I sat in my window seat and looked out the window. The weekly Lunar Shuttle hummed as the crew prepared the scramjet-ion propulsion hybrid space plane. The horizon was obscured by a yellow haze, a very familiar sight. I wasn’t on Venus, though. I was on Earth.
“This is the Captain speaking. We have been cleared for takeoff, so please make sure your seats are in the upright position and all of your belongings are stowed and sealed in the storage compartments above your seats. I would like to remind you that when we leave the atmosphere, we will be accelerating to escape velocity, so please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened until we give the all clear for movement within the cabin at microgravity.”
I stopped listening at this point. It was the same as always. I made this trip once a year, so I knew the safety procedures.
I looked out the window again. I felt the vehicle moving, but I couldn’t see any changes outside. The haze was so thick that I didn’t see the terminal building. The engines roared and the thrust pushed me back into my seat. Within seconds, I sensed an upward movement. Airborne.
The window was still yellow. That’s all I saw. It had been twenty-seven years since the sky faded to yellow. I remembered seeing photographs of Beijing in the early twentieth century that were similar. But now there wasn’t a single place in the world that wasn’t yellow. I missed the old sky.
I looked at the flight clock. Two minutes and thirty-five seconds. Only moments to go. I gazed out the window again.
Maybe ten more seconds.
I smiled. My old sky again.