The control room was eerily silent. With less than an hour to touch down and not a single complication since launch there was a general feeling of apprehension in the room and the intermittent radio communications with the capsule above only added to the tension.
The mission these men had undertaken just one year prior was of fantastic ambition; to land a human being on the moon. Their rivals across the atlantic would surely be sending a team of their own, possibly even this same week. The stakes couldn't be higher; success meant glory, a place in history, international respect; failure would shame would mean for generations. For this reason the mission had been subject to utmost secrecy. The only souls outside this room with any real knowledge of the mission were the spouses of those in space; the teams chosen to work on the project were few in number and picked more for their loyalty than their ability. Only after a sure success would the world learn of the mission.
With just thirty minutes to landfall, the civilian officials who'd been watching the operation from afar began to congratulate those around them when a disembodied voice crackled through the room's speakers. After giving the regular report of the capsule's systems the man on the radio began to detail possible changes to their original landing plan when the transmission cuts off abruptly...
* * *
Two hundred thousand miles from earth the small vessel glides noiselessly through space, consumed by the darkness that pours in like a swarm of locust. The hanging red mist of the cabin lights mixed with the yellow, green, and orange glow of the instrument panels clashes in a sickly aura around the three passengers. The two more anxious find themselves lost in personal reflection despite grating distraction. Whirring, beeping, hissing, crackling, buzzing, chirping; the din bounces dizzyingly around the hull like a caged animal until finally dying of exhaustion, only to be immediately and constantly replaced. They cling to the firm steady chord of the Captain's voice which grows and ebbs through the clamor in regular intervals.
Aside from this regular communications between the captain and their support network back on Earth, very little had been spoken within the capsule. The other two members of the team had passed the last five hours speaking only to acknowledge orders or provide information to the captain and, though anxious, the team's general unease had dulled this far into the trip.
In an instant their relative comfort is shattered as warning lights and alarms drown out the regular stream of stimuli. So quickly does it occur that only after the alarms sound do the occupants realize that they had heard a loud cracking noise followed by a sharp hiss.
Now the steady radio exchange between the vessel and the Earth is a frantic struggle for information. Long stressful minutes pass. The Captain's outward calm is betrayed by growing beads of perspiration. His comrades' emotions are less controlled but they relay the necessary information to him without error, spouting off figures and equations as though it took no thought at all.
Through round windows in the cabin walls their lunar view becomes chaotic and disorienting. Panic does not fully set in, however, until the air begins to thin and chests begin to tighten. The tumult over the radio has reached its climax and now begins to fade.
Through bleary eyes the captain watches the moon disappear and reappear. Within a few moments it fades completely to black, then one by one the stars around it die out in a growing concentric circle.
All is black within and without. Like a top the capsule spins violently in a long arc moving vaguely toward the moon. Beneath the alarms, hushed radio chatter can still be discerned but then, abruptly, all sound inside the capsule dies and a torrent of otherworldy lights and sensations floods the cabin.