A little nonsense while I’m skiing
‘Re-entry In 20 minutes. You ok, Rod?’
Rod Hovis stared at the bulkhead, hearing the beast beyond, imagining it clawing, oozing and, above all, growing. The distortion on the metal was intense. Soon either he’d have to release the pressure or physics would do it for him.
‘Rod, talk to us. What’s the status?’
He felt sure they guessed something was wrong. But he knew. He’d seen it. He forced himself to croak, ‘Fine.’
‘Looks like landing will be smooth. Karen wants to know what you’d like for breakfast.’
His mind immediately screamed, ‘Not toast,’ but even having the thought made him sick.
Simple experiments, they’d said. Help with food production was the selling message. Bastards. They had to have modelled what combining simple brewer’s yeast with GM bacteria might do when bombarded with irradiated photons in a weightless environment. If this was going to end world hunger, then he’d rather starve. This ‘beast’ couldn’t be released. God knows what it might do if it could feed on almost infinite oxygen.
He knew it was stupid but those last seconds, before he slammed the connecting doors would stay with him. It was like it was studying him, mimicking his movements. Like it had a mind. It was just an effing dough ball, but still…
He squared his shoulders. ‘Rod here. The monitor suggests solar winds. I’ll need manual for the re-entry.’
‘Looks good from here, but, sure.’ The voice sounded almost disinterested.
There would be one opportunity, changing the angle of entry, enough to create a fireball. Everyone would say, ‘Human error’ which sucked but still…
The explosion caused a blip on the monitors, before everything vaporised. But in the moment, captured forever on NASA’s monitors was the biggest loaf, beautifully toasted the world had ever seen.