“Colonel Yuri Gagarin, please head to the main office immediately. We repeat, Colonel Yuri Gagarin…”
The woman’s voice that echoed throughout the headquarter had always been an annoyance, at least for me. It was no more than because my name was the one thing to never be mentioned. My rank maybe was the same as Yura’s, but we were not the same after all.
I made it far in Roscosmos merely because I was a prodigy in my field, but not so much practically. The agency’s doctors had diagnosed my unfitness in becoming a cosmonaut, thus I had to work twice as harder as the other fitting cosmonauts—and that included Yura. But Yura… the first time I saw him in our first flight training, I just knew he’d excel in everything he did. And it was proven; Yura had earned the title of the first man on space. He gained so many attentions afterwards, specially from the government. He’d be sent to places (we didn’t know existed) for the union’s purposes—he was not just the nation’s hero, he was the nation’s pride. But after all the spotlight, Yura was still…Yura.
Only with less time to spend with me, the other comrades, or even his own family. He used to tail me everywhere, nagging me with his dry jokes and light pranks. And whenever I felt he went overboard, which was all the time, I would tackle one of his feet—and if I was lucky enough I would get him and he would stumble a little. But oftentimes my tackles did not affect him at all, as his balance was incredible due to all the anti-gravity training.
Yura had complained to me that at times he’d feel lonely and all this fame thing was just not his cup of tea. But one thing I told him over and over, “Hang in there, buddy. I’ll always be here.”
And somehow, it always worked. He’d smile at me and murmur a ‘thank you’ in return.
“So, how was it?” I asked Yura as soon as I saw him approaching from the crowd. It was lunchtime, the canteen was packed, but it was not so hard to identify the petite man.
“Another dispatchment!” he said, sitting down and taking a sip of my orange juice. “To the space.”
I brushed off his hand before trying to take another sip. “That’s great!” I said jolly, but still couldn’t hide the uneasiness in my tone which Yura realized. Laughing, he said,
“Gee, Vladimir Mikhaylovich, you might be an engineering genius but your acting is rubbish.”
“No, no. I’m happy. It’s just… it’s been 6 years since your last flight, you are not as young. Aren’t you worried?”
“Why?” Yura let out another laughter. “Why should I worry? It’s not like I’ve ever been to outer space just before 1961. It’s just 6 years, I’m not 60 yet.”
I nodded, he got a point there. But I still felt a bit strange.
“Will you be alone?”
“Yep. I should be testing out the Soyuz-1.”
I almost choked on my juice.
“What? Нет, no,” I shook my head in repeat, murmuring a few ‘no’s, making the man before me even more confused.
“What? Why ‘no’”? he demanded for an answer, while I didn’t know what the answer was. No, it was more like I didn’t know where to start. The Soyuz-1… everything was wrong with Soyuz-1.
I took a glance of our surroundings, everyone had their own thing to be focused on. I lowered down my volume almost into just gaspy breaths, making a closer gap to our faces. What I was about to tell him was a classified information, I should’ve kept my mouth shut but how could I be when it was concerning the life and death of my very best friend.
“The government wants to kill you!” I said.
“What are you talking about? What have you been drinking other than this bloody orange juice? Is this even just an orange juice?”
“No, Yura. This is not the time for jokes. Soyuz-1,” I said, lowering my volume even more, “is not qualified. There had been at least 198 errors reported up ‘till today and is still counting. It was still a polemic in the general council whether or not this experiment should be continued. And I know, I know in the end they’d send someone to test it out in celebration of Lenin’s birthday. But, God, I didn’t know they’d send you! You’re a goddamn national hero!”
From Yura’s look, I could tell he was speechless in astoundment. I understood his feelings, I would be too if someone told me the people that had always hailed my name would actually be my murderers, plural. I felt bad, but I had to say what I had to say.
“I, I’m sorry,” I said finally breaking the silence in the middle of all the noise. Yura gave me no response, and I know he wasn’t mad or anything. He needed his own time. At least that was what I wanted myself to believe. “I should get going.”
Yura said nothing still, he just sat there looking at the ground with a puzzled look on his face—such a rare sight indeed. I pat him on the shoulder, trying to comfort him, while I actually needed one for myself.
Note: Yes, this is an actual fan-fiction of Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin, look them up. I have been in love with their friendship, and made some alterations (or you could say, major?) to spice things up. Don’t we all love a little bit of drama?
Some things will not be historically correct. Although I’ve done some research, there are things to be changed in order to fulfil my fantasies (God, I need to get a life.)
Speaking about life, this whole day I have been shutting myself out of the world; no phone, no social life, nothing. I was too busy working on this fanfiction, which I completely, maybe not completely, regret. I apologize to the family of Gagarin and Komarov that I have yet to stain their names. I should go contemplate or something on my past doings. Duh.