|Venus was aflame.
Ralph and Chuck watched in awe from nearby, unable to do anything. Although they'd had pretty thorough training in what to do when there was a fire on board the ship, when it came to an entire planet burning, the extinguisher in the first aid cabinet just wasn't going to cut it.
They were able to get one of the cameras working again though, so the rest of the human race back on Earth could watch. And as Venus rose and set in the sky, people gazed up at it in awe.
The gas around Venus burnt for ninety-seven hours. Some crackpot on the telly worked out that if it had been harnessed for a barbecue, it could have cooked forty-three million billion billion sausages, presuming somebody could have got them on and off the plate fast enough.
And then, gradually, the gas burnt itself out. Like a puzzle being taken apart piece by piece, gaps started to appear in the flames, and got bigger and bigger until there were more gaps than flames.
Finally the last of the flames burnt out. Ralph and Chuck set up the finest telescopes that the taxpayers had been able to afford to provide, and examined the surface. It looked different. Not only was it black and charred all over, but it seemed that a top layer of thick residue had been burnt away. Finally, Venus' secret was revealed.
- The Year 2031
Copyrightę1998 Daniel Bowen