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It was an alternate world. There was no sense of time or truth in the bar; reality was a disguise. The end felt near.


Few understood what Sebastian knew, where he had been, what he had seen, what had actually happened.  


It all had started with an idea...


Alone on a stool at the end of a worn lacquered counter, the 40-year old gazed blankly at the terrace of candles that spanned the entire width of the pub. Sipping slowly, warmth cascaded into familiar numbness. He couldn’t recognize the ambient beats that filled the crampt space. The music taunted him, pulling him toward an uncertain darkness. 


The hushed laughter of the young couple at the other end of the bar grew louder. With every sip their joy enflamed a deeper melancholy. He wasn’t immediately conscious of the reason why. The room faded. 


Before long he was back at the same park bench where we had our first date in New York two decades before. In an instant, I was at his side, my goofy smile staring back. 


Sebastian slumped over in his worn fatigues, filled with a fleeting sense of peace he had never managed to replicate. He was beyond blackout.  


The bartender and other patrons paid no mind; these days people had reason to drink themselves to the verge of death.


I never understood why he stayed in. He never should have joined.  He would have been happy. He would still be alive.


-Open your eyes. 


The barback gave Sebastian a gentle nudge. A faint glow emanated from the outside. The pub was empty now and it was time for bed.  Sebastian spilled onto the graffiti-covered, cobbled street mumbling the same few words repeatedly.


-I want to go home. 


-When will it happen?

-It’s already begun.


-Mission Control weather conditions remain favorable, concur.

-Roger that, Talisman can proceed.

-T-30 seconds and counting.

-Groundpower removal.

-Close outboard fill and drain valves.

-T-20 seconds.

-GLS go for auto sequence.

-Arm cut off, initiate release.

-T–15 seconds.

-Start APU.

-Activate sound suppression water.

-T—10 seconds.

-Bleed valve closed, terminate helium fill.

-Remove safety inhibits.

-T-5 seconds.

-Main engine 3 start command.

-Main engine 2 start command.

-Main engine 1 start command.

-T-0 seconds.


-And we have liftoff, Talisman has left the pad.

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