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SUBJECT: To my unborn son
Greetings, Earthling, from Orbital 7! Your Home Away in the Stars TM.
You won’t get confused as to which Orbital I was on, because there are no Orbitals 1-6. The number 7 was probably chosen by the marketing department because it seems fortuitous and space-y and futuristic. ‘Orbital’, I think, was just a safe choice for a space station. What does it do? It orbits Earth. It also lends itself to some slick branding via the ‘O’, which is also kind of symbolic a thing in that it resembles the shape of the Sun or Earth or other celestial body, so there’s this ‘O7’ logo with a comet circling the ‘O’ all over the place that they think is pretty clever.
If you ask me, they should have called it Robo-Dick 13, because they could not have tried harder to make this thing more phallic. It’s even got two balls at the base, a circumcised head and everything. I’m sure there’s a very scientific engineering reason for why it looks this way, and this unfortunate shape was probably unavoidable in some way due to such considerations but come on. I would have loved to be in the boardroom when they put the first images of the schematics up on the screen and it looked like robot porn. ‘Uh, guys can we make it a little less…penis-y?’ Probably why the logo is the ‘O7’ and not the shape of the station itself.
…hopefully your mother withholds this email until you’re older.
Anyways, the reason I’d number it 13 and not 7 is because this station is unlucky.
Have you ever seen the movie The Titanic? Me neither. It’s a movie from when your grandpa was a kid and for a while it was the top grossing movie of all time until all the Marvel and Star Wars and Avatar movies came along. But the basic gist is that it was based on a real-life ocean liner that was state-of-the-art and supposedly incapable of sinking, but then it hits a big iceberg and guess what? Yeah, it sinks.
In this case, the Orbital 7 is the Titanic, and the iceberg is a small meteorite which has punctured the hull somewhere in the shaft of the robo-penis. The odds of this happening in the face of the shaft’s defenses were extremely small. At least, that’s what the captain told us via video link in what was (ironically) the most limp-dicked pseudo-apology of all time. He also told us we were in Code Red lockdown mode.
We (the guests and crew) learned what this means in a corny safety video they made us watch before boarding. Basically, we are locked in our rooms because they are airlock compartmentalized. I have to wait here until the ‘wing’ or hallway which leads to my room is ‘cleared’ or otherwise also airlock compartmentalized and safe, at which point me and everyone else with a room in that wing can then proceed from our rooms into said wing, at which point we wait until the adjoining wing can be cleared, airlocked, compartmentalized, etc. until eventually enough wings are cleared such that we can get to the escape pods. This makes sense in terms of procedure. Of course, being ‘below-deck’ folks, our way to the escape pods is much further than that of the paying guests, more in the ‘balls’ of the Orbital 7 than the base of the shaft.
The thing is, it’s been about 5 hours now since we’ve heard this, and I’m still locked in my room by the pressurized door. The video comm link seems to be down. I’m looking out my window now and I see all this space debris floating around, and though I can’t see where it’s coming from, I can only imagine it’s from where this little meteorite has fucked us greatly.
So, much like I imagine Titanic to be, my tale here of Orbital 7 is also a critique of classism and capitalism, albeit a mercifully shorter one. Point being - things aren’t looking good, and you’re probably wondering why I’m not down on Earth with my pregnant wife, your mom.
I ended up here because I sling funnies for a living, which is how my old man described what I do. AKA standup comedian. This profession is a good way of tricking people who have money into giving you money. Particularly since rich people these days are pretty much devoid of humor and need idiots like me to say things which they can regurgitate to their friends and pass off as their own to make them seem like they have a personality.
Unfortunately, I am not a super successful stand-up comedian. When you go to school and tell your friends about me, they or their parents will almost certainly not be familiar with ‘Pete Walsh.’ (Unless, of course, they are huge fans of the sitcom Good Tidings from the Lunar Loft, in which I have a couple of guess star appearances and my sole acting credit as ‘Ralph’, the alien wizard.) I am the sort of middlingly successful comedian who, when offered somewhat big-time money to do nightly stand up on a vacation satellite liner, must accept. If only for exposure.
To be honest, I also figured it was my only chance to get on one of these things.
When I was growing up and people started going to space more, everyone always said the same old stuff that we’ve been saying since the 1960s, about how when you see the Earth from afar, it really puts things in perspective, ‘pale blue dot’ and all that, yada yada. I wanted to feel that too. I’ve felt that and more.
In the rooms for actual guests, they have these big, huge windows that make you feel like you’re just out there, drifting. Here in my ‘below-deck’ cabin I have this little spaceport window that’s just enough to remind me I’m in space. When I put my hand on it, I realize that all that separates that hand from a cold, uncaring void is a few inches of glass.
I think that’s how you must feel too, with your little fists on the inside of your mom’s tummy. Very soon you’ll be pushed out into what seems like a cold, uncaring void. Someone will cut your umbilical cord, which sort of looks like the thing astronauts wear to stay connected to the space station. You will be untethered, floating into the great unknown. I assure you though, my little brand-spanking new human: it is not a bad place. My advice for you is to be brave. Take what life has to offer. If someone wants to pay you to tell jokes about zero-G sex and floating jizz on a space station, don’t be afraid to accept.
Unless, of course, your wife is pregnant. Big mistake there.
I love you both, and I’m sorry. If I ever get out of this mess, I promise to never leave the both of you again. I don’t have any Wi-Fi or cell service at the moment, but I’m hoping that if I stick this in my pending outbox, it’ll get to you eventually.
Godspeed my little astronaut. If someone floats by on a space door big enough for me to hitch a ride back down to Earth, I promise I’ll take my chances.
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