The capsule rattled and shook as its composite skin jerked around violently in the upper atmosphere. Inside, the two occupants strapped to iluminum seats jostled back and forth. The shorter of the two, dressed in immaculately pressed safari gear that looked like a costume for a play seemed ill at ease and reached for another stick of relaxant gum. He envied the calm of the man sitting across from him. Silently flipping through the pages of a hard copy manual of the local fauna below, making notes and folding page corners, he could have been sitting on a porch chair in a cool summer breeze for all the expression on his weathered face.
Frustrated by the man's cool manner, the shorter man shouted over the loud noise of the capsule's entry, "Doesn't it bother you at all?"
Looking up from the manual, the man slid it into a pocket and crossed his arms over his hunting rifle which hadn't left his grasp since the trip began 6 days prior. "It terrifies the hell out of me.” He looked at the man in front of him then at the 38 empty seats. “This capsule is over 120 years old. One broken vent or if the balloon doesn't discharge and we're incinerated in a second."
The shorter man was surprised and infuriated by the response. Of course just about any question posed to T. R. Westwood was likely to have that effect. "You could do a better job of it," he shouted.
"Mr. Allan, I think you're doing an excellent job of that for the both of us. I'll let you handle the panic, while I put my attention elsewhere. But feel free to tell your readers whatever you like."
Allan made a mental note to embellish Westwood's calm in his story even more by adding in details like calmly sipping black coffee and napping during the roughest part of the entry. Not that he ever expected him to read the article, he was sure the addition to his mythos would only irritate him further.
Tall and lithe with short cropped hair turning silver and a perpetual five o’clock shadow, Westwood had that outdoorsy look you saw on ranchers and men in cigarette ads. Of course, with ten minute cosmetic surgery, anybody could have that look. Allan preferred his own natural stature because it seemed to be less intimidating to people. Watching Westwood look at the flames flickering by the portal and absentmindedly rolling a cigar in his fingers he knew his height was a wasted effort with him. He couldn’t imagine anything intimidating the man. He half expected him to open up the porthole so he could light his cigar from the flames shooting up from the heat shield.