By Andrew Paul Grell
T+0000:00:02:11:36:57. I’ll just start talking. Right off the top of my head. If you don’t like it, you can autohelicate. I’ll be transmitting in the clear. The mission-related stuff will come at the end of the next century. We already know what’s going on in the outer solar system and we know what happens when we exit the heliopause. So I think everyone will want to know more about how a 68-year-old man became an astronaut and wound up in a ship heading straight into the event horizon of a black hole. Stay tuned to transmissions from Digitus Medius by your old pal Captain Caleb, at least until I get into the cryo-tank. And by the way, Francine, Gary in telemetry has herpes, you should get yourself checked out.
T+0000:00:04:09:18:43. Seems I was too valuable to execute. Boris and I had a long-running feud over the allocation of scientific resources. He felt we should continue throwing Physics money down the abyss of String Theory, buying bigger and more expensive toys to crack open the ninth dimension. My attitude was fuck that, it’s been 40 years of this bullshit without a single result. It was time to give money to people who can think of new models which might pan out. Like me, for example, for pursuing Spork Theory. For those too tony for fast food, a spork is a plastic runcible spoon. You can use the bowl part for soup or ice cream, and the tines to spear yourself some stew or clams. My contribution to The Noble Enterprise of Science is an entirely mathematically-consistent model in which sporks plow into each other, stick together, and become particles. Which particle depends on how many tines of each spork is connected to the others; you can get a quark up, down, strange or charmed, or a lepton or a neutrino. The decay rate would depend on the Spork angles. Simple, and in principle, testable.
T+0000:00:07:07:14. Greetings, Earthlings! Take me to your leader! I’m told he’s renowned galaxy-wide for being a very stable genius. We’ve got an awful lot of horses, and will definitely require a stable genius to clean their stalls. Picking up where we left off. Boris and I went to and fro, back and forth, round and round, and for me, one time in and out with his wife. I learned that the reality of theoretical physics is that the people who get the money to make the big toys do what it takes to keep science wanting more and bigger toys. That’s just the way it goes. And so one day, Boris and I, and his hot little minx of a wife, Liz, his former grad student, were on the same Science-Sail cruise. Boris held up his wife’s wrist to show me the 27 carats of diamonds on her new tennis bracelet, courtesy of Big Complicated Machines, Inc. Later that night on the poop deck, Liz would ask me to shove it up her ass and then pull it out slowly when she started to come.
T+0000:02:15:06:21:00. Greetings from the Oort Cloud! Boris, Liz, and I were all lovey-dovey until the final night of the cruise. Security cameras showed Boris and me drinking until last orders, then the two of us waltzing along the promenade deck to the skeet-shooting perch atop the fantail, where we switched to the Lindy. They then showed what could either be me either dipping him pushing him off the boat. Either way, they then showed me in a desperate attempt to hold his massive bulk and keep him from the briny deep while I screamed for help.
T+0000:04:05:07:41:52. The Captain was a commissioned reserve officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine and took charge of both the ship-board investigation and protecting the rights of American citizens, which included myself, the estate of Boris, and Liz.
He did all this by the numbers. Ship-wide search for the body, contact with the shore, an inquest juried by passengers and crew selected by lot. Everyone who saw the tapes thought I literally set him up for a fall. Not only that, the incident occurred near the Budgie Islands, recently ceded to the new Sahara Republic. And the ship was flagged Vatican City; a new gig for them to replace donations lost due to priests fucking children. VC had no death penalty, at least not for a while, anyway, cough-cough-Torquemada, while SR had it for both murder and homosexual activity, in this case, two men dancing. You may recall from the papers that I was bounced around for a few years between jurisdictions. What was to become of me?
T+0001:08:07:19:21:30. Tyrone Liphshitz-Li happened to me. A student at the Bronx High School of Science, he (formerly she, ‘Tiara’) devised an ingenious mathematical solution determining that at least Quarks and Leptons must be comprised of Sporks. And the big-toy-race was on. With Liz’s impassioned pleas and Big Complicated Machines’ greed, which used simple machines, levers of power, my ankle bracelet and I were in a lab. A mere 10 years later, I walked out with the Langolierotron, after the Stephen King TV show. It used Spork Theory to smush time, just a little bit. Every astrophysicist knew what the first application should be: A mission could be sent to a nearby black hole, such as the little one recently captured by Gliese 581, and information from inside the event horizon could be sent back out. Schrodinger’s Parolee has come out of the box. My sentence, my mission, and my dream is to fly this one-way voyage. And now It’s the tank for me.
T+0107:12:31:23:59:59. Happy New Year, those of you born after launch. The Langolierotron worked, and I can report what I saw inside the black hole. Sets of what looked like encyclopedias, phone books, floppy disks, all in unfathomable languages. Apparently wherever the little black hole bounced, scientists there would want to find out what, exactly, happened when information enters a black hole. And the answer is… “Anything that happens inside a black hole stays in the black hole!” The Langolierotron was doing its job, but unexpectedly acted like a rubber band. Eventually, it snapped and flung my ship out. The good folks, who mainly resemble tiny Buddhas with seven fingers, on Gliese 581-c, AKA “home”, came out to investigate and towed me in. It didn’t take long playing physics charades before we learned each other’s languages. As I’m speaking, the ship is up on a rack, topping of the gas, oil, and wiper fluid, getting ready to fly me home. If you’re good, maybe you’ll get a present from Gliese 581. See you in another hundred years!