Thursday, 18 August 2016


“Holly? Yes of course. He was our Flight Director for our launch to the space station. I got to know him quite well. He was a good man—tough but fair and quite a character. Why?”
Nick and I gave Vladimir a summary of how, when, and why we first met Holly and the many times our paths had crossed since, up to and including our selection for the Albatross project.
“Sounds like he was a good friend of yours. I am truly sorry for your loss and for the senseless loss of a good man’s life…but then how many billions of good men, women, and children’s lives were senselessly lost, sacrificed to the gods of ultimate stupidity, greed, and power by our worthless, paranoid, and ultimately insane leaders?”
He then looked at both of us in turn, with a look of embarrassment on his face.
“I’m very sorry about that outburst. Senseless waste of life always makes me angry and outraged, especially on such a huge scale. If you will excuse me, I think I will take a short walk to calm down and clear my head. I will catch up with you later.”
“Yes, of course, my dear Vladimir; that’s perfectly understandable. We will see you later,” Nick replied.
Vladimir rose from his chair and ambled out of the terminal. Nick and I looked around the room for the other crewmembers who had been sitting in the room, but they weren’t there.
“Vladimir obviously still hasn’t begun to get over the shock of it all yet. I guess it will take a long time for him.”
“Nick, he probably never will. I saw the shattered remains of our home planet from very close in LEO when I picked the crew up from the space station. It was a shocking and depressing sight to behold, I can tell you. I feel that sort of rage every time I think about it, which I try very hard not to do. He and his crew watched it all happening from that distance and then had to stare at the end result for months afterward. I am glad he didn’t decide to use his pistol on himself.”
“What did you say? Do you mean he’s carrying a pistol and you didn’t give me a heads up before I referred to him as Grizzly Adams?”
“Well, how was I supposed to know you were going to do that, you idiot? Anyway, he wasn’t carrying it at the time; I’ve got it.”
“You disarmed him then?”
“No, he gave it to me just after we cleared the space station and were on our way back to Mars,”
“He gave it to you? What the hell?”
“Yes. He also handed me a carryall containing five Desert Eagles with ammo.”
“He just handed them over? Why?”
“As a sign of good faith and trust, he said. Actually, that reminds me, I need to go and grab those two carryalls from T-2 later.”
“Two carryalls—what were they carrying in the second one, AK47 assault rifles?”
“No, you idiot. The second carryall contains the Desert Eagle you made me take with me.”
“Oh, right. Well, whatever you do, do not give them back. Hide them somewhere,” Nick advised.
“Aye, aye, Captain!”

“Bloody hell—I just realized who Grizzly reminds me of! If you discount the pelt of fur and the huge stature, he reminds me of Holly.”