a person takes the trip of a life time to a resort on the moon. A funny story
MADNESS OVER LUNA
I remember it as if it were yesterday. There I was flying over the Sea Of Storms in the Russian area of Luna on shuttle flight thirty one, when it happened. I was busy tucking into my in-flight dinner consisting of flavoured potatoes, onion extract, and a generous portion of liquefied steak, and thoroughly enjoying it when, an elderly passenger in front rose unsteadily to his feet, and said in a quivering Russian accent: 'This is a stick-up.'
Initially my first reaction was: oh God, not moon-madness! Not here! Few passengers took any notice.
'This is a stick-up!'
This time his voice carried some weight. It had a terrific effect on the fat lady beside me. Up until then she had been oblivious to everyone around her, gobbling her food in blissful content. Now she froze, her jaws as well, and let out a piercing scream, her fat meaty arms flinging, her dinner fork miraculously missing my nose.
In chain reaction style, screams, shouts, and a healthy dose of expletives travelled the length of the craft. Another man stood up. He too was elderly and spoke in a Russian accent. 'This is a hijack,' he announced. The first hijacker turned round, eyed the turmoil he had created and said apologetically, 'Sorry, it's a hijack, not a stick-up.'
'Yes, I gathered as much,' I muttered, greatly annoyed by the whole carry on.
He looked at me, his eyes glazed, pupils wide apart: a clear indication of Lunarian illness. Then I noticed he was holding what looked like a round plastic explosive, and I broke into a sweat. There is a golden rule to preserve when you are up against a moon-mad sufferer : do not provoke the patient in the slightest, the results can be disastrous.
From the cabin door of the flight deck emerged a man in his mid to late thirties. 'Ladies and gentlemen,' he shouted over the disorder. 'My name is Boris, please be calm. We have taken over control of the aircraft, and regret to say will not be flying to the holiday resort Yurigrad as planned.' There came a moan of protests. 'Instead we will be flying in a westerly direction to Armstrong Base, in the American area.' More protests. He then proceeded to stroll down the single aisle with two plastic explosives held up for all to see. Silence fell like a stone. He walked with an air of confidence which his two counterparts clearly lacked. His eyes were also glazed.
Ludicrous though it was, it appeared that these three Russians were seeking political asylum from the Americans. I could have told them, indeed anyone could, that it was a waste of time going to the Americans. Didn't they know that Russia and America had been on solid friendly terms for the best part of a decade? What with joint military manoeuvres, mutual agreements, and a monopoly on trade. Why it just seemed ridiculous. The Americans would not sacrifice a profitable and peaceful friendship for the sake of three loonies, regardless of what credentials they held -- they couldn't afford to.
The shuttle had changed course, heading now in a westerly direction towards the American area, which from where we were was only an hour and a half flying distance. I eyed the hijackers with trepidation, stationed at intervals along the aisle, their explosives at the ready, chatting merrily to the passengers. Nobody made any rash move to play the hero. I thought that most wise.
My heart went out to the two young stewardesses, who looked completely bewildered by the scenario. Perhaps their Grandmothers told them of their own hijacking days, of heroic deeds and dashing pilots. How they coped with the situation and, how they sometimes foiled the hijackers attempts. Turbulent flying days indeed. But on present day Earth, hijacking had become obsolete. There hadn't been an act of air piracy in forty years. As for Luna, there had never been one ... until now.
The fat lady beside me had calmed considerably, she was even finishing off her dinner. I looked out at the immense chain of jagged mountains silhouetted against the star studded heavens. I thought of my home in Melbourne suburbia, quiet, secure. I had left it to come here. Spent five years of hard savings working at a major distribution centre, so that I could enjoy a seven day vacation on Luna, and this bloody happens!
Boris the younger hijacker ran up the aisle to the cockpit. Twenty minutes later we were circling a sprawling network of huge silvery domes: Armstrong Base. Half an hour went by, and we were still circling. The cabin door opened. It was Boris looking very much down in the mouth. Suddenly he started blasting a young American couple with old fashion anti-American slogans from the last century. It was obvious that the Americans had refused their request. On humanitarian grounds however, the Americans let us land and refuel on a deserted landing dock, and then told us as only the Americans can: 'Beat it!'
When we were flying again, Boris informed us of our next port of call. 'Ladies and gentlemen, as you may have gathered the damn Americans have denied us political asylum. However we have complete faith in the Australian, Canadian joint area...'
Oh no! I thought. They have as much chance as an outback dunny in a cyclone.
The Australian-Canadian Joint area, or A.C. as it is usually termed, is the second largest on Luna. It is also unfortunately situated on the dark side of the moon. This then was to be our next destination.
It was a long journey stretching over four hours, performed without incident but for one, which frightened the hell out of me and every other passenger. It happened about a half-hour out of Armstrong. Boris was standing with his rump against a seat, that glazed sick look in his eyes when, a thin poker-faced bespectacled gentleman tapped him on the shoulder and said in a clipped distinctive accent: 'I say, old thing.' Boris turned round. 'Look, this is all frightfully boring,' continued the passenger, gesturing with his hands. 'Now if we all headed for Yurigrad like good chaps, I'm sure your people will understand that this little rumpus of yours was nothing more than a simple case of too much moon.'
I could not see Boris' face very clearly from where I sat, but the back of his neck had suddenly turned an angry red.
'Are you saying I'm mad?' snarled Boris.
The passenger was frightfully honest. 'Er...yes, as a matter of fact. But nothing a good dose of Moondex can't cure, what?' And to show Boris what he meant, shoved his little finger up his right nostril to indicate just where the medicine should go.
Boris exploded. 'Listen here, English, how would you like a dose of this up your nose!'
He pointed to the explosive he was holding, then thrust it into the face of the Englishman. The Englishman was not amused. He calmly closed his eyes, tipped his glasses up from the bridge of his nose, clicked his tongue in disgust, and went back to his newspaper. I braced myself for the explosion which never came, and I could have strangled that damn English fool for almost giving me a seizure!
We finally reached the Australian-Canadian Base Gabba, or La Gabba as the Canadians aptly name it. On the roof of each of its broad white domes was stamped a giant symbol of a maple leaf, with a roo in full flight across it. A surge of homesickness came over me. We circled, God knows how many times, while the hijackers pleaded continuously for political asylum. It was flatly refused.
Being dangerously low on fuel, we were refused landing permission, and just in case we forced one, A.C. blocked all landing docks. The situation looked hopeless!
The two older hijackers started weeping tears of frustration, while Boris their orator held court again. There was one place left on Luna that the hijackers had not tried, and as I thought of it, Boris mentioned it.
The Japanese area or sector, is the most secretive one on Luna, and the smallest. No tourists are allowed within its boundaries, and very few diplomatic Heads of State either, whether they are barbarians or not. A small piece of old Japan existing on six hectares of moon dust and rock, is how some Western observers view it. Sceptics maintain that it is still nursing wounded national pride left over from backing the losers in the high stakes game of World War Three and, just as in W.W.2 was left stripped, bankrupt, and swarming with barbarians. But by a goodwill gesture on behalf of the Americans, it had acquired a small piece of real estate on Luna, and now had a permanent station there. However it was still many years behind the superpowers in technology and other fields.
Fortunately for us the Japanese Sector was only a half hour flight from La Gabba. Had it been any further we would not have made it--not on empty fuel tanks.
A solitary white dome shone like a beacon in the distance; we were almost there. The three hijackers went through to the cockpit. I would have given a lifetime supply of in-flight dinners to listen in on the conversation between them and the Japanese. As it turned out I read it a few days later in the Luna Times. This is how it went.
First hijacker: Hello, hello, my name is Boris Blosksky. My friends and I request political asylum from your government.
Japanese: Did you say your name was Boris Blosksky!
First hijacker: Yes, the world famous Russian chemist--I have a penfriend in Osaka.
Japanese: Your friends who are with you...who are they?
Second hijacker: I am Oleg Yegorov, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who recently discovered the new rocket fuel formula for spaceships. I love Japan.
Third hijacker: I am Alex Shelkov, creator of the Markz 21, the most sophisticated camera in existence. My grandmother was born in Nagoya.
Japanese: Please land! We will transmit your requests to Tokyo, though I see no reason why they should not be accepted.
Shouts of joy echoed from the cabin. The three hijackers burst through the door, tears of joy running freely down their cheeks. Immediately they started kissing and hugging the passengers, followed by a short rendition of Cossack dancing, then another round of hugs and kisses for every passenger, not withstanding that Englishman. We landed. After the usual precautions were taken the exit door was opened. The hijackers yelped like excited puppies and threw down their explosives. Pandemonium broke out as passengers dived for cover. The hijackers roared with laughter; their explosives were nothing but -- dummies!
Three Japanese personnel came aboard and took away the three laughing singing hijackers. One hour later after refuelling we took off, setting a course for Yurigrad. As we zoomed over the pock faced landscape, I could not help but think of the pending political storm. Russia would be furious and break off any ties it had with Japan, perhaps go to war over the incident. At the very least espionage would come to Luna It would all be imported. The Moon was in for a long cold war.
But perhaps not. While writing down my little adventure, I've heard that a Japanese space shuttle has been hijacked on Luna. The three hijackers are believed to be an eminent chemist, a Nobel Prize scientist, and a top camera technician. When will they come up with a complete cure for moon-madness?
End michael downes