The Space-Time Continuum

“2021”

by Sameer Saklani

 

They looked out of the glass and saw themselves approaching slowly, but in reality at speeds near thousands of miles per hour.

“Mission Control, we are approaching landing,” said Neeli.

A voice spoke back through an electronic box.

“Zike, prepare for landing,” instructed Neeli.

Zike pressed two red buttons and flipped a black lever up.  The shuttle began to slow and rumble.  They looked outside the glass:  a vast expanse of rocky, sedimentary gray, astonishing yet dull somehow, plastered before the blackest black unimaginable.

“Mission Control, preparing to land.”

The shuttle slowed to a hover and floated above the gray surface.  Then slowly it began to descend.  Neeli and Zike kept quiet and austere, waiting for landing.  Minutes passed and they felt the shuttle make contact with the surface.  Zike pressed another button and flipped another lever.  The shuttle began to lose its power, the rumbling subsided, and the lights dimmed.

“Mission Control, landing successful.”

A voices squawked back.

“Okay, get the pills,” Neeli told Zike.  Zike retrieved two white pills from a cabinet mounted on the wall.  Neeli and Zike both swallowed one.

“Mission Control, Space Adjustment pills taken.”

Then they just sat, bore waiting for the pills to take effect.  They were both dressed in gray jumpsuits, very light and thin, no spacesuits or helmets. Neeli was a tall dark man with a black beard and short black hair.  Zike was shorter and fatter, with soft cheeks and medium length brown hair.

Thirty minutes passed.

“MissionControl, proper time elapsed.  Bodies adjusted.”

Begin mission,” said the metal box.

“Mission Control, beginning mission,” said Neeli. “Jesus Christ, now turn that damn shit off, Zike.”

Zike pressed two buttons and the voice from the metal box shut off.

“And cut the damn audio and video off, too.  Those perverts probably watch and jack-off to this shit.”

Zike cut the audio and video.

“Alright, let’s get the hell out there.  Grab a couple bottles, Zike.”

Zike grabbed two fifths of whiskey.  Neeli pulled back the handle to the door hatch and it slowly opened upwards.  They stepped out.  Once again, it was nothing impressive; dusty, humid, the ground brittle and gray like old clay, and blackness, so much blackness.  It was nothing they hadn’t seen several times before.

Neeli and Zike walked south (if there were such a thing on the moon) a few hundred paces and settled on a spot much like the rest.  They could see over the horizon and into the inky well called The Universe.  They sat down and began sipping at the  whiskey.

“Can you believe they spend 200 billion dollars of the country’s money just so we can stare at this bland, subnormal shit?” said Neeli.

“I don’t know, I’ve stopped thinking about it,” replied Zike.

“Yeah.”

They kept sipping.

“This stuff tastes even better up here.”

“Yep.  A man can’t get more alone than this.”

“Suppose there are aliens up here?”

“Like hell.  There ain’t nothing but dust and nothing up here.”

“But say there were aliens.”

“Oh well.  If they’re weak, we become their kings.  If they’re strong, we become their servile bitches.”

There was silence.  Then Zike spoke.

“Say, if we do find aliens or water or anything up here, should we tell them down there?”

“Eh, fuck em’.  Let them burn in their poisonous farts.”

“It could mean the end of the human race.”

“Shit, now whose fault is that?”

Neeli and Zike looked forward, as if there hung some painting or picture screen.  But there was nothing.

“You think there’s a God, Neeli?”

“By the looks of things up here, I don’t see the point.”

“Boy, I really hope we settle up here first.  Not those damn Soviets or Chinese, or hell, even those damn Injuns.  Those bastards came from nowhere.”

“Who gives a shit?  What’s the difference between an American or a Commie or a Chink or Black or an Injun up here?  Let them fight their war and whoever is left will relocate up here, leaving that planet rotting and burning behind them.  And once they get up here, after colonization and stabilization, they’ll soon start to see the ugliness and the faults and beastliness in each other, yea, their own fucking kind.  And then, there’ll be more wars, wars between smaller subdivisions of the same aggregate, and eventually one group will have killed all the others.  And then…again…”

“Christ, Neeli, you’re drunk.”

“Not enough.  I’m out.  Go grab a couple more bottles.”

Zike ran back to the ship and brought back a half gallon of whiskey.

“This should last for a little.”  He handed the bottle to Neeli who took a big swig.

“Look, Zike, look down there.”

Neeli stared into the abyss.

“I don’t see a thing, Neeli.”

“I mean look.  Think about Earth.  Earth and all its little people.  Scampering around like, uh, I don’t know, rats or cockroaches or snails, y’know, just running around, working, fighting, fucking, yelling, sleeping, crying, eating, shitting, singing, dancing, drunk driving, y’know, all of that, worried about money or sex or movies or family, with their, uh, with their, assholes, assholes all tight and their hair white, thinking their shit means a goddamn thing to all this nothing up here.  Stupid.”

“Yeah.”

“Up here there is…uh, there is…”

“No more.”

“Yeah, there is no more.”

“Well, if none of that stuff is real, are we?  My god, Neeli, do WE exist!”

“Of course we exist.  I’m drunk, aren’t I?  Therefore I exist.”

They passed the whiskey back and forth, falling farther into drunkenness.

“Y’know, Zike, Sarah is down there on that little planet.”

“Your girlfriend?”

“Yeah.  She’s down there fucking that Jules, that fuckerr from her acting classes.  Or hell, maybe she’s fucking Chris, her ex-husband.  Or maybe it’s that young florist.  Or her therapist.  She’s fucking them all, Zike.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.  But shit, what does that matter up here?  I’ve got no woman up here.  And from this view, her tits and ass and legs aren’t so big.  She’s got nothing!  Her bread and butter up the ass of a blackhole!”

“Atta’ boy, Neeli.”

“Those dumb bastards, working their dead-end jobs…”

“Well, we’re working our jobs right now…”

“Hell no, Zike, this isn’t no job anymore, this is LIFE.”

“That’s right.  Which reminds me, these pills wear off in eight hours.  One of us is going to have to stay awake.”

“That’s fine.  I’ll do it.”

“Okay.”

“I can’t believe we pump billions into those brainiacs and they can only make this pill last eight hours.”

“Yeah, a shame.”

“So how many did you bring anyways?”

“A couple thousand.  They should last about a year.”

“And then?”

“Not sure.  Implode, explode, disappear, who knows?”

Neeli took a large gulp of whiskey as he heard this.

“How about the booze?”

“Plenty.  100 gallons.”

“Good.”

“And plenty food, too.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Say, Neeli, you think they’ll be mad when they realize we’re not coming back?”

“Yeah, so what?  Let em’ be mad.  A big ol’ A-bomb will drop on their heads soon enough, anyway.”

“You think they’ll send someone up here to look for us?”

“They’ll send someone up here, but not to look for us.”

Neeli reached down and scratched his crotch.

“Hey, my balls still itch up here, what’d ya’know?”

The two laughed.  Then abruptly stopped and sat quiet, seeming pensive and unsure, almost stoic, like walls given consciousness, contemplating fate and time.

“So what do we do here?” asked Zike.

“I don’t know; nothing, anything.  We’re free from all their bullshit and demand.  Demand, demand, demand, and drive and dreams and desire.  Bullshit.”

“So just sleep and drink?”

“What else do we need?”

“I don’t know, what if we get erections?”

“What the hell is giving you an erection? These rocks?”

“I mean, what if we miss women?”

“It’s not so bad if you’re let alone.  A lot of the chase is just our answer to the treachery we’re bound to.”

“I’m not gonna’ suck you off, Neeli…”

“I’ll give you the same answer for now.”

They were quiet.  Nothing happened.

“You think they’ll be mad, Neeli?”

“Yea, probably.  It’s a lot of money.”

“Say, Neeli, don’t be upset…”

“Yeah?”

“Let’s head back.”

Neeli sat there pondering, turning and examining his original scheme, weighing its pros and cons.

“Okay, Zike.  Let’s go.”

“Okay.  What about the data?”

“I don’t know, just forge it.”

“It could sacrifice the dolphin population…”

“So be it.”

The two stood and walked back to the shuttle. Inside, Zike pressed a few buttons and pulled a few levers.  The shuttle began to hum and the power slowly returned.  Then with the press of another button, the shuttle began to tremble and lift off.

“You’re not too drunk to drive, are you?” said Neeli.

“Oh, fuck off,” answered Zike.

“Mission Control, data gathered.  We are now making our return.”

The voice from the electric box had returned and answered.

The shuttle began to move away from the large, round rock as Neeli and Zike sat, not bothering to look back.

As they were making their descent, another shuttle came into view, flying upwards through the atmosphere, heading towards the moon.  It was the same shuttle model except painted on one side was a large red flag with a yellow sickle and hammer in the upper right corner.

“Neeli, look,” said Zike.

“Yeah, I see them.  Don’t worry, we’ll kill those damn Soviets soon enough,” said Neeli as the shuttle moved back towards Earth.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Sameer Saklani sat down the other day in an attempt to calculate whether writing had garnered him more money or more women.  He realized the answer was women; this meant that indirectly, writing had cost him more money than it had made him.  He can be contacted at ssaklani@mail.usf.edu.  Gentlemen, feel free to reimburse him for his loses.  Ladies, continue bankrupting him.

 

 

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