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To Mars – or Not

“It’s not often I venture into space for a story but when needs must, why not have a little fun – right?”

I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Pensitivity’s three things challenge – Serene – Travel – Everything
AuthorWorld –  “On 16th July 1969, we put a man on the moon. In 2021, we drove a robot on Mars. Who’d have believed now in 2039 we’d have inhabited Mars and have starships capable of.…..”
Fandango’s One Word Challenge — Monotonous

To Mars – or Not!

On 16th July 1969, we put a man on the moon. In 2021, we drove a robot on Mars. Who’d have believed now in 2039 we’d have inhabited Mars and have starships capable of reaching every planet in the known universes. Starships capable of travelling vast distances in the blink of an eye. Every starship besides this one anyway.

The glowing red dot a hundred light-years in front of us is Mars. That’s where we were going — and going there quite smoothly I might add. At least until this rotten old Muskship had other ideas.

There I was stood at the helm when the ship went from 70,000 miles an hour to zero in the blink of an eye. The space-brakes slammed on so suddenly, I shot over my control panel and slammed into the windscreen. You can still see the smear created by my poor suffering nose sliding down the glass.

That was it, we were stuck, floating here in the arse end of nowhere. You see, this is the one issue with space travel – can’t just get out and walk. Well, you can with all the advanced spacesuits we’ve got. But it would take you about a thousand years to spacewalk to Mars from here.

It was monotonous sitting here surrounded by useless control panels and staring at the same bit of unchanging space. Sure everything was serene and quiet but it was as boring as counting the number of stars within a given square of space. My monotony was broken by the sound of the command bridge door sliding open

“Captain Winks, permission to speak.”

“Go ahead, Lieutenant Jules,” At last the mechanic was back to tell me what was wrong — hopefully!

“Thank you, Captain. I can confirm the warp drive is knackered. I…”

“Really? And there’s me thinking we parked up for a toilet break!” I gazed upon the lieutenant hoping he had something more useful to tell me.  

“Sorry, Captain. As a result of the warp drive failing the space brakes engaged to prevent drifting. That’s why we are … erm — stuck.” Jules unzipped the front of his jumpsuit and had a scratch around inside.

“Then do me a favour and get us unstuck will you!” I sighed and closed my eyes in an attempt to breathe through rising annoyance.

“Roger that, Captain. My team are working on reconfiguring some of the doodahs, whatchamacallits and thingamajigs in the engine bay as we speak,”

  “Very well.” I took a deep breath, “Then get back down there and make sure they don’t confuse the doodahs and doohickies. We can’t afford them to replace the whatchamacallit with a thingamabob either. Please make sure they don’t blow us all up as well!”

Jules turned to leave, but just as quickly turned back again looking confused. “I’m sorry, Captain. But we don’t have any doohickies or thingama—”

“Do you shut up and get to work, Lieutenant Jules!”

“Yes, Captain. Right you are, Captain!” Jules saluted and left.

“I guess this means will be here for a little while longer then,” remarked Sereh, the navigator. She was the easiest to recognise of all the crew with her long neon purple hair.

“At least until they blow us to hell, anyway!” I took another look at Mars through the window. How I longed to get back there and enjoy a bath. “Everybody take a break for a while,” I ordered.

Leaving the bridge, I descended into the teleporting room. With six doors it was the central space within this Muskship. The bunk room, engines, stores, living and kitchen area are all accessible from here. Taking a right, I placed my hand on a palm reader.

“Welcome home, Captain Winks,” said the computer unlocking my quarters. This room unlike the rest on the ship was clad in decadent oak panelled walls. I poured some reddish-brown liquid from a decanter into a glass and downed it in one gulp. The Martian-grown whiskey was like drinking lava. It always left me choking, but boy it was good stuff.

Collapsing on the bed, I felt my heart race into my throat as the ships alarms scared the living daylights out of me.

“ALERT! ALERT! Fire in the Engine bay. ALERT! ALERT!” It wailed in a never-ending circle.

If one listened very carefully, I was sure they could hear the Red Dwarf theme tune playing in the background.

Standing, I shot out of my room and slammed straight into Lieutenant Jules. “Bloody hell, man! Why are you standing right in my doorway?”

“Sorry, captain. There’s a —”

“If you came to tell me there’s a fire in the engine room, I’m going to slap you,” I warned.

“Erm, well, one of the engineers confused a doodah with a doohickey. When he engaged the power and — poof!” Jules motioned an explosion with his hands.

I slapped him.

“What the hell did he hit me for, Captain?” he said rubbing his face.

“Felt like it,” I shook my head. “So, how long until we blow up?”

“Five minutes, Captain. I’d have a quickie with Sereh in her bunkroom if I were you.”

“What?”

“Well, everyone knows you love her,” Jules grinned mischievously.

I smirked, “Of course there are no secrets when you all live together in a tin can. Do try and stop us blowing up won’t you!”

“We’re doing our best, Captain.” Jules retreated back towards the smoky engine rooms.

I walked across the teleporting room and down into the living quarters. Some of the team looking terrified, stood listening to the warning sirens. Others were used to this sort of calamity onboard and sat drinking coffee. Seeing some neon purple hair, I smiled. “Can I borrow you, Sereh,”

“Certainly, captain,”

I led the navigator back to my quarters. “The reports suggest we’re not going to make it. I wanted to ask if you’d like to join me for some whisky.”

Sereh hugged herself, “That’s terrible. Yes, I think some whisky would be good,”

“Have a seat,” I beckoned toward the bed as I poured some shots. Joining her, I handed her one of the glasses and smiled.

“What’s with you?” she asked.

“Everybody else knows, it’s time you did. I lo —”

A sudden burst of acceleration launched me off the bed. I careened into my desk in an explosion of stationary and fell on the floor.

The door slid open and Lieutenant Jules burst in with a broad smile on his face. “Good news, Captain. They fixed it!”

‘Slap him again, or kill him?” I pondered from the floor.

The End


Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerShort Stories. Short Stories 2. and Short Stories 3 tabs.

Have a great day!

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