|Ralph was starting to panic. The
prospect of meeting several hundred organic foreign
bodies in their completely unarmed and not at all
dangerous Venus-bound craft "Penis I" was not
something he was looking forward to. Okay, so nobody on
any mission so far had ever encountered aliens, but he'd
gone to enough sci-fi conventions in his time that the
thought was not a pleasant one.
He looked back at the navigation screen. The computer had plotted a course to avoid them. It was worth a try. He grabbed the mouse and clicked OK to lock the course in. The ship's auxiliary rockets stirred into life as the computer changed the course.
"Umm... Ralph", said Chuck, as they both strapped themselves into their chairs. "Is it my imagination, or are those things still coming towards us?"
Ralph looked. Chuck was right. They were still coming towards the ship, and they were getting much, much closer. In fact, Chuck, whose eyesight was as perfect as all his physical attributes were (with two or three exceptions in the genitalia) could already make them out though the window.
The computer piped up with further analysis of the mysterious foreign bodies. "Chemical breakdown: ORGANIC WITH PROTECTIVE OUTER SHELL. Size characteristics: TRIANGULAR IN SHAPE, AVERAGE LENGTH OF SIDES 120mm. Object count: 743."
So the computer was still insisting they were organic, but Chuck couldn't tell what they were. Other than heading straight for the ship, they didn't seem to be moving much. Chuck wasn't sure if there were 743 of them, but from his point of view, there were certainly more than he could comfortably count, so he accepted the computer's estimate as correct.
Ralph cancelled the avoidance course. If they were going to home in on the ship anyway, what was the point?
"Let's just try and ram through them", said Chuck, ever eager for a little action.
Normally this kind of suggestion would have brought from Ralph a reaction of frustration, indignation at the stupidity of such an illogical suggestion, and a good deal of sulking later on when the crisis was over. But since there was little else they could do, he had been coming to this conclusion too, so he just nodded and explained this plan to the navigation computer in terms it could understand.
The ship moved back onto its normal course, towards the 743 foreign bodies, and accelerated, as Ralph and Chuck strapped themselves into their seats in preparation for the worst. On the screen the objects moved closer, many of them spinning. Just as the computer had said, they were small and triangular in shape.
Ralph checked and double-checked that what little shields they had were all at their correct settings, and Mission Control stood by ready to do anything they could if the worst should happen. Not that they could actually do much beyond putting out an emergency press release, but the staff on duty there thought it would be rather disloyal not to be standing by.
The computer reported impact with the first of the objects in ten seconds. Ralph and Chuck could see them clearly now, but the computer was still being stubborn about reporting any further analysis.
"What the hell are they?", Ralph wondered aloud, not seriously expecting Chuck to give him a definitive answer.
"Dunno", replied Chuck.
Thud. The first one hit the hull somewhere below the level of the window. They could hear it because someone at NASA had had the forethought to program the computer to make appropriate impact noises when any impact occurred. The second one hit the window, making a similar noise, and exploding on the glass. If they were part of an alien invasion fleet, they appeared to have met their match on the moderately strong Corduroy hull of the Penis I.
"Shit, you're kidding!" exclaimed Ralph, climbing out of his seat.
More of them started to hit the ship, making similar thudding and slightly squelchy noises. Ralph leapt forward to the window, and examined the exploded remains of the foreign body.
"What is it", asked Chuck, cowering in his chair like an arachnaphobe at a spider convention.
"It", replied Ralph, "is a sandwich."
"A sandwich. They're all sandwiches. Mission Control! They're sandwiches."
"Sandwiches?!? What the hell are you talking about, Penis I? I thought we agreed no alcohol on board."
While Mission Control did some research through the archives to try and work out why seven hundred sandwiches should be flying through space, Ralph directed the ship through the remaining rounds and prepared to get the windscreen wiper operational. Chuck wondered if they could bring some inside because he was peckish, but soon rejected this idea when Mission Control got back to them with the answer.
Nearly twenty years before, a ship loaded with millionaires had headed for the moon. For a picnic. As you do. Aboard, apart from enough rich people do to some reasonably serious damage to the world's economy should anything untoward happen to the ship, was a ton of food. Unfortunately, half way to the moon, one of the crew pressed the wrong button, and seven hundred sandwiches were jettisoned into space. That crewmember was naturally fired on the spot (though they did very generously give him a lift home), and he was a laughing stock in his home town for the rest of his life.
Mission Control could only theorise about why the sandwiches had been attracted to the good ship Penis I, but decided that the ship held enough gravitational force to attract them.
In any case, a litre or two of SpaceWindex later, the ship's windscreen wiper and a small external hull cleaning robot had cleared off the last of the sandwiches, and the mission continued happily on towards Venus.
- The Year 2031
Copyright©1998 Daniel Bowen