“Hey, y’all, it’s your personal space-cadet, Beth Oh,” the young woman in a vertically oriented frame said by way of an introduction. “You know I have a new episode of the Quantum Dish podcast dropping in a couple of days—and you’ll definitely want to check that one out—but I’ve been seeing something for the past day or so that couldn’t wait. I had to comment now and set the record straight!
“I don’t know what’s going on, but people all over the boards, nets, and social media outlets are spreading these false rumors about Marco Chung. They are saying that during the Interstellar Parade he just looked off or wrong or some other nonsense, that something didn’t look right. Well, let me address all these unfounded fairy tales right now.
“Number one: Marco Chung is hella old! Like, he was born before any other living human in the entire universe. He’s so ancient that he predates many of the age deceleration and reversal treatments we have nowadays. I think y’all are just not used to seeing geriatric people. My great-grammy actually refused a lot of what she called the ‘cures for the vain’, so I’ve seen what unimpeded aging looks like. Sad to say, great-grammy is no longer with us because of her stance, but you can count on me taking anything and everything the doctors come up with. I intend to live forever and see the heat-death of the universe!
“Now, second off, HSA to—”
The video suddenly cut off. A few moments later, a second one appeared in the feed that had the same setup as before. Beth told her followers and random watchers alike, “Sorry about that, I hit the time limit. I’ll try to talk faster!
“As I was saying, Marco Chung is an elderly man who had just spent years in space and HSA immediately shoved him out on a float. He didn’t even get a warning that it was coming until he was already on the space elevator. Yeah, it takes a while to get from the docking station to the ground, but I’m sure it still would have been nice to have a moment to himself before he was suddenly thrust in front of a crowd of people. I mean, I hope Marco used the bathroom on the trolley before he stepped out because they didn’t even give him a chance to pee!
“And let’s not forget that he had been in microgravity since entering orbit and before he could dock. There was actually a backlog of Quantum, Torch, and conventional ships waiting to get in and out. Whoever heard of a traffic jam in outer space before? Well, I guess HSA has found a way to produce another first! But anyway, even just a day floating around out there can have a profound impact. No one bothered to check and make sure he was walking well enough in the return to full 1G.
“Finally, anyone who knows anything about Captain Chung’s history and personality already understands that he does not like loud crowds and lots of noise. Come on extroverts; even you must realize that having thousands of people screaming and throwing things his way would be uncomfortable for him. You combine that with all of the other stuff, and of course he seemed disconcerted and disoriented. Y’all are reading into absolutely zilch. Nothing nefarious is going on with Marco Chung, HSA, the Human Expansion Program, Quantum Ships, or anything else.
“Okay, rant over. Sorry for going on for so long, but I really had to get this off my chest. The bottom line is this: Marco Chung is fine, so leave him alone!”
The above piece is an excerpt from the speculative hard science fiction novel Compendium of Humanity's End by J.P. Prag, available at booksellers worldwide.
Learn more about author J.P. Prag at www.jpprag.com.
Compendium of Humanity's End is a work of mixed fiction and nonfiction elements. With the fiction elements, any names, characters, places, events, and incidents that bear any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. For the nonfiction elements, no names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated except for hypothetical situations.
About the Creator
J.P. Prag is the author of "Compendium of Humanity's End", "254 Days to Impeachment", "Always Divided, Never United", "New & Improved: The United States of America", and "In Defense Of...", and more! Learn more at www.jpprag.com.