#130 Ad Astra Per Aspidistra

by Ed Broom

We can’t resume training until Nan’s gone for her nap. Meantime Zero washes, I wipe. He makes the worst fake yawning noises you’ve never heard while I spy on Nan with a teaspoon. By the time she gets up, Zero’s going at the roasting pan.

“Time to rest my eyes.”

Nan lifts my fringe to examine the bruise. She rolls her eyes, kisses me on the forehead – “Play nicely, boys. You hear me, Gus?” – and heads upstairs.

Zero uses his X-ray vision.

“She’s in bed. Ready, Chaff?”


I take my usual place in the hall while Zero undoes his belt, then lift my arms as he straps me in. It’s tight. It needs to be tight. He begins to tilt the chair.

“Didn’t Nan say to mind the floor?”

I’m vertical again.

“Chaff, you’re right. We need to update our procedures.”

Zero fetches Laika’s old blanket. Poor Laika. He spreads it over the tiles and angles me back through the full 90 degrees.

“Pre-lunch position engaged?”


Zero laughs.

“Sorry, Chaff. Pre-launch position engaged?”


“CVP levels?”

My head feels full.


“Launch sequence initiated. 10...9...8...7...6 – ignition.”

The shaking begins. I have to shut one eye.

“4...3...2...1 – lift-off.”

I’m still shaking as I begin to rise, rise, rise. We’re accelerating towards the front door when the wave hits me.

“Grandad, I feel sick.”

I try to steady myself with one hand and watch as Nan’s pot plant goes flying.

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