Burning Question #30: Howling at the Moon

We’re down to #30 of 50 Burning Questions. Wow. Today we have yet another profound science based question.

AND you know what time of year it is. You KNOW.

It is almost OCTOBER and that means HALLOWEEN!!!!! And that means a lot of questions and posts about Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, Zombies, and things that go bump in the night.

Moon Rise Walk, Orangevale, CA

Full moon at the end of my street. Do you think there might be Werewolves up there?

Which brings us to the night sky, space travel, and Werewolves.

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She blinded me with science

I am not basing any of this on old outdated yore of old. This is all new science based and fact based information. But the research is still in progress so you have to come to your own conclusions.

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Look closely at everything.

It is a fact that 12 (twelve) men have walked on the moon. You’d think that it would have been more by now, but unfortunately it is only twelve. But has anyone else been up there? Dogs? Not yet, but wouldn’t that be awesome.

moon babies

This photo is so cute I can hardly stand it.

However in previous posts I have proven that there have been cats and other life on Mars. Look it up (Click here for one post about it. And click here for Gassy Planets.)

Cat on Mars

We all know there are cats on Mars.

But back to the moon… and space travel…and Werewolves.

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Werewolves are smart. I know that for a fact. The average Werewolf is well educated, well dressed, and even though they can be assholes at times they’re not all that bad. OK, not usually.

So imagine a someone, who is also a Werewolf signing up NASA or another space program. Imagine a Werewolf on the Moon. I know this is getting long so I’ll get to the question. During a full Moon a Werewolf on Earth transforms, but what about a Werewolf on the Moon? Think about it.

hairy chest guy

I’m not Juliette’s husband or a hairy Werewolf. I’m another Vampire guy with a hairy chest and a great set of wheels. Let me drive you all night baby.

 

Burning Question #30: If a Werewolf is on the Moon will it “transform” when there is a Full Earth?

 

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What do you think? What do you think about Werewolves? Are you a Werewolf? Are you an astronaut? A test pilot? A STEM teacher? Do you have a joke you want to share?  Go ahead and air your stuff in the comment section below.

In the meantime keep watching the night sky, and keep that sense of wonder.

Thank you to my friend Adelia for suggesting this question.

I’ll see you next Saturday for Burning Question #31. Feel free to make suggestions because I have NOTHING right now.

For all of the Burning Questions so far CLICK here.

Ahhhhhhhhh, oooooooooooh

xoxox

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The following might scare you really bad. Just a warning.

 

 

Friday the 13th: A Cosmic Adventure

Friday the 13th: A Cosmic Adventure

This is a Friday the 13th post. Yes, I’ve been posting this for over 7 years with minor changes/updates. Have fun and kiss a black cat – and a Vampire if you’re so lucky.

Universe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wake with a cool hand stroking my hair. He kisses my neck and then covers my mouth with his. I pull the handsome man beside me in my bed closer. “You’re naked.”

He smiles. “I know.” And we both know the kids won’t be up for at least another 45 minutes.

Friday the 13th isn’t all that unlucky after all.

I was thinking about our conversations last night with the kids.

Voyager 1 has left the solar system but the signal is slow getting back to us. Against all odds we’re still hearing from our little embassadors in space.

My dad got his first telescope in the late 1850’s and we’ve been watching the night skies with close-up wonder ever since. There is something about being a small dot in a large universe that brings on such a sense of awe and wonder that can’t be explained away by reason or logic. And it is great fun! FUN.

And the speculation continues on what is out there, if anything. I’ve always thought it would be very sad indeed if we were the only planet with intelligent life. I’d like to think there would be more advanced places where every single day didn’t seem like Friday the 13th and ignorance wasn’t embraced like a cult like religion.

So now we just wait for someone from another planet to find the Voyager. I’m hoping it will be sooner or later. I can imagine one of them saying “Hey, they have Chuck Barry too!” Or maybe, “How’s they get Chuck Barry songs? Did they find our satellite?” How cool would that be. And don’t say it couldn’t be because we have so much to learn – there is so much we don’t know about our neighborhood and the universe we live in.

There was a long discussion about space with my husband and kids. That is one thing the Voyager has done – made people think and talk about stuff. Space, the universe, our roles in it, the idea that someone else is out there… good stuff.

I have to say there is nothing sexier than a man who spends a couple of hours talking with his kids about stuff like space and life and imagination and wonder – or anything.

Finding real life in Space, life we could communicate with would be literally earth shattering, or more human shattering.

I’ve imagined what would happen if the general population knew Vampires and Werewolves were real. Just imagine if someone from another planet dropped by for a visit. It is mind-boggling. It is exciting beyond belief.

Then one of the kids brought up the proposed Mars trip. A trip was proposed a few years ago in which the volunteers for the Mars trip would never return to Earth. That brings up all kinds of questions, including birth control, chocolate, boredom, lack of beach time, museums, and cats. Dogs too. I can’t imagine leaving cats and dogs behind forever.

That would be difficult to leave our home forever. There is an attachment we have that tugs us and keeps us here, like an emotional gravity.

We can’t breathe the little atmosphere on Mars. It is colder than cold. It is a harsh planet, but then again so is ours – thanks to humans.

But imagine going to live in Space and freely travel to other planets. How cool is that? It is the stuff of dreams – the ultimate dream. The dreams the cumulate in the reality of great science fiction books and films.

We talked about Vampires in space. That might be a logistical nightmare considering our unique dietary needs. It certainly would be a nightmare for our fellow space travelers if we were along. HA HA HA. That could be interesting.

Is there life on Mars? You can Count on it!

Is there life on Mars? You can Count on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to keep our dreams and work on making them a reality. Dreams of home and dreams of places far away in space.

After the kids left for school my husband Teddy said “I sometimes feel as if I’m an alien on my own planet.”

“You’re completely normal, for a Vampire. That’s why I fell in love with you.”

“There is nothing normal about us my love.”

Well, I thought, nothing is normal except our kids, thank goodness, but they’re our kind of normal which isn’t a bad thing.

Some random thoughts on Friday the 13th:

  • It is Friday the 13th of September, 2013. 9-13-13 an odd string of numbers. This blog is an odd bit of postings. Something to think about.
  • Hold out your hand and the palm reader will tell you to kiss a black cat, fall in love with a mysterious Vampire and dream of your heart’s desire tonight with 13 wishes and 13 candles blazing on the mantle and 13 kisses.
  • There is no bad luck – only good luck missed.
  • Imagine a literary cat with 13 toes and 13 lives and 13 stories to tell.
  • Yesterday was the 12th, tomorrow is the 14th, today is an odd day indeed.
  • Let us ponder the unlucky. A Werewolf with fleas. A Vampire without passion. A Ghost in an empty house. A teenager without friends. But it is Friday so the Werewolf takes a flea bath and goes on an art show. The Vampire tastes the warm blood of a passionate human. A ghost gets a house full of children. A teen meets kids who think he is really cool.

 

Favorite movies (of mine) about meeting someone from another planet:

Then anything by H.G. Wells, Issac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jewels Vern, and Robert Heinlein. And of course Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat (because it is Friday the 13th) and any of the Oz books (books not the movies – I love the movie but humor me and read the books – the ones after the first one.)

This is just a short list (since I have only spent about 20 minutes writing this post and haven’t thought it out too much). Feel free to share your favorites!

Happy Friday the 13th! Reach for the Stars! And don’t forget, even if you have to force them, talk with your kids! It’s fun – and FREE!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Proof of Life on Mars!

Proof of Life on Mars!

Burning Question #2

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I want answers.

I have questions for the ages.

These questions are important.

Today I will ask the SECOND of 50 BURNING QUESTIONS.

YOU will provide the answer. YES YOU. I’ve got a poll below. Don’t just say you like this post. Answer the poll question.

Please comment as well if you want. I encourage it.

Unknown

Here today, Gorn tomorrow.

BURNING QUESTION #2

 

Which is it? Star Wars or Star Trek? 

You can base this on anything you want. Is it the hotness level of Chris Pine vs Harrison Ford? Tribbles vs Ewoks? Is it the never ending television series or movies? Seriously I love this stuff but only the good stuff. Both have a lot of crappy movies and TV associated with them. Both have been overdone to death. Both are like car wrecks – you don’t want to look but you can’t take your eyes off of it.

You have to admit, that despite the special effects and science fiction settings, both stories are stories of the close bonds of friendship and loyalty.

YOU KNEW this would be one of the questions. I’m getting it out of the way early. 

 

All of that said, Star Wars and Star Trek have narratives of friendship, loyalty, hot guys, and the thrill of discovery that have become embedded into our culture. They are our campfire stories. They are our legends. They spark the emotions and the imagination.

So what do you think? Maybe you don’t. Just do the poll.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

1ah1p3

Just because everything is random.

More Science Fiction and Space Opera…

YES, you need to read STRANGE ADVENTURES IN A DEVIANT UNIVERSE and I will send you a FREE POSTER of this amazing cover by Jason Kemp. Click here for more information.

WPAD SciFi

 

News From Outer Space

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

Now available on Amazon for Download

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Coming soon… Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe – WPAD Science Fiction.

Also NOW AVAILABLE from WPaD…

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We are Writers, Poets and Deviants, AKA WPaD.

We are an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research.

We meet on the internet to share ideas and challenge ourselves to write in different genres. The stories and poetry we compose are compiled into books, which are sold to help raise funds in support of group members who live with MS.

To date, WPaD has published eight books, with a ninth already in progress.

Books by WPaD:

Deviant Universe (science fiction ~ published in 2017)
Creepies 2 (horror ~ published in 2015)
Goin’ Extinct (apocalyptic ~ published in 2014)

Tinsel Tales (holiday ~ published in 2013)
Dragons and Dreams (fantasy ~ published in 2013)
Passion’s Prisms (romance ~ published in 2013)
Creepies (horror ~ published in 2012)
Nocturnal Desires (erotica ~ published in 2012)

pepper2017

#NanoPoblano, #ScienceFiction, #WPaD

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

Why yes, this is exactly what I wear when I pick the kids up from school.

Why yes, this is exactly what I wear when I pick the kids up from school.

I first published this post in 2013. My children are now older, but Uncle Max still has the same effect on, well, just read the post. It is just in time for the start of school. For more about Max and his friends do a search. You’ll find a lot about him, including the most recent story “Lighthouse”. 

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

I was taking Clara to school this morning and traffic was backup up for about a mile and there was no place to go. All the side streets were backed up with people trying to get out of the backup.

We speculated on the cause of the backup. I assumed it was an accident. Clara looked over and saw one of her teachers in the traffic with us. And much to her shock he was smoking. She said three of her teachers smoked.

I guess I could have acted shocked but let’s be real. I bet he was having one of his two cigarettes of the day. The first is on the way to school to take the edge off and calm his nerves before he faces two hundred students over a course of six periods. The second is after school to take off the edge and face whatever is at home. My husband is convinced that all high school teachers must drink a lot too.

After a conversation about smoking various tobacco products and other things we saw the blinking red lights up ahead. The traffic light was out. Ugh. Kids and teachers were going to be late. A 10 minute drive to school took about 35 minutes. I found out later that the faulty light was no excuse and a lot of kids were marked down as tardy. That is just plain stupid in my opinion but I don’t make the school rules.

I dropped Clara off and made it to my morning conference call but a few hours, mid-morning, I was back at school. They’d call to tell me that Garrett had almost passed out due to his sunlight sensitivity issues. This happens two or three times a year. I can lecture him forever on this but he still doesn’t always use precautions. The school wanted to send him to the hospital due to his cold skin and low heartbeat, not to mention a nasty looking rash, but I always take him home.

Anyway, he was fine, poor baby. But, my brother Max is still hanging out at my house until Friday, so I brought him with me to pick up Garrett’s car.

As Max and I walked into the school office I could hear the hush of female voices. Vampire men have that effect. Max smiled (minus fangs) then put on a serious look. I wanted to roll my eyes but was worried about my own young Vampire man, my seventeen year old Garrett.

Knees were going weak…not mine or Garrett’s, but those of the women in the school office. I had to get my son, and my brother out of there.

About four hours later school was out so I sent Max back up to school to get Clara.

Did my brother wait at the curb in the car like everyone else there to pick up kids? Of course not. He had to get out of the car and wait. The mothers at the school would never be the same. A tall man dressed in jeans and a tight black tee-shirt and dark glasses, cold to the touch but so smoking hot that it would take weeks for them to cool down.

Fourteen year old Clara told me all about it when they got home. She found it both amusing and annoying.

Clara said school was stupid as usual but admitted that science was good. They learned about how many planets might be able to support life. This was something all the kids seemed interested in, which is good since according to my daughter most of the kids don’t seem interested in anything during school.

For about twenty minutes she told us about the planets and theories and speculations about life. She talked of telescopes and exploration and the makeup of planets. It is good to hear the passion that is passed from teacher to student and then on to others.

Then the subject of Pluto came up again. Most kids are still upset that it is not a planet anymore (it even has moons.)

One of the reasons Pluto isn’t a planet is because it has an irregular orbit. But so does Uranus. (Click here for more on thoughts about Pluto)

Clara said that nobody even mentioned Uranus today but the boys in the class still had to snort and laugh about it. Yes, Uranus is a large gassy planet. Uranus has an irregular orbit. Uranus is huge. Pretty soon Clara and I were both laughing. Even Max had to laugh. I mean, you have to laugh.

Garrett was still asleep but the rash was gone. His friends Randy and Ione stopped by to see how he was doing and sat on the edge of his bed in the dark quietly talking with him. They’ve gone through this too, the sun sickness. We all have.

So that’s it… just musings on my day and a little bit of fun to take the edge off.

I’m still thinking about Max waiting on the curb. Oh my goodness.

And don’t forget to check out the night sky. The past few nights Venus has been HUGE and super bright and beautiful!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Short Story: Hollow Heads

Hollow Heads

A Science Fiction Story

 

Sure we all volunteered with a capitol V but we didn’t know we’d be stuck a billion miles from home with a bunch of assholes.

Our plan was to stop at Planet 2387 before we made communication with our target planet. 2387 is an uninhabited wasteland. There might have been the rudiments of life there at one time but that ship had come and gone.

So we land at what was left of the Emile Hanson Memorial Outpost, otherwise known as Hanson’s Hole. I looked up Hanson’s name before we left home. He’d been the captain of the third Mars mission. You know, the one whose head exploded when he ran into a couple of guys from Europa, but that was a long time ago. That was almost three hundred years ago, long before I was born.

On the wall of the main building of Hanson’s Hole the words, “Welcome to Hell” were scrawled in what looked like blood.

Junior Potemkin, the communications officer, if you could call him that, started to hyperventilate. I slapped him in the back and told him to stop it. Captain John Finch our leader, rolled his eyes, and told us start testing for signs of life. I called my lead science officer and went exploring.

We’d only heard of this place. Nobody was sure even who’d been here in the past, or exactly what their mission was. We were looking at a ghost. And while the rest of the crew stood shaking in their gravity boots I started to explore. I didn’t travel twenty light years away from home to pee my pants over some extraterrestrial graffiti.

I’ll tell you, when I signed up for this gig, last minute of course, I found myself with the lamest group of space travelers ever assembled. Sure they were all smart and looked good on paper. Everyone had advanced degrees and shit loads of experience. But the experience was in the lab and on paper. Nobody had field experience or people experience aside from the Captain or me.

Potemkin was an expert in written communications but couldn’t carry on a conversation if his life depended on it. Our lead engineer Thomas K. Morgan was one of those insidious geeks who corrected everyone on every single word they said. Morgan’s favorite line in any conversation was, “actually” fill in the blank with his expert opinion, which was usually bullshit or worthless trivia. After we were out of the solar system Captain Finch told Morgan that he’d throw him out into space without a suit if he didn’t cut it out.

The rest of the group included a guy called Boof who thought he was channeling Flash Gordon, an antisocial hermit of a physicist who asked to be called X, and a pair of identical twins I called Satan’s Daughters. The twins, Vera and Meera, were sneaky little shits who talked at the same time and were never seen away from each other. They were brought on as some sort of geology experts, you know, dirt and rocks as they liked to remind everyone as they cackled like witches as if that was funny. They were dirt and rocks as far as I was concerned. The rest of the crew was bland, mean spirited, and aside from the Captain had no imagination what so ever.

So I’m looking at the writing on the wall and wondering what in the world, and who in the world had written it. I felt someone rub my shoulder and looked over to see Boof standing there expecting me to be Dale Arden to his Flash Gordon. Give me a break. He looks good but no. Absolutely no.

“Boof,” I said looking up at the leafy blue green canopy of plants (I assume they were maybe once plants) around the building. “Let’s take a look inside.”

He gave me a great big blinding white smile and knocked the door open with his foot. Boof wasn’t carrying a ray gun, but it wasn’t because we’re a couple of scientists with seven degrees between the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like scientists or people with degrees can’t be badass. We just didn’t have any weapons with us.

The interior was dark. Not like no lights, because there was a skylight, but because obviously the interior decorator of this forgotten outpost either had a stack of 1980’s Architectural Digest Magazines handy for inspiration, or he was into all things Gothic.

“Looks like vampires live here,” said Boof.

I gave an uncomfortable laugh and tried to be serious, that is until the music started to play. I couldn’t figure out where the music was coming from. The sound was sort of like it was coming out of a metal tunnel. A man was singing in sort of a strange high voice, but it sounded kind of nice.

 

You’re just a little bit of sunshine when it’s raining,

You’re just a little bit of gladness when I’m blue,

You’re just a little bit of love light that keeps shining,

And when it’s cloudy, you’re a silver lining.

 

“Radio Franks. You’re Just A Little Bit of Everything I Love,” said Boof.

I looked straight ahead at a slowly moving shadow. “How do you know that Boof?”

“I like early 20th Century music,” he answered, his eyes also on the shadow.

“Sing me something from the late 21st Century. You know the one, about the alien romance, ruby skin.”

Boof started to sing quietly in a surprisingly beautiful tenor.

 

Your DNA plays around,

Like a silken ghost,

Worlds apart are we.

 

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

 

Ruby skin, emerald eyes,

Heaven between

Hot alien thighs.

 

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

 

“I hate that song,” I said taking a slow step forward. “You changed the lyrics.”

“Yes, I did change the lyrics, and yes I hate it too. Do you sing?”

“Only in the shower.”

“Can I join you?”

“Only in your dreams.”

“Let’s sleep then, shall we,” Boof said in almost a whisper as we slowly walked towards the shadow.

 

The shadow moved, in what looked like the shape of a human hand, then stupidity happened. A tremendous scraping sound, sent us turning backwards to see Garland Holbright, one the Earth’s most famous journalists, come along to document our journey for the ages. Every living Earthling knew who the man was, and Garland never let us forget.

Garland had opened the door in the wrong direction, throwing it off of it’s tracks.

“Find anything yet?” Garland called out loudly as he propped the door up against a wall.

The shadow vanished.

“God Damn you Holbright. You’re such an asshole,” said Boof, as I grabbed him by his jacket and held him back.

Garland Holbright was what we (not me, everyone else) called a Frank, short for Frankenstein. He was one of those kids who’s parents had custom ordered him from a cocktail of perfect DNA so he’d be brilliant and exceptionally good looking. Sure his IQ was off the charts and he was good at taking tests. Sure on a scale of one to ten in looks Garland was a seventeen, but where he excelled in trivia and Prince Charming handsomeness he lacked in creativity and personality. The guy was an insufferable bore with an ego the size of Jupiter.

Sure we’d all had genetic modifications for long term space travel. Our respiratory systems, muscular growth, and bone density had all been tweaked. A few of us, including me, had a few personal tweaks as well. My eyes are now a little brighter shade of hazel, and my hair is finally grows model perfect. That said, I’d like to think that you always get better babies with natural random DNA selection.

Boof and Garland had gotten into it the night before. Garland had convinced a friend to hack into the personnel logs and found out that Boof was created by a couple of teenagers one hot summer night in the back seat of a self driving solar convertible.

“Silence,” I said in one of those loud mom-like whispers. “Both of you. Garland, we are not alone.”

Garland formed an O with his mouth in surprise. I knew the guy was deathly afraid of aliens. Go figure. He goes on a space mission but he is afraid of anything that isn’t human, or maybe a dog.

While I was getting ready to rip Garland a new one Boof grabbed my arm.

“Timothy Leary is not dead,” he said right in my ear, so close I could feel his hot breath. I shook my head to get him away from me.

I wondered why Boof was making a reference to the 20th Century Philosopher. Thank goodness he didn’t start singing that song. What was that group? Moody Crew? No, I think it was Moody Blues. I’d been spending way too much time with Boof. I swore between Boof and Garland I felt like my head was going to explode.

Then I turned around and there before us stood Pilot Tim Leary from the Space Explorer 23 Dog Star Mission. According to records, and Wikipedia, he’d died years ago, before I was even born. When I was a kid he was one of my idols.

Leary held out his arms in a welcoming gesture and with a wide grin said, “Welcome to Hanson’s Hole!”

“Captain Leary?” I asked, stepping forward to introduce my team and myself. “Chief Officer Gwendolyn Ward of the Research Ship the DeGrasse Tyson. These gentlemen are Science Specialist First Class Boof Errikson, and Garland Holbright, a journalist for International Geographic.

“An award winning journalist,” said Garland holding out his hand to Leary.

I kicked Boof in the ankle to prevent him from doing anything stupid. I let Garland have his bit of ego masturbation before I found out what was going on with Leary.

Leary took me by the arm as he walked and talked me into a much larger room that resembled an intergalactic art museum with comfortable seating. “I see your ship was named after the 48th President of the United States. A good omen there. My ship was called “The Dog Star.” I like dogs and all, I have a couple around here somewhere, but, I’ll tell you, it was a dog of a ship. Holy space shit, that thing was as bad as 2213 GM Sasquatch. Remember those? Do you like to be called Gwendolyn or Gwen?”

“Gwendolyn please. You’re alive.”

“Yes, very much so,” he said with a dashing smile as he patted my arm.

“But your body was found. DNA matched yours. There was no mistake. There is a huge memorial in Washington D.C.”

“And I’m honored at the thought, but obviously I’m still alive. I am indeed Commander Timothy Leary of the Dog Star.”

“But…” I started

“Do you know much about clones Gwen, Gentlemen?”

“Holbrook is a clone,” said Boof.

“I am not a clone,” said Garland.

“Gentlemen…” I hissed at them.

“You’re a freak Holbrook,” said Boof.

Garland threw his shoulders back. “You’re nothing but degenerate pod shelter trash.”

I’d had enough. “Boof, Garland, NOW.” I turned back to our host, “Captain Leary, the time line wouldn’t make sense. All of your bodies were found and brought back to earth. How do you explain that?”

Leary smiled again. “None of us wanted to go back so we cloned ourselves.”

“If you cloned yourselves, wait, your bodies were found a month after you landed here. It would have taken at least twelve years to have a fully grown human body.”

Leary motioned to the plush red chairs in the room. “Sit and make yourselves comfortable. I’ll tell you all about it.” We sat, and Leary told us an extraordinary story. “Once we had the Time Machine it seemed like we could steal anything we needed. Where do you think all of this art came from? Anyway, we stole an advanced cloning lab from the Dingus V Planet Chain. Nobody there has had fertile sex in centuries. They can’t, so they clone. Sad story, but shit happens.

Listen, none of us wanted to go back to our mission or Earth. We also didn’t want anyone looking for us. With the technology from Dingus V we were able to clone fully formed human bodies in thirty-six Earth hours. Thirty-six fucking hours. Unheard of. We programmed our clones to be without working brains. We called them the hollow heads. Once our clones were grown we smashed their empty heads in and called it a day. No brains, no souls, just lab grown flesh.”

“Wait,” said Garland. “You had a time machine?”

Leary smiled and shook his head in a definite yes. “I knew you’d ask. It is an amazing machine that jumps both time and space.”

“Space portal travel I can believe, but Time Travel is illegal universally, said Garland.

“That doesn’t mean it I can’t do it. I went forward because I don’t like the people I was with. I’m only here at Hanson’s Hole because I needed an additional respite from, well, everything. What are you doing here? Space Jumping I assume, but what is your mission. Nobody stops at Hanson’s Hole.”

I explained our mission as Leary listened intently.

Holbrook held up a finger and gave an artificially inquisitive look. “Why does it say Welcome to Hell in blood on the door of the compound?”

Leary shrugged. “I have no idea. It was there when I got here a few weeks ago. I just haven’t had the time or the paint to fix it.”

After more discussions about Leary’s adventures we returned to our own ship. I knew exactly what Leary was talking about when he said he was tired of annoying people.

Vera and Meera, the evil twins, came giggling and snorting into my office.

I motioned for them to sit. They both sat down and crossed their bony legs in unison. “Do you have the updated geology reports?”

Vera was the first to respond. “The soil acidity has doubled from the last time measurements were taken fifty years ago.”

“Fifty years ago,” said Meera.

Vera continued. “We also detected new volcanic activity. Are you having sex with Boof?”

Meera then spoke again, right on the tail of her sister. “Are you having sex with Boof? Was it good? Positively volcanic?”

“Volcanic. We know you are,” said Vera.

Meera started to laugh, a high pitched crow like cackle, then she started to snort. Then Vera joined in.

“Insubordination is not to be tolerated on this ship. If you ladies continue your immature behavior I will make sure you’re dropped off at the next supply station. You will receive no letters of recommendation, and I guarantee you will have to find your own way home, at your own expense. Capiche?”

“Yes, of course,” they said in unison. It almost sounded like they had an echo to their words.

“Thank you for the report. I’ll review it thoroughly.” I said motioning with my hand for them to leave.

After they’d Holbrook put his head in the door. “Do you want to have dinner later? This isn’t romantic, of course…”

I cut him off. “No.”

“Is there something going on between you and Boof?”

“No. Jesus, Garland, I’m having dinner with Caption Finch. A working dinner.”

As soon as he left a message came on the screen from Boof.

Hey Baby, do you want to see stars tonight?

I deleted the message.

The entire trip had been like the set-up from a bad bodice ripper romance, but without any sex or bodice ripping. You know the story. The heroine is caught between two potential lovers. One is dark haired, gorgeous, with impeccable breeding, and insanely rich. The other is blond, gorgeous, insanely smart, and grew up more or less a street urchin in a block of government run shelter pods. Who should our heroine choose? One will eventually betray her as the other one rescues her, but she won’t know until it happens. Screw that. I didn’t have time for it.

I took the clip out of my hair and shook out letting it fall to my shoulders. Thank goodness for planets with normal gravity. I remember reading about the days when the idea of women being in space seemed ridiculous. The excuse was always something about hair, periods, sex, temptations, strength and peeing. Seriously, one does not need a penis, or a hairy chest to travel in space. Thank goodness for Nichelle Nichols. I was so glad to see her on the one-dollar coin last year. I remember reading the emails of my great-great-grandmother telling my father about when she met Sally Ride. I can’t even imagine.

Over the next few days Captain Finch and I tasked our crew with collecting data, and ship maintenance. Our engineer Morgan questioned everything we asked him to do. He claimed inspections were not necessary. He went on about how his qualifications were better than anyone on the ship, and bragged about his superior intelligence whenever I requested a progress report.

Our physics team, headed up by a guy named Dex Harland, who insisted on being called just “X” decided that we were all going to be eaten by mutant aliens and refused to leave the ship. They spread the word through the crew that Timothy Leary was going to drug them and feed them to giant spiders or some sort of shit along those lines. It was as if the entire crew had gone insane.

I asked one of our two our medical officers about it and he told me that he was writing a screenplay about a murder on a space barge couldn’t give a rat’s ass about our mission. His name was Dr. Charles Young. He only took the job to get out of paying child support for four different women and six kids on three planets. Our sane medical crew member, Dr. Sashie Vern, took my arm and asked if I wanted to get coffee. In the empty crew lounge she begged me to keep Dr. Jay away from her due to his incompetence and creepiness.

On our last supply stop, Hawk Donaldson, a popular member of our Engineering group had a one night stand with a Trasidain female. Trasidian’s are beautiful human like creatures with iridescent pink skin, and several more pleasure seeking orifices than Earthlings. Unfortunately Trasidains also have horrible parasites, which there is no cure for except the death of the host.

Hawk contracted a large number of the parasites and was in excruciating pain as the bugs ate him from the inside out. On his request Dr. Sashie put him into a medically induced coma until his death thirty four hours later. His body, along with the bugs, was cremated and blasted into space.

After Hawk’s death Dr. Sashie wondered why most of the crew members refused to see her for regular check ups or even acknowledge her existence. I should have guessed what Dr. Sashie told me. Dr. Jay had told everyone that Dr. Sashie was incompetent and had caused Hawk’s death.

I went back to confront Dr. Jay and he just smirked.

“I’m entitled to my opinion,” he said with a shit eating grin. I wrote him up for spreading false information and confined him to his room when he was not on duty. The following day rumors spread that I was sleeping with Captain Finch, which was odd considering Finch is gay. I knew it was Dr. Jay.

As I made my rounds that day I realized that our crew, due to the nasty mix of passive aggressive cockroaches and over inflated egos was completely shutting down as a functional team.

The Engineering Group all shaved their heads and wore goggles because they decided that they did not want Garland Holbrook writing about them. Their reasoning was that if they all looked alike then Holbrook would get confused and leave them alone.

Poor Junior Potemkin, our painfully shy communications officer was being bullied by a Data Wrangler named Bambi Von Grob. She would sit next to Potemkin and make snorting noises, suck up snot in her nose, cough, loudly chew crunchy food hours on end, pound on her work station. In retaliation to his complaints she innocently told everyone on board that she was a victim of Junior Potemkin’s bullying.

I could go on for hours about the adolescent behavior of the crew. It seemed that most of my day was spent listening to complaints, breaking up fights, and telling crew members to act like adults.

With six months into our mission, and five years to go, I didn’t know how Captain Finch and I were going to handle this. I loved my job. I loved exploration. I loved the science, but I hated almost everyone on board of our ship.

Boof and I continued to visit Tim Leary. He told us a lot of tall tales but was stingy with any technical information. He said he’d always been more of a manager rather than a scientist. He’d joke that he should have been a stand-up-comic, even thought he didn’t really say anything funny.

One night at dinner, with a nice view of the three aligned moons of the planet, the Captain vented for about an hour about the crew. Boof, Garland, and Dr. Sashie Vern had joined us as the highest ranking crewmembers.

Captain Finch had an announcement for us. “I’ve done some research and come to a realization that we were given a crew of rejects of the highest order.”

“You think?” Boof said with a disgusted look.

“Our mission is longer than usual with extensive isolated periods and difficult Space Jumps. I asked for an experienced crew of individuals with solid science experience, and technical expertise. What I ended up with was a crew of people that nobody else wanted,” said Finch.

I added to his thoughts, “We asked for the best of the best, and in turn, present company aside, we got the worst of the worst. Come to think of it, Boof, Sashi and I were the only three you personally interviewed.”

“Sad but true,” said Finch.”But we’re stuck with what we have. We’ll make the best of it.” I noticed Captain Finch looked unusually tired and sad, as if someone had died.

“Now what? Behavior modification or bull shit team building at the next supply spot isn’t going to fix anything,” said Sashie.

Garland Holbrook poured another glass of wine and smiled. “Clone most of the crew and leave them there. Then we can have a perfect crew. They have the facilities right here for high speed clone creation.”

“How would that work?” Asked Dr. Sashie.

“Leary and his crew stole the technology from the Glanidians who use semi-brainless clones for off planet mining and prostitution. It’s cheaper than robots, and biological clones are more reliable,” said Garland.

“But you have to feed them,” said Boof. “How can that be more reliable?”

Garland smiled. “No, they eat themselves. They don’t even know it. You know, Clone Nuggets.”

“That is horrible,” said Sashie.

“Yes it is but it isn’t what Leary and his crew did,” said Garland. “Not Clone Nuggets, but clones. They made clones of themselves. We could make clones of our crew.”

 “Eventually we’d have to land somewhere and we’d be found out,” said Captain Finch.

“You don’t get it. We will clone the crew, but tweak the genetic codes so that they’ll have more pleasant personalities. We’ll make them brilliant but downright sweet, and completely bland. I know Gwendolyn and Boof could do it,” said Garland. “You both have studied genetics and personality modifications for violent and anti social prisoners on off planet penal colonies.”

I had to speak up. “It will take an extra week depending on how many clones we’re going to make. I spoke with the Evil Twins today and they estimated a major volcanic explosion within the next month. If it blows it will take out all life within five hundred miles of Leary’s clubhouse.”

Then we all sat, nobody asking the questions we all wanted the answer for.

There was a knock on the door. Tim Leary stood there in a black tuxedo, holding three bottles of wine in his arms.  “Your mission reminds me of a story my Great Great Grammy used to tell me. A long time ago when she was a little girl there used to be a huge store called Ickyah. People would flock to it to be unassembled furniture because it felt good if you built stuff yourself. The buyer would get home with instructions that said it would take two hours to build your bed frame and nightstand. Fifty hours later maybe the bed would be done and the nightstand drawer assembled. Another twenty hours everything would be complete with the help of additional duck tape and a lot of swearing.”

“Leary,” I said. “What does that have to do with your mission?”

“That’s what it is like living here. Everything was supposed to be easy. Self contained they said.  But it wasn’t. Fortunately I have a lot of duck tape. I still have that fast acting cloning machine. I’ll let you use it.”

“That is out of the question. We all took ethics oaths to protect our crew,” said Captain Finch.

“I didn’t,” said Holbrook.

 

We spend the rest of the night bitching about the rest of the crew. After everyone realized that we had more shit-for-brains stories than we could tell in one night. My brain was so agitated that there was no way I could get any sleep so I took a stroll under the three moons of Planet 2387.

“You need a real name,” I said aloud as I scanned the horizon.

“It has a name. Atropos.” I turned to see Garland Holbrook standing next to me. I didn’t even hear him coming. “She was one of the three Fates. Atropos was the one who would decide how long one’s life line was. She’d also choose how one died,”

“Why’d you come on this mission? You could have any job you wanted,” I said.

“Captain Finch is the best. None of us could have predicted the bait and switch with the crew. Think about it. If we had the original crew this would be a perfect science mission.”

This was new to me. “Original crew? Garland, what are you talking about?”

“You don’t know do you? They were finishing up in Florida on their last mission. This was before you and Boof were interviewed.”

I was almost in shock. My entire body went numb. Over a thousand souls were lost in a terrorist attack at the National Space Science Research compound. Religious fundamentalists fire bombed the place. No wonder Captain Finch took whatever crew was assigned him. The man must have been in deep mourning. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t I figure it out?”

“Garland, could we get Tim Leary to go back in time and…”

“You know it doesn’t work that way. When you go back in time you can change whatever you want but it won’t change the future. Your changes spin off into an alternate thread of time that eventually fades away.”

“Sure, I forgot. I knew some of the people who died. I had no idea they were signed up with Finch’s next mission. No idea.”

I turned and headed off towards the Welcome to Hell door. I wanted to talk to Leary.

As I took my first step Garland grabbed my hand, twirled me around and kissed me. If I thought my head was spinning before, it was spinning even more now.

“I know you’re attracted to me. I know you’re attracted to Boof. May the best man win, and you know I’m the best man,” said Garland as he kissed me again.

“Let’s go talk to Leary,” I said as I tried to catch my breath for the second time .

 

Three weeks later we left Planet 2387. Leary took off in his time machine a week before we blasted off. From our ship we watched (at a great distance) the massive volcano blow up a good portion of the planet’s crust.

Junior Potemkin came into my office and thanked me for helping him out. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Everyone is so nice now,” he said slowly choosing the words. “It is as if they were all replaced with clones, or something.” Then he laughed uncomfortably. “That would have been weird.”

I smiled and told him that I was glad he was happy now. I truly was.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman