Three Ships: A Short Tale of Space Exploration, Christmas, and Romance

I’m Gwendolyn Ward, former Chief Officer of the former Intergalactic Research Vessel DeGrasse Tyson, now Chief Officer 2nd in Command of the USS Invictus. I wrote about my adventures a few years ago when we ran into Capt. Timothy Leary, who wasn’t dead. But that is another story. A few years later I find myself having happy holidays, without much to complain about. (Click here to read about the Hollow Heads.)

Now back to what happened today.

I saw three ships a sailing in

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

I saw three ships come sailing in

On Christmas day in the morning.

 And what was in those ships all three,

On Christmas day, on Christmas day?

And what was in those ships all three,

On Christmas day in the morning?

“Who was on the ships?” I asked the man singing next to me.

“I’m not sure. I think it might have been Jesus and Mary, but it could have been anyone.”

“When was it written Boof?” Everyone knew Boof was an aficionado of all things 20th Century. 

“1820,” he said.

“Oh. I didn’t realize it was that old. I like the tune.”

“Me too.”

He hooked his little finger in mine then smiled at me with that famous dimple of his.

“Gwendolyn, have you been a good girl or a bad girl this year?”

“I got a brand spanking new research ship, so I guess I’ve been a very good girl.”

“Wanna be a bad girl?”

“Hmmmm.” Maybe I thought. Just maybe…

“I’ll play A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi. I know you’re an old fashioned girl at heart.”

“Hey, Boof, Gwen, wait up,” a voice called out. We turned to see it was Garland Hobart, reporter for Intergalactic Geographic. I immediate pulled my little finger away from Boof’s. 

Laurelleen Mendoza, his photographer, trotted next to him with her camera, gray hair blowing in the wind. She was pushing 70 but had this beautiful girlish vibe that just made me happy. 

“Wow. They said the lake was beautiful but I had no idea. This is simply amazing,” Laurelleen said, almost dancing in the soft green gray sand.

Boof Errikson, is the head of Scientific Research, on our new ship the Invictus. He’d had the misfortune of growing up in a pod, one step from being homeless. It was just Boof and his mom getting by as people to be pitied and sometimes scorned. Eventually she and a friend opened an antique shop specializing in 20thCentury music and furniture. Boof went on the college, then to space. 

Garland Holbright was a thing of beauty and wonder. There were no accidents about it. Seriously. His parents and a well paid team of genetics experts decided every feature down to his eye color and personality markers. Yes, he was a designer baby.

The prestigious East Coast Ivy League college he attended was full of wealthy designer kids just like him. The West Coast universities Boof and I attended tended to stay away from designer babies, but still had a healthy dose of nepotism and snob appeal. College admissions had always been a shit show but now days it had risen to new levels of stupidity and unfairness. I can say that because I was neither a rich designer baby or a pod person. I was just a normal middle class kid who worked her ass off to get into the school of her choice. 

Earlier that day, after breakfast, I’d been leaving the mess hall of the ship with Garland. We’d walked down together to the aviary. In the doorway Garland noticed someone had put up a sprig of mistletoe. He pulled me close and kissed me. Oh my goodness. Then I heard an annoying whiney voice. 

“Actually, mistletoe is a parasite that eventually kills off it’s host. The plant contains toxic amines, and eating its berries can cause vomiting and stomach pain.” There stood Carson Clinedale, a project coordinator hired to help with geological samples. If I had any idea he was so annoying I wouldn’t have hired him.

He then lunged forward. Boof had come up and slapped him on the back. “Actually Carson, people who say ACTUALLY and give condescending corrections and facts are usually celibate for their entire lives. If I were you, I’d stick to geology.” Then Boof winked at me and said I was needed by Captain Finch. So much for some morning fun.

Now here we were, the three of us, plus Laurelleen, on the shore of Lake Capicola, on the Charbunkel Continent, on the Planet Osteriformia, on the right side of the Milky Way. 

The three tiny moons formed think blue crescents in the sky. On the water three magnificent sailing ships raced along with sails of red and gold. 

As on Earth at this time, it was early winter on Osteriformia, and at the height of their holiday season.

As I was finding myself uncomfortably close to both Boof and Garland, I realized my life was like some out of control schlocky Christmas romance movie. You know the things that became popular in the the early 21st Century and continue to plague us every December, even when we’re in Space a zillion light years away from Earth.

The plot goes like this: there is the successful woman (me), second in command of a huge intergalactic space research vessel. Of course, she is single. Everyone assumes that isn’t a good thing. Why I don’t know.

Man #1 is perfect physically with a killer body, beautiful silky chestnut colored hair, and large shining brown eyes with impossibly long eye lashes. He is extremely smart and charming but can be a bit of a bore. He is from an extremely wealthy family.

Man #2 is anything but boring. This guy is smart, funny, and extremely annoying. He is almost physically perfect with thick blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, and even a dimple. He is from the wrong side of everything.

Both men peruse our successful heroine, who is just some woman with good organization and leadership skills. The woman’s boss and mentor/best friend is the gay captain of the ship. I can’t believe I’m actually writing that, but it is true. I’m not making this stuff up.

So they’re blazing across the universe in pursuit of god knows what, because in this movie it doesn’t matter. They’re making cookies for aliens, and the crew, and everyone is all happy, even that asshole Carson.

The question is: who does she pick? The perfect respectable luscious famous science reporter silver platter guy? Or the nearly perfect smart-ass, chief science officer sexy bad boy who makes her laugh? Did I mention that both of them are extremely annoying? They are. Both of them. 

On the other hand I wouldn’t mind either one of them in my bed Christmas morning wearing nothing but a Santa hat. Or any kind of hat for that matter.

Out on the lake fish, or something like a fish with fur and claws, jumped in a synchronized school. Other creatures, resembling tiny red and yellow birds, except with lips, flew through the air singing songs that reminded me of the raspy laughs of teenage boys. 

Down on the beach a ways, our Communications Officer Junior Potemkin was walking along with a local woman. Her pale lavender skin glowed as the sun set over the lake. Junior was the poster boy for introverts, so it surprised me he was talking to anyone at all, human or otherwise. Another Christmas romance? I doubt it, by hopefully it would be the gift of friendship.

As for me, I just have to shrug and see what happens. I say I’m not looking for romance, but once we leave the beautiful planets we visit, space can be a cold, lonely, dark place, and my proverbial ship hasn’t sailed yet.

Merry Christmas too all no matter where in the Universe you are, and to all a good night.

~ Gwen


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