NME 3 - 1982
The Trouble With Interplanetary Travel - Guy Riddihough
(page 11/19)
No Mere Expletives

The Trouble With Interplanetary Travel

by Guy Riddihough

"It's all due to the ******* legistlation on interplanetary travel," Hoffman grunted, his broad space suited shoulders wedged up against the cold unfeeling alloy of the lockway door.

I didn't reply, but continued to concentrate all my energy on keeping death on the other side of the lockway. My arms and back, where they were pressed up against the alloy, were woodenly numb and my breath was coming in short explosive gasps.

"My God!" came Azelda's high pitched hysterical voice from behind. "Does it matter how we got in this mess, just so long as we get out?"

Hoffmann's sweat beaded face darkened and his eyes, bright with futile anger, flicked from me to Azelda but he remained silent. The legislation had banned the dumping of biological waste by passenger liners en route between the planets due to the danger such material would present to the instellar ramscoops. Thus all biological waste (a poor euphemism) had to be stored inflight in septic tanks an dumped at journey's end.

"It was no-one's fault," I said in an effort to snap the metallic tension that stretched between Hoffmann and Azelda. "The pressure in the tanks exceeded the safety limits and ......"

And POW! Before anyone knew what was happening, fifty tonnes of human excreta was exploding from every available lavatory pan and plug hole. The ship was full in under a minute, and how many poeple had drowned or suffocated was a matter for speculation. We had only survived the initial flood because of our location well away from any ship toilet. But for how long?

"The door!" Azelda screamed as the metal buckled and groaned in sumission to the massive weight pressed against it.

"Clamp your suit visors down," Hoffmann yelled as the door sprang away from the bulkhead. The wall of dark, semi-liquid smashed against me, threw me to the floor and submerged me. My visor showed only a gritty blackness inches from my eyes.

Azelda's sawing voice crackled over the radios.

"Hoffmann, Hoffmann get me out of here, I'm drowning in ****. Get me out of here!"

I clicked on my suit radio and found myself saying "I guess we're truly interred, this time."

Azelda's hysterical laugh rose and fell, on and on, and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.............

by S. Barnett