|The countdown was complete. Ralph and Chuck held tightly onto their
seats, as their trusty craft Penis I lifted off, to take them home from Venus.
A computer hiccupped. Ralph looked to see what it was. The rocket kept climbing. Ralph read the monitor. Amongst a screenful of technical gibberish, which only goes to prove how horrible a computer screen can look when the engineers have free reign for a day because the useability specialist is off sick, was a warning.
The warning, in some of the most complex language ever devised, was about a fierce gas storm in the upper atmosphere of the planet. It was big, it was smelly, and it was spreading, and unless they decided to stop and slink back to the surface now, there was no avoiding it.
Chuck, with his superhuman strength and minuscule brain capacity, wasn't too concerned, because he didn't understand what was going on. But Ralph did. They would reach the outer edges of the rapidly expanding gas storm in 6 seconds, and when the rocket's exhaust, which consisted of a bloody big fireball like output, hit the gas
Six seconds can pass remarkably fast in space, especially when like Ralph, you're juggling lots of complex and worrying thoughts in your mind.
The nose of the rocket entered the gas storm first. And about a fifth of a second later, they were surrounded by it. A microsecond after that, the gas sniffed its way around to the rocket exhaust.
Ralph and Chuck didn't know what happened next. The inferno that engulfed virtually the whole planet propelled the craft a few million kilometres in such a small time that Ralph and Chuck blacked out. When they came to, they almost thought they'd done an Icarus.
Where Venus had been was a huge planet-sized ball of fire.
Mission Control was on the radio, demanding a response and screaming something about none of their remote instruments working and what were the TV producers and their lawyers going to do if they lost their coverage. They also wanted to know where the extra sun had come from.
Chuck let them know they were still alive and kicking, and joined Ralph, watching in awe the flames dancing around the now distant planet. They shut off the engines and watched for a while.
- The Year 2031
Copyrightę1998 Daniel Bowen