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Deep-space Delivery Man

I’ve got to get out of these clothes—fast.
In twenty seconds my space-pod is going to crash into Alpha-D-Zet, a small satellite orbiting the Fr8a planetoid. In sixteen seconds, the emergency escape options of this emergency escape pod are going to pop into place, trapping me in an air-tight, oxygen-infused bubble-wrap which will keep me frozen in my position, bobbing around like a balloon swaying at the end of a child’s string. I will be unable to do anything but breathe while wrapped in the bubble-wrap; my basic humanoid needs, such as food or water will be stripped to base nutrients and fed to me through the pores in my skin. Additionally, my excrement will be absorbed through the soft, porous material of the bubble-wrap and recycled into rich minerals which will eventually be used as emergency food supply if no one happens to find me in three days.
In sixteen seconds, if I can’t get my oil-soaked coveralls off and dispose of them, the pressure of the bubble-wrap will produce enough friction to combust the oil and set me on a slow, roasting fire around Alpha-D-Zet’s peaceful, crater-dotted gray surface.
As I struggle with the slick buttons and at the same time try to kick my dirty, chunky boots off, I flash back to a more peaceful, albeit personally tumultuous time in my life when I was just about to become a deep-space delivery man. I was fresh out of college – the best of the best. I could fly anything from a freighter to a commercial jet-liner better than most people could recite the alphabet, and what’s more I loved doing it. There’s nothing like the thrill of navigating deepspace – the shivers it gives you as you watch deep, inky black-matter and starbursts slip by, freckled with space junk which bounce happily off the metal hulk of your space craft. For some reason, though, no one seemed to find it conceivable that I wanted to be a deep-space delivery man.
“But it’s so dangerous, dear,” my ma had said in her wide-eyed, mouth-slacked way, as if she was still in the unfinished process of computing my words into a joke. “Maybe you should just get into accounting. Your cousin Collin is in accounting. He’s slightly happy. And more importantly, breathing.”
“Why? Why that?” my half-sister had said, mimicking Ma with moderate success. “All delivery men die alone. Do you want to die being roasted in your seat by a sun-burst? Do you want to remain floating in bubble-wrap forever around some wasted satellite, drinking your own s***?”
Of course, that was the situation I was facing now. I had no heart to laugh at the irony of the matter.
“Six seconds till emergency escape options are engaged,” said the cool voice of auto-tuned indifference, muffled slightly as I twisted in the small space of the pod and sat on the speaker while trying to get one leg out of my trouser leg before realizing that I still had my boot on. “Please take your seat, unfasten your seatbelt, and brace yourself for impact.”
Every pubescent boy wants to become a deep-space delivery man; they all admire the vaguely manly romantics of the job. Travelling alone to the farthest reaches of the universe, away from all civilization, exploring barbaric frontier. It wasn’t as much a glamorous job as everyone thought. But it was exciting. At least I have that, as I’m about to die like a marshmallow roaring up in flames.
“Three seconds, two, one.”
Unbelievably, my next thought is not complete agony as roaring flames lick my body, but a strange tickling sensation of zero gravity as I am shot out of my pod like a spit seed and come to a floating stop, bobbing above Alpha-D-Zet as I watch the remains of my pitiful pod go up in flames. I’m alive. Floating around indecently naked in barbarian deep-space, but alive, yes.
While I still am feeling the aftershocks of sheer bliss at being not dead or even crispy, Alpha-D-Zet’s slow orbit brings me about to see the bright, burning blue-on-green planetoid of Fr8a, a luminescent marble in the distance with a beauty that I hadn’t expected to find in the boondocks of the universe. There, in nothing but my starched white socks and racy red underwear, I watch the blue-green planet as it slowly fills my line of sight, transfixing me like a supernatural globe. And let me tell you, it was a beautiful sight.



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