One Small Step

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

One Small Step

(I was working on another story, but due to certain events, I tabled that story for another time.  I have no facts, no insight into the man’s thoughts, but this is how I like to think it happened.)

The man was ready to stretch his legs.  At just under six feet tall, the muscular man was ready to reach his destination.  The food, the confined area; it was time to be free.  He had spent what felt like years in the cramped vehicle and his destination was in sight.  Really, his destination had been visible for the past several days, but now he and his two friends were drawing ever closer.  Their end destination was in sight.

There was much excitement; also much to do in the metal container.  The man felt that the air was getting stale, much like his two companions.  There was only so much three men could do to stave off that stagnant smell.  Happily they all were enjoying the ride, especially the spectacular view.  The man pondered if the folks at home knew how important it was to really see the bigger picture, that there was more to the world than just them.

Daydreaming would have been easy, but the man and his two friends had work to do.  Michael kept his hands on the controls, making sure their trip didn’t end in a crash.  Soon, the man and Buzz parted ways with Michael and three became two.

The man ran over a checklist in his head.  Now was not the time for mistakes.  Money had been spent.  Hopes had been raised.  This wasn’t just his own little road trip.  He had a purpose.  He ran lines in his head.  He thought about what to do.  And before he knew it, he was standing at the door.

He moved slowly, carefully.  The excitement grew within him.  He gripped tightly to the rung as the thick gloves challenged his dexterity.  As his breath echoed in his ears, the man started to hear voices talk to him.  He acknowledged the others who were rooting for him and the man went about his work.

The ladder was steady and secure.  The environment outside the man’s suit was silent and desolate.  The world that he was used to was millions of miles away.  There were no other people, no seas of endless colors, and there was no sign of any life or activity.  The wave of accomplishment washed over him.  His inner-child fought to come out and play.  He felt the ground greet his shoe as he placed his foot on the rocks and dust.

So it began.  And thanks to Neil Armstrong, everyone on Earth got to go along for the ride.  Rest in peace.

Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.” -Neil Armstrong

(If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend watching, In the Shadow of the Moon.  Armstrong declined to be interviewed, but you can feel him throughout the entire documentary.  Every other person who went to the moon is represented.  I can’t say enough great things about the film.)

From Mars with Love

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

From Mars with Love

It’s definitely the quiet before the storm…  There’s a tremendous anticipation.” -NASA Chief Scientist John Grunsfeld before Curiosity landing

An eerie calm had fallen over the nation.  Only a brief time after the country had celebrated one space achievement, they started to dread what was beyond their telescopes.  Another robot had landed on the red planet.  Technology had made it possible for the human race to explore other worlds.  Now, they waited in terror as something was sent in return.

It was only days after the cheering had started that the news came in.  An object from space was headed to Earth.  Countless items and rocks hit the planet every year with most people not even noticing, but this article was different.  Scientists reversed the trajectory and determined its point of origin; Mars.  Some more outspoken members of the scientific community commented on what they thought was a propulsion system.  Regardless of the fact of how it was traveling, one thing was perfectly clear.  The item was moving in an almost perfect trajectory towards the nation that had sent the robot not so long ago.

The timing seemed oddly perfect.  The closer the object came, the more determined it appeared to be to connect with The United States.  The lead on the project was tempted to note that some sort of adjustment might be taking place, almost a course-correction.  He soon decided that such a suggestion was preposterous.  The world would quickly find out how likely that possibility was.

As the projected collision date came, more and more information was released.  The object contained a metallic structure that had never been catalogued before.  While the point of origin was being whispered in certain circles, a new fact had been unleashed to the public and was creating a panic.  The object was changing speed.  It still traveled at an astonishing rate, but the rocket was most definitely slowing down.

A myriad of fantastic responses had been tossed around.  Many military officials recommended outright destruction of the object.  A group of scientists suggested that there might be a way to slow the item down or even catch it in a kind of springy web.  In the end, any plans that were created required a larger timetable than the world had.  The rocket would hit Earth in twelve hours.

If the object was headed towards water, that would have been cause for relief.  Should the item start burning apart, even a little by the atmosphere, then there would be an element of hope.  Yet, the unidentified flying object continued to hurtle towards Florida.  If it was a weapon of destruction, it was sure to do its job effectively.

Then, as humanity started to worry for its future, a strange thing happened.  Less than a few miles from the surface, massive protrusions extended from the hull.  Looking like a cross between propellers and pontoons, the limbs wiggled and circled violently in the air they were plummeting through.  It was later agreed that they were creating an opposing force to act as brakes.  By the time the human eye could see the capsule, the sun gleaning off its still unblemished exterior, the object had slowed its decent to that of a hot air balloon.

The President noticed this and refused to order any attacks.  He told the public that he felt sure that if this were an attack, they would have found out by now.  Instead, he went ahead with the plan to collect and investigate whatever the item was.  Every screen and monitor was filled with the image of the cylindrical object landing gracefully in the downtown area of Tallahassee, Florida.

A task force like no other amassed around the object.  The CDC went in to scan for any harmful bacteria.  NASA came in to consult on any engineering matters or radiation concerns.  The military emptied their experimental weapons cache and trained all scopes on the item.  Environmental agencies checked for any new pollutants.  Intelligence agencies watched to see if they could assess a threat level.  Even Neighborhood Watch was called in to assist SWAT with crowd control.

Weeks went by as the government repeatedly assured the American Public that they would release information as soon as they had all their facts straight.  The object, or The Mars Missile, as it became known, was almost a mile long and they wanted every inch of it to be explored.  Months later, and to the world’s surprise, an introductory letter was released.  For its historical importance, the document is shown in its entirety.

Dear Neighbors,

Greetings from the planet next to yours.

We must admit that it is a bit embarrassing to do this through such primitive means, but it seems the simplest course of action.  We, the citizens of Mars, bid you good tidings and joyous salutations.

Please forgive us if our methods seem intrusive or our language is crude.  It took us about ten of your years to hack into the two previous probes that you sent and reverse-track the signals that you sent.  However, in the past few years, we have been able to pick up transmissions from your world and have done our best to learn your language.

We were unsure what to make of the two items that you sent.  The Citizens of Mars for More Intelligent Enhancement Systems, or COMMIES, if you prefer; decided to try to improve your creations.  You may have noticed that your robots turned off and stopped transmitting.  That is because we used them to comb the surface of our planet. 

You see, after who knows how many years of living underground, we must confess that the surface has become a bit unkempt.  We’ve turned your two probes into motorized landscapers and have set them about tidying up the place.  We trust that you don’t mind.  After all, wasn’t that your entire purpose for WALL-E?  (Please note, we can’t tell if the spelling is WALL-E, WALL*E, or something else entirely.  We ask that you do not take offense.)

With the arrival of your newest gift, we cannot help but feel remiss in our manners.  You have clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to be neighborly.  Honestly, we’re not sure what you want us to do with this third robot, but the sentiment is appreciated.  Is it to be a pet rock or some mantelpiece adornment that just looks nice?  Regardless, you clearly put a lot of effort into this gift and it would be unconscionable for us not to return the favor.

We are sending you one of our Dutiful Universal Cooling Kinetic Creations.  We have found that since we moved underground, we no longer need our DUCK Creations.  We took the nicest one, fixed it up to survive the trip and a few millennia of use, and have sent it your way.  We believe that when placed over Greenland, it would fix any warming issues you are fighting.  We can see that your terrain is in need of assistance, and therefore we offer this Creation.  With proper upkeep, your atmosphere and temperature stabilization problems should become a thing of the past.

We do hope that no insult is perceived by this gift.  You have yet to embrace the underground life as we have.  Until you live in caverns and caves, we believe things will only get more unbearable without a DUCK Creation.  Should you already have the crisis well in control, please accept our apologies.  We meant no harm or disparagement towards your intellect.  We only wanted to help.  (If you do in fact have things in hand, please note that the DUCK Creation also crafts excellent Sno-Cones.)

We thank you once again for the gift, but hope you don’t mind if we ask you to hold off on more presents.  Our needs are few and our storage areas are at capacity.  Come by and see us some time.  We would enjoy giving you the grand tour.


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