David Bowie's Major Tom (The Story)

A 1960's era space capsule, one similar to the one used by Major Tom.
A 1960's era space capsule, one similar to the one used by Major Tom. | Source

My Story Inspired From the Song 'Major Tom'

Major Tom adjusted his harness, ensuring himself he was securely fastened. He wriggled around in his seat; he had forgotten how uncomfortable sitting vertically was, despite of all the training he had experienced. The seat really did an injustice to his back. While he was indentifying his controls, his headset crackled, “Ground Control to Major Tom.” It went silent again, and he readjusted the headset. “Ground Control to Major Tom” the voice repeated. “Major Tom here,” he responded. A more authoritative toned voice entered the headset, “This is CapCom, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.” He did so accordingly, fixing his helmet so it wouldn’t cause injury to his neck during liftoff. CapCom’s voice returned, “Ground Control to Major Tom, commencing countdown. Outside of his confinement, Major Tom could hear the countdown, “Ten, nine, eight… ” “Engines on”, crackled his speakers. He could feel the powerful vibrations emitted from the immense engines far below him, snarling like a ferocious beast. A faint “three” somehow emerged audible over the din. “Two ” followed suit. CapCom spoke again, and Major Tom strained to make out the words, “Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you!” Major Tom punched the ignition, and eased back the throttle. His body was thrown against the back of the seat. His arms and hands, rendered useless by the intense forces working against him, and he fought to maintain consciousness.

The NASA control room buzzed with activity. An air of urgency hung over the score of technicians, engineers and mathematicians as they sat labored over their control panels, crunching measurements and figures. Pencils scratching paper, switches being clicked, buttons being pushed, and the addition of rows of control panels resembling a light show all added to the eccentric image that was the control room. In the center of all of this organized chaos, stands, Capsule Communicator (CapCom) watching the large screen located at the middle of the room. It showed the large rocket propelling itself through the air at sonic speeds. Inside of the capsule, out of his window, Major Tom could see the cloud masses rush past, they steadily dispersed, and there was nothing but blue sky. The minutes dragged by excruciatingly slow. And then there was infinite blackness, pierced by shafts of bright light. The intense forces were no longer apparent, and Major Tom relaxed. An enthusiastic voice cut through his thoughts like a knife, “This is Ground Control to Major Tom; you’ve really made the grade!” crackled his headset. CapCom stopped speaking and looked to the left at his subordinate that had eased up beside him. He was handed a memo, which he read quickly. Obvious distaste in his voice, he continued, “And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear.” Major Tom chuckled to himself; he was not one for sports. After he had maintained cruising speed, CapCom reentered his headset, “Now it’s time to leave the capsule, if you dare.” Major Tom removed his harness-much to his relief- and pushed himself towards the door. He steadied himself with the two adjacent handles and thrust himself through the doorway into the spacious living quarters behind the cockpit. “This is Major Tom to Ground Control; I’m stepping through the door.” he said. He grabbed another handle along the way, and then let himself go into a spinning motion. “And I’m floating in a most peculiar way,” he continued. Easing up to a window on the port side, Major Tom could see the innumerable specs of stars, galaxies and other space matter move past him, being obscured by the constant roll of the capsule. “And the stars look very different today” he observed, in a trance-like state. In a barely audible voice he whispered, “For here, am I sitting in my tin can, far above the world. Planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.” His speech was answered by laughter from the CapCom and the control room. “We didn’t send you up there to right poetry,” CapCom joked, “so why don’t you get your ass in the control room and give us a readout!” Putting his hand over his microphone, CapCom turned to his staff and said indignantly, “A tin can?! Does he even know how much money cost to build that top-of-the-line bucket of bolt’s cost to build? Or the years of research that had to be spent on all of its systems? His staff hesitantly exchanged furtive glances, and then stammered expressions along the lines of, “Yes sir”, “No sir”, or “He has no idea sir”. CapCom then looked at them all, and broke into a smile. They all smiled quickly right along with him. He looked away in disgust,“The things that people do to seek approval; it makes them as mindless and worthless as animals.”

Major Tom returned to the cockpit, and gazed at the tactical readout near the controls. He wrote down some figures on a clipboard and then spoke briefly into his microphone, “I’m past one hundred thousand miles. I’m feeling very still, and I think my spaceship knows which way to go,” Major Tom jokingly observed. Looking up, he saw an object appear in the window in front of him. He peered at it as it grew larger, and then he understood; it was an asteroid. Major Tom froze, momentarily shocked, then his trained reflexes kicked in and he launched himself into his seat, and buckled his harness. He remained cool, burying his emotions so they would not interfere with what he had to do. His sensors indicated that the asteroid was a mere hundred miles away, and he eased upward on the joystick. Nothing happened. Anxiety swept over him like a cold wave, drenching him in fear. He repeated the action, but to no avail. He flicked switches on and off, testing the thrusters. Looking under the control panel he observed a messily smelted metal plate, and two sparking, severed wires; a gift from a careless technician. He glanced up, the asteroid dead ahead, it’s trajectory unmistakable. He didn’t bother to contact Houston, they couldn’t help him now. His life flashed before him. He thought of all the great things he’d done, his accomplishments, and all of the mistakes he’d made. Then he thought of his wife, and his newborn son, Jeffery. He thought of all the time his job demanded, time away from his wife, when she needed him most. He thought of all of days he spent overtime, striving to achieve his dream as an astronaut, instead of seeing his son, playing with his son. He had never heard his son’s first word, seen his first steps; they hadn’t seemed that important to him then. Major Tom had thought that he would be able to make up all that time. “Well you can’t now you idiot” , he cursed at himself. He realized that his dream had not been to become an astronaut, it was to become a father, and he had fallen short. But there was one thing that he could do. Seconds until impact he calmly spoke into his microphone, “Tell my wife I love her very much”. “She knows…,” was the rather confused response from CapCom. The asteroid gave no second guesses; it crushed into the capsule with brutal force. Totally obliterated, millions of fragments flew into every direction from where they had once formed a space capsule. The asteroid continued on, obviously in a hurry to get somewhere, unknowing of the fame it would bring upon itself. Major Tom was gone, with nothing remaining in the vast vacuum of space to prove his existence.

A nerve-racked CapCom was standing in the middle of a hushed control room, listening to the static crackling in his ear. “Ground Control to Major Tom, your circuits broke there’s something wrong.” He said anxiously. “Can you hear me Major Tom?” Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear…”his voice cracked. CapCom threw off his headset, and stormed out of the room. Everybody else in the control room was looking intently up at the screen for a sign, a shred of evidence, anything, to suggest that Major Tom was still alive. But the screen was black; and black was what it would remain.


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