“So... how long you been in the colonial marines?” I asked crewman... aw snap, what was that guy’s name?
“Couple of years.” Double-checking his heading, he turned over to face me. “I used to work for a bagging company, but once the bucket industry crushed us, I realized I had no other skills, so...”
Man, this guy was dumb! “And now you’re in the remedial marines?”
He patted his stomach thoughtfully. “Well, I couldn’t get past the physical requirements, so they-”
“Oh my God, we’re about to hit the space station!”
“Ahhh!” He snapped his head back, looking frantically for a looming chunk of titanium and rubber bands while fondling the control display with his pudgy remedial fingers.
“Oh man, I totally got you,” I chuckled. “That’s what you get for not paying attention to the road. Another car could’ve hit us while you were conversating.”
“We’re in orbit!”
“Yeah, so you know the road rage is gonna be worse ’cause of the low oxygen.”
After he settled down and the turbulence leveled off, I decided to take another crack at civilizing the fool. But before I could open my mouth, I spied with my evil eye a syringe poking out from his back pocket. It was full (probably with liquid).
“No wonder you can’t get past those ‘requirements,’” I yelled, picking up the syringe and waving it in his face. “You on the moon rocks?! Screwloose? Got a belly o’ jelly?”
“That’s my insulin!”
A likely story! I thought, twisting the needle with my forefingers. “And why should I believe you? You never mentioned having the Diabetes before.”
“Well, I have it.”
Suddenly it was all coming into focus; the huge stomach, the diabetic salami on rye that he’d packed for lunch (what? I was hungry), the copy of Diabetics Fancy he had been reading when I first met him... looking into his eyes, I knew that he was telling me the Dog’s honest truth: the man was a diabetic.
“What’s your name, son?” I choked.
“I don’t negotiate.”
“With who? I’m station personnel.”
“With anyone,” I spat, shoving the officer. “Now let me into the launch tubes on deck 12.”
“It seems a little suspicious, you know. You just got here, now you want to leave...” he stroked his goatee and squinted like a madman. “It’s almost as if you’ve sabotaged the station somehow.” Two guards, as if on cue (and they probably were on cue. Hacknorian society is notoriously choreographed) stepped out from behind the nearest bulkhead. Sweet crawdad of Baghdad!
“Look... I wasn’t supposed to be here!” I shouted with a mock rage. I’m a really good actor, and it shows. “I was scheduled to go to... you know, that city on Hacknor!”
“Yeah! But my pilot, Daniel Carpenter, insisted we come here first,” I said, scratching my arm. “Big guy, about 350 pounds. He had a syringe on him, too. And a bottle.”
“Was it full of liquid?”
“I think so. He also said something about working for some... organization...”
“The anarchist group, Ch’erin fo?” The guards glanced at each other.
I nodded. “Yeah, he said something about...”
“The Minister of Mining?”
“Yeah. Can I go to the launch-”
Before I could finish, the guards shoved me to the wall as they ran screaming down the hall (not physically screaming, but their moods said it all). I dusted myself off and opened the Jefferies Tube hatch. Reginald, you genius!
Why I called myself Reginald just then, I suppose I’ll never know.
They call this an asteroid belt?
I stared out over the rim of the moon, looking in vain for a single asteroid. I’ve been bamboozled!
“Computer, where are the asteroids?”
My racing pod’s inboard vocal chords chimed. “The Hacknor Belt consists of 2×104 km3 matter, spread out sporadically across an spheric area several tens of millions of km3.”
“Wow!” I slapped my face and looked directly at the camera. “So in real life, an asteroid belt isn’t completely full of space rocks that constantly crash into each other?”
The computer beeped. “Affirmative. The media often depicts asteroid belts as being so densely populated that they are unnavigable. But this is only true of proto-planets and planetary rings.”
“Hot possum of Belgium!” I slapped the other side of my face. “Okay. So we’re past the moon... let’s follow the slalom course through those buoys...”
Leaning back, I plugged my flash drive into the pod’s front USB port. Now for a little web surfing... bless you, Portable Firefox!
“Hey, Jon, how’s the wife ampersand kids?”
“Fine...” The gladiator stumbled around the crash site, using his mighty boot to put out some of the smaller flames. “Nice crater.”
I scratched my arm furiously. “There was this bee in the cockpit. It almost stung me, and you can’t prove otherwise. Kind of weird how the bee just appeared out of nowhere,” I added. “Almost like someone was sabotaging me.”
“Really...” Jon said slowly, leering at Henchy, who was just sort of standing there. The henchman shrugged as if to say “I have no idea what’s going on, and I find eye contact threatening. Dr. Polaris rules.”
“Maybe that Ch’erin fo had something to do with it,” a nearby firefighter added, spraying the tarmac with what looked like silly string. It wasn’t putting out the fire, but it sure looked nice. “They just had an assassination attempt on Space Station Alpha.”
“I heard about that!” Henchy exclaimed, trying to deflect attention from the fact that people thought he sabotaged my pod. The cad. “Didn’t three security guards wail on some unarmed diabetic, dental for all?”
“Diabetics have the strength of ten hulks,” I stated adamantly. “Because artificial insulin contains over a thousand millibars of gamma rays per microgram.”
“WOW!” Jon, Henchy, and the firefighter screamed, slapping their faces simultaneously.