And here’s the other side of the coin:
== 2064: Open Source Ship “The Champion”, between Earth and the Moon
Maynard unlatched his belt and pushed out of his seat. He couldn’t stop himself from shouting “Whoo!” … and why should he? This was great! Within seconds dozens of people were floating free, shouting, backslapping. It was a raucous free-for-all, and it felt great. Another victory for the Atlanta Hackspace Artgroup!
Maynard looked around the ship at the crowd. He’d hooked up with them all a few years out of college, and it was great group. Over-educated like him, bored with all of the pointless grubbing around that most jobs entailed, and interested in thinking big thoughts. His people.
Through a gap in the bodies he saw Carrie-Anne push out of her chair and go floating free. He smiled and tried to catch her eye, but she was deep in conversation with Vince, who was also floating free.
Maynard watched as Carrie-Anne hugged Vince tight, then locked lips. Maynard felt a surge of jealousy, but that was wrong. Negative emotions were stupid – highly evolved people should be move past them. Jealousy was something to be mastered, not something to be mastered by. And besides, Maynard was Carrie-Anne’s primary. What did he have to worry about if she had a new secondary? Secondaries came and went.
He turned to Jake, who was tucked into a cannonball shape and spinning above the seats. “Awesome, huh, man?”
Jake unfolded, reached out and caught a chair back to stop his acrobatics…and ended up head down, feet up. He was grinning wildly. “BEYOND awesome! Hey, check it out – there’s no up or down. There’s only this way-” He pushed himself upright. “- and this way!” He laughed at his own joke.
Maynard smiled as well. “Our best project yet, right?”
“Fucking A, man! The Autonomous Music Machine was cool. And the Dead Man’s Dance Bot was beyond cool. But this?” He held out one hand for a wrist bump, which Maynard was happy to deliver. This project ruled – and the adventure was just beginning!
Maynard kept smiling and joking with Jake, but out of the corner of his eye tried to catch another glimpse of Carrie-Ann through the crowd. Was that – that wasn’t her, topless, was it? What the hell was going on there? He sputtered for a second. Why didn’t she – no, wait. He had to face his insecurities, own them, then evolve past them.
He turned back to Jake who was still floating in the air, upside down again. Maynard realized that while Jake found the lack of orientation amusing, he just found it disconcerting. He grabbed hold of one of the chair-backs and rotated himself so that they were both upside down. There. That felt a lot better. “So what’re you most looking forward to on the moon, Jake?”
“No more bullshit jobs, man! No more working in offices or dealing with customers. I’m thinking I might try to start up an art space, or maybe write.”
Jake pushed against a headrest and began to spin slowly. “How about you?”
Maynard looked at Jake spinning. Why did he have to do that? Didn’t he realize how disconcerting it was? Maynard had an idea and pushed against a headrest himself. Maybe he could match Jake’s spin and they could chat like reasonable people. As he rotated Carrie-Anne came into view – was that her? No, she couldn’t – had Vince been serious about that “Mile High Club” thing? He was starting to feel nauseous. This rotating, spinning. Ugh.
He turned his head away from Carrie-Anne and Vince – and smacked into Jake’s feet. DAMN it. He grabbed a chair to steady himself. Enough acrobatics. Jake grabbed a chair too and stopped rotating. “Oh, sorry man. But, anyway, what are YOU going to do when we get there?”
Maynard rubbed the top of his head. “What? Oh. Well, I -”
Maynard looked around. What the hell?
Someone was screaming – there was something spraying from the tanks back at the – oh no. Oh no.
It was the fuel tanks for the chemical rockets – something was spraying out of – kerosene. Jesus. There was kerosene spraying everywhere.
There was a second BANG and more hissing. Jesus, oh crap, no! Maynard started screaming “The oxygen line is broken! Turn it off! Turn if off!”
Kelsey was fumbling at the door to fuel tank cage when the aerosolized mixture ignited. Maynard tucked his chin to his chest and covered his face with his forearms as the ball of fire filled the ship. For a moment all he felt was a wash of warmth but a moment later the pain started. Oh my GOD it hurt. He started to scream but the air was torn out his lungs. What the hell was happening? Oh, God, the pain was getting worse.
A huge wind was pulling him. He grabbed for a seat back but merely slapped someone beside him. Over the scream of the wind he heard cries – everyone was yelling.
The wind banged him into the ceiling, then a wall, and a moment later he was pushed into the phone booth welded to the top of the cargo container. He dimly remembered protesting that the “artistic statement and a space viewing room” was a stupid deviation from the ebook plans, but no one had –
Someone slammed into him and he tried to scream again from the pain of his burns but the air was so thin.
The glass in the phone booth – was it gone? Another body slammed into them, then another, then another. Maynard felt himself squeezed tighter and tighter into the phone booth. The pain in his face and arms was indescribable. He tried to scream but his lungs were empty.
A few seconds later he was unconscious.
Five minutes later Maynard and everyone else about the Champion was dead.
The wrecked ship drifted on. Thirty hours later as the wreckage approached the moon the on-board navigation computer signaled the chemical maneuvering rockets to do a small course correction burn, but the kerosene and oxygen tanks were empty and the clicking of the rocket bell igniters accomplished nothing as the ship continued on its course.