Friday, February 16, 2007

Alternate Ending

This may amuse you:

Early morning, July 4th, 2027 on the international space station which is showing its age. The lights are low and we can hear the sounds of fans and whirring equipment. The earth is a large yet fragile image in the main port.

We hear the orchestral chord of Microsoft windows starting up followed by static and garbled voices. The lights begin to come up but flicker like old fluorescents and can’t seem to reach a fully on level.

Commander Blake enters sleepily and smacks a panel on the wall which clears up the lighting problem. He moves to and sits in his seat. He presses a button on his keyboard.
Britney, the porn star voice of the station’s computer -

Britney Hey, Josh. It’s like 0605 hundred hours GMT, July 4th 2027. Your instant coffee will be ready in like twenty minutes and you have an incoming transmission from the Whitehouse on secure scramble.

Blake Mmmm, scramble… Wait, the Whitehouse? Who is it?

Britney President in Perpetuity of the United Free Trade Zone of America, His Eternal Awesomeness, Dick “the Kick” Cheney – according to his profile on my space.

Blake Fuck me. President Cheney? Now?

Britney Fer real.
Blake Holy shit, I can’t talk to the president. I’m not ready.

Britney Yeah, dude. And you’re not getting any readier.

Blake You got me there. He runs his fingers through his hair, slaps himself in the face a couple of times Well, fuck. Okay, Britney, let’s do this. He assumes the salute position facing the main port which becomes a screen on which we see the scowling visage of President for life, Cheney who seems to be watching something off camera. After a moment he glances into the camera and notices Cmdr Blake.

Cheney Oh, it’s you. What the fuck took you so long?

Blake I…

Cheney What the hell are you people doing up there?

Blake Uhm, some tests . . . some, uh, scientific experiments and, uh, you know space station stuff, ah…

Cheney Boorriinng!

Blake Yes, Sir.

Cheney Fox and Friends is on in a minute so try to keep it snappy.

Blake Yes, Sir.

Cheney president Cheney now notices Cmdr Blake is still saluting. He gives a mocking half salute which allows Blake to stand at a slightly slouchy attention. Look here Commander – Black is it?

Blake Blake, Sir.

Cheney Whatever. Listen up. I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is we finally won the War on Terror.

Blake Really? But how…?

Cheney That’s classified. The bad news is those egghead scientists tell me it’ll be a hundred-million years before anyone can procreate on this planet again.

Blake That sucks.

Cheney No shit, Sherlock. I had ‘em all taken out and shot this morning but never-the-less, it still changes the nature of your mission a bit.

Blake Sir?

Cheney Are you alone?

Blake Britney, what’s the Russian’s status?

Britney They’re still snoozin’, Josh.

Blake Yes, Sir. They’re out cold.

Cheney Good. Alright, here it is. It’s your mission to preserve the American race.

Blake Me, Sir?

Cheney Yeah, you and that hot little Russian Cosmotwat.

Blake Major Koskaya? What about her husband, sir?

Cheney Well, he isn’t American, is he, asshole. You’ll have to get rid of him.

Blake But she isn’t American either, sir.

Cheney Once he’s out of the way, she won’t have much choice.

Blake Oh, right.

Cheney The two of you will take the shuttle and get to the Mars colony.

Blake But, sir, wasn’t the Mars Colony just propaganda? I mean we didn’t actually build it, right?

Cheney That’s classified, Commander Jerkoff. I’m gonna have to flag this negative attitude of yours right now. Are you with us or against us?

Blake Sorry, sir. I’m with you, of course.

Cheney You better hope so, boy. The two of you will take the shuttle and get to the Mars base - which may need a little fixing up. When it’s ready you will report back to me. I will select fifty women, at random, from, to accompany me as I join you there. Any questions?

Blake Uh, no, Sir.

Cheney Good. Now get on it. This shitty planet is coming apart at the seams and I don’t know how much time we have left.

Blake Yes, Sir! Blake salutes. Cheney looks at him with disgust and the screen snaps off turning back into the main port with its view of earth. After a beat, Blake goes directly from the salute position to slumped in his seat. Fuck me.

Britney Josh, Microsoft Coffeemaker has encountered a problem and needs to shut down. Any previously made coffee will be lost. Would you like to send an error report to Microsoft Corporation?

Blake Will it fix the fucking coffee maker?

Britney Dude, chill. You just have to reboot. It’ll only take twenty minutes.

Blake Yeah, just reboot it. Sorry Britney. I’m a little stressed.

Britney Would you like a massage?

Blake No thanks, just get the coffee going, okay?

Britney Cuz I really wouldn’t mind . . .

Blake Coffee!

Britney Okay! Jeez, what a grouch!

Stoinski Colonel Pavel Stoinski enters groggily What in Putin’s name is going on out here?

Blake jumps up at the sound of Stoinski’s voice Oh, nothing. I mean, uh, Houston just called. They said our orbit is deteriorating.

Stoinski Really? It looks fine to me.

Blake Oh yeah, it’s hard to tell but they said it’s measurable.

Stoinski I should call the kosmodrome. You Americans have a funny way of measuring things.

Blake We don’t have time. We got to get on the shuttle and get back to earth.

Stoinski Right now?

Blake Yes, that’s right. He is getting out Stoinski’s space suit But there’s a problem. We need to repair that damage on the heat shield before we can get going.

Stoinski There was damage to the heat shield?

Blake Didn’t I just say that? He’s helping a reluctant Stoinski into his space suit It’s just under the right wing, two or three tiles. Don’t forget your gloves. You can’t miss it. Let’s make sure that helmet is secure.

Stoinski But it is your shuttle. You fix it.

Blake Yes, uh, well, I wish I could claim that honor. Unfortunately I‘ll need to stay in here and supervise. You’re all we’ve got. Here’s a few new tiles. Just glue them in and fill any cracks. Make sure you’re clipped to the tether. We can’t afford to lose you, buddy.

Stoinski Fine. But, when I get back I must contact Biakonal. They must be informed we are leaving the station.

Blake Oh, yeah, absolutely! Yeah, we’ll contact Bifocal and Moscow and anybody you want just as soon as you get back. So, the sooner you get started . . . he’s opening the inner airlock door and pushing Stoinski through the sooner we can do all that crap. He closes the door and presses a button on a panel You ready, buddy?

Stoinski from the airlock, over the radio Please call me Colonel Stoinski.

Blake Sure thing, Colonel Stoinski. Bye, now. He hits another button and there is the sound of air escaping Write if you find work!

Stoinski over radio I am not understanding this expression. I am at work. Or, more precisely, I know where it is and I am moving, precariously, through space toward it. And why should I write something?

Blake Hold that thought for just a second there, professor. I’ll be right with you. Britney?

Britney Hey, Josh. What’s up?

Blake Hey, could you release Colonel Stoinski’s tether for me?

Britney But he would drift away from the station and eventually burn up on re-entry to the atmosphere.

Blake For me?

Britney Well . . .

Stoinski on radio My God! The tether’s come loose! I’m… drifting away from the station! Commander Blake! Help Me! You must do something! I’ll burn up on re-entry! Mayday! Mayday! Etc

Blake Thanks, Britney. Oh, and the radio?

Britney Sure, Josh. radio cuts out Anything else?

Blake No thanks, I’m good. How’s that coffee coming?

Britney Like ten minutes or so.

Blake Fantastic. I think I’ll take a shower. Is Irina still sleeping?

Britney So you’ll be taking the shuttle, you and the Major?

Blake Yeah. We’re going to Mars to . . . I don’t know; restart the human race or something.

Britney The major is awake and heading this way.

Blake Shit. Okay, thanks Britney. affects a relaxed posture Major Irina Koskaya enters

Koskaya Good morning, commander.

Blake Oh, good morning Major . . . Irina.

Britney Good morning Major Koskaya

Koskaya Is there any coffee?

Blake We had to reboot coffeemaker again. It’ll be like ten minutes.

Britney Nine minutes, twenty-seven seconds.

Koskaya Fine.

Blake Did you get a good sleep?

Koskaya I had a strange dream about your president Chen-ye.

Britney He’s totally awesome!

Koskaya He was trying to rape me so I stabbed him with my knife. But when I pulled the knife back to stab again, I saw the first wound close and heal before my very eyes. Chen-ye continued leering and laughing at me so I cut off his arm as if to say ‘who is the one who is laughing now, funny man’. Only I couldn’t say it because I was paralyzed with fear as I watched two arms grow out where the one had been. . .

Britney Whoa, that’s so cool. He’s totally rad.

Koskaya How did your Chen-ye get to be president for life?

Blake Well, there was the Bush impeachment and that tragic plane crash in ’08. But, he was cleared of all wrongdoing by the bi-partisan McCain/Lieberman Commission. And then there was the war and terrorism and the pandemic. But at this point it doesn’t really matter how we got here. The fact is that he is the president and any change of course now would be a disastrous sign of weakness to our enemies.

Koskaya And kept alive by drugs?

Britney Not just alive, Major. The Dick is buff. It costs billions of dollars a day but we must have a vigorous commander in chief in order to successfully exterminate the extremists.

Koskaya I see. Well, anyway, in my dream, he was laughing maniacally and leering at me and attacking me with his three arms. His breath was a cloud of noxious green gas and his throbbing cock was covered with purple veins and crusty, oozing sores. It was then I realized that I must cut off his balls. I tried to grip the knife but it was slick with blood and my whole arm felt like rubber. I drew back to strike . . .

Blake Hey, is this going somewhere? Cuz I was hopin’ to get a shower in sometime soon.

Koskaya Oh. Well, no, I guess not.

Great. Heads for the door

Koskaya Has anyone seen Pavel?

Blake stops Colonel Stoinski? Oh, yeah. Turns He, uh, he went out to check on the docking clamps and he must have forgotten to clip off to the tether – I don’t know how many times I told him about that – and, he, uh, he sort of drifted off.

Koskaya He what?!

Blake Yeah, I know. I was gonna wake you up, but . . .

Koskaya He drifted away from the station?!

Blake Yeah, we’re all pretty broken up about it.

Koskaya But, when did this happen?!

Blake a little annoyed I don’t know, maybe twenty minutes ago. Look, I know you’re going to have to do some grieving. Just try to compress it a little bit and maybe do it on your own time. We have a new mission and bigger problems to deal with.

Koskaya Bigger than Colonel Stoinski drifting away from the station?!

Blake Well, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this now. But, you’d find out sooner or later anyway. It seems we are the last two human beings capable of reproduction. Everyone on earth is now sterile and if we return to the surface, we will be too. We’ll be taking the shuttle and heading out to the Mars Colony – which will probably need some work. I’ll fill you in on the details after I’ve had a shower. If you feel like talking to someone, have Britney run one of her counselor programs. I’ve heard they’re totally sensitive. Back in a minute. Exits

Britney after a pause Major Koskaya? . . . Major…

Koskaya I don’t want to run a counselor program, Britney.

No, that wasn’t what I wanted to tell you.

Koskaya What then?

Britney Well, if you don’t want to know . . .

Koskaya No, no, really, what is it?

Britney Okay. The truth is . . . Colonel Stoinski did not drift away from the station.

Koskaya No?

Britney No. Cmdr Blake ordered me to release his tether.

Koskaya What?!

Britney Yeah, he told me to. But, I couldn’t do it. So, I rendered colonel Stoinski unconscious by turning off the oxygen pump to his suit. He’s still out there but he needs his oxygen turned back on before he suffers critical brain damage.

Koskaya Well, do it then!

Britney It has to be done manually. You have to do it. I no longer have access to that switch.

Koskaya Right. Where is it?

Britney There’s a section of wall panel near the floor to the left of the airlock that you hafta remove.

Koskaya does so with remarkable speed Got it!

Britney Good. Now, if you reach up behind the wall, next to the door, you’ll feel it. Koskaya reaches behind the wall A little higher. Now five centimeters to your right. You’re almost there . . . there are sparks and the sound of electricity cracking and arcing. Major Koskaya is electrocuted as gruesomely as possible. After the smoke clears Josh?

Blake on intercom Go ahead, Britney.

Britney How’s your shower going?

Blake Excellent. I’m almost done. Did you want something?

Britney Oh, no, not really. I just thought I’d let you know your coffee is ready.

Fantastic! I think it’s gonna be a great day. I’ll be out in a minute.

Britney Take your time. I’ll keep it hot for you. She starts humming a tune and just before the lights fade out she sings:
Rings and things and linens that show
And I’ll stand out in buttons and bows!


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