lunes, 7 de marzo de 2016

Sci-Fi short story: Moon Diving

Moon Diving
By Victor Hernandez

I told the guys at the office it wasn’t a good idea.

I really did.

But did they listen? No. They never listen. Ever since we got here they have never listened to what I have to say. Not once.

We shouldn’t even be here in the first place anyway. The point of setting up a station on the Moon was to train astronauts for interplanetary missions within the Solar System. Since the Moon has only 0.16 times the gravity of Earth, that makes sense if you want to send people to Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, where the gravity is 0.14 Earth’s. But all of the fucking space missions today are to Mars, where gravity is 0.37 times Earth’s gravity. There isn’t anything scheduled for Ganymede for like 30 years. And why? Because rich people want to brag about how they went on a trip to Mars and drank real Martian water. But guess what? Ganymede has more water than Earth. Even the possibility of extraterrestrial life. It makes no sense to waste money on Mars if you have Ganymede except as an in-between port.

And yet, here we are anyway. NASA likes to brag about their Mars missions too. That’s how they get money from Congress. But money from Congress isn’t enough, so NASA partnered with a few corporations to fund the Mars missions. With just one catch: the corporations wanted NASA to build a station on the Moon first. So they built this shitty training station for 20 astronauts so they can live here for six months and then claim they’re ready for Mars.

In reality what the corporate suits wanted was to offer trips to the Moon to rich people and dentists with too much free time. They figured it’s cheaper and quicker than having them inside a space ship for months on their way to Mars. A couple of days to reach the Moon, a weekend on the station, and then back to Earth where they can brag they said “it’s a small step for man” like Neil Armstrong.

Problem is, after a few years the novelty of the Moon trips wore off and rich people and dentists with too much free time went back to killing lions and other unsuspecting animals in Africa from a distance with a rifle. So the corporate suits figured they should offer some sort of new attraction on the Moon to entice people again. And they did; ladies and gentlemen, I give you indoor skydiving on the Moon.

You’ve probably done it back on Earth. You put on a helmet and a jumpsuit and they put you inside this huge tube with a bunch of big-ass turbines blowing air upwards, so you’re sent “flying” with an instructor and then they drop you so you feel as if you were actually skydiving.

Well, some corporate creative thought it would be a great idea if they did that on the Moon. Hey, 0.16 gravity, right? So the turbines would need far less power to send you up; they can send you higher, and the drop would be far slower than a drop on Earth, you should really feel like you’re flying like a bird. A real adrenaline rush for people who want to skydive without having to get on a plane.

Obviously, somebody had to operate the indoor skydiving and somebody had to do the administrative work. That’s where we come in. Me and the guys at the office do the administrative work. What? You thought we were the operators? No. Not even close. We’re the pencil pushers. We do the accounting on site, we count the tickets, and we send the reports on revenue and expenses projections back to Earth.

It’s sooo fucking boring. We’re not even allowed into the diving tube. We have to stay inside an office on our desks and do our shifts looking at a computer. Or we can look out the window and stare at miles and miles of gray dirt and rocks.

We have to do it for six months. Then we can go back to Earth. They got us to come here telling us we got a free trip to the Moon. Who doesn’t want to be like Buzz Aldrin, right? So we took the bait. And now we’re stuck here for four more months.

So you can imagine how bored out of our minds we must be under such conditions. But that changed two weeks ago, when the corporate suits rotated the maintenance crew for the diving tube. Lo and behold, one of the new maintenance people (sorry: engineers) was a woman and one was a gay dude, which meant my two straight co workers and my two gay co workers, who happen to be twin brothers, officially declared open season.

To be honest, I’m perfectly happy watching porn on my tablet and jerking off. Besides, the maintenance chick they sent isn’t even that good looking. When I go back to Earth I’ll go to Vegas or to Tijuana and pay for some quality sex.

But these guys are just too fucking desperate, so they started to hit on the maintenance people as soon as they saw them in the mess hall. The gay dude told the twins to fuck off right off the bat. The guy’s married and he’s pretty old school, so he’s not going to cheat on his husband. The chick, though, did respond to my co worker’s flirting. However, she didn’t get in bed with anyone. She only made them more desperate.

How desperate? Desperate enough to offer her their dessert rations. Have you ever tasted space rations on the Moon? They’re pretty bland. It’s basically ramen noodles without the flavor packet. With lots of protein and vitamins and whatnot. But adding flavor is expensive. Well, not that epensive. But since it's for us low level just pencil pushers corporate HQ doesn't want to spend the money. Flavor is only for rich people and dentists. So instead of getting flavor we get a packet of “dessert” that’s just something similar to, what, pudding I guess? That compensates for the bland food.

The chick took the desserts, of course. And in exchange she gave them nothing. She’s good. She turned the tables on my co workers and they didn’t even notice.

My co workers, of course, are idiots. And instead of catching the drift that they were being played, they kept on trying to hit on her. This time with my co worker’s secret weapon; dessert alcohol.

Pot is not allowed on the station because they can’t just open a window to let the smoke out. And alcohol is confiscated because corporate HQ thinks it’s not a good idea to have drunk employees on the Moon. People on Earth would freak out and nobody would come here again out of fear of an accident.

But my crafty co workers found a way around it; add more water than required to their dessert packets and let it ferment for a month. It tastes like shit, but it does give you a buzz. How do I know that? Because they made me drink that crap. Why did they make me drink that crap? Because they were pretending we were having a party and they invited the maintenance chick. The bait was supposed to be the alcohol.

She didn’t accept the invitation because she had to cover one of her co worker’s shifts after he started to have some unexplained headache. Meaning he didn’t feel like showing up for work that evening. So she told my co workers to come by the diving tube later, as she was in charge of the turbines’ diagnostics.

Meaning she was now looking for a way to get her hands on the alcohol and then send my co workers straight to hell. But my co workers fell for it and went to the diving tube even though they were not supposed to be there.

And they somehow talked me into going as well. Well, not “somehow.” They offered to cover one shift a week for me for the rest of our stay on the Moon. That meant Fridays off. I’d had to be an idiot not to take the offer.

But I did tell them it was a bad idea.

Oh and it was. Worst idea ever. First of all, the maintenance chick didn’t even touch the alcohol. Instead, she talked my co workers into drinking half of it. I guess to see if they had put anything weird on it before drinking it. And of course, I had to go along with it. It was after all a “party.” So we chugged what felt like a liter of that horrible stuff between the three of us.

Once the maintenance chick noticed our faces were turning red (which meant the alcohol was indeed drunkenness-grade) she asked us if we’ve ever done a dive on the tube. Obviously none of us had. So she asked us if we wanted to try it.

I said no, but my co workers started the pushing and the bragging just to show off. This time I told them there are cameras on the tube, and if we got recorded we would get fired. But the chick said she had turned all the cameras off, including the security camera, because she had some maintenance tests to make. Yeah right. She probably knew she would get fired if there was evidence of her letting us in.

And again the bragging and the pushing. So I said fine. The chick brought three helmets and told us how to pose our bodies to get up in the air. She probably wanted us to get into the tube so we could get dizzy and feel like calling it a night instead of staying and keep hitting on her. But we put the helmets on anyway and we walked inside the tube. The chick started the turbines and the air pushed us slowly up. My coworkers started hooting and yelling and basically posing. But then the chick turned up the turbines and we shot way up in the tube. We couldn’t even see what was going on anymore because we were just spinning out of control.

And that’s when everything went to shit.


Because as soon as we were up in the air the maintenance chick took a big gulp from the dessert alcohol bottle, but she found it so repulsive she spitted out all of it right into the tube’s operating console. That’s the only thing I was able to see; the moment when the spray of spit and shitty alcohol flew from her mouth and into the console. I’d imagine she might have said something like “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?!” after spitting it. I told you it tastes like crap.

That was only the beginning. When the chick realized she had alcohol all over the tube’s console she ran to get a towel to clean it up. But in her haste while she was cleaning it, she pushed the button that rotates the turbines, which made us spin even more.

At that point, both of my co workers were pretty much in hysterics. I could see it in their faces. And I was feeling sick because of the dessert alcohol. I was about to throw up, you say? Guess again. Because when the chick finally managed to slow down the turbines and we started dropping from the top of the tube I nearly shat my pants.

I say “nearly” shat my pants because out of desperation for something to hold on to, one of my co workers grabbed my pants by the waist when we started falling and my pants came down.

So I shat all over the tube.

Even from the bottom you could see the streaks and splashes of shit all over the tube. My co workers, of course, had shit all over their clothes and on their helmets. They were lucky they were wearing goggles, but they were very unfortunate for being screaming with their full mouths open.

Once we were at the bottom, the chick opened the door to the tube and yelled at us to get out. My co workers asked if they could have the alcohol back but she yelled again to get out.

And off we went. Without alcohol.

What I heard afterwards was that in order to clean the shit from all over the tube the chick had to bribe two of the guys in the maintenance crew with a blow job per week for a month. Else she could be liable for millions of Dollars in damages. My co workers, of course, got nothing and, instead, were blackmailed by the maintenance chick, who threatened she would accuse them of trying to get her drunk so they could molest her, unless they gave her all of their dessert packets from now on. So no more dessert and no more alcohol for them.

I’m under the impression some of the shit also got into the turbines and it couldn’t be fully removed. I say that because I’ve heard comments from people who have gone Moon diving about the fact that they think they smelled something funny in there, but then thought it was the instructor passing gas.

But hey, I did tell the guys at the office it wasn’t a good idea.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this short story while I was wating two hours for a flight. I was bored out of mind, so I thought this would keep me entertained. I will publish more sci-fi short stories every week here:

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