Episode 2

Hello reader, we just landed on the moon!

It's been two years since we left Earth on our mission to increase the mass of Pluto so it can be a planet again, but Amy, this spaceship's designer, neglected to mention that it has a top speed of thirty kilometres per hour, so for the last two years we've mostly been playing charades. I, Trevor, am generally up for whatever, but Boot has been fairly vocal in his distaste for it, along with all his crewmates, describing it variously as "extremely irritating", "let me watch my videos in peace", and "I will kill you all".

Tina and Landon, by comparison, have become so good at it that they can usually figure out what the other is doing within a couple of seconds. It leaves me and Amy at a bit of a disadvantage, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Yesterday I figured out that touching your ear means "sounds like". Amy wasn't as proud of me as I think she should have been.

Anyway, we've landed on the moon and Amy has located the dark energy reservoir that will give the ship a speed boost, and is currently in her room rifling through her drawers to find the right USB adaptor. Tina's working on removing the child lock from the exit hatch that we installed when Landon declared he was fed up with lockdown within twenty minutes of reaching outer space and "just wanted some fresh air". Landon, just for reference, is 27. Boot, just for reference, is sitting on the sofa in the living room with his laptop, as usual. I presume he likes it there?

"Trevor, removing this lock would be easier if you weren't pressed up against the door doing your audio diary thing."

Naturally I have been looking out the window since we landed. I might not be the most excitable person in the world, or on the moon, but the chance of seeing some Clangers has me mildly intrigued, the most excited I've been since that time we had pizza for dinner. Yesterday, I think.

"Hate to break it to you bud," says Tina, "but the British children's TV show The Clangers, which featured cute aliens exploring their home planet, wasn't set on the moon. Their planet isn't named."

Really Tina, that was an uncomfortable amount of exposition, but I appreciate you taking my readers into account.

"Yes, but they might have relocated since then," I argue.

"Probably not," says Amy, who has appeared, wielding several USB adaptors and various other cables, some of which look hand-made, plugged into each other. I'm pretty sure there's a couple of loops in it, and several connections are sparking, despite the whole thing not actually being plugged into anything. "Clangers love checking out new tech," she continued. "We'd have seen them in the pictures from Chang'e-4."

"What's Chang'e-4?" asks Boot. I look around and he's all suited up, and is sat on one of the steps leading into this cargo area.

"The Chinese spacecraft that landed on the moon last year," Amy explains. "It sent—"

"Wait," Boot interrupts, irritated. "How would you know about news from just last year? We've been without TV or Internet since we left Earth."

It turns out Amy has been hiding a radio in her room, as she confesses, mumbling something about first mate duties and investor privileges, then states defiantly, "it's not like any of you ever listened to the radio before. Who listens to the radio? None of you!"

"Mostly because you had hidden it," Tina says. I don't think she's that bothered, but I think she enjoys winding Amy up.

"So you've been getting free entertainment while we've been here stuck watching Trevor's demonstrations of various ways to slice bread?" Boot says, raising an eyebrow.

"You're taking this better than I would have expected," I say to Boot.

"I'm already plotting my revenge," Boot replies, equally casually. I'm slightly unnerved, and I'm not even Amy.

A screeching, metal-being-torn sound puts a stop to that chain of thought, and I turn around to see that Tina has ripped and folded the cargo bay door off its hinges using a large mechanical device that looks a little like a can opener. She mutters something about child locks being hard before the rush of air out of the ship silences her and everyone else.

Gotta say, I'm not entirely a fan of being rapidly decompressed. Maybe I'm not a fan of being decompressed at all, but I don't have any points of comparison there. At any rate, having the air sucked out of one's lungs as if someone had taped a vacuum cleaner to one's face didn't really work for me.

Amy slaps a large red button next to the doorway as hard as she can, and a backup door slides down into place, sealing the doorway shut again.

"Oh, don't worry," Tina says, wielding the can opener at the new door. "I can get through this one too."

Before Tina has a chance to set to work, Amy pulls a syringe out of her bag and injects it into Tina's arm. Tina flops to the floor.

"Tranquilliser," Amy shrugs, when I raise an eyebrow at her. "I always carry one around. Usually for when I need the toilet but Landon refuses to get out of the bath.

"But why would you be in ther—how do you—oh, never mind," Boot sighs.

"Oh hey y'all," says Landon, walking down the stairs into the cargo bay, past Boot on the bottom step. He's wearing just a towel, wrapped around his waist. "Sorry, I overslept in the bath again. Oh hey, is it time to go out?" He presses the large button Amy slapped earlier. Amy slaps him back and reverses the door motion before anything more than Landon's towel is ripped out the airlock.

He's actually in pretty good shape.

"Oh hey, thanks Trevor," Landon tells me. Perhaps I should stop dictating my thoughts live.

"Landon, go get dressed so we can go outside," Tina chides him.

"It's fine, I don't need any clothes on; there're no other people on the moon."

"We're on the moon," Boot states, nonplussed.

This goes on for a bit, and we settle on Landon going out naked within the bubble dome of one of the moon buggies. Amy assures everyone that if we leave the buggy open outside for a couple of hours the seat will be thoroughly irradiated sterile. She also talks Tina out of also stripping off on the basis that Landon would be having more fun than her, by sacrificing her wind-up radio to Tina so that she can play some "mad beats" while out there. Tina now agrees with Boot that Amy having the only radio, when she uses the term "mad beats", was a travesty.

Once we're out on the surface, Landon and Tina start racing around the inside of a large crater, while Amy goes off in her own buggy with her USB contraption to harvest some dark energy from a promising patch of ground that looks otherwise unimpressive. Boot is driving away from us at full speed, radioing in something about social distancing, while I go off in the other direction to try to find a vending machine robot, or perhaps a supervillain's lair.

"Is everyone back on board?" Amy asks, strapping herself into the copilot's seat next to Tina.

"Yes," comes Boot's reply over the intercom.

"Is everyone, including Landon, back on board?" Tina clarifies from the pilot's seat.

"… No," Boot replies after a moment.

"Oh Boot," Amy says, disappointed. "You were going to let us leave Landon on the moon?"

"Look, his clothes are here, isn't that enough?" Boot snaps back.

"Trevor, be a dear, go let Landon back in," Tina asks me. I unstrap from the … Trevor seat and walk down to the cargo bay. Landon, I suppose having seen the engines firing up, is pressed against the glass window of the repaired cargo bay doors – his face, that is; after what happened this morning I feel I should clarify that – looking mournful.

"Hey Trevor, open the cargo bay door!"

I feel I exercised a certain amount of professional discipline in not making a HAL-9000 joke at this point, and Landon comes bursting in, having apparently found the spare spacesuit in the moon buggy he'd been using.

"Got him," I radio up to the cockpit. "Though the buggy hasn't been sterilised yet."

"Just stick a hazard warning label on it and seal it up," Amy replies. "We need to take off right now."

I wheel the buggy inside and do as they say, then I return to the cockpit with Landon, who is chuckling to himself.

"Why the urgency?" I ask.

"Well, I'm not saying I deliberately landed on the Apollo 11 moon landing site," Tina says, pressing various buttons on her console, "but, uh, let's just say the US Star Wars defence system is a little more beefy than publicised, and we have really pissed off NASA."

As if to demonstrate her point, a narrow laser beam begins firing from the Earth, visible through the viewport, Death Star style. A second later it strikes the wind shield in front of us. Luckily for us it's quite a bit less harmful than the Death Star. It leaves a small trace of soot on the window as it sweeps across. Quite anticlimactic, really.

"I guess that's what happens if you cut NASA's budget," Amy declares. "Well, we should probably get out of here anyway. My harnessed dark energy should give us quite a speed boost too, so be careful on the gas, Tina."

Tina is not careful on the gas, and we are all squashed against the back of our chairs, doing the flappy lips thing as the Croissant jerks forward at an alarming rate. We swerve around Earth, possibly doing a slingshot, then head off in the opposite direction to the contents of my stomach. Our speed levels out and my ribcage stops trying to attack my organs.

"Oh hey, that stuff has quite a kick to it. I should be careful on the gas in the future," Tina says, turning back to face us and grinning manically.

"Is everyone okay? Boot, you were just on the sofa in the lounge; are you all right?" Amy calls into the comms unit.

"Look," Boot doesn't sound bothered at all over the speaker. "It takes a lot for me to get off this sofa, and double-digit G-forces isn't one of them."

"Yeah Amy," Tina agrees. "Look, I didn't even spill my Club-Mate." She picks up the large stein of soft drink and starts draining it.

"WATCH OUT", Amy cries, as we plunge straight into a large comet, bursting it into dozens of pieces behind us. The Croissant was fortunately designed with reckless driving in mind, and the only thing that happens is that Tina ends up covered in Club-Mate.

"Oops," she says, wiping sticky liquid off herself and the dashboard, and finally appearing a little sheepish. "Never mind. I'm sure nobody was paying attention to that one."

I look it up in the database. C/2019 Y4. Not a very catchy name. Tina's probably right.

"Next stop: Pluto!" Tina declares, excited.

Amy consults the charts. "Pretty sure it's not this way. We're leaving the solar plane almost perpendicularly."

"I'm 99.7% sure this is a shortcut!" Amy decides on the spot.

I go to put on the kettle.