It was an ingeniously simple design for which the Intergalactic Utilities Company held a universal patent. From planet to planet their lightweight water-proof canopy, known colloquially as The Burp, provided a plethora of life saving functions.
On Smorg, a world blighted by adverse gravity The Burp served as essential ballast in preventing its occupants from floating away.
On the perpetually damp world of Frond, The Burp protected its highly absorbent inhabitants from swelling up and exploding.
But by far an away its most lorded use was on the notorious bland planet of Beige where colourful Burps played an integral part in spicing up their mating rituals.
Written for: Friday Fictioneers
‘Their greatest trepidation when embarking upon the 250-year mission was that the folks back home would simply forget about them, and their fears were well-founded. With the pace of life of being what it is – ever more rapid and introspective, they were presumed lost. The technology was unproven over such a duration and their dormant bodies wouldn’t stir for many decades, if at all.
When the signal arrived the government deciphered it using an analog device they borrowed from a museum. Before them, in gloriously grainy splendour, stood a solitary astronaut. There were no words and no movement. What did it mean? Had they been successful in their colonisation, or had everything gone disastrously wro…’
The young man paused the tape.
‘Granddad made this shortly after the Aurora programme was cancelled. They let him keep the suit, and the rest he mocked up in the attic with bin bags and tinsel.’
‘Why an earth would he do such a thing?’
‘To hang onto the path-not-taken I guess. His desire was to die heroically out on the frontiers of the unknown…and instead he’s sitting in a lawn chair talking to himself, repeating over and over again…heaven’s door slammed shut.’
Written for: Sunday Photo Fiction
Photo: © A Mixed Bag 2012