Sputnik Supper

An October Sky Fanfiction Piece

Author's Note: So, I was inspired to write this after I saw the movie October Sky. It was also for an English Assignment. It's a great movie, if you haven't seen it.

Summary: It's October 1957, the year Sputnik was launched into space. A group of Coalwood kids view the first artificial satellite as it soars over the night skies.

October 4th, 1957

"Don't answer it." My father says gruffly. He hashes off a piece of steak and shovels it into his mouth. The telephone in the hallway rang, once again, more urgently this time. Brrring. Brring. "People in this town oughta have more respect for other folks' suppertime." He growled, and took a massive swig of his drink. It was silent in the house except for the clanking of forks on plates, and the increasingly loud telephone ringing.

I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat. My mother cast me a reprimanding glare, smoothed her napkin, and daintily ate a morsel of meat, all while staring at her plate. The phone kept ringing. The tenseness in the air was palpable. My father's short span of patience was wearing thin.

.

I could feel the tension escalating, as the sounds of the ringing phone resonated. I lowered my head and froze.

At that moment, our front door rang.

His fork clattered to the floor as he stood up, and I could see his eyes narrow savagely.

"What in the-" My father's rant was drowned by the roaring of a fire truck outside. He clamped his jaw tersely. The phone rang again.

"Helen, get the-" My mother slipped out her seat and scuttled to the phone. From my chair, I could see into the hallway. I watched as she cocked it to her ear. My father sat back down and scooted the chair across the linoleum toward the table with a loud screech, and I couldn't hear what Mother was saying.

A few moments passed by, and she returned in the doorway, phone still in her hand, the cord coiled behind her. Her face looked pallid, and her dark eyes were frightened.

"John?" She said tentatively, for one could never be too cautious with my father.

He grunted in response. I slipped out of the room and into the hallway, tiptoeing towards the door.

She spoke to him gently, using simple vocabulary, as if she were breaking bad news to a small child. "Remember on the news station a few nights ago, when they mentioned that the Russian might be working on space project?"

"Yep…" My father said.

"Well, it's worse than we thought. They've just launched some sort of unknown gadget into the atmosphere. No one knows what it is. Or…where it's going. The government is trying to do something, but…" Her voice trailed off.

My father stabbed a bit of meat and waved his fork in the air. His mouth packed with steak, he unintelligibly cursed, presumably at the Russians. I unlocked the door and swung it open, and was surprised to find all the neighborhood children clustered on our porch, faces half-scared, half-excited.

"I told you that they's goin' blow us up." Howard Smith, a neighbor child, cringes onto his older sister. His watery eyes are wide and frightened in the moonlight.

"Shush, you big baby. Everyone knows the Russians always go for the babies first." Janet Smith told him. Janet was in seventh grade, same as me. Howard gulped and clutched Janet's skirt.

"Aw that's a right lie, Janet, and you shouldn't be fibbing to the little ones." A kid said.

I recognized him as Douglas Bennett, with his bushy hair, and next to him stood, or should I say towered, Nancy Jackson, the tallest girl at school.

They suddenly took note of me standing there. "He-y Sally", Janet said, stretching "hey" into two syllables. Howard peeped at me from Janet's skirt.

"You hear 'bout the bomb? It's called Sputnik." Douglas said. His accent made the last syllable into two.

"Bomb?" I said.

"Yeah. The Russians are going blow us all to bits, with that fancy thing they got up in the sky."

"Who's the liar now, Douglas?" Janet twitched her lips, irritated.

"Well," Douglas amended, "No one knows it's a bomb, but what else could it be?"

Janet looked thoughtful. "Ya know, I bet it's a camera. The Russians can watch everything we're doing. Every move we make. They can see us right now, I bet.

We all shivered. Nancy tapped her foot impatiently. "Guys, the radio said the thing- Sputnik- would be comin' over this part off town about now. We gotta go if we're gonna see it. You coming, Sally?"

The kids took off across the lawn, their shadows dancing on the pavement. I followed in their wake, my heart pumping fast in my chest. I made a promised to myself. I promised that if the Soviet Union didn't blow us up, I would try harder on my next arithmetic test.

We reached the baseball field, and we doubled over, wheezing. Howard made for the dugout because he said it was a good bomb shelter, and also he figured the camera couldn't see through concrete. Janet, Douglas and I collapsed into the dirt. Nancy stood on the pitcher's mound in the quiet field, looking like a tall tree against the night sky. We titled our heads upward, holding our breath. The blackness of the night seemed vast and endless, spotted with twinkling lights. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Someone yelled, and my eyes flew open.

It resembled a star, but bigger. It was like a shooting disc, soaring over the night sky, almost in slow-motion, but the thing was blinking like crazy. It was crazy. It was like nothing we had ever seen. Our fears were momentarily forgotten as the flashing silver mass crawedl in slow-motion over our heads.

"Dang." Howard's voice carried across the baseball field.

"How high is it up there?" I asked.

"Like as high as Heaven." Nancy said in awe, from her mount at the pitcher's mound.

"It ain't that high."

Janet inhaled deeply. "This sure beats airplanes and fireworks and Santa and birds and anything else in the sky."

We all murmured our agreement, and continued to watch Sputnik. We followed it as it zipped across the deep black sky, across the baseball field, over this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, soaring over this small, insignificant part of the world, to travel around the whole entire world. Heck, who knows, maybe the entire universe.

Howard emerged from the dugout, blinking as if he couldn't believe what he had just seen. "They didn't blow us to bits."

"Naw, they wouldn't waste any ammunition on a tiny dump like Coalwood. But I bet you with that fancy camera they saw how scared you were, and laughed themselves to death." Douglas jumped to his feet. Howard furrowed his eyebrows.

Janet, Nancy and I remained awestruck, lying on the dirt, eyes transfixed to the sky, where seconds previous, Sputnik had glided across.

"However, I think a bit of shrapnel mighta embedded in my leg…and I coulda sworn I saw it flashing, probably takin' pictures."

"You're ridiculous, Douglas."

.

For a few moments, I had felt something inside of me, and I felt a little burst of sadness wash over me as Sputnik disappeared.