I believed that the big fireball over Feynmann announced my end’s beginning.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Never is, is it? No. I didn’t know who Feynmann was, except in a general way. Despite plaques all over the ship, I absorbed that Feynmann was another science guy like Einstein, and had something to do with our mission. Feynmann and Einstein are names like Copernicus and Galileo to me, names shot at me in classes. The only real science name I know is Bill Gates, because he invented Apple. That’s just how I am, right?
This night was supposed to be one to talk about forever. Our excitement was thick as a brownie. Here we were, on another world, not the first, per se, but somewhere high on a special list. Fortune was shining on me just to put me there. I was of the opinion that Ricardo and I were on the edge of becoming a twin star, if I understood that metaphor right. We’d been as immediately absorbed with one another as PB and J. His looks to me had gone from being, “Hi, nice to see you, mate,” to, “Want to fuck?” I was trying to make my looks answer, “When and where?”
Yes, this night was one to talk about, still, but in a shitty way. We were all in Coronado’s break room, looking up at the sky and marveling as expected, when the fireball appeared, stopping all of the chin wagging and truncating lusty suggestions and happy imbibing.
“What was that?” someone asked.
“Looks like an explosion,” someone said.
“Yeah, a big fucking explosion,” said another.
Amazing that these people were supposed to be geniuses. Should that be genii or something? Does it really take doctorates to see a big fireball and guess that something exploded?
These were all voices beside and behind me. Didn’t know those folks well, and didn’t look to see who spoke. I was staring at the huge glazed marble lighting the sky. Gold, white, purple, red and black, it would have been pretty, if it wasn’t scary.
“Was that the Beagle?” someone dared.
Nobody else dared an answer until Ricardo said, “There is another ship up there. There can be other explanations.”
I almost laughed at his foolish hope. I already knew this was the end’s beginning. I mean, we’re all dying from the time we’re born, Da always said, but we’re hopeful that death will let us slip past if we don’t know the ways and means, right?
Like a software program that had done its thing and started us on another loop, everyone was released into action and speaking at once.
There was nothing I could do, I, Juancho, a simple bureaucrat. Cattle, unkinder pissants labeled crew like me, to which I gave a big, hairy, “Fuck you,” back. They’d warned us, this was dangerous and one-way. Yeah, but, they had to say that, legally, to keep our estates from suing, right? Nobody expected us to be shat on and flushed away this fast. Still, those were the facts. If our mother ship blew and left us stranded, naught for me to do but carry on as per. I finished my drink, and ordered another while greater minds began panicking.
Yep, nothing for me but get drunk and see what Feynmann would do to me. Turned out that it had nasty plans for all of us, like a horrific science fiction version of “Ten Little Indians,” except, we were starting with thirty, right?
That made it last longer.
With apologies to Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the rest of the scientists, inventors and thinkers maligned by Juancho’s world view.