A short comic tale
His finger was stuck.
"What the bleeding heck? How has that ... oh sod it!" Minty was not by nature the kindest, most appealing, rational, forgiving, best-bloke-in-a-jam kind of repair man, but he was good at fixing things in zero G. He gave the finger another tug. Nope, it was very definitely stuck. The chamber Minty was currently in was designed for spraying coins with gold. The gold price had rocketed so much that the government wanted plastic coins made to look expensive by using as little gold as possible. One molecule thick? Go for it lads! Mind you, it was a rumour on the station that even the gold was faked.
Minty tugged again; nothing. He reached over to the intercom but it was about an arm and a half too far. Not good. Minty spun round to grab his floating tool kit, only to yelp out loud as he nearly dislocated his finger just around the first joint.
"Slowly, my son!" He tried again, this time taking care to reckon in the momentum. Momentum was the big bastard up here. Once something started moving, it wasn’t going to stop all by itself. Before you moved in any direction you better have worked out where you are going and what you are likely to hit; head-butting the big button that said "detonate" to reduce momentum was generally seen as bloody minded. Minty moved his arm first, gently, only letting the rest of his body move in stages and managed to grab the strap of the tool kit. Using his stuck finger as a brace, he pulled himself and the kit back round with only the modicum of screaming agony. He watched a stray tear float away in disdain.
"Right, where’s my phone?" When they had decided to set up a couple of cells in the station so that you could use your mobile, Minty and his crew already had their mobiles with them, surprisingly. Mind you, despite orbiting 250 miles off the planet, the general repair crew had managed to keep all the culture and manners of their planet bound compatriots. This included calling females "love," bursting into laughter when anyone asked "how much" and complaining that there was not enough sugar in their tea.
So, who to phone? Bob will do, he won’t laugh too much. "Call Bob," Minty commanded.
"Your account requires a minimum of thirty credits for that action. Please contact your service provider."
"What? Oh, bleedin’ heck! I’ll text then." Minty slowly typed a subtle "get down here now you &*£($!" into the handset with his left thumb and hit send.
"Your account requires a minimum of five credits ..."
"Yeah I get it, okay?" He rammed the phone back into the tool kit, sending himself suddenly upwards in recoil and twisting his finger right round. He screamed in agony again. When he managed to get his breath back, Minty took a moment to think things through properly. Yelling was no good; he had shut the door of the chamber when he had come in so he could swear without any of the jack-arse posh types complaining and it was well out of reach. His finger was stuck fast, his phone was knackered and he had just noticed that he was dying for a piss. He HAD to find a way of switching the ships communicator on. "Come on, think clever..."
He floated his tool kit around from where is rested by his feet and opened it up again. He needed to create a chain of tools long enough to float towards the communicator and hit the switch; he would just have to speak to whoever answered and put up with the piss taking later. Space stations were hardly some old Ford Tranny van, so his kit had a pretty specialised assortment of tools in it. Importantly, everything had a wrist strap ; letting some really sharp ended tool float about on its own was pure madness.
Using his one free hand and his teeth, Minty tied together a string of assorted tools with their wrist straps. Then, squinting in concentration, he floated his improvised chain of implements toward the communicator. He only needed to tap it lightly and he would be home free.
"Six inches, five inches ... come on lads ....four inches, three inches ... just a little ... bit ... closer ..." Minty was at full stretch and was still two inches short. "Come on!" He did one more stretch and twisted his stuck finger. Hard!
"You .... Oww!!" Minty snatched back the tool line in shock and it went sailing back over his head and towards the spray nozzles.
"Oh, no, not that way!"
He tried to grab it, but it was too far gone. The sharpest of his tools, the very thing he had been using earlier to clear the blocked up nozzles, drifted around and drilled right through an electric cable. It sparked once and shorted.
There was a moment of silence and Minty held his breath. Then a rumbling, plumbing sound started, a bit like an old heating system coming to life.
Bob span round when the alarm went off. "What is happening?" He hit the intercom. "Lonnie?" Lonnie was the station head. "The molten gold’s vanished!"
"What? There was at least 2 gallons of it!"
"The levels have sunk off the scale! Minty’s working on the spray chambers."
"He is? Get down there now ! I am right behind you!"
Half the crew went down to the spray deck. It took several of them to wrench the door off and what greeted them rooted them to the spot.
It was floating in front of them, all shiny, shimmering, glistening, looking like a million dollars and costing a hell of a lot more. It slowly spun round to reveal a completely yellow, metal face, teeth showing in a grimace of fury and one arm held out with a middle finger pointing angrily upwards. There was no doubt as to what his last words had been.
They stood there and stared. It was almost beautiful. He must have been hit by the entire supply.
"Well," said Bob. "It is definitely gold!"
Taken from the book: Monkey Number 100030338732 and Other Stories .
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