Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Muted Invitation

A muted invitation followed my knock. I keyed the door to slide open and stepped into the room. She was sprawled face down on across the floor, papers strewn about her like the aftermath of a bomb.

“Any luck” I asked, plopping down beside her. The only answer was the furious scribbling of a pencil. I picked up a piece of paper with equations scrawled haphazardly across it. A dozen light years from home, hurtling through the void of space by the power of science and technology and using pencils and papers. I remembered an old story about superpowers developing space-worthy writing implements.

She snatched the paper I was holding and compared it to the one she was working on. “Any Luck?” I repeated.

“You can’t rush greatness.” She mumbled around the pencil. “If you do it stops being great and just becomes...Pi/2 divided by…” Her mumbling wandered off into the forest of mathematics.

I laid back and closed my eyes. Couldn’t rush greatness. But here we were, rushing through the void, towards our own destruction. A minor miscalculation meant we’d miss our gravitational slingshot ride off into the sunset. Pretty literally. I glanced at my wristwatch. 20 hours to live. But more importantly.

“Have you had dinner?” I asked, rising to my feet. She didn’t even glance up. I prodded her with my foot and repeated my question. She swatted at me and I gave up; headed toward the kitchen. I popped open her minifridge, gagged and slammed it quickly shut.

The ringing of my phone took a few minutes to register. I snapped my fingers. “Yo.”

Mac’s voice spoke out of the walls. “Got any food?”

I glanced at my timepiece. 2017, just under 20 hours left. “You headed over?” I answered.

“No, I’m over at Meri’s. But all her food’s spoiled. Which…. I really should have expected, I suppose.”

I chuckled. “So you need an engineer to save the day where a mathematician failed?”

“Pretty much” He replied. “Plus you could proofread, there’s no way I’m getting her to budge.”

I saved what I was working on, shutdown my terminal and was at Meri’s in a few minutes.

By the time Jim joined me in the kitchen I’d prepped all I could and put on some relaxing music. Something with plenty of bass and wailing. Sounded plenty tribal. Just the kind of thing for doing math.

“Any progress?” Jim asked as he stepped over Meri’s prone body.

I answered for her. “I haven’t checked anything yet.”

Jim deposited the comestibles he’d brought on the counter. “What if we bleeed off some of the hydrogen?”

“Too much pressure, not enough shielding. Sure thing we’d be blown up.” I shot back. “I was thinking of going the opposite way, deploying one of the nets and and trying to… you feel me?”

He shook his head and slid the diced onion into the pan.”Opposite approach opposite effect. Negligible pressure.”

Between the two of us we whipped up something tasty and full of calories. When it was done we invited the, still unresponsive, Meri to join us, opened a couple of bears and started in.

“Is it weird that we’re acting this normal when we’re about to die?” Jim asked with his mouthful.

“Two things.” Meri skipped from the fork step to the shovel it into your mouth step, neatly missing the plate step. Holding the pan with the rest of the food she neatly folded herself onto the tiny counter. “One, I’m not sure if syntactically it can be weird to be normal. And two,” she punctuated the point by taking another bite. “We may not be about to die.”

“Is this also a syntax thing?” I asked, glancing at my watch. “Like eighteen hours is more than about?”

She glanced at me before turning her gaze inward. I knew she was pondering the time limit of “about”.

“Meri, focus.” I called her back.

She shook her head as if to clear it and took another bite. “We only need a 2° change, which translates to 444,822.16 Newtons applied correctly. That’s not very much is it?” She said around a mouthful peppers and beef.

Jim started pacing. “So five- no make it six-hundred-thousand Newtons applied in such a way as to change our objective trajectory without ending our lives.” I watched Meri cringe as he said that.

I joined the conversation. “That’s really not very much.” I said.

“No.” JIm countered. “Just about three times the combined output of all four tie engines.”

“What about boosters?” I asked. I started to clean up, then realized how pointless it would be if we crashed in the next, glance at the clock, 17½ hours.

Jim walked over to the terminal and took a seat. “No good, we need them to decelerate and land. Doesn’t do us any good to make it past the sun and then die within orbit of the planet. Though it would by us time as a last resort.” He’d pulled up his desktop as he was talking. “Though I do have an idea.”

I peeked over his shoulder at the display. He’d pulled up the schematics for the landing parachutes. Cranes, robots and ‘chutes to safely land our supplies, advanced reconnaissance and us.

“I don’t get it.” I said. “There’s no drag here.”

“It’s not the drag.” He focused into the terminal as he talked. “Think about it, how do they deploy?”

I nodded in comprehension. “Explosively.”

“Explosively.” He echoed.

As if in response the speakers roared back into life. Something even more eclectic this time. Jungle music from Padua V. This was like the soundtrack to our shared undergrad life.

Apparently content since discovering that our problem had a solution, Meri had remained in the kitchen. She emerged with the music. “Anybody want some cheesecake?”

“Not if you pulled it out of that fridge.” I replied.

“The kitchen fridge is a decoy.” She shot back. “All the good food lives in my room.”

Jim pulled himself away from his diagrams to glance at me. “Lives? Please tell me she doesn’t mean that.” He said incredulously.

I shrugged, took Meri’s fork and a bite of the cheesecake. “Hey,” I mumbled with my mouthful. “If you’re gonna stop living in a handful of hours, might as well live them up.”

I swallowed. “Actually, this is pretty good.”

It took almost six hours to flesh out our plan and double check all the math. With the captain’s consent and the help of a few gang-pressed deckhands we rigged up the explosives along the hull. It would take out a pretty good chunk of storage but we moved everything we could into our already way too cramped living quarters.

The loss of a significant chunk of our delivery system meant a lot of the supplies would be rendered useless anyway. If we survived we would be setting ourselves up for a lot of improvising. When all was said and done we gathered at the helm to say a quick prayer and do a quick triple check. The biggest danger… The biggest dangers (in no particular order) were that: we’d compromise the ability of the MeriMac to support life, that we’d irreversibly disable its ability to rotate in such a manner as to create an artificial gravity, that we’d just straight blow ourselves up or… Anyway, we discussed all of this at length until Meri reminded us that our estimated time of rendezvous with the sun was only ten hours away and that if we didn’t do something within the next two we might as well not do anything at all.

So we said a quick prayer. The captain advised the crew of what was going to happen via intercom and we pushed the button.


  1. تعتبر شركة ركن كلين من اولى الشركة التى له اسما فى مجال خدمات التنظيف بالرياض وارخص شركة تنظيف بالرياض نحن لدينا احدث المعدات لجلى وتلميع السرميك وافضل المنظفات التى تستخدم فى مجال التنظيف الشامل بالرياض ، اذ كانت تبحث عن شركة تنظيف له اسما عريق ولديها الخبره فى التنظيف عليك الاتصال على شركة ركن كلين
    افضل شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
    شركة غسيل موكيت بالرياض
    شركة غسيل مجالس بالرياض