Charlie Lin was your absent minded scientist to a T. In fact, he even pursued his research as Station Zebra literally fell apart around him.

Somehow all these things end up in my lap. I'm assistant station manager Ozymandias Jones. That’s right, ‘Ozymandias’. I suppose it could have been worse. Mother could have been reading a trashy romance instead of poetry just before I was born.

I was sitting at my desk relaxing for the first time all day. My "window", a miracle of solid state electronics, looked out across Tycho crater lit by a nearly full Earth. Part of a black and white striped dome with a zebra head was to my left. Station manager Kojack Geulda was proud of the paint job. I thought Research Station Zebra could do with a classier look.

I had my feet on the desk dreaming of how Shauna looked in her blue outfit. And how much better she'd look without it.

Lunar gravity is great for women. Breasts and bottoms aren't pulled down too much as on Earth. On the asteroid colonies, their breasts tend to drift in different directions. Their bottoms tend to float into odd shapes with next to no gravity to hold them down. No wonder Lunar women are the by-word of the Solar System.

Then Charlie Lin walked in.

My feet hit the floor. Charlie would rather stay in the lab than eat. He was the genius who'd developed the incredibly tough plastic for the new rescue bubbles.

What was he doing in my office? I unrelaxed fast.

"Uh, Ozzy. I've got a slight problem."

"What, Charlie?"

Charlie looked over my head at a bare chunk of wall. I felt a nasty premonition.

"It's the super lubricant. You see, I thought I could make a better lubricant basing it on buckyballs. They're almost round you see," he said looking at me and becoming enthusiastic. I nipped him in the bud.

"What happened with the super lubricant?"

"Well..."

"Charlie, what happened?" I managed to stop my voice from turning into a growl.

"The super lubricant got loose."

I looked puzzled. A slippery spot on the floor didn't sound like much of a problem.

Then I stood up. Charlie's pants were unweaving themselves as I watched. The fibers seemed to drift apart. I'd never seen anything like it.

"You see, it's an aerosol." I looked puzzled again. "It's gaseous." He looked at the wall again. "It's spreading through the station."

With a cheery "Oh I say, Chaps," Nigel Smythe stolled in, monocle screwed firmly in one eye. He paused, "Does something seem to be the matter?"

I ignored him as I grabbed the intercom. A leg fell off my desk as I shouted into the intercom. Then the intercom began to come apart.

The next twenty minutes were sheer chaos. Alarms were going off. People were running back and forth. I tried to get to Charlie's lab, but couldn't. When pressure alarms started going off, the three of us made for the nearest airlock.

Actually the two of us dragged Charlie. He wanted to study everything that was coming apart.

I ended up in an airlock still with Charlie and Nigel. Kojack Geulda, Shauna, and several others were with us.

Shauna had on half her bra and black lace panties that were fraying apart. She was the best dressed one of us. All I had on was my hair. I hoped the lubricant wouldn't loosen that.

The space suits were coming apart. Air was already leaking out the airlock. It was coming apart too.

Charlie, with a silly grin on his face, said, "Now there is a great lubricant!"

Nigel Smythe shouted, "Get out the rescue bubbles."

I could tell things were getting bad. Nigel Smythe had started to sound like the rest of us.

Charlie had stopped to study part of the decaying inner airlock door.

I dragged him over to the wall with the others who were dragging out several huge plastic bags.

We climbed into the clear plastic bubbles and then hit the airlock door. It blew out and we went with it rolling across the leveled plain. I thanked my lucky stars (Deneb and Wolf 359) that the bubbles were so tough. Almost a single molecule, Charlie had once told me.

We ended up inside a plastic bubble with parts of the station nearby. Luckily it was night or we'd have all got second degree burns. Earth dominated the black, jeweled skies. It was a sight I usually enjoyed.

The clasp to hold the neck of the bubble shut naturally had slid apart. Kojack tried to put it together, but couldn't get it to stay there.

"Ozzy, you going to have to keep holding it. Don't let go unless you want a bad performance review."

Nobody laughed.

I was holding the neck of the bubble. Tightly. And sweating bullets despite being stark naked. Moon dust is a good insulator. I shared my plight with three other naked men and one naked woman.

Before long, we would run out of air to breathe. But before the air in the bubble grew too stale, I'd fall unconscious and release the neck of the bubble. Then there wouldn't be any air to grow stale.

Shauna's hip brushed mine. I flinched.

"Sorry," she said

"It's okay," I responded.

But I didn't believe it. I was already feeling woozy.

Kojack said," The guys from Armstrong Base should be here soon. So just hang on.

"To get us out of this bubble would risk getting super lubricant into any rescue vehicle. They could put a bigger bubble over us and pump in air under pressure. But they'd need a filter.

"And how do you filter super lubricant?"

He looked at Charlie.

Charlie's brow had furrowed during Kojack's speech. He suddenly nodded. "I really should have put some sort of sun filter in the bubbles. But people aren't supposed to be in them naked."

A Lunar Traveler rolled around a rock and stopped at a safe distance. Two others joined it.

Kojack Geulda ran his hand over his balding head. "How are they going to get to us?" He paused, then bellowed, "Charlie!"

Charlie turned his head, "Why can't they drive right up?"

"The lubricant. Your foul, stinking, rotten, dirty lubricant."

Charlie's brow wrinkled. "It's all gone."

"Gone! What do you mean?"

"Soaked down into the rocks. It's a good lubricant."

"Inside the bubble, Charlie. Inside the bubble!"

"It's all gone. Ozzy couldn't possibly hold the bubble neck tightly enough to keep any in."

"You mean they can just drive up."

Charlie nodded. "I hope they hurry and get the station back together. I think I know how to handle the next batch of super lubricant."

I calmly handed Shauna the neck of the bubble. "Hold this," I said as I forced my way by her to kill Charlie.

But by the time I dragged Kojack and Nigel off Charlie to get to him myself, the crew of the Traveler were in the bubble. They dragged me off Charlie and hustled him into another rescue bubble.

-END-

CONTENTS

wordpress visitors

View My Stats