All they want is for you to be a good company man.
Work, Rest & Play
By Steve Ashton
“We’re sending you to Mars,” Derek says. “What seven essentials would you like?”
Derek’s my boss at Belper, Fescue & Dreep solicitors, so it’s best to humour him. “I dunno… a donkey?”
He taps on his iPad. “Intriguing choice.”
“Mars is a desert, right?” I say. “Sand? Donkey rides?”
Derek licks his fingertip as though it’s a pencil point. “Next?”
“Solar-powered Kindle? Not fussed what’s on it, but no Larkin poetry – too depressing.”
“Man hands on misery to man,” he quotes.
Tiring of the prank, I rattle off a few at random. “An apple pie, a Frisbee… No, skip that. No atmosphere to speak of. It would be like throwing a manhole cover.”
“Should work a treat inside the biodome,” Derek says. “Lower gravity and all.”
“OK, and, ah… a septic tank and a supply of triple quilted velvet toilet paper.”
Derek curls his tongue over his lip as he completes the list. “One final item. Choose wisely.”
“A Mars bar?” Quite witty, I think.
“Just the one?”
“How long will I be there?”
“Ah, forgot to mention – the rocket’s only fuelled one-way.”
“Better make it a donkey load, then.”
Over Derek’s shoulder, I see two security guards frogmarch Pamela Greenhall towards the foyer. This is a very elaborate prank.
Derek sees my frown. “Pamela’s volunteered as well.”
“I’d like BFD to have a foothold once the litigations kick off.”
“And until then?”
“Make a start breeding the first generation of Martians.” He watches a black people-carrier with tinted windows draw up outside. “Assuming Pamela is up for it.”
He flips the iPad closed. “Good. Well, have fun – blast off is scheduled for Monday 0700 hours EST, Cape Canaveral.”
I hear a muffled scream. A door slams.
Then the security guards come back for me.