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weekly humor and satire - g. xavier robillard
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X-Prize

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"Manned space travel's best hope is the private sector, not NASA."
- Burt Rutan, winner of the X Prize.

Bad weather here in Florida. The flight has been delayed six or seven times, but they tell me it's all systems go. I don't mind that I've burned through my vacation days, sitting here at the spaceport, hoping that the weather will clear. I've waited my whole life to travel to the moon. It's been quite expensive, but as I stand here, waiting for liftoff, I can see that it's all going to be worth it.

Once on board, I look around. The interior is a little dingy. This rocket must be one of the older models. In fact one of the television screens is dangling from a single bolt. It looks dangerous, but once we're in zero gravity, a moving monitor should be easy to avoid. I strap myself in.

The woman next to me is still yakking on her cellphone, even though the friendly overhead computer screen has advised that it's time to turn them off. I look around for the flight attendant, but then I remember that they're still on strike.

I pull out the passenger safety card, and nudge the woman next to me. She gets off the phone and looks cross.
"What?"
"The Buddy System? Remember? We're seat mates. Federal Safety Suggestions? So I'm your Buddy."
She rolls her eyes. "I'm an android. I don't need this right now." They're so hurtful sometimes. Just because they fly all the time, they act like it's no big deal.
"This your first flight?" she asks, her robotic voice softening.
"It is."
"Then I'm happy to be your Buddy. Have you read the passenger safety card?"
"Not yet."
"Let's review it. Here it says that space travel is very dangerous, and that even minor turbulence may cause death by explosion or asphyxiation, and Firestone Airlines is in no way liable for loss of life. Should there be any loss of pressure in the cabin, all is lost. Please feel free to take your remaining time before liftoff emailing an updated copy of your will to your attorney."

 

Wow, I always thought that it was a long trip to get to Australia. All the technology in the world, and the airlines can't make it to the Moon in less than three days. And they only show one movie, Shrek 36, on a constant loop, either because they figure that the film will stun passengers into sleep, or that the only people on board are androids, who are unusually enamored with the Shrek franchise. This time, I have my own headphones, so I save on the rental fee, but there is a language surcharge, so I don't watch.

"This is your pilot speaking," says a robot with a strong southern accent. "Our navigational systems seems to have snapped off during liftoff. We have no idea where the moon is."

It sounds like he's joking. I look out the window. We can see the Moon, right there, totally obvious.

"We'll be docking on Asteroid Z-190," he continues. "We're sorry for the inconvenience. Actually, since the government seized our runway here for Firestone's failure to pay back taxes, we'll have to crash land. Sorry about that. We'll make sure you get onto the Moon on the next available flight. Oxygen delivery will cease as soon as we land."

I look around. There's no oxygen? I swim through the zero gravity to speak with the captain, who gives a sympathetic :)

"It is the policy of this airline to provide our customers with supplemental oxygen only when the error was our responsibility. And this mishap was clearly an act outside of our control. A Firestone agent will be available should you have any questions."

We crash land close to the airport.

I take a deep breath, and run to the ticket counter. Not a single robot is working on asteroid time, it must be three in the morning. The self-serve Starbucks is open, but they are out of oxygen. My lungs searing, I sprint to a vending machine, and buy one of the few remaining oxygen packs. Ah, sweet relief. I look out the window and watch the rocket explode.

I return to the ticket counter and look to see if there are any Lunar shuttles before my oxygen runs out. All I see is the following sign:

Due lackluster consumer response, service to Asteroid Z-190 has been discontinued.
Firestone Airways will no longer fly to this location.
Please make alternate travel arrangements.

I enjoy what's left in my oxygen tank, and watch the baggage carousel turn around and around, but my black wheelie never appears. They lost my luggage.

 

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