With one arm he had me shoved against the bulkhead and with the other he held the shiv uncomfortably close to my throat. “You are going to help me get to that supply ship? Or…”
“Or what?” I hissed through clenched teeth. He dropped his arms and stepped back . “Or you’re never getting your chocolate bars, smart guy.”
I looked out the porthole towards the mid-flight supply ship appearing to float serenely a bare 100 meters off the bow as we slowly rotated to maintain an appearance of gravity.
“You, are nucking futz you nucking futzer!” My mind spun crazy, the Captain, Trilla, that space-mad fat bastard and now my chocolate. “There’s two things that fat bastard on that ship doesn’t need is oxygen and my swutting potato chips!” Smith punched the bulkhead with a fist. “let’s get busy.”.
I never thought I’d be desperate for chocolate on a Mars mission, but I’d never met a woman like Trilla. It started innocently enough. How she snuck that perfume on board I’ll never now, or maybe that’s her natural scent? Maybe we all mutated after that burst of solar rays. Space Force uniforms do their best make us as unattractive to each other as possible, but after that week when the coolers were FUBAR we got used to sitting around in our sweaty underwear day after day.
Then she ran out of the last of her Toblerone supply, months too early. Soon after that she noticed how I was looking at her. “Hey boy…” That’s how it really started. Wasn’t long before we were trading kisses for Hershey’s Kisses. Then a couple of times sharing the zero-gee shower and she had tapped me out in more ways than one.
Sound ridiculous? Spend a couple months eating carrots and carrots and carrots in our cramped galley that still smells of gym socks after the dish washer exploded and filled the vent shafts with dirty water, and believe me, you’ll be ready for a pick me up.
Lacking it’s own rotation, supply ship Shackleton Jr had become a dangerous place to be. At least that’s what I told them. Right, Navigator? Yes, of course I’m right. I watched that Mars Surfer 3 match course and velocity on the Space Radar. Time for another Lay’s Snack Pak. Mmmmm crunch crunch. They have things for Duke, don’t they Captain? Oh yes they do!
Time passes, painkillers kick in…
The fat man swung a big left hook at me, which left him spinning in the half empty cargo hold, his necklace of human skulls following his trajectory like his stench. Smith held on to a zero gee strap with one hand and the back of my space pants with the other. I clung to the floating cargo container and poked that unwashed blowfish further away from any grip with my metal yard stick.
“Captain and Navigator do not like you! Duke StarVader does not like you!” Raved the fat man as he slowly spun towards the far wall, a blimp smeared with unwashed body grease and chip crumbs. “Jay-zuz, how long do you think he’s been alone here?” Wondered Smith as he pulled me in reach of the cargo ladder. “Long enough to eat the best of our supplies, God knows what he did to get those skulls.” I replied.
The hapless StarVader continued to spin slowly and drift across the bay waving his corpuscular arms and legs with futivity and spouting enough spittle to almost provide propulsion.
“Forget that Space Turd. Let’s get this back to the ship and hidden before Trilla gets off the Captain and he orders refueling.” I smarted at being reminded who on board still had chocolate. “Hey,” he ribbed, “if this space ship’s a-rockin’ don’t come a-knocking!” We slowly slung the bulky container towards the auxiliary cargo dock being careful to avoid the occasional loogie spat out by our raving fat friend.
“Stick it where the solar flares don’t shine, Space Fag!” I growled with anger as we wrestled the thing to the door. “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, Butt Virgin!” Laughed Smith at my annoyance, and stuck his hand to his forehead shaped in the form of an “L” the intersolar sign for “Loser!” and doing a little dance. That fucktard. I mentally crossed him off my Zarkmas card list.
Back on the Mars Surfer, Smith and I were stuffing snack pack sized bags of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips into every possible corner of our cabins. Just handling them I started to drool. “I’m so farkin’ sick of carrots” I garfed out.
“You and me both buddy.” Rejoined Smith. “If I ever get my hands on the tech who stocked the garden pod with nothing but carrots he’s going to wish he died choking on someone else’s vomit.” He gently caressed one of the chip bags. “Oh sweet baby, make me rich” he crooned.
“Ensign Smith and Ensign Bitters please report to your duty station for Space Manoeuvers” crackled over the ship intercom. “They sure picked the right name for you, Grumpy-Pants!” Chuckled Smith as he smacked me on the back of my head. My face burned, but I needed that chocolate. “Yo… Yo momma!” I stammered ineffectually and we trooped out the door to the command deck.
All gleaming silver metal surfaces and important blinky space lights our command deck of the Mars Surfer glowed with efficiency. Every fake hair on Captain Fucktard’s head was perfect coiled around his crown. As we entered he jabbed a digit at the Space Phone, displaying the pizza-like face of the pimpled and greasy character in the ship next door. The sound was off, but the ranting was evident.
“Crew, what do you make of this? He claims to be a Sovereign Space Citizen and you stole his Space Cookies.” Questioned the captain.
“Well, Captain Sliptard, how could that be while we were all on laundry duty?” I replied, hoping to sound sincere.
The Captain cocked a finger at Trilla. “Science Officer, what do you think of this Space Dip-Derp?” She tucked a stray brown hair behind an ear, clearly still wet from a recent shower. She watched the screen carefully with her, may I say it? Space Boner busting beautiful slightly slanted Asian almond eyes. “Space Madness, Captain. The rest of the crew seems to be missing and he’s demanding double the oxy we were scheduled to drop off while getting our supplies and fuel.”
Smith spoke up. “Captain, mass detectors indicate a, uh, significantly lower cargo load than expected.” Smith cleared his throat. “And where’s the rest of the crew?” The occupants of the command deck traded glances. The bloated man on the screen appeared to be using human skulls as puppets for an animated discussion.
The Captain scratched his nose. “I suppose there’s no volunteers to board and see what he hasn’t eaten?” Silence in the compartment. Seeing blank stares from his crew Captain Sliptard made a command decision. “No cannon fodder on board today? Very well. We’ll use the cargo arm to pull off the fuel we need without boarding and the rest of the trip we’ll be on half-carrot rations until we get to Mars orbit. An audible groan escaped from the crew. “Oh, do I hear some volunteers?” He swung his gaze left and right, clearly nothing doing.
And so, my career as a snack item smuggler began in earnest.