Jessica gripped her pack strap tight as the lift came to a stop. The doors opened with a whispering gush of air. She let out a hurried apology and bolted forward onto the concourse. A quick glance at the glowing readout on the shimmering ceiling would have gotten her to curse if she had the time.
Five minutes to make it across the concourse. She was going to be late. She did not care if her bags made the flight - she would wear the same uniform for a week if she had to. Her brother has pitched one of his fits, screaming and crying because he didn;t want to get dressed. It was a big one, too. Award-winning. Better than his Fifth Birthday Tatrum and The Time He Cried in His Mashed Potatoes.
Because of it, their parents got caught in traffic. Because of it, she had to leave before her mom finished her good-bye. Because of it, she was running as fast as she could, brushing past strangers and avoiding obstacles with all the grace she could muster.
Another glance at the clock. Three minutes.
This was her first time to the Moonlink. She had planned to take pictures and upload them for all her friends to see back home. She browsed up some of the restaurants and wanted to catch a meal with some of her fellow cadets. The Moonlink was built five years previous, completed on the fortieth anniversary of Countdown Day.
And here she was, moving through it like a forest with some unknown predator chasing her.
She afforded herself a final glance upward. One minute remaining.
A nauseous feeling gripped her stomach. She was not going to make it. All the running, all the applications, and she was going to arrive at Rademacher Field with black marks on her record. Her father always told her how important it was to make a good first impression. The Captain of the Exodus would never have made these mistakes. She would have to be perfect.
Jessica made it around the final corner. She could see the gate. The words “FINAL BOARDING” flashed above the doorway. She poured on the speed. Her mouth was dry. Sweat soaked her face. She lowered her head and put everything she had into her last view steps.
The door to the gate lowered with an almost sympathetic hiss. Jessica slowed, but her momentum carried her into the thick door. She pounded on it in frustration twice. Not fast enough. Not good enough. Over before it began.
Her gaze rested on the sleek winged craft visible through a nearby window. The ship was all swooping curves and shimmering metal. A smooth script written on the front of the craft declared the ship The Mayflower. Inside were fifty of the Earth’s best and brightest students. They were chosen from hundreds of thousands of applicants. Fifty children Jessica’s age, each hoping to lead humanity into the stars and find a new home for billions.
Technically now forty-nine.
Suddenly, the door hissed open. A balding Spacelink worker looked at Jessica with a concerned look.
“I thought I heard something hit the door” he said. Jessica barely had time to smile as he ushered her into the ship bound for the moon.