Insufficient Stories by Patrick Alexander
and the Mission to Space
Rocket Spaceman got a call from the President… of Earth! It was the future! They were both white American men with neat hair.
“Rocket Spaceman, the Earth is in danger. You must do a mission. There is only one man who can do this mission, and that man is you, Rocket Spaceman: Rocket Spaceman. This is the President.”
Rocket Spaceman looked the President in the eye, because the phone had a television on it and he could do that. “I’ll do everything I can to help, Mr President.” His manly, clean-shaven jaw moved up and down as he spoke, exactly as you would expect.
“Thank you, Rocket Spaceman,” said the President, his face squinty with gratitude, like an old war veteran looking at a flag. “I mean obviously I’m giving you an order here, though. You couldn’t have actually said no.”
“Yes but even if I could have said no, I wouldn’t have,” said Rocket Spaceman, his blue eyes gleaming with explaining his position clearly.
“What if the mission was very dangerous, though?” said the President. “Because guess what! This mission is very dangerous.”
“Yes, I assumed it was very dangerous,” said Rocket Spaceman, his noble nose giving hope to children, “and I said yes anyway.”
“Well of course you did, Rocket Spaceman, because I’m the President and you have to do what I tell you,” the President explained helpfully.
“Yes, Mr President, but…” – here Rocket Spaceman paused to think of the right words to form with his heroic mouth parts – “but I have my own reason for saying yes to dangerous missions; my own personal reason, to do with my personality.”
“Oh!” went the President. He raised his hands to his head and wagged them back and forth like rabbit ears, which in the future is how people express surprise and interest. “And what reason might that be?” he asked, cocking his head to one side and wiggling his nose.
Rocket Spaceman had become visibly uncomfortable, in a gutsy, intrepid sort of way. “Sir, I… I would really prefer that this sort of thing remain implicit; that we exchange a brief, silent gaze of mutual respect and understanding.”
“Oh, pshaw!” pshawed the President, with a good-natured sudden upward thrust of the left knee. “Don’t be shy, Rocket Spaceman. Tell me why you would do the dangerous mission even if I hadn’t ordered you to. Come on now.”
“Is it because of bravery, Rocket Spaceman? Are you brave?” The President asked this as though guessing at charades.
“Rocket Spaceman, listen to me. This is your President speaking. I’m asking you for information! It could be important! So if you’re brave, you’d better tell me. And what’s more, you’d better tell me just exactly how brave you are.” He planted a commanding stare upon Rocket Spaceman’s facial zone.
At last, Rocket Spaceman gave an obedient nod. He stood with his arms behind his back like an army person, his chest sticking out inspiringly with muscles. Gazing evenly into the distance, past all the holographic flying cars, he spoke: “I am brave, Mr President. Very, very brave. My willingness to face mortal danger, time and time again, makes me the bravest man in the world.” Then, still gazing into the distance, he held up a sheet of card with, ‘But it isn’t glamorous; it’s a burden,’ written on it.
“Oh, no, no, no,” said the President with a dismissive backwards somersault. “Surely you’re not brave; you’re just doing your duty like an everyday citizen.”
Rocket Spaceman was a little taken aback. “Well, I… Well, yes sir; in fact that’s exactly what I tell people when they call me brave.”
“So, you agree with me?”
“Uh… well… yes, sir.”
“OK! Great. Thanks for clearing that up.” The President made a note on his atomic space-clipboard, speaking the words aloud as he wrote: “Rocket… Spaceman… is not… brave.”
“No, no, wait a moment, sir,” said Rocket Spaceman. “I am brave.”
“You are brave?” echoed the President, confused. He looked back at his clipboard. “That’s not what it says here. I thought you said you just do your duty, like an everyday citizen.”
“I…” Rocket Spaceman almost winced. “I was being humble, sir.”
“Oh, I see! I see,” said the President, and made another note: “Rocket… Spaceman… says… he is… humble.” He licked the heel of his right foot for a moment, to indicate he was thinking, then turned a serious eyeball towards Rocket Spaceman.
“Rocket Spaceman, does this mean that if you weren’t brave, you wouldn’t obey my orders?”
“Oh, no, sir. I would always do my duty, Mr President. I would always” – he repeated, this time staring into the distance again – “do my duty.”
“So this bravery of yours is purely theoretical, Rocket Spaceman. It has no observable effect on your behaviour. The reason you do dangerous missions is because I tell you to do them; isn’t that correct?”
Rocket Spaceman sighed in a masculine way. “Yes, sir.”
“Very well, then. Let’s have no more of your unseemly bragging. I need the facts, Rocket Spaceman. I’m the President.”
“Rocket Spaceman, your mission is this: Erogenella, the Vinyl-Costumed Sex Queen of Jupiter, has threatened to destroy the Earth unless we send her a handsome sex slave as tribute. Our top brain scientists have determined that because Erogenella is a woman, sooner or later she will fall in love with our brave hero, which will neutralise the Jovian threat. Now this may happen as soon as she lays her exotic golden eyes upon him, but more likely, weeks, months, even years of kinky alien sex may be necessary.”
Rocket Spaceman did body language that meant he was steeling himself. “Mr President, I’m ready to make any sacrifice to protect the people of Earth.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Rocket Spaceman, because we’ve chosen your younger brother Larry Spaceman to be our tribute, and we need you to take him to Jupiter in your rocket.”
“Larry!?” cried Rocket Spaceman in valiant surprise.
“Well, as you know, he doesn’t have a rocket of his own.”
“But… but sir! Larry… Larry is…”
“Yes, Rocket Spaceman?” The President flared a concerned nostril. “Is there something we should know about Larry?”
“Well, for one thing, Mr President, Larry is overweight. It’s not attractive.”
“Oh, nonsense!” said the President, gesturing ‘sausage’ in sign language to convey a mixture of amusement and annoyance. “Perhaps he could lose a few pounds, which as you know is the standard unit of mass used all over the Earth. But Larry has a nice face and a great personality. Women like to laugh, Rocket Spaceman, and your brother is very, very funny.”
“I’m funny too,” declared Rocket Spaceman, “and I’ve never been more serious in all my life!”
“Rocket Spaceman, Rocket Spaceman,” said the President in a soothing tone. He reached through the television phone and patted Rocket Spaceman on the shoulder. “I can see what you’re trying to do, Rocket Spaceman. You want me to choose you as the tribute instead. You would sacrifice yourself to protect your brother from danger.” The President looked at Rocket Spaceman with admiring eyes, having first dug into his skull and popped out his standard-issue eyes.
Rocket Spaceman blushed like a man. “You can see right through me, sir.”
“Not with these ones, actually,” said the President, and swapped his admiring eyes for dual-purpose reassuring/X-ray ones. “Rocket Spaceman, your brother will receive the best training we can provide. Queen Erogenella is said to possess the beauty of a thousand human women, so we have gathered together the thousand most beautiful women on Earth, and as we speak, Larry is having sexual intercourse with them. First he will have sexual intercourse with them one by one, then in a number of combinations, incorporating every erotic fantasy scenario our experts predict he may encounter in the boudoir of the Sex Queen. This intensive sex-marathon will culminate in the formation of a massive, slippery fuck-pile; a mountain of one thousand beautiful naked women and baby oil, which Larry, your brother, will dive into and swim through in a wriggling, squeezing, squirting rhapsody of unbounded carnal pleasure. Incidentally you seem to have swallowed a paperclip.”
It was actually a staple left over from Rocket Spaceman’s tummy tuck, but he did not injure the President’s dignity by correcting him. “But sir,” he whimpered; “But sir,” he whispered, pouting with the heart of a lion, “What about me?”
“Oh, Rocket Spaceman!” the President cried, as enthusiastically as a shoe, which is a common expression in the future. “Don’t worry, Rocket Spaceman. You, too, will face dangers that I choose to accurately describe as sensual and dirty. Your flight to Jupiter is but the first leg of your mission, which has two legs, like a walrus, according to the best information we have about that long extinct animal. So prepare your ears to learn fully of this bipedality.”
“I have vestibular and cochlear nerves of steel, Mr President.”
“Very well, Rocket Spaceman. The remainder of your mission is this: An unmanned sanitation transporter the size of Lake Michigan has veered off-course, been drawn into the gravitational pull of a particular outer planet whose name I will mention shortly, and crash-landed. There is now poop all over Uranus. Rocket Spaceman, we need you to clean up the poop on Uranus. Wipe that poop off Uranus, Rocket Spaceman! There’s poop on Uranus! Clean it up.”
“But… but sir…!”
“That’s the mission, Rocket Spaceman. It’s all up to you. It will take you fifteen years. Goodbye, Rocket Spaceman! Goodbye!”
“But sir, you promised me danger!”
“Yes I did,” replied the President, shaking his head in the affirmative. “Good point, Rocket Spaceman. Rocket Spaceman, this mission is dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, our finest poop scientists believe that the vast flood of stinky poop now rapidly spreading across the jagged, hostile surface of Uranus may be on fire.
“Secondly, it’s possible that as a result of this accident, you may have to navigate an extremely delicate, even volatile, nexus of diplomatic tensions with the dominant sentient species living on Uranus, the Sharp-Toothed Easily Upset Uranian Penis Eaters. But Rocket Spaceman, I know that what you lack in physical strength and stamina, you more than make up for with intellect, discernment, and political nous.”
“No, sir, you’ve got it all wrong!” Rocket Spaceman objected. “I’m a sexy idiot!”
“Goodbye, Rocket Spaceman, and good luck! You have to do it. Goodbye, Rocket Spaceman; goodbye!” The President waved farewell, with his hands, because his feet were operating the controls of the television phone. He kept calling out, “Goodbye; goodbye!” while slowly fading out the audio before finally hanging up.
Godspeed, then, to Rocket Spaceman, purportedly brave defender of Earth – godspeed and toodle-oo! May the dreams of humanity lift your space rocket into the stars, or rocket fuel if that doesn’t work. Remember as you journey to distant worlds that you carry with you not only a mop and bucket, but Hope. Hope, the only choice of household detergent for the modern homemaker! Good luck, Rocket Spaceman, and fuck off!