by Srinivasan Ranganathan

“When your birthday falls?” dejected Rena asked Albert.

“Precisely when the so called Jelly Rat asteroid hits on lunar surface” Albert replied, who’s also unhappy over Rena’s misfortune, in securing a place in NASA’s recent shortlist, a proposed long journey to mars. Wicked Harry averted the last minute chance of Rena, having won a place among 11 member finalists. Harry, one among 22 contenders, really did a poor performance and cunningly tried to call away Rena towards him. For dropping Rena, though she had literally qualified, Harry pleased Jennifer, who’s a cute lady and one among NASA’s selecting committee members. Rena and Albert loved each other with great affection and future planning. Of course, Rena in overconfidence appealed before NASA, seeking permission to marry Albert on mars, hoping that both would be on voyage to the red planet. Knowing this unfulfilled nostalgia, Albert tried to convince Rena, to mend her broken heart he tried hard to appease her but failed to cool down her. She never minded the suggestions that she could marry another one and settle eventually, but she remained obstinate, immersing her into deep distress.

NASA had planned to mobilize large stuff to mars, to help, save and protect its astronauts from possible space hazards. NASA’s scientists had found a new method to carry huge life saving materials, equipments and research apparatus within tiny hand held portions called Zip-Cell, in an unbelievable compressed form. According to a senior scientist, a Zip-Cell containing 1 million tons of compressed stuff could be placed on hand, and such an amazing technology really paved way to imbibe many ideas. A luxurious house, an atomic power station and huge rail tracks in great length could be no hurdle to transport through space. If a feasible solution were found to live on other planets then there would be definitely possibility of setting up inter-planetary transportation of any kind.

Rena was still reluctant in accepting Albert’s alternative suggestions, in view of her future. Until last minute he tried to appease her but failed. Albert swept her tear eroded eyes and said “Don’t worry I won’t compel you any more”. Rena gazed at him few second while Harry was watching this peevishly away from them. “Can’t you contact me until you return back here?” Rena murmured over Albert ears, giving big hands to hug him. “Why not? It’s possible!” Albert winkled his eyes. “My goodness, How?” Rena asked inclining her head on his chest. “Space astronauts could contact their family members via email, once in 3 months” A solid reply came as expected. As final alert rang through microphones, the 11-member crew began to ascent on board the Plasma Rocket. Rena silently waved her hands until Albert entered into ejection capsule with other astronauts.

Finally the Plasma rocket Felix took off, carrying 11-member crew towards mars. Rena watched this until the rocket fumes disappeared over dark night sky. With shedding tears she turned to her apartment, and with burning live nightmare, fell on bed to catch asleep but she couldn’t. It’s exactly at 10’o clock, the next day morning when she woke up. As grievous pain felt on her entire stretch of body, she started whining for some time. All of a sudden she rose from bed, and pensively intrigued herself about the set back. It was unknown when she entered bathroom and how long she had taken bath, piercing on glow light with drizzling showers, she stood almost an hour.

It was nearly afternoon when Rena entered a residential apartment area inside NASA’s premises. Previously she had intended to visit Jennifer, to know her weak points when she performed for mars mission. The neat compact yellow suite of Jennifer gave a pleasure outlook from a distance. Her hair thrilled when she walked over lawn. Finally she opened front gate of Jennifer’s house, possibly there was no threat of dogs. She strolled on the pathway to knock front door. She intended to press calling bell first, but she didn’t, instead knocked the door and gave polite call “Hello! Miss Jennifer!!” yet there was no reply rather she could find the door had opened inside and also melodious song could be heard. She hesitated, for a moment, and moved in, presuming she might be busy in doing something inside. She carefully stepped inside and crossed the hallway to reach a room, probably bed room, from where the string of music came out. While nearing the door, she could hear sound of hustles and hissings. “What she’s doing inside?” she felt suddenly embarrassed to disturb her as a guest, whose visit not expected. Somehow, satiating herself, slightly opened bedroom door and shocked to see Harry and Jennifer in naked on bed. ” Bastard?” Rena murmured without voice and silently shut the door. Many doubts sparkled inside, and more a conspiracy could be guessed. Anger flared face of Rena showed uneasiness. As conversation developed inside, Rena stepped towards side window and sharpened her ear.

“Why you requested me to drop Rena?” Jennifer asked Harry.

“It’s simple. I like her”

“Is she?” Jennifer asked.

“Never, she loves Albert” Harry took a deep breath.

“Albert? Oh! He’s gone to Mars, then how you believe she could change her mind?” Jennifer hissed, hugging Harry’s rib.

“She has to and in other words she has no other go than to incline on me” Harry smiled.”

Do you know what’d happen if she come across our affairs?” Jennifer asked seriously.

“I believe you won’t leak out any of this because you need my company then and there, am I correct?” Harry vociferously dashed his head on Jennifer. Jennifer laughed, nodding her head amicably.

Rena, with reverberating sorrow, made her way to parking lot to pick her car. In a turn, at parking lot, a blue Ford car attracted her attention, which she might have seen somewhere else. Carrying intolerable stigma and grief, she neared to that car and suddenly the anger again rose horribly, because it was Harry’s car now she could recognize it. She banged her hands on the car front portion, assuming pondering it. She sobbed out a few moments and picked up her lipstick from handbag. She wrote “You scoundrel!” and dropping down the new lipstick, which was presented by Albert, drove away from the sight.

Harry, waving his hands to Jennifer, came out and walked to reach the parking lot. From few yards distance, he could see the illegible scribbling on car front glass. Slightly irritated Harry gazed at it, and washing it out thought that who could’ve done this. He saw a strewn lipstick when pulled himself into his car and got down again to pickup it. It brand named as “Royal Lips”, a UK made popular lipstick. He drove his car towards Century Palace, where it could have purchased, to know the real purchaser by instinct.

The receptionist at Century Palace was reluctant in disclosing the name of the purchaser; Harry tried many ways to bilk out the receptionist, who wanted to know the reason. Finally Harry took few dollar bills from his pocket, and tapped them on receptionist’s hand to befall his pray. “This was purchased two days back by Mr. Albert” The receptionist uttered secretly, looking around of any body watching this.

Harry startled and stepped out, thinking that Rena could have seen him with Jennifer, and probably would’ve listen their conversations. Confused Harry sat in his car, gripping steering, without an idea where to go while his cell rang and NASA’s emergency call puzzled him to drive fast to report. “Why they’re calling me?” he couldn’t guess or imagine the reason rather a uncertain fear shrouded him, making the illusions that Rena might’ve expressed all to NASA’s authorities so that the call. Harry felt that he was well pinched in the hands of Rena. With no hope of escape and clamoring stop of his car, Harry entered NASA, before him panic mounted Jennifer.

“What’s going on?” Harry uttered harshly hiding illusions.

” Mars Space Craft is out of control!!” Jennifer showered in single breath.

“What?” Professed Harry changed his tone accordingly.

“Yeah the Space Craft going in different direction” Her face reflected great fear.

“What they say, control commands?”

“There is no way other than landing it on lunar surface according to a NASA’s spokesman” Jennifer damped her lips as it eroded often.

” Okay what’s our role now?” Harry questioned his summon.

“You, Rena and few others have to go to Moon for rescuing the Mars crew, who’ve given a three months sleeping doze, besides few other NASA’s plans on lunar surface.” Jennifer narrated everything.

Really a pleasant surprise both to Rena and Harry it was, which forced them to engage in an emergency preparation for a brief lunar visit. Rena became happy, as she had to meet Albert again unexpectedly.

Despite the mission thought to be failure, NASA didn’t want to loose its morale. Of course it had expected this type of hurdles that would be common in space travels and for that it had several ideas to cope with the situation. Stuffs intended to use on Martian soil could be diverted for the usage on lunar surface. Actually NASA had some other plans next to this Mars Mission, to send enough material to Moon to construct Atomic power stations, toy rail network connecting Polar Regions. Its main aim on Moon was to unearth huge hidden water resources, available beneath thick rocky formations over Moon’s polar regions. Scientists estimated that water available on Moon could be sufficient for one million people for at least a century. Space transportation and technology would emerge in really a new dimension, beyond that mankind could advance in further revealing unknown facts and secrets of Nature.

Rena got surprised to see sleeping astronauts inside the spacecraft Felix, all drowsy astronauts were relaxed and carried to base camp constructed over moon. The concrete and iron mixed base camp is a replica of pentagon, covering vast space inside to conduct experiments and of course it was flexible to multi role adaptability in an extremely vulnerable conditions. All ready-made equipments were uncovered from shrank zip cells to facilitate construction work on moon. It was almost couple of days after the Felix landed on Moon; all astronauts got awakened and felt deep disappointment, as their Felix failed on Mars Mission. Soon after Alberto explained to all about the new assignments and railroad construction work started. It wouldn’t be difficult to the crew, in laying rail tracks because all were pre-assembled components that made much easier the task during erection. Similarly atomic power stations also were built along the Polar Regions to generate power and mean time new sub-power stations were also built elsewhere along the railway track, to facilitate uninterrupted transport. Those sub-stations derive and generate power from high galactic cosmic rays using a wide range of radar arrays. Exactly it was a plan, to turn lunar surface as a holiday paradise. Many tales about settling on moon was become a realistic one. In US already people started in selling space over lunar for millions and millions of dollar. An increased multi level marketing strategy was dangling and dancing to its curiosity all over the world to boost sale of lunar lands. Lunar landlords, amidst of this course, begun to auction their assets to higher values, in order to make profit out of the new trend.

One day, it was Alberto’s task to bring water from polar region using tinny toy rail. He drove an engine toed to five water tanks and one unmanned, but robot controlled, last wagon. He actually handed over his duty some one at atomic power station; near to it bore wells were available. He never saw that Harry ascended the last wagon, with a misconception. The toy train was running through crater lands, which indeed caused by several years prolonged asteroids attack. Harry began to crawl over water tanks, as the speed of the train was balanceable. Lapping through the water tanks, Harry reach engine and jumped back belly of it. Harry turned off the main oxygen pipeline, which went directly to engine for driver use. Soon he returned back to last wagon and de-linking it rushed back to atomic power station. Rena noticed that the train was slowed down and came out. Rena shocked to see that Alberto struggle inside engine, and went to engine to open it. In a matter of seconds, Rena sharply reacted to this and giving her emergency portable oxygen cylinder with mask to Alberto, rescued him from suffocation. They again started to roll on the network together.

Yet it was another threat to them, they couldn’t change their track without last wagon’s computer aid. The train run through dummy track now, they couldn’t stop it. The train fell into a deep and big crater. Rena and Alberto escaped through roof open, using their back support rockets. They safe landed at center of the giant crater, while the toy train smashed. “Albert!” Rena cried over wire. Albert just turned towards her and asked, “What happened?” “See that cave!” Rena slurred over wire. A cave before them appeared, and inside glowing light could be seen. “Is it a live volcano?” Albert feared. “No, not possible, this is a crater impact” Rena.

Albert went into the cave, followed by Rena. It was really a miracle to see everywhere golden crest forms, perhaps like “The King Solemn Mine “. Albert guessed it could last for several decades of US defense budgets. Suddenly a tremor shocked the both to rush outside. They ran exactly to the center of the crater, making light of rifts elsewhere inside it, but carefully leaping and jumping over them. It was a dead silence soon, leaving, what they had seen as a wealthy, cave flattened entirely. It was rather ridiculous, to watch a treasure being buried due to natural hazards. They had to find a way to out the crater first and then relief materials, as their oxygen cylinders were getting exhausted.

A rescue team had already in action, to find out whereabouts of Rena and Albert since serious alerts came in due to cut-off in rail network communication. The crew almost found out the possible way in which missing persons assumed to be trapped. Captain Beck Rubin, who was leading the rescue team, had no hope of seeing the missing persons again. Rubin at last saw the flaw in track system, and went through it. Rena and Albert emerged from the crater, as the rescue about to reach them. Soon understanding the situation, Rubin changes Oxygen cylinders of the affected and restored their normal breathing.

“What happened Mr. Albert?” Rubin cracked overhead phone.

“A disastrous train tragedy, how you got to arrive here?” Cute Albert enquired.

“System gave the route, and I wonder how this could have happened amidst strict impeccable system security” Rubin expressed his anxiety.

“Well it wasn’t a machine mistake!” Albert whispered.

“What do you say?” Rubin questioned, helping the Rena to seat her oxygen cylinder well on her back.

“That was sabotage work of Harry”

“Harry? It’s quite unbelievable. What for?”

“He knows well Rena loves me, but he didn’t like that and always tried to pull her away from me” Albert took a deep breath from his new cylinder.

“What he did to you to have stranded here?” Rubin.

“Yeah, the all, cut in communication link, cut in oxygen cylinder fixed to main rail engine etc.”

“Oh scoundrel. Do you know what he was broadcasting? You both were lost life in a train accident.” Rubin explained.

An emergency train carried the crew along with Albert and Rena to the base came. Many stationed at base camp believed that those two might have lost their life. Somebody prayed for them. In everyone’s face panic visions depleted completed when they heard about safe rescue of Rena and Albert. Rubin, as a best friend to Albert made a proposal.

“Why don’t you marry here?” Rubin asked the both Rena and Albert.

“Of course we have registered this with NASA, and got permissions also to marry on space travel” Rena talked to Rubin with great zeal.

“Since our Mars Mission failed we had to choose some different tasks here” Albert. “No problem, yours marriage takes place here,” Rubin asserted

Thereafter their marriage took place with the communicating NASA and relatives on earth; Rena and Albert took oath and rejuvenated their life course. In a rendezvous of honeymoon, they together assigned to look after radar array sections at eastern side of moon. They actually were proud to have married on moon soil.

They checked all communication equipments there, as all of them got prominent roll and a vital gate way for communicating to earth as well as all substations elsewhere on moon. No one could expect existence of perpetrators, swindlers around him or her. Harry, somehow, smelled this historical incidence and having with raised anger, planned his own cunning plane to entangle his enemies. Harry began to visit to the radar station with some other his close associates, who were giving him almost recent news. They stalked through muddy craters.

“Albert! Many more happy returns of the day!” Rena uttered.

“Thanks dear, same to you” Albert laughed at Rena.

“No dear, this is not our wedding day blessing, it’s your birthday also” Rena broke the suspense to the curiosity of Albert. Albert didn’t reply suddenly.

“Albert what happened?” Rena implored.

Albert didn’t reply, as he was in deep thinking, something in his mind that couldn’t come out. Seriously contemplating the hidden spark of intuition, Albert came out of a radar panel and watched earth view. Suddenly he felt something had fallen below in front of him. He peered it through his leg lens. It was a stone; suddenly a hair-raising thrill and fear went over his face, leaving him to find the cause of panic spark inside.

“Rena come quick inside the control room,” Albert slurred.

“Albert what’s wrong with you”

“No Rena, I think we’re in danger”

“What do you say?”

“Yeah, I calculated precisely, the Jelly rat asteroid may hit moons surface at any time now, I could remember well now as my birthday falls on the same date”

“My god. What can we do now?”

“Using radar navigation, we can estimate the exact location of the hits going to be happened”

Albert monitored the screen, and howled on headphone as the giant going to hit their location. The alert news sent elsewhere on moon. Albert and Rena escaped through electric sledges to base camp. Harry entered the radar station, with his associates and searched them elsewhere. Finally went into control room, where in his face panic engulfed, as the Jelly rat appearance on screen. Immediately alerted everyone and tried to escape from death but alas the asteroid had already smashed the culprits, creating huge crater cemetery of those killed. Rena and Harry, being unaware of the clearance in their life career, took stills of the precise hits of Jelly rat from long distance.

The End.

Published by
Independent publisher of science fiction stories.