Insert Chassis Albuquerque: Stories From Space - Earwax...!

Stories From Space - Earwax...!

Related imageSharpie Vin Diesel, handpicked from a pool of reality TV competitors by a worldwide TV audience to be our first ever astronaut. From our sponsors, Sharpie also won: A small, imported 2-door car, gym membership for a year and a free mobile phone contract for 24 months for any calls made between the hours of 11pm - 7am. Sharpie – according to his bio - was also highly skilled in: Picking up drunk women from bars he frequented, as well as being able to make French toast (this “skill” may have been extended to the women he picked up). The TV show was an overwhelming success. We drew a worldwide TV audience numbering in the gazillions - practically unheard of these days, apparently. Anyway, that’s what we had, an astronaut who could pick up women and was okay with toast.
It was a marketing sensation!
Look, our engineering ideas were rook solid.
But we were just a small country, maybe the same size as any former Russian East European state. We'd nothing. Electricity was generated mostly from aerobic equipment in gyms and health clubs feeding into the electricity grid. So a TV reality program offered exposure as well as finances to fund our elaborate designs.
Our accelerated space program had surprised the world.
We'd shown countries with already established space programs our grand plans. They’d been in awe – our ideas were really so incredibly superior America, Russia, China, Britain, India, every single one, had implemented whatever designs we'd allowed them in all their upcoming space programs. And while our ideas were incredibly advanced, our ideas were even bigger. Hell, bigger than the moon, we were heading for Mars…!
48 months of rigid astronaut training seemed like plenty but the TV show producers cut that back to three – weeks, I mean, all of which was to be broadcast 24 hours a day until launch. Officially, Sharpie only completed 10 days of official astronaut training. Most days he was hung-over, recovering in bed with whomever he’d picked up or, hung-over, burning French toast. But we weren't worried, we believed in our designs and the technology. And we had all that money now. Ironic, it hadn't been any of our designs that failed us, it was human error.
Launch day. As the engines throttled up and the countdown concluded, to our surprise, Astronaut Sharpie came over the radio. He’d prepared a speech. We could see him on the monitors, reading from a small, torn-off piece of paper. It was surprisingly impressive, actually: "I put no cage around you, no boundary. Nothing manmade can hold us - we are man, free to traverse here and beyond the beyond. Houston, we are a-go...!" Sharpie said as the space vehicle pushed away from the earth at thousands of kilometres per hour.
"Uh, correction, Astronaut Sharpie, Houston is in Texas? Nonetheless, Godspeed Astronaut Sharpie...!"
We all the heard the flight director, it even went out on TV: “Sharpie! You asshole motherfucker…!”
Halfway through launch Astronaut Sharpie radioed that he had a problem. He’d just cleared the earth. We checked the telemetry - everything seemed technically fine.
"What's your telemetry read, Astronaut Sharpie?"
"My what...?” Sharpie said.
We all the heard the flight director again: “Motherfucker…!”
“Confirm, please say again, Astronaut Sharpie…?” radio control said.
“Cerumen…!” Sharpie radioed frantically.
“Cerumen...?” the flight engineers had all said, perplexed. We weren’t sure what Sharpie was talking about.
“Cerumen in the fuel maybe?"
"Some kind of cerunem condensation?"
"A cerunem hydraulics problem?"
"Ah, Astronaut Sharpie - say again?"
"Earwax! I've a build-up of earwax in my left ear. Repeat, cerumen, earwax in the left ear, goddammit! Copy...?"
"Ah, copy that – ear wax discharge in left external auditory canal. We’re writing that down..."
"It's really bad, all these vibrations from the space vehicle… I have a fullness feeling and it's itching. I've got this goddamn helmet and gloves on, you know...”
A sudden and massive build-up of cerumen which had gone undetected. Caught off-guard, who’d have thought Sharpie would even know the technical term for earwax. A crowd gathered around the biometrics monitors monitoring Sharpie’s vital signs. His heartbeat and perspiration levels had increased dramatically.
Soon they were off the charts, Sharpie was clearly in distress. We could see him struggling in the monitors, repeatedly banging his gloved hands together either side of his helmet to try clear the earwax.
Suddenly the space vehicle veered off-course.
“Vehicle returning to earth, aborting mission," Sharpie crackled through the radio.
"Did that motherfucker just say just say his aborting mission? Ah, Astronaut Sharpie, this is the flight director - that's a negative, negative on returning to earth. Proceed with mission - maintain flight plan. Copy…?”
We watched Sharpie on the monitors, slapping both gloved hands against his helmet, violently.
“Astronaut Sharpie, this is Flight Control – copy…? Astronaut Sharpie, please respond - over…?”
“I can’t take it…!” he yelled, banging his helmet.
There he was, cerumen coming out of his ears and gesturing wildly at us on the monitors, all suited up moments before coming apart.
We’d watched the telemetry – as short as his training regime had been, incredibly Sharpie remembered to pitch the nose of the vehicle into the Emergency EVAC Position to safely eject back toward the earth. The last message received before he ejected: "No more of this messing around with Mars shit for me. Sharpie’s just stepping out for a second…!" Sharpie said and ejected.
“You motherfucker, Sharpie…!” the flight director yelled.
It had been a live broadcast to the world, of course.
Disappointingly, we lost the space vehicle, it carried on its trajectory toward Mars. Later we discovered why - Sharpie had smuggled on-board: A portable gas cooker, a frying pan, a carton of eggs and milk to make French Toast. He really was a dumb motherfucker - with its oxygen-rich environment, at the first ignition he would’ve blown the space vehicle apart. Anyhow, stupidly he’d secreted these items in the NAV console and they’d somehow managed to fuck up any hope of Flight Control returning the vehicle remotely. It was irrecoverable.
While we never recovered the space programme, Sharpie had later sold photos of his emergency evac and decent to earth using a little instant camera also smuggled on-board. He’d made millions of dollars while ruining our only chance. As the flight director had said: “Sharpie, that motherfucker…!”