Space Shot by Tony Dawson

Date: Easter Monday 2016  

Location: Cape Carnival Space Centre,  Dublin, Ireland                                          

My name is Valley, John Valley.  I am related to the first American astronaut John Glen.   It is only fitting that I
was chosen to be the first Irish citizen to go to the planet Mars to celebrate 100 years of Irish government
incompetence sorry I mean  independence - I think?    It was not a particularly pea picking pleasant experience.

With mixed emotions I slunk towards the gigantic edifice on the launch pad.   Ten thousand questions flooded
my mind as I made that journey.  Why  am I doing this?  Did I put the cat out before leaving home?  Who killed
JFK ?   If I do come back will I be in time to find out what happens at the end of Coronation Street?  I cannot
recall the other nine thousand nine hundred and ninety six questions.  Perhaps that's just as well because I
would never finish this story if I wrote them all,

By this time I was aboard the spaceship.   The strong hands of a  technician tied me to my cockpit seat, while
the even stronger hands of the prison warder held me to prevent any escape attempt.  "T minus two minutes!"
the voice of launch control crackled through my headset. It seemed like a lifetime until "T minus one minute!"
was announced.   Then we hit "T minus ten seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6"   "Hey!!"  I shouted  "I forgot a very important
piece of equipment!  Hold the countdown!  Stop the bus I wanna gerroff !"  "Holding at T minus 6 seconds"
announced the metallic voice of the launch controller.

The space capsule hatch was unlocked, the belts were opened and I was hoisted back to the ground.
Sorrounded by eager inquisitive faces I had difficulty saying the words   "My nose is dribbling and I forgot my
hanky"    The air force general beside me said harshly "Here take mine.  I only used it twice today" as he
pushed a damp cloth in my space suit breast pocket.  "Now get back on board and **** off".  The missing word
was not "blast".  

Suddenly a TV reporter burst through the crowd.  "Mr Valley how do you feel about this mission"  "Hih ehh
kinda nervous " I responded considering THAT spaceship consists of about 50 thousand parts each of which
was bought from the lowest bidder".  I was hastily ushered back to the ship and before I could think of any
further delay tactics I heard "Recommencing countdown at 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.   Blast off !

As the ship lifted into the cosmos I thought how being an astronaut made me feel so proud and brave.   I could
never bring myself to admit to Space School that I suffered from acute arachnophobia. Then I saw It.  The
creepy crawly, evil eyed, long legged SPIDER. Aaaeeeaaagh!   When I recovered consciousness I was
surrounded by a mass of instruments and flashing coloured lights.  I decided to open the seat belts so I could
float around the cabin and carry out some experiments.  I reckon I must have opened one belt too many as my
pants floated in one direction and I drifted in the other.

As I made adjustments to the ship's controls I drifted towards the porthole. Imagine my surprise when through
the window I saw a space craft identical to mine except for the insignia of a shamrock on my ship being
replaced by a union jack next to the registration letters XTC on the other craft.    I grabbed a sheet of
cardboard and wrote "COPYCAT" in large bold letters.  I realised the other pilot saw my sign as soon as a
glove appeared at the other ship's window with the two first fingers at an angle of 35 degrees to each other.

I was furious.  I began to dance with rage.  Zero gravity caused me to bounce from one side of the ship to the
other.  When I took a second look through the window I noticed the other pilot was in quite a pleasant mood.  
Then I saw that he had two hankies stuffed in his pockets.   One in each breast pocket.  Then it hit me  "Those
are not hankies!"  "Hey"  I thought "He's a she,  I reckon I can do something for GLASNOST between the two
Western European Islands"  Pressing the transmit button I radioed a message to earth.   "This is Major John to
ground control - I'm feeling very different today and I'm floating in a most peculiar wa-a-ayy. "

With that I opened the hatch of my space ship and floated towards XTC.  Then I remembered my pants
floating around my ship.  "Aw shucks I thought, who needs them where I'm going!"
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