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358 Delta

There was nothing erotic about space travel in the 22nd century. They connected you to so many tubes and cables, that you felt like in a mother’s womb, maybe not as safe but cramped and overprotected. No chance for an intimate moment. Every heartbeat was accounted for, every breath charted, every fart recorded. There was even a technology to document thoughts, but the Space Agency stopped using it after the astronauts went on strike.

This mission was like many others – a lot of tedious work, collecting soil samples, conducting tests, sitting in front of a computer. The crew was examining a big, dull asteroid. No beautiful aliens to kiss, not even horrible ones to fight with. Captain Kirk would resign his commission. Mags was trying to entertain herself by picturing her captain punching a rubber reptilian.

‘Can you hold this for a second?’ he asked. Not only he was not shirtless, he wore a fully equipped space suit, that made him look like a half-robot half-snowman.

‘Yes, sir,’ she took a container from him. For the briefest moment their gloves touched. She checked the control panel. Everything was within the normal parameters, yet she could swear there was a glitch in the electric wiring.

The captain paused for a moment and then picked up the remaining containers. ‘Let’s take these to the storage unit 53.’

It was the second month of the mission so the captain had to climb a ladder to place the samples at the top of a pile. Mags recorded the inventory numbers and reached up to pass the last container. He looked down at her for the longest second ever. She checked the control panel. The temperature was within the normal parameters. The captain hesitated, grabbed the box and then the entire pyramid of samples collapsed. Both astronauts were now covered in dust, dirt, sand, soil, gravel, pebbles, rocks, crystals, and plastic containers.

The captain sighed, ‘Feck it’.

‘Yes, sir,’ Mags saluted. Their eyes met.

***

In the ground control centre an alarm went off.

‘Sir, there are no life-signs from the mission 358 Delta. Shall we send the rescue team?’

‘No need. I bet you 50, they’re doing it.’

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