Countdown by Jared Mende

Art by Kristina Vardazaryan

Art by Kristina Vardazaryan


By Jared Mende

“T-minus ten seconds.”

They say that, moments before you die, your life flashes before your eyes.

I’ve never died, but I know the sensation. The phenomenon is all-too familiar to me…I have felt it every single countdown before every single liftoff.

“T-minus nine seconds.”

When you’re there, sitting in the cockpit of your rocketship, staring up into the sky, and you hear that machine-like voice speaking number after number, it suddenly becomes real to you. You suddenly understand that you’re about to be launched into the void of space.

“T-minus eight seconds.”

Then, in that moment, you look back on all you’re leaving behind: your mother, your father, your siblings, your friends, your childhood, your home. Your womb: the womb from which your entire species has sprung: Earth. You wonder if it will hurt when the doctor cuts the umbilical cord.

“Seven seconds.”

Memories begin to flash before your eyes. At least, that’s how it’s been for me. I’ve watched the years run across my corneas. I’ve counted my days beneath the sun, and I’ve wondered at how many more will pass in the never-ending night.

“Six seconds.”

I’ve sat there, my heart pounding, thinking about myself as a child, staring up at the sky. I’ve waited for liftoff, pondering my youth; my whole life, from every still moment to every great one.

“Five seconds.”

At five, the fear sets in. The sudden anxiety hits: why did you decide to do this? You want to jump out of the ship right then and there.

“Four seconds.”

The voice beats like a drum, haunting your fearful mind.


Your heart beats faster, every aorta screaming for freedom.


All of a sudden, you wonder how it will feel to abandon gravity. What will it be like, to leave those shackles behind?


A breath. A pang of fear, a sudden burst of panic.

And then…



Jared Mende has been writing ever since he could hold a crayon. Now eighteen years old, he has written over 25 short stories. He is a large fan of tea, physics, adventures, and playing the banjo. Mende lives in Texas and is well loved and supported by his readers. You can find out more about him at his blog,

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