|Life on board the Venus exploration
craft Penis I was hard, principally because it was
extremely dull. Because the craft had been designed so
that most of the crucial features were computer
controlled (except in the inevitable case of an on-board
emergency), there was actually very little for the
astronauts to do during the five month journey.
Ralph and Chuck, though having completely different personalities, had come to know each other fairly well during the training. That is, to know in the sense of being friends, not knowing to the point of touching each other's genitalia or anything like that.
The day was broken into three shifts. This being space however, they had dispensed with the restrictions of Earth time, and each shift was seven hours and twenty-one minutes. Nobody could quite remember why they'd come up with this amount of time for a shift, but it had something to do with it being easier for NASA to do the paperwork for their pay slips.
This made a mission day actually equal to twenty-two hours and three minutes, and for that reason the rocket had been furnished with especially designed clocks and calendars. The clocks were especially complex because the minute hand kept jumping back by twenty-one minutes every shift, but Ralph assured mission control that you got used to it after a while.
In any case, it gave the men something to do. While NASA had packed a little recreational equipment, this was confined to Chess and Scrabble. But because Chuck was a human atom-bomb with muscles the size of grizzly-bears and a brain the size of a pea, these weren't a terrific hit. Ralph had considered trying to teach Chuck how to play Chess, but had wisely decided against even attempting it.
Chuck had wanted to bring some of his phenomenal amount of gym equipment along, but this had been disallowed because of weight and space considerations. The technicians had calculated that to load his Home Fitness Centre would have meant putting an extra two booster rockets on the craft.
Instead Chuck kept himself busy with the only other practical form of physical exercise possible on board. Cleaning. The solar-powered mini-vac soon became his best friend, and in his spare time Chuck could be found thoroughly cleaning the rocket from top to bottom. This of course wasn't widely publicised to the millions watching the mission on worldwide TV every spare minute of the day. NASA was keen to promote the men as heroes, and the publicity people decided that images of Chuck's constant cleaning probably wouldn't help perpetuate that.
Ralph had wanted to bring along some of his frightening collection of accounting and tax law text books, but these had been disallowed for much the same reasons. So Ralph kept himself busy doing spreadsheet simulations of various very boring tax scenarios on the craft's computers.
And in this way, as they made their way through the solar system, the months passed.
- The Year 2031
Copyrightę1998 Daniel Bowen