They check my programming, running every sensor through diagnostics, tightening every bolt. It kind of tickles.
It is good that they are thorough before sending me out. Shows they care about me. Someone runs their hand across the red "I.R.V." they adorned my body with, and it makes me happy to feel their touch. I like my name, Interplanetary Research Vessel. It is simple, but full of meaning. And I really like that they gave me a nickname. Makes me feel accepted.
My viewfinder activates, and Doctor Vivaldi waves at me. His hair is disheveled, and there is a big stain on the front of his wrinkled shirt. He must have had coffee, though I question how much of it made it into his mouth. Has he gotten any sleep? Knowing him, no. His grin is wide, but his eyes do not match the cheer in his face. They seem sad. Why would he be sad? Today is a big day.
He now types into his glowing tablet: <irv_are_you_nervous>
Am I? What is that even like? What point of reference do I have?
So I transmit: <elaborate>
His eyes light up a little as his mouth twitches. <are_you_reluctant_to_be_launched_into_space_tomorrow>
Reluctant? I want to see the universe, to chart stars and planets . . . to please Doctor Vivaldi. I cannot do that from here.
His eyes shut, and his smiling mouth opens and closes. I have never understood why this reaction happens to humans when they are amused, but they seem to enjoy it. And it does please me to make him happy.
He types: <so_you_are_excited>
That seems more fitting. I do look forward to finally working. And I cannot wait to fly. To ignite these engines and soar, it tempts me so. But it would destroy this facility, and I do not want to do that.
He pats the top of my fuselage, and it makes me happy. But also sad. He will be long dead before I ever get back--if I ever get back--so we will never see each other again. He will never touch me again. I will never get to see his messy clothes again.
Now I am somewhat reluctant. <i_will_miss_you_doctor>
Doctor Vivaldi's eyes glisten with drops of water. Another human reaction I will never understand.
He leans into my camera so I can see his face better. He has not shaved recently, little strands of stiff hair all over his chin. <i_am_not_sad>
He is not? Do not watered eyes mean sadness? Have I gotten that all wrong? <why_are_you_crying>
<tears_of_joy_irv_because_i_get_to_see_you_blast_off> Doctor Vivaldi backs away and smiles a little. <we_sometimes_cry_when_we_are_happy>
Happy is good. <oh>
Which one, indeed? I have not thought about it before. The rings of Saturn intrigue me, but Jupiter is so large. Does Sol count? I look forward to my slingshot around it. No, it is a star, he asked for a planet. I would say Pluto, but they still debate as to whether or not it is a planet. Mercury? Venus?
No, wait. I know. <neptune>
His eyebrows waggle. I like it when he is playful. <why_neptune>
He bites his lower lip as it curls. <i_like_blue_too>
A few moments pass and he says nothing, only stares me. What do I say? Do I need to say anything? I feel like I do, but nothing comes. Just seeing him is enough to make me happy. What will I do when I can no longer see him? Will I be able to cope? And what will he do without me? I have to remind of him everything, all the time. He would never get anything done without me. Well, I guess will not ever get anything done. I am leaving; I can no longer keep track of his schedule.
His eyes narrow. <i_thought_you_were_excited_to_leave>
<no_irv_everyone_needs_you> Doctor Vivaldi shakes his head. <we need_to_know_what _is_out_there>
Everyone needs me? I never thought of it like that, only that Doctor Vivaldi needs me. That is a lot more responsibility than I had planned on. Do I want it? It adds . . . pressure. Yes, I think that is a good word for this feeling. Does the information I send back truly mean that much to other people? Will it make any real difference? Does it matter if a planet is a lot like Earth--or very unlike Earth?
<because> His eyes cast to the floor, and he stops typing long enough to rub my nose. I find it pleasant. <because_we_have_to_explore_or_we_will_become_stagnate>
Huh? What does that mean? Stagnant water is often bad for human consumption, so becoming stagnate would be bad thing? I hope I understand. <we_do_not_want_that>
Doctor Vivaldi nods, his eyes now bright. <no_we_do_not>
Oh, good, I got it right.
He places his tablet on the cart of tools next to him and places both his hands on my fuselage, and his head rests on my nose. I think humans call this a "hug." It makes me feel all warm inside. Happy. I wish I could touch him back and make him all warm inside, too.
He backs away and grabs his tablet, his eyes brimmed with tears again. I hope they are the joyful kind.
But I want to be awake. <why>
This is goodbye, though he does not say it. Where we part our ways, where he leaves me forever. Must we do this now? Can it not wait awhile? I think I can stay awake a little longer. I am not yet ready to bid him farewell, but . . . he is right. I need to go into sleep mode before the launch in the morning. <you_need_rest_too>
Doctor Vivaldi nods. <yes_i_really_do>
<you_too> A drop of water falls from his eye. <i_love_you_irv>
Love. That is one feeling that I will never entirely understand--and I do not think humans understand it, either. But I do love Doctor Vivaldi, I think. He programmed me from the beginning, and oversaw my construction. I have him to thank for my existence, and how can I ever repay that? How can I ever make my gratitude clear? Can such a simple word really convey that level of emotion?
I hope so. <i_love_you_too_doctor>
His eyes now match his huge grin, and that is the image burned into my hard drives as the world around fades away.
What I will find out there in space is undetermined, but I know one thing: I will always fondly remember Doctor Vivaldi.
Perci_Snickedy is a 20 years old writer, natural blondie, featured author, avid reader, grammar nazi, student, artist, coffee enthusiast, sucky violinist :P ... and much more. Just visit her profile and find out yourself.
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Nano Bytes - A Collection of Short SciFi StoriesShort Story
This is a collection of short stories written by Wattpadders who love their Science Fiction as much as we do. It aims to celebrate the diversity of the genre both in sub-genre, length and style, so whether you like Steampunk or Hard SciFi, Space Ope...