The Space Race

Entry by: Phidgers

22nd January 2016
The Space Race

A rover trundled across the surface of the red planet, much to the joy of its creators back on Earth. Mars, on the other hand, was not at all amused.

‘Your skin problem’s contagious,’ he said, his voice a low rumble, at odds with his diminutive size.

‘You know I don’t like that term for my creatures,’ Earth replied. His higher tenor voice grated on Mars’ nerves, particularly when he was defending his parasites.

‘Life should be celebrated in all its forms,’ the blue planet said. ‘You should count yourself lucky that my creations are interested in you.’

‘Too interested. I tried life, it wasn’t for me. Such tiny things are itchy. I can’t understand how you cope.’

‘If you just moisturised…’ Earth said.

‘And who’s gonna give me water to do that? You say you’ve got none to spare, but I bloody well beg to differ.’

It was an old argument, but the Space Race were used to going round in circles. Earth countered in the usual way.

‘If I give you some, everyone’s going to want the same treatment,’ he said.

‘Not me,’ said Venus, the only planet whose voice Mars found more irritating than Earth’s. She spoke rapidly in what he thought was a silly high-pitched chirp. ‘I’m happy as I am, just sparkling, you know, making everyone else look dull by comparison.’

‘Not everyone,’ said Saturn, referencing the Sun, who was trying not to listen.

Earth sighed. ‘Great, now the gas giants are involved.’ He hated it when they butted in. He thought that they acted all self important, just because they were the biggest. Their deep booming voices were almost identical too, and he had trouble working out who was talking. Neptune would occasionally speak sense. Earth suspected that it was because she was blue, the only truly respectable colour for a planet in his opinion.

‘I wasn’t going to say anything,’ said Jupiter. ‘Although now you caught my attention, can I say that being bright’s nothing to be proud of? You’re just reflecting light anyway, Venus, not creating it. No, having the most moons is the achievement. Who would that be? Oh yeah, me of course. And I did that myself, no help needed.’

‘Jupiter, he’s the best!’ shouted his moons.

Mars wanted to scream. ‘And just like that, we’re off topic. Anyone else want to chip in with something irrelevant?’ He regretted his words as soon as he had spoken them.

‘Equal rights now!’ called the myriad voices of the asteroid belt. Thankfully, everyone ignored them. Their calls to be counted as planets never gained much traction. Mostly, they were too disorganised to get a proper campaign going. Jupiter dealt with the exceptions. It either ate the more forward thinking revolutionaries, or pressed them into enforced docile servitude as additions to its moon collection.

‘Were we talking about water?’ Saturn asked? ‘Because I have rather a lot of it…’

‘Let me stop you right there,’ said Mars. ‘Don’t use water as a way to boast about your ice rings. I’m complaining because Earth’s too repulsive even for his parasites and they’re trying to infest me.’

‘You take that back!’ Earth shouted. His temper caused an earthquake, which created no end of problems for the west coast of North America.

‘You’re being a bit harsh,’ said Venus. ‘I think small life’s cute.’ It was entirely predictable that she would come in on Earth’s side eventually. Sometimes Mars wondered whether there was something going on between the two of them.

‘Shut it, Venus,’ he said. ‘You’re just saying that because you’re inhospitable for most life. Not all of it, though. What would you do if some cockroaches found their way onto your surface? Those humans like doing experiments just for the sake of it. If they can send their debris to me, they can reach you too.’

‘Everyone, please, let’s not fight,’ said Mercury in his slow, melancholy voice. ‘We’re all passengers together, aren’t we?’

‘See what’s happened?’ asked Mars. ‘Scorching hot Mercury is the one with the cool head. What does that say about the rest of us when he’s the voice of reason?’

It was too late though. Earth was furious, and had a tantrum. The gas giants felt they were not getting the respect they were due, and they started boasting about their moons, or their rings, or both. A cacophony broke out, with everyone shouting over each other. ‘I’ve got the most moons,’ and ‘My rings are the best,’ and ‘I’m the brightest,’ and ‘Equal rights now!’

The Sun had had enough.

‘Shut it the lot of you!’ he screamed. Compared to his voice, even Jupiter was practically a countertenor.

‘I’m sick and tired of your bickering,’ he continued, glaring at the entire solar system. ‘I don’t care what differences you think you have, this argument is pointless.’

‘I was trying to stop them,’ Mercury mumbled.

‘It doesn't matter, you’re all as bad as each other,’ the Sun said. ‘I’ve half a mind to decay all of your orbits and swallow everything. Count yourself lucky that I’m more patient than other stars. If you were going round someone in the Orion constellation, you’d damn well be space dust by now. So shut up and just keep spinning. Three orbits of silence from all of you, and another six from the closer planets. Yes, that includes you, Mars.’

‘But Earth’s life forms…’ Mars said.

‘I couldn’t care less about Earth’s life forms,’ the Sun replied. ‘They’re not important. Blink twice and they’ll probably be extinct. Grow up, for goodness’ sake. You’re all members of the Space Race. Bloody well start acting like it.’

The solar system fell into silence. Sometimes, the Sun really did feel like swallowing everyone, although really, it was an idle threat. He could not pull gravity around like that. However, he kept that fact to himself. In any case, he knew that he loved them all really. In less than a million Earth years, he came to regret his harsh words.

A rover trundled across the surface of the first man made Dyson sphere. It had taken millennia, and the raw materials of every planet in the solar system, but humanity had done it. Almost unlimited energy was collected by the enormous structure, which completely enclosed the Sun, much to the joy of its creators. The Sun, on the other hand, was not at all amused.

The End