Today’s photo prompt:
What really happened.
On August 29, 1965, US spacecraft, Gemini 5, landed back on Earth after an eight-day mission. The return crew were Astronauts Conrad and Cooper. The crew had to use the re-entry thrusters to orient the spacecraft due to system failures. The retrofire and re-entry were conducted in darkness by the spacecraft computer. However the computer had been misprogrammed with an erroneous rotation rate of the Earth. Cooper’s efforts compensated for what he recognized as an erroneous reading and brought the capsule down closer to the ship than they would otherwise have been, and probably saved their lives.
My Flash Fiction inspired by the photo and Dragon’s bidding:
The Alien (158 words)
‘Are we going to tell them what we saw?’
‘What really happened?’
‘Of course, sir. The information is recorded in the log books and databases.’
‘I mean who we saw: the alien.’
‘We didn’t see anyone, sir. It was just you and me on board the spaceship for eight days and eight nights. It was a boring, routine, flight.’
‘But you saw her, too!’
‘No, sir. I saw no one.’
‘But it’s thanks to her that we’re still alive! She told me to change our course. You heard her, too!’
‘We readjusted the data on the landing device because we saw an error, sir, and we recalculated.’
‘But the alien…’
‘With all due respects, sir. We can be acclaimed as national heroes, or become the laughing-stock of the media.’
The captain reflected for an agonizing moment before replying.
‘Of course. What’s the point of telling them?’
‘No point, sir. They’d never believe us.’
Would you like to read some of this weeks’ other entries?
This short piece makes me think about truth and lies.
We all lie sometimes, for well-meaning reasons, such as not to hurt people, or to make a point by ‘bending’ the truth. We sometimes decide that certain information can and should be withheld, for a good cause, like to protect someone who is not ‘ready’ for the truth.
In this case of my flash fiction story, the astronauts decide to lie due to fear of the consequences. They don’t want to be laughed at. ‘They’ll think I’m soft’, or ‘They’ll think I’ve gone mad if I say that’.
If you think you won’t be believed, why tell the truth? It’s hard to convince someone of the truth, without proof, so it’s easier to retreat and lie.
People get used to lying, that is, to saying what others want to hear, until they forget the truth. They forget who they are and what they really think. They are the sad, self-destructive lies.
It takes courage to say the truth, when you know no one will believe you, or when you could become a public laughing-stock. It’s easier to say what people want to hear.
Other times there are darker reasons to lie or hold back information. Somebody may want to deceive, confuse, or manipulate. Those are the blatant, dangerous lies.
Truth or lie? Did the astronauts make the right decision?