Thursday, April 10, 2008

Payback's a Multifunctional Toolbox

The one-size-fits-no-one spacesuit would have looked comical on the small boy, had there been anyone around to compare him to, but there wasn't.

The upside down fish bowl of the helmet itself was half the size of his entire body, and its internal reinforced titanium exoskeletal structure had to be collapsed and compressed in such a way that there wasn't much else to see besides the massive gloves and boots.

But that actually added to the mechanically enhanced strength of the suit, according to the boy.

And the child seemed comfortable enough, once the helmet had sealed itself against the shoulder harness, which went down to his waist.

Which was more than the flight computer could say, having been removed from the shuttle and installed in the Multifunctional Toolbox that the child carried at his side.

No sir!

Not comfortable at all!

And quite undignified, to be the cargo instead of the transport!

But at least he was logged into the spacesuit's cameras and sensors, so he could look around and keep an eye on things.

And it was better than being left alone in what remained of the shuttle, blind and deaf to the world, pitched awkwardly against a wall of the airlock where it had finally come to a bouncing and scraping halt after its long and senile journey.

And so the two of them set out to explore the ancient intestines of the abandoned space station.

It was a cold and frightening place, with no light, aside from that provided by the child's suit and the powerful lantern of his toolbox, darkness surrounded them, and what there was to see was unpleasant, metal surfaces, made colorful and strange by who knows how many years of corrossion and chemical interactions, and a lot of trash and rubbish.

The atmosphere was far too thin and toxic to breathe, but not thin enough to indicate a breach in the hull of the section they were in, so that was good, according to the boy.

The ceilings of the maze of cargo maintenance corridors they explored were high, too high to have their mysteries penetrated by the lights they had available, in any spectrum, this space station was very large, and the flight computer felt very small.

But the boy didn't seemed bothered at all by the place.

He went about without a word, opening pressurized doors that hadn't been moved in ages, investigating every room, making note of the state of every piece of machinery he found, tracing the wiring of the place, as best he could.

Completely oblivious to the spider webs and malevolent and shadowy figures that seemed to dance just beyond the reach of their lights!

And then there came the sound of a banjo playing, soft, and far away, echoing down the corridors from somewhere up ahead, chilling the thin and poisonous atmosphere with a faint and haunting melody!

The flight computer nearly rebooted itself from sheer terror!

But the boy only smiled, fearlessly, and began to march toward the sound, Multifunctional Toolbox in hand, segment-faulting flight computer in tow.

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