Alan Tracy. One hour

He waited for his passenger. It was not pleasant, sitting here waiting, when he was desperate to leave, desperate to start this mission, but there was nothing else he could do. So he waited.
The passenger strapped himself into the seat, firmly pulling the harness tight, as if preparing for a rough journey ahead. These trips were never easy, never predictable. He nodded to Alan and leaned back, hands loosely clasped in his lap. Eyes half-closed.
The youngest Tracy son checked the controls, the back-ups, running through the pre-ignition sequences as he had been instructed so many times. All operational, all systems green, no warning lights. Good to go.
Alan fired her up, building up the power until he could feel her beginning to respond, the nose just shuddering with suppressed tension. He activated the holddown release and she surged forward, almost too quickly. He brought her back under control, and steered the designated path that had been previously agreed and plotted.
It was getting harder to follow the course. Numerous obstacles impeded him, sudden unexpected dangers leapt out and he had to react quickly in order to avoid a collision. The whole mission could end immediately if he did not keep an eagle eye out for anything untoward. This was a whole new area for him, unexplored territory, and he was uncomfortable and uneasy. Sweat beaded his brow, but he did not dare take his eyes off the console or viewscreen. There was too much riding on this for him to make a silly error.
Surely not much longer. They must be near to their objective by now. It seemed as if he had been here, behind the controls for hours, but he knew that it was less than an hour. He was exhausted, drained by the intense concentration needed. They still had some distance to go, and the hardest part of the mission still to perform.
Finally, his objective ahead. He sighed, and felt his exhausted body begin to relax.. No … he had to concentrate, had to remain alert .. right to the end. And somehow, using the very last remnants of his energy, he did. He brought her to a smooth gliding halt, parallel to the base before he powered down her systems. Only then did he wipe the sweat from his brow, and remove his shaking hands from the controls. He turned to his passenger and smiled, a thin, fragile smile, but a smile nonetheless.
The passenger prepared to disembark, collecting the equipment that he had brought with him for the journey. He spoke briefly; a few questions, a comment or two as he unstrapped himself and eased himself upright in the seat. Then, he handed Alan the document, the all-important document without which none of this would have mattered.
Alan contacted his father.
‘Dad, I passed! I’ve got my driving licence at last.’


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