Tag Archive: astronaut

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The Putrid Moon

“I hate living on the Putrid Moon,” said Commander O’Flaherty. 

He stared out at the deeply pockmarked surface of the unsightly moon over his cup of breakfast powder.

“Think about future generations.”  Second Officer Haifa Al-Rashid stored the packaging of her futuristic space meal for recycling.  As the first one-armed female Arab-American astronaut on the Putrid Moon, she was full of inspiring, optimistic ideas on the future of space exploration.  “One day, our children’s descendants will look back on us as moon pioneers.”

“I’m not having any children with you,” protested O’Flaherty.

“I was using the royal ‘our’,” explained Al-Rashid.

Just then, Ensign Bradley burst into the dining pod.

“Commander O’Flaherty, we’ve detected suspicious movement in the Crimble Zone!”

“You see what I mean!”  O’Flaherty seethed.  “Not a day goes by without some annoyance cropping up on the Putrid Moon.”

Second Officer Al-Rashid faced O’Flaherty with determination.  “You need to show grit, Commander!  The Crimbles could completely destroy our insulated, technologically advanced yet structurally fragile moon base with one well-organized attack!”

“Give me one reason I should care!” cried O’Flaherty.  “This moon is Putrid!  Why are we even here?  Have you taken a look around?  The Great Rundible Cleft is filled with half-solid gray slime that gives off the stench of burnt rubber.  The Wallinger Geyser shoots out burning plumes of orange-brown muck every hour that reeks of rotten potato. Last week, I fell into a gaping pit filled with decaying Crimble carcasses and I still haven’t been able to remove the stains from my uniform!”  O’Flaherty pointed to the seat of his silver moon-colonist radiation-deflecting pants.  “We can’t even invite any galactic dignitaries to visit our colony because the whole place is too goddamn smelly.  Face it people, this moon is putrid!”

Al-Rashid threw a saltshaker to the floor in fury.  “I can’t listen to this!  As the first one-armed female Arab-American astronaut on the Putrid Moon, I must set an example for all the space daughters who’ll follow my example.  This mission is not about nasal aesthetics!  This mission is about claiming a world for human habitation that on the surface is completely hostile and inappropriate for settlement and putting up with endless sacrifices, hardships and unpleasant odors to make that possible!”

Ensign Bradley pointed out the impressive picture window to a spot beyond the bubbling pits of devil-lava that lay around the compound.  “A Crimble scout!”

Bradley was undeniably correct.  In the distance, visible against an olive-ochre horizon spotted with tattered clouds, came the shambling, unappetizing shape of a three legged, large-eyed Crimble.  The Crimbles were yet another hazard of life on the Putrid Moon.  Using their sharp and pointed tusks and glinting titanium claws, a rampaging Crimble could do untold damage to the moon colony habitation with its fragile pink light funnels and architecturally renowned billowing canvas sails, reminiscent of the masts of a 19th century whaling ship.

“We’re doomed!” cried O’Flaherty.   “Doomed!  This ill-begotten mission is on a headlong collision course with a violent, smelly destruction.  All of us are going down to our putrescent unmarked graves on this godforsaken moon!”

“Perhaps the Crimble will stumble into one of the devil-lava pits,” said the inexperienced and recklessly hopeful Bradley.  He was a recent graduate of Space University and his grade point average had not been high enough to secure him a post on one of the less disgusting moon bases.

“Nonsense,” claimed Al-Rashid.  “We need simply to reach out to these misunderstood creatures.  I will go out and play the Crimble a tune of peace on my Earth-oud.  We must bridge the differences between our species if we ever hope to live in peace with the creatures of the Putrid Moon.”

O’Flaherty watched in seething frustration as Al-Rashid and Bradley set forth with the fragile oud to make peace with the Crimble.  As he could have predicted, Al-Rashid was quickly speared through the stomach by the Crimble’s tusk and Bradley fell headlong into a devil-lava pit.  O’Flaherty beat on the intercom in frustration as the Crimble lumbered ever closer to the compound.

They reached the planet of the orange oceans after three tedious Earth Years in the Silver Tubular.

Captain Malcolm stepped out onto the planet in his periwinkle blue space jumpsuit and surveyed the landscape.

“I see several orange oceans,” he transmitted back to the ship through his helmet transponder.

He had visited planets with orange oceans before, but none quite like this one.  Here, the orange oceans were incredibly large, bigger than the biggest Earth lakes, and they could be seen in profusion from the top of the bluff where Captain Malcolm stood.

Second Officer Bailey stood at his side.  Bailey looked prepared and stolid, ready to be unfazed by whatever oceans might face him.

“I’ve heard orange oceans harbor rich populations of black fish,” said Bailey.  “Black fish!  I’ve never tasted one.”  Bailey was a simple farm boy at heart, with lots of wheat experience.

Malcolm laughed heartily.  “You’ll taste many a black fish before we leave this planet, Officer Bailey.  We will feast in the Silver Tubular, on black fish pan-seared and drizzled with a delicate almond-lemon sauce.  Black fish filleted and accompanied with a spring salad of fresh greens and new potatoes.  Black fish baked in a rich cheese casserole dotted with green olives and peas.”

Bailey took a moment to ponder this fish dinner vision, but his reverie was interrupted by a shout from Third Officer Liston.  “Captain!  I’ve sighted air octopi!  Hovering over the orange ocean gulf!” 

Malcolm peered down toward where Liston stood, on a boulder shaped like the skull of a demented crone, the mega-magnifying super-scopes glued to his eyes.

“Air octopi!  How far off?”

Liston cried out, using his most alarming voice.  “They’re within seconds of us, flying like they’re mad as freakin’ wombats out of hell!”

Bailey was shaken completely out of his fish reverie.  “Jeez, Captain!  Air octopi!  They can strangle a man to death with their tentacles in seconds!  And these jumpsuits we’re wearing are no protection at all.”

Malcolm pursed his lips.  “You’re right, Bailey.  I can send a distress signal to the Silver Tubular, but by the time the ship can send reinforcements armed with enough laser targeting bombasts to destroy the air octopi, it will be far too late.”

“We should have come armed!” cried Bailey.

Malcolm turned to him, in a petulant fury.  “Who knew there would be air octopi on a planet of orange oceans?”

“Did you even ask the ship oceanographer?”

Malcolm scoffed.  “Patterson?  The one who predicted we’d find coral reefs on Laxxo 729?”

“You’ve put as all at risk with your egotistical foohardiness!  Your crazed determination to be the first galactic Captain to step foot on the Planet of Orange Oceans!”   Bailey turned to Malcolm in a fit of space rage and throttled the Captain’s neck with his gloved hands.   They rolled over the gray stones, locked in a battle of grim proportions.

Even as they rolled in conflict on the rocks, the slapping of air octopi tentacles could be heard from below, as the relentless white alien octopi attacked Liston, slapping at him mercilessly with their unfeeling octopi limbs.

Liston cried out, emitting an unsettling, shrill scream that ended only when his pain-drenched face was pulled below the orange waves by his unstoppable octopus assailant.

Malcolm gasped, even as Bailey’s hands closed around his throat.  “Don’t.  Don’t, Bailey.  You’re . . . becoming like . . . them.”  But Malcolm’s eyes closed in agony even as the white air octopi descended on Bailey, their furious tentacles waving in murderous patterns. 
             The flailing octopi limbs whirled in a frenzy of rubbery destruction until only bruised and mangled human body parts littered the forlorn rocks on the planet of the orange oceans.