Veritas Vos Liberabit: Or another one of my stories
"The retro boosters look ok. All systems on the Eagle are a go."
The status message flowed into Mission Control. The easy drawl of Neil Armstrong's voice reverberated off the dull grey walls of the cavernous room. Out in space, the Eagle was poised to create history. Neil and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin were cramped into the Lunar Module, while astronaut Micheal Collins was busy checking readings in the orbiter. Micheal had a whimsical look on his face. He would always be known as the guy "who WATCHED man walk on the moon for the first time". But he had a job to do...
Neil was making last minute checks on the three video cameras they would be using on the landing. Aldrin had a whole list of things to check on. Last on the list was a run through of the "Abort Exercise". Noone liked to talk about that.
Images of the three astronauts flickered on the Mission Control Video Wall. "Images clear. Audio sharp. We have broadcast quality". Media Liaison Tom Brooks spoke firmly into this microphone. He looked out of place in the MC room. He was the only guy without geeky glasses and short sleeves. There were atleast a hundred "geeks" in the high ceilinged room, bent over flickering green monitors and inches-thick printouts. Some had pictures of past mission teams, and Mission Mugs proudly placed on their desks, amidst pock marked switch boards and chewed pencils. A few had pictures of the Apollo 1 crew. There was talk of dedicating this mission to the unfortunate members of that bad memory.
The pressurised suits had slots for the cameras on the front. Neil firmly locked each camera into place and made sure the spare was charged. Aldrin was preparing a most important part of the mission, the flag that would go up on the moon. Nylon pennant and aluminium piping. There was a crowd in front of the video screen back on earth.
"The Eagle has landed". Once again the drawl filled the room, and, as if by clockwork, a hundred voices went up in cheer. Subdued cheer. There was more to come in a few moments. Two hundred eyes watched the screen in rapt attention. The video feed was exactly as anticipated. Clear, grainy, but defined.
The door opened with a metallic clang. Neil Armstrong stepped out of the oblong opening. Through his tinted visor he could see the lunar landscape, a horizon that looked too close. He gingerly stepped out on to the ladder. Then he said the words that would beam across the world. "One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind..." The drawl wasnt there now. He said it firmly, with a pause for effect. He swung down the ladder rung by rung. And then it happened. Neil Armstrong slipped.
Neil Armstrong went tumbling down the ladder and fell to the lunar surface in a cloud of grey dust. Edwin ripped off his helmet and ran down the steps. "Come on Neil, this is the fourth time now, the Oval Office will have my ass if we dont wrap by the weekend..." director Dean Timmons screamed on the studio PA. A set hand ran onto the lunar surface and helped Neil up. Dean yelped "Okay lets do this again, and this time Neil, watch your step..." In set no. 3 one hundred extras put their glasses back on and went back to looking like geeks...