 

Prologue (please, love me do)

I move to my father’s home. I learn rocket science.

Phase one (in which doris gets her oats)

Father sets up a clearing behind his home as our laboratory. Father gathers scrap metal from abandoned lots. Father “borrows” other supplies from public infrastructure.

Phase two (of us riding nowhere)

I assemble her engine, followed by her interior circuitry. I design her exterior and assemble. I design her interior and assemble.

Phases three and four (Can I have a little more?)

We fill her with fuel. We look at her in awe.

The Echo was a beautiful machine. I cared for her, and she cared for me. …

On the day of her launch, her pilot’s chair hugged me as I strapped in and prepared for take off. My father banged on her door for me to let him in, and he squeezed himself into her co-pilot’s seat. We were off.

I knew every inch of her interior. Her nine, warm blue monitors gently beamed a magnificent sapphire hue. Her shiny buttons and panels spiraled throughout her interior and met in the center at a blinking green light. 

“You know, I could pilot the shit out of her if I tried” my father told me as we were leaving Earth’s atmosphere. I rolled my eyes. Little did I suspect he would soon get his chance to do so. Pilotship requires love and care, and those were not the four-letter words that he was accustomed to.

Manually operating a rocketship was “tough shit” as my father would say. Battling to control direction against the dissipating force of gravity was like battling the river Scamander. 

“Nine point eight meters per second squared,” I muttered under my breath. Gravity is technically a theoretical force. We can’t see it or feel it, but it balances the pressure on our organs, dictates the water cycle, and influences all chemical reactions. Life is Earth’s gravity. Unfortunately, I was no longer confined to its grasp.

The Earth shrank behind us with each hour. 60, 120, and in three seconds, 180 minutes passed with my father knocked out in the co-pilot’s chair. The two corners of his mustache and the upside down triangle on his chin swayed methodically with his breath. 

It took the average three days for us to finally reach the moon. I delicately landed the Echo in a flat crater, careful to place the two front landing pads on the soil prior to the back landing pad. The only colors on the moon were black, white, and gray, so I focused on the emerald and sapphire of the rocket ship.

“Well done, boy!” my father shouted as he jerked awake during the landing. We both suited up and exited the Echo. Our boots slowly hit the ground. We were weightless. The light crunch of the dust beneath our feet was exaggerated by the deafening sound of nothingness.

My father’s mission was simple: find the weapons and either disable or destroy them. With any luck, we might “take down those sons of bitches” who put them there in the first place. We spent days hiking through the vast gray dust, examining every oddity we could suspect. Perhaps the weapon was only a millimeter in length. Maybe it had an invisibility cloak. Or perhaps it was disguised as a moon boulder.

We found the cave on day nine. It’s pyramidal opening shown an unnatural light. Each side sloped and met at a gray, pointed precipice. Only a few steps into the cave sat a small boy, no older than six, lamenting over the corpse of another child of around the same age. The fallen boy was stripped of his space suit, revealing a battered Obi Wan Kenobi T-shirt.

“Who are you?” My father asked angrily.

The boy did not answer. He looked up and slowly held out a piece of paper. 

My father shot him in the leg. His suit deflated and the boy quickly died.

“Father! What have you done!”

“Isn’t it obvious? These boys are biological weapons!”

I grabbed the letter and read it aloud: “Stranger- I left my boys here to get help. My youngest’s suit is malfunctioning. I will return within the hour. -Z”

I ran to their bodies and tossed the youngest’s body over my shoulder. Suddenly, I was pushed over and felt tremendous pressure on my right leg, releasing a loud crack. I looked down and saw a large moon boulder crushing my leg, and my father standing over me.

“I am not going down for this,” my father said. He began grabbing moon rocks, three at a time. He stacked them on top of each other to seal the cave entrance. 

“Who do you think you are? Creon? Montresor! No…” I trailed off. Like all men who worship Beelzebub, he is his own unique villain.

Of course, he did not answer me. He would not even meet my gaze. The pyramid was quickly sealed. My father took one fleeting glance into my eyes before backing away from the cave. He quietly slipped away from the scene. 

I laugh. Here I am, tying my noose with the battered shirt. I quickly realize that my suit and the lack of gravity renders this form of death futile. I instead reach for an arrow-shaped moon rock. I watch my father steal my Echo from me through a small crack in the wall. I can see the brilliant sapphire and blinking emerald slowly shrink away into the darkness.

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