Wacko

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IV: Space

“Are you sure that thing is going to work?” Joaquin asks, pointing to my Far Star, so called in honor of Hober Mallow's own ship.

“Yeah. And it isn't as if I'll do a long journey. I just plan to reach the Moon and come back. It shouldn't be more than a week. If it works as it has to, of course.”

“Then, I hope to see you soon. If you can bring a moon rock with you, I would be grateful.”

“I'll do that. Thanks for everything, Joaquin,” I say, shaking his hand.

“Same to you, John.”

We go our separate ways, and I say goodbye to the rest of the group before getting on the Far Star, now ready for its first travel. My only companions are Pixy and Simpson, as well as some materials to do things on the way, as well as an astronaut suit – impressive what a bunch of autons can dowhen you motivate them – so that I can get out of the ship when I reach the Moon.

I should make sure to bring those rocks to Joaquin, of course.

I close the door, check that everything is in its right place again, and I take a seat before starting the ship. Soon, I feel how Earth¡s natural pull is replaced with the artificial gravity generated by my drive. Barely a few seconds of microgravity, before the interior of the ship is at Earth's normal gravity. The rest of the ship is not affected, so we can begin to move.

The only thing that shows that I am actually moving is the fact that the sensors are telling me so, and that I can see through the window that I am rising: inside, it feels as if we were not moving at all. Quite shocking, too, it is as if I was watching it on the cinema or something like that.

There goes another idea: next time, I bring a camera with me and film the entire travel. Then I put it on the Internet and start getting an extra salary. Or better yet, I register the ship as my patent and I start my own company... oh, no, wait, I cannot do that. Stupid contract. The Corps is keeping the Far Star. And the patent. And everything I have been making. Shit, they will take the autons, too. Though, given that they have their own consciousness, does that count as “property?”

“FIIIII!”

Wow, I am out of Earth... and head down. Have you ever felt that feeling of absolute panic when you are at a great height?

I do now. It is more than 500 kilometers. At least, that is what the altimeter says. And it's been only five minutes since lift-off.

Choke on that, Von Braun! My ship goes at a sustained velocity of 6,000 kilometers per hour, and I have not put the drive at full power. At this speed, I should be able of reaching the Moon in less than three days. And wait until I find the way to do hiperspatial travel, then I will reach Mars, Jupiter's moons, the end of the Solar System... glad that I do not carry a HAL 9000 here, it would go mad as soon as I pass by Jupiter or Saturn. I increase the speed and point the ship towards the Moon, adjusting the autopilot so that it will be turning as the Moon moves.

The next two days, I do a lot of things. I read books that I had left behind, I make a couple of devices – a laser pistol and some kind of drill that can be used to work on asteroids – I talk with Earth to tell them how I am progressing – they think it is hilarious when they put Space Oddity – and I even have the time to make a couple of recipes I had not tried yet.

It is precisely after I am done with a delicious Parmesan chicken dish – the small oven is magnificent – that the sensors warn me that I am fifteen minutes away from reaching the Moon, so I leave the dishes on the sink, where Pixy takes care of cleaning them before putting them to dry, and I sit behind the Far Star's wheel, reducing the speed and searching for a landing pad. After thinking it for a bit, I decide to go to the most appropiate point: the Tranquility Sea. After consulting the on-board computer, I direct the ship to the coordinates 0° 40′ 26.69″ N, 23° 28′ 22.69″ E: if I am going to be the first in this Moon, I might as well go to the appropiate place.

A few minutes later, my ship is on the Moon surface, and I start putting on my suit with Pixy's help. After isulating the exit room from the rest of the ship, I have Pixy pull out all the aire in here so that it is at the same atmospheric pressure as the Moon surface – zero – and finally open the door.

The effect of opening the way is quite shocking. Obviously, there is no one here. The only light around is the Sun's, and it is reflecting in all the Moon dust. And there are no stars in the firmament – let those that think humanity did not reach the Moon in 1969 come here and see this – so... I do not know, it is a bit sad. Even on Earth, after the “For A Clean Sky” movement, you could see the stars very easily. I guess that, if I were on the dark side, apart from getting real cold, I would be able to see them.

But I take advantage of the moment: after putting the League of Nations' flag, I pull out my camera and begin to take photos of everything I can find. As my suit is far lighter than the one the astronauts wore back in the 1960s, I can move more easily than them, but when I have to walk, I have to jump, and I cannot jump that far: given the difference of gravity and the lack of an atmosphere, my jumps are six to seven times as big as on Earth, and, of course, making a short jump is harder than a long one. But I manage.

I also start to pick rocks. Many rocks. Perhaps I will give some to the guys down there, and bring them back home: I doubt anyone has ever thought about the possibility of giving moonrocks as a family present. This, combined with the photographies, will make me triumph next Christmas.

I only spend a day here in the Moon. It is not as if I have anything else to do here, and, as great as this place is, I fear that it lacks things to attract people, so, after being the first person to sleep in the Moon (at least, in this universe) I start the Far Star and go back to Earth. I still have a few holiday weeks remaining, and I want to take advantage of them.

Will they let me take my things there?


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