Love, Cody
Dear Opal
Dearest Opal,
It’s me, Cody. I reached the station a few hours ago and I was assigned my dorm. I’m rooming with some pretty cool people, but not as cool as my friends and you.
It was kind of amazing. Actually, no, it was one heckuva trip. I never knew that so many stars could exist in one galaxy! I really wanted to take pictures but it’s like those plane trips we used to take; no cell-phone use! I really regretted not sneaking some photos. Maybe when I start working I can snap some pictures. Did you know that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is still there, the giant hurricane-type storm that spans thousands of miles with winds in the 400s!? That means it’s been there for over 250 years! I know it’s kind of old news for you if you’re taking astronomy but if you aren’t, well, the more you know. It’s so cool but not as red as I always thought. It’s kind of striped with orange and tan. Still uber cool!
Neptune, though... I didn’t realize how blue it was and the fact that the winds blow up to 800 miles per hour makes my brain melt! But 100 years ago, the winds were hitting 1,200 mph! And the thought that I get to live there for four years!? We actually have to orbit in the station for a few weeks before we land. They have an enormous underground facility that shields the personnel from the super icy winds, which I’m very grateful for.
The people I’m rooming with are very different and I think we’ll all end up being friends. I share a room with three other guys. Alex is really short, twenty-one years old, and graduated high school when he was fourteen! He’s kind of a genius, honestly, and has been interested in astronomy since he was four. Nathan is a pretty chill guy. He has brown hair, he’s built like a literal ox with super wide shoulders, and a prosthetic arm. He designed it himself! He’s the best with tech out of all of us. He was offered a place on the Denver Broncos team and he declined so he could finish college and come on the mission. The last guy is Asher. He’s very quiet, lived as a foreign exchange student in China for two years, likes to read these huge encyclopedias, and has razor-sharp senses. He knew I was coming from halfway down the hallway. (Nathan says he has OCD, among other things, but Nathan’s been a joker so far.)
Then, we have my boss, which is a whole different story. He is not laidback at all. In fact, the first time I met him, he yelled at me for not saluting him. His name is General Paulson and let me tell you, he’s just a giant ray of sunshine. I’m not even 100% sure why he’s here on the base. He has these really cold blue eyes, like Neptune itself decided to put some of its color into his eyes. He’s shorter than me, though, but yells loud enough for six Nathans.
My dorm is like the ones for military members. It’s got bunks and little boxes to put our stuff but Nathan already started putting up posters and stuff to spice it up. The walls are gray, the floors are gray, the lights are gray, our uniforms are gray, our food is gray, our beds are gray, the faces of our authority are gray. It looks more like a military base than a Neptune exploration mission. For the technician team that I’m on (NET), we have access to the tech and computer rooms. In a few weeks, I’ll be programming telescopes, satellites, and even the rovers that they’re sending into our neighboring galaxy.
I really miss you guys. It’s pretty boring without the yelling of little girls after a birthday slumber party. Just kidding! That’s not something I would miss, but I miss you. I can’t believe you’re turning sixteen this year! You’ll be driving so soon! (Try not to wreck the car. That’s what I did and I didn’t drive again for a while.)
Try to lose that lowlife boyfriend you’ve got. What’s his name? Jax? James? I still don’t think he’s a great guy and now that I’m out in the middle of space, I won’t be able to punch him in the face when he tries to pull moves on you. (Take a self-defense class and dump him.)
Tell Mom and Dad that I love them. Give Mom’s grave some nice flowers for me. How’s Rubo doing? He was acting pretty heartbroken before I even left and I really want to give his furry labradoodle stomach a giant belly rub. Do that for me, will you?
I’ve got to say, I really miss Ramen noodles and Pringles. Only pre-approved foods and beverages are allowed on the station and they come in shipments every week. Today’s lunch was a slab of SPAM. A literal slab of SPAM. It was exactly four inches thick. I mean, they did also give us Gatorade, a bag of dry carrots, and a cookie that I’m 95% sure I chipped a tooth on. Send some food, okay?
Did you know that my NET (Neptune Exploration Technicians) team has a mascot? Well, Asher somehow got permission to bring his cat on the shuttle! (Nathan says he’s an emotional support animal. I’m starting to believe it.) His name is Domino and he’s the friendliest, most calm cat EVER. My entire NET team actually has 25+ members but I only room with three of them.
There’s a girl on the team everyone calls Ace but Alex told me that her real name is Emerald. She is the head of the tech department and she smiled at me. She’s twenty-four, single, and really smart. She reminds me of you.
Well, I’ve got to go soon. I feel kind of out of place as a part of NET but it’s nothing I didn’t train for. I’d tell you more about the mission but I’m legally bound to not telling an outside civilian about it. Sorry, sis.
I love you, Opes. I’ll write soon. I don’t know when this will arrive to you, but I hope it’s soon. Mail should go out within the next week and they said it’d take a month to arrive on Earth and another few weeks to get to you.
This entire expedition is surreal. The orbiting station alone is spectacular and my room has an air-tight window that faces the planet 24/7. It’s going to be an awesome experience.
Much love,
Cody “You’re A Jerk” Astor :)
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