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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)

TITLE: Communication Lost
By Allison Egley
02/25/09


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Ivan started to walk out of the room, and was about to turn the TV off when he heard snippets of a breaking news story.

...Columbia has... upon re-entry....

"Oh no," Ivan whispered, and he quickly turned to another station for better coverage. As a Russian Cosmonaut, he had a special connection to anything involving space flight, even if the U.S. did win the great "Space Race."

Ivan sank down into the sofa in his home in Kazan, Russia, trying to absorb the news.

The U.S. NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia has broken apart upon re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard... investigations continue, and NASA has suspended future Shuttle missions until further notice.

No. No, Ivan reassured himself. This couldn't be happening. The phone rang, and he picked it up, dazed.

"Hello?"

"Ivan. It's Sergei. Have you heard about the Columbia?"

"Yes. I just heard on the news. It's surreal."

"I know. I worked with one of the crew members on the International Space Station. I can't believe they're gone."

"Makes you think about the dangers of our profession, doesn't it?" Ivan asked.

"Yes. I can't get the images out of my head. But in my imagination, it's not always the Columbia breaking apart. Sometimes it's the Soyuz breaking up instead."

Silence lingered as both men tried to come to grips with the tragedy.

Ivan broke the silence. "And the families..."

"I know. I don't know what my family would do if I were to go on a mission and not return."

"I just thought of something else, Sergei."

"What's that?"

"What about the crew currently on board the ISS? NASA is suspending all future shuttle missions until further notice."

Silence hung in the air. "Wow," Sergei whistled. "I hadn't even thought of that. We're really going to have to step things up on our end. We may have to shorten the time between missions, or even add new ones. That's not exactly a favorable proposition, given what just happened today. Almost seems like we should suspend operations too; make sure all of our procedures are up to date and as safe as possible."

"Yeah, but isn't that letting the tragedy win? I mean, shouldn't we continue as a tribute to the Columbia crew?" Ivan asked.

"I hadn't thought about it that way before, but you're right. This really makes you look at life from a whole new perspective, doesn't it? Makes you thankful for what you do have and what we've been able to accomplish so far."

Ivan shook his head in sympathy. "Yeah. Real thankful. Well, I think I'd better go. I'll catch up with you at work, okay? Bye."

Ivan hung up the phone and turned off the TV. He walked to the bookshelf and pulled out his Bible, turning to Psalm 8. Settling down into the sofa, Ivan whispered the words aloud.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
...O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!


"And in the Cosmos also," Ivan whispered, looking heavenward.


*********
Author's Notes:
This is a fictional account and is not meant to portray any actual Russian Cosmonaut, current or past.

Russia is a transcontinental country, and the city of Kazan is located in the European portion of Russia.

Scripture used: Psalm 8:3-4, 9 (NASB)


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This article has been read 698 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 03/02/09
Creative take on the topic for sure. Made me think of the Challenger. I love the message behind this.

May just be me, but some of the dialogue didn't feel natural. Enjoyed the piece anyway!
Joshua Janoski03/02/09
Very interesting take on the topic. I too enjoyed how you didn't stereotype the Russian. I especially like how you incorporated the scriptures at the end. Good work!