Transit to Mars and the Jodie Foster Game


I don't see what all the fuss is about. It doesn't look any bigger than the


You can be blase about some things, Rose, but not about Titanic. It's over
a hundred feet longer than Mauretania, and far more luxurious. It has
squash courts, a Parisian cafe... even Turkish baths.

	“Who chose the fucking movies for this fucking fucked up mission?”, Hammer said, leaning back with his arms crossed across his chest in derisive scrutiny.

	Emerson flipped some switches on his console to recirculate the air tanks of the Pegasus from the environmental station and turned around.

	“Well, they did cut half a billion dollars from this mission.”

	“Hey, didn't the Mauretania sink also?”, asked Hammer.

	“No, I think that was her sister ship, the Lusitania”

	“How would you even know that, Emerson?”

	Emerson laughed, “I don't know. Pensacola is a Navy Town.  There's a museum. I think the Lusitnaia was smuggling weapons.  Or at least that's what the Germans said.  That was one of the events that drew us into World War I.”

	“You know it might have been the same person that put two death row niggas on a mission to Mars in a spacecraft named after the Planet of the Apes”, Hammer pointed out, “which is a fine, fine science fiction movie, by the way.”  Hammer was a fan of old movies.

	“Are you sure it was the Pegasus?  I thought it was the Phoenix?  Wasn't Pegasus from Battlestar Gallactica or Star Trek?”

	“It wasn't the Phoenix.  You're thinking of The Flight of the Phoenix or the polar lander where we're going.”


Honestly, Cal, if you weren't forever booking everything at the last
instant, we could have gone through the terminal instead of running along
the dock like some squalid immigrant family.


All part of my charm, Ruth. At any rate, it was my darling fiancee's beauty
rituals which made us late.


You told me to change.


I couldn't let you wear black on sailing day, sweetpea. It's bad luck.


I felt like black.

	Hammer slapped his knee and said, “Well, I got some black right here for ya' Honey!”, 

	Emerson laughed out loud.  He couldn't remember the last time he laughed like this.  “You gonna bring her the Hammer?”


	“Yeah, this movie is pretty horrible...How did you get that nickname anyway?”

	“After Hank Aaron, my Grandfather was at the game when he broke Babe Ruth's record.  My full name is Henry Aaron King.  But it's got a little Elvis Presley in there.  Know what I'm sayin?  Anyway, he gave my father a copy of his book,  I Had a Hammer:  The Hank Aaron Story.  Did you know he was from Mobile?

	“My Father named me after Ralph Waldo Emerson.”

	“Why did he do that?”

	“I don't know, he left before he could tell me.”
	“Probably so you could be a rugged individualist, eh, Emerson Free-Man.”  Hammer chuckled.

	“Emerson first man on Mars.”  He retorted

	“Emerson SECOND man on Mars.”

	“Not like they'll tell anybody.  They'll wait till' some white people arrive.  It'll be just like Columbus and the 'Indians'.”

	“True dat.”


Those mud puddles were certainly a waste of money.


                      (looking at a cubist portrait)

You're wrong. They're fascinating. Like in a dream... there's truth without
logic. What's his name again... ?

                         (reading off the canvas)



                      (coming into the sitting room)

He'll never amount to a thing, trust me. At least they were cheap.

A porter wheels Cal's private safe (which we recognize) into the room on a


Put that in the wardrobe.

47 IN THE BEDROOM Rose enters with the large Degas of the dancers. She sets
it on the dresser, near the canopy bed. Trudy is already in there, hanging
up some of Rose's clothes.


It smells so brand new. Like they built it all just for us. I mean... just
to think that tonight, when I crawl between the sheets, Iill be the first--

Cal appears in the doorway of the bedroom.


                             (looking at Rose)

And when I crawl between the sheets tonight, I'll still be the first.


                        (blushing at the innuendo)

	“Not if she felt like black!”,Hammer cackled.

	“Fool, there aint' a single nigga in this whole movie!”
	“Naw, they had those Irish niggas, instead.”, Hammer pointed out as he shook up some Purple Tang in a plastic sip bag, “If they had real niggas it would be a good movie.”

	“If they had real niggas, it would be Amistad.”

If this were Amistad, Them would be some pissed off Irish.  Just like The Terminator killlin' rich white folk.”

	“Now that was a bad movie.”

	“Pfft...Whaaaaat?”, Hammer spit up his drink, astonished.

	“Dude, it's a total ripoff of Fahrenheight 451.”

	Emerson did his best impersonation of actor Michael Biehn, “It can't be reasoned with, it can't be
bargained with, it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear...and it absolutely will not stop, ever, once it has been
targeted.  Unless it's destroyed."
	Hammer looked at him quizzically.
	“It's the same description as the Mecanical Hound.”
	“You're saying Arnold Shwarzenegger is the Mechanical Hound?”
	“Well, he was with that Mexican housekeeper bitch.”  They laughed.
	Emerson grabbed an electronic tablet and pulled up Ray Bradbury's passage from the book:
	  Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in tracking quarry has this incredible invention made a mistake. Tonight, this network is proud to have the opportunity to follow the Hound by camera helicopter as it starts on its way to the target... 
	“I don't know, that's pretty thin.  That's, that's quite a stretch.”, Hammer was skeptical.
	“It's not just that.  The way he descibes it.  Smelling of blue electricity and green glowing neon eyes, hypondermic needles for fangs?”
	“Nah. I don't see it.  That part reminded me of the O.J. Simpson chase with the helicoptor and everyone watching on their portable televisions.  Kind of eary how accurate he was about the future when you think about it.  Now, The Book of Eli, THAT is a ripoff of Fahrenheight 451.  Only instead of several guys memorizing the Bible, it's one guy with super Jesus Shaolin ninja skills.”
	“And Mila Kunis, I agree.”
	“And fine Mila Kunis' fine ass!”
	“Hey, Hammer, if you could have sex with any science fiction girl, who would it be?”
	“Hmmm.  Well now, that's a tough one, Emerson.  Grace Park from Battlestar Gallactica.  Jeri Ryan from StarTrek Voyager.  Halle Berry from The X-Men.  Jessica Alba from Dark Angel.  And Slave girl Princess Leia goes without saying.  How about you?”
	“Linda Hunt from Dune.”  Emerson tried as hard as he could to keep a straight face, then they both starter to laugh uproariously.
	“Damn,” Hammer coughed between giggles “She didn't get hit with the ugly stick.  She fell from the top of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!”
	“Impressive, since there are no trees on Arakkis!”
	“You are a SICK, SICK man.”
	“Hey, can't I get a shoutout for Shadout Mapes in the house?”  Emerson pushed his palms to the roof as if to raise it.
	“She's a great actress though.  She was great in The Year of Living Dangerously.”
	“Word.”  They fist bumped.


At Cherbourg a woman came aboard named Margaret Brown, but we all called
her Molly. History would call her the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Her husband
had struck gold someplace out west, and she was what mother called "new

At 45, MOLLY BROWN is a tough talking straightshooter who dresses in the
finery of her genteel peers but will never be one of them.


By the next afternoon we had made our final stop and we were steaming west
from the coast of Ireland, with nothing out ahead of us but ocean...

	Hammer snorted, “Shouldn't Kathy Bates big fat ass be puttin' some Misery on Jame Caan?”

	“I think she uses him as a floatation device at the end of the movie”, Emerson giggled.

	“The UNSINKABLE James Caan!”, Hammered made a pose like a floating corpse.

	Just then, a Klaxon whined.  It sounded like the bonus ship at the top of the screen in space invaders. The white LED cabin lights went out as red lamps pulsed dimly. Emerson and Hammer instantly sprang to action.  They had done this drill hundreds of times.

	The first part of the solar flare drill, was to turn the ship into the storm so the heat shield and the “North” pole of the Electromagnetic Field would take the brunt of the aurora.  Then they shut down all the computers, taking precautions that they don't fry themselves with electrostatic charge by flooding them with with Flouronert.  Then, theyy packed up all the removable storage and put it in a lead laced bag marked PANIC ROOM.  Special mylar slats were popped off the wall and secured to the computers and other electronics to disperse radiation away from them like a stealth fighter.

	Next they scrammed the nuclear reactor and flipped over to battery power.  It wasn't all that unlike what you might do in a diesel electric submarine going from 'sprint mode' to 'drift mode' during silent running.  Now, they put on their spacesuits and went into their radiation shelter in the core of the ship, which was a freezer surounded by 500 gallons of ice.  

	It was three layers of radiation protection.  First there was the electromagnetic shield that simulated the Van Allen belt on Earth.  Second, there was the layered mylar paneling with it's dense hydrogen chemical composition.  In between the panels and the hull, water circulated through polyethylene pipes.  Lastly, there was the ice within the poyeurethane walls of the cold storage shelter.  Nothing, was made of aluminum or lead because of the secondary particls created by cosmic rays.  All of these things were used to redirect, diffuse, or absorb radiation.  Spare parts were kept in the core in case anything burned out, despite their precautions.  The only light inside the shelter was the green and red safety lamps and a big liquid chrystal clock letting them know how long they were in the shelter.

	Of course, there was absolutely nothing to do inside the panic room.  The tiny box they were sheltered in was built to the most redundant, minimalist specifications.  This is because it absolutely HAD to work.  It had to work every time.  If it didn't work, it had to be easy to fix and if you had to fix it, it had to be fixed quickly.  Comfort was not a consideration.  Emerson and Hammer laid in a foam cylinder six inches
 from each other.  A few minutes of silence went by.

	“Hey you want to play a game?”, Hammer asked.

	“What kind of game?”, Emerson wondered .

	“Well you know that drinking game called Bizz Buzz?”

	“Yeah, isn't that the math game where every time a number is divisible by five or seven you say 'bizz' or 'buzz' instead of the number..  Some nerds at M.I.T. or Princeton came up with it, right?”

	“Right, Emerson, except the name of this game is Jodie Foster.”

	“Okay, why is it called Jodie Foster?”

	“Well, you remember theat movie Contact?

Yeah, now THAT was a great science fiction movie,  I loved how they explained everything.  I hated the ending, though.”

	“Right, well, do you remember how the alien signal was all in prime numbers?”  Hammer rubbed his cold hands together partly in anticipation.
	Emerson rolled his eyes as he put it all together, “So we have to say Jodie and Foster alternately if it's a prime number?”


	“Well, okay,”  Emerson agreed, “sounds hard, but I'll start.  One.”




	“Bizz, no wait, wrong game.  But five is a prime number, so Jodie.”

	“Too bad, you lose!”
	“Let's start over.”

	The proton storm started over 100 Million miles away about nine minutes earlier.  Deep within our star a thick nuclear soup was boiling under  two nonillion kilograms of gravitational force.  There, deep in the eddys and whirlpools at the core, 696,000 kilometers deep some heavier elements formed pockets upsetting the stars normal balance.  Under the pressure of 250 Billion atmospheres it churned like a molten butter at 15.6 Million degrees Kelvin.  Out of this shot a ribbon of plasma flying across the trajectories of the inner planets to wash over the tiny spacecraft like a tsunami over a single grain of sand.  It's milky helium ions and free protons splashing transversally wide over an entire astronomical unit, broadsiding the plane of our solar system.

	Four hours later.

	“Jodie” Emerson said with a sigh of anguish looking up at the red lamp.  “Godammit is this thing ever going to end!”

	“7122.  How much battery do we have left?  Twenty hours?”  Hammer was becoming concerned.  It seemed like they were in here for days, already.

	“7123,  Yeah, you'd think with our lives depending on it they could make our reserve power last longer than a cell phone.  So, if we run out of battery power and the hazzard light is still on, who goes out there and tries to fire up the reactor? ”

	“The loser.  7124.  Well, we're not real people, remember?  We're animals, explendable like Sputnik or Lika.  They told us this was a suicide mission.  They always send the niggas on the suicide missions.”

	“So that's why you came up with this game.  7125.  Yeah, we're the death row suicide squad.”

	“Hey I like that!”, Hammer thought long and hard about his next move being a bit brainweary, “ hundred...aaaaaand twenty six.”

	“Foster.  Dammit!  I was hoping this game would end.”  Emerson was getting tired, too.
	“7128.  You know, that would be a great name for a band.”

	“Jodie.  Yeah.  It would.  The first band on Mars!  We'll have to make our own instruments,  I wonder if our 3D fabricator can make a functional horn.  That;s what I play, the trombone.  How about you Hammer?”

	“Drums.  7130.”

	“7131.  Should have seen that coming.”

	“But, when I play drums they call me 'Hepcat'.  7132”

	Then, finally, the threat lamp went from red to green and Emerson popped the hatch of the panic room.  “Wait,” Hammer said, “Don't you want to finish our game.”  Emerson looked at him the way you would look at a crazy person and they both climbed out of the ice box.  They readied the cabin for normal flight operations, then went back to their movie.


Don't do it.

She whips her head around at the sound of his voice. It takes a second for
her eyes to focus.


Stay back! Don't come any closer!

Jack sees the tear tracks on her cheeks in the faint glow from the stern
running lights.


Take my hand. I'll pull you back in.


No! Stay where you are. I mean it. I'll let go.

	“Oh, please.  Just let the bitch die.”  Hammer growled.

	“You don't like Kate Winslet?”

	“No, it's not that.  It's class warfare.”

	“Class warfare?”


No you won't.


What do you mean no I won't? Don't presume to tell me what I will and will
not do. You don't know me.


You would have done it already. Now come on, take my hand.

	Hammer complained once again, “JUST LET HER DIE Or PUSH HER IN !!!  She won't return the favor later when there is plenty of room on that board of hers.”

	“Oh not this again.  Didn't they do an episode of Mythbusters about that?”

	“He never shoulda' went back for the bitch anyway.  All those rich mother fuckers are gonna' be war profiteers on the Mauritania, anyway.”

	Emerson corrected him, “Lusitania.”

	“That too.”


Ever been to Wisconsin?





Well they have some of the coldest winters around, and I grew up there,
near Chippewa Falls. Once when I was a kid me and my father were
ice-fishing out on Lake Wissota... ice-fishing's where you chop a hole in


I know what ice fishing is!


Sorry. Just... you look like kind of an indoor girl. Anyway, I went through
some thin ice and I'm tellin' ya, water that cold... like that right down
there... it hits you like a thousand knives all over your body. You can't
breath, you can't think... least not about anything but the pain.
Which is why I'm not looking forward to jumping in after you. But like I
said, I don't see a choice. I guess I'm kinda hoping you'll come back over
the rail and get me off the hook here.


You're crazy.

	“That Leo Decaprio pussy wouldn't have lasted a day with us in Antarctica!”, Hammer was incredulous.,  He scrunched his nose up and spoke in a mocking voice “Let's see him hump his ass up Vinson Massif with a hundred pound ruck over Kate Winslet's precious ass.  Shit.  I would have thrown her in a crevace for a warm penguin fuck. ”

	Emerson's thoughts went back to that first day of training with Sargeant Limpdick, stripped down naked and blasted with a firehouse.  Twenty death row inmates competing for two spots   Three months of non-stop conditioning, over a hundred mile hike over a white sea of nothing, then scaling the tallest mountain at the bottom of the world.  Only the two of them were left.  They say that extreme experiences bring people close together.  Back then, they would have stabbed each other in the back for a hot grits. They were competitor in a deadly game   Now he trusted Hammer with his life.  He HAD to trust him with his life.  But he didn't know anything about him, until now, and  they literally had the rest of their lives to get to know each other.

	“Hammer, have you ever read any Robert A.Heinlein?”

	“You mean like Starship Troopers?  No, but I would hit Denise Richards' fine ass from the movie.”

	“Ewww!  Even after that skank fucked Charlie Sheen?”

	“Well, maybe after Wild Things.  Terrible how Charlie died though.”

	Emerson agreed, “Yeah, I wouldn't want to be the one who had to clean  up that mess.  Anyway, you ever read a story called Logic of Empire?”

	“Naw, what's it about?”

	“Well, there are these two Lawyer at a bar having an ethical argument over an investment they have in a Venus Colony.”

	“Go on.”
	“So they get really drunk and make abet on it.  When they wake up the next morning, they discover they've enlisted to a work camp and are on their way to be sold into slavery on Venus.  They get separated and one of them befriends a plantation owners daughter...”

	Hammer interrupted, “Is this like a Richard Wright Native Son  kind of thing?”

	“No.  He doesn't have sex with her.  I think she was,like, thirteen and pimpled.  He does get hunted though after he makes his escape and starts to lead the revolution.”

	“Sounds pretty good.  What happens to the other guy?”
	“He buys their freedom and they both go home.”

	“That's it?  What kind of fucked up ending is that.”

	“It's just capitalism.  It's what happens during colonialism.”

	“It's what's happening to us.”

	“Yeah,” Emerson was in agreement, “but maybe were more like Huck and Jim in Huckleberry Finn.” Emerson did his best Tobey Maguire impersonation from Pleasantville. Huck and the slave. They were going up the river, trying to get free. And, in trying to get free...they see that they're sort of free already.”

	“Which one of us is Jim?  I seem to remember it didn't end so well for him.”


That's what everybody says. But with all due respect, I'm not the one
hanging off the back of a ship.

He slides one step closer, like moving up on a spooked horse.


Come on. You don't want to do this. Give me your hand.

Rose stares at this madman for a long time. She looks at his eyes and they
somehow suddenly seem to fill her universe.



She unfastens one hand from the rail and reaches it around toward him. He
reaches out to take it, firmly.


	“What a fool.”, Hammer glowered, “I would have set all the lifeboats on fire and sail away as those white devils burn.”

	“So, Hammer, did they lock you up for arson?”

	“No, I killed a cop who killed a kid in my neighborhood.”

	“Well then, I think I know your favorite paert of The Terminator.

	“How about you Emerson.  You don't seem like the killin' type.  What'd you do?”

	“I got drunk and blacked out. When I woke up, I was covered in my girlfriend's blood.  They said I killed her.”

	Hammer paused, “Do you believe that?”

	“Yes. I do now.”

	There was a long uncomfortable silence made almost uncomfortable by Celine Dion's screeching dying-catlike voice.

	“...It was the Icarus.”, Emerson said, changing the subject.


	“The Icarus was the spacecraft in the oriignial Planet of the Apes.

	It was also called Liberty I.


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