Robin Peace and Jim Doran

Jim Doran: One
Inspiration Piece

Robin Peace: Major Tom
“Here am I floating
Round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.”
– From Space Oddity by David Bowie
My name is Major Simon Tom and I was the first British astronaut the Britons sent into space and as far as I know, the last British astronaut the Britons ever sent into space.  I say this because I overheard them denying this mission ever occurred.  Now all that’s left of me is a pile of bones in a space suit, sitting in an ancient space capsule that is made of material no stronger than tin foil.  It’s amazing that the thing is still in one piece.  So many songs have been written about me, since I got lost in space in 1968. I was able to hear some of them before my ship moved too far out of the solar system.
My soul has been trapped on this capsule since 1968.  My body has been decaying in my space suit.  I have been denied a proper burial.  My spirit is obviously restless.  So I in the meantime, I have decided to set the story straight about me by dictating it into the ship’s computer.  For all I know, the recorder could have stopped working; I haven’t used it in ages.  Maybe one day I will finally crash on some distant planet and the inhabitants will be able to hear and understand my memoir, or at the very least given me a proper burial.  It’s extremely humiliating to see yourself leaning against a wall, unable to move; yet fully lucid, as your human body deteriorates around you.  I am so sick of reading and rereading my favorite novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  I finally threw the damn book between my legs in front of my space-age skeleton body.
My space story began rather innocently.  I was in charge of a four-member crew.  It was a textbook lift-off from Woomera in Australia.  We were supposed to circle the Moon and when we came back around we were supposed to land on the Moon, like the Americans, taking samples, pictures and film.  Well, everything went well until the lunar capsule reattached itself back to the space capsule.  We were too heavy.  But we were able to correct that by dumping some of our souvenirs from the Moon.
Suddenly, one of my crewmembers became sick.  We soon found out that before we left, one of my crewmembers had his daughter over the summer for his bi-yearly child visitation rights.  A few weeks before she left, he thought she was caught a summer cold and he warned his ex-wife when he returned their daughter to her.   He did not think it was a big deal (and he was afraid of being pulled off the mission), so he did not say anything to the British Interplanetary Society or us.  Big mistake, at least for him.  It appears that his daughter was suffering from the beginnings of tuberculosis.  Since none of the crew had been exposed to tuberculosis, he had just introduced an infectious disease to our supposedly sterile environment.
One would figure that since we were heading back to earth, that my crewmembers and myself would get proper treatment and the tuberculosis would be a distant memory.  But as fate would have it, while dumping out our souvenirs, one of the bigger rocks came back and knocked out not just one set, but both sets of our rear thrusters.   We were dead in space, literally and figuratively.  Ground Control engineers knew how to fix it, but we lacked the necessary equipment on the ship to do it.  Also, we had a limited amount of oxygen to even think of about a space walk, even if we did have the right equipment.  We had no way of getting home.
So these were our choices to die – by suffocation, by starvation or by tuberculosis, whichever one hit us first.  My bet was on suffocation.  Of course, I was right.  We decided to shut off power, with the exception of oxygen.  Before we shut off contact with Ground Control, we said our good-byes to our families.  I said goodbye to my wife, who was seven months pregnant with our first child.  I have no idea if it was a boy or a girl.
With everything cut off, the ship became a floating icebox.  We put on our space suits to keep warm, knowing we were going to die in them.  My crewmember with tuberculosis died first due to lack of adequate treatment rather than from lack of oxygen and food.   Two days later, two of my crewmember members when to sleep and never woke up.   The last crewmember, Carey, and I were having a difficult time breathing those last three days.  On our fifth day in the dark, I found myself looking at Carey and my dead bodies, leaning against the space capsule as if we were just sleeping.
Everyone was dead and I was the only spirit haunting this ship.  So, I decided to turn on the ship’s radio, so that I could hear transmissions from Earth.  For countless years, I listened to music, sports and talk radio, as the planet aged.  Now, I am too far out of range.  I miss the sound of the voices.  They kept me company in my cold empty prison.  I’m ready to come home now.  But there is no light coming for me, only the darkness of space.
The ship is headed toward what scientists and science fiction call a black hole.  I have no idea where it came from and what’s on the other side.  I am hoping that the black hole will release my spirit from this ship and let me go on to Heaven or Hell.  At this point, anything is better than floating along alone aimlessly with no control over your destination.
“Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning
They don’t realize he’s alive
No one understands, but Major Tom sees
Now the light commands
This is my home, I’m coming home.”
-From Major Tom by Peter Schilling

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm | #

    Gotta love the combination of skeletons and spacesuits! 🙂
    Have either of you guys read the short story ‘Descendant’ in ‘The State of the Art’ by Iain M Banks? If not, you should.