Space Madness – Chapter 2
Former astronaut Nancy Line returns from exile after a public nervous breakdown to assist NASA in faking a moon landing.
Chapter Two – It Happened In Monterey
President William Wayne is sitting on the porch of his palatial Monterey, California beach house wearing a white panama hat and sipping gin while watching the waves gently lap at the rocks. He’s joined by First Lady Mabel Wayne and his Chief of Staff and top advisor Jeremy Wolfe.
“Mr. President, Josef Morrow. Director of NASA.”
Josef holds out his hand; but the President doesn’t move, so Morrow seats himself across from the world leader.
“It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. President. I hope I’m not disturbing your vaca–“
“I had a dream last night,” the President slurs. “I was walking barefoot through the desert, no one or nothing in sight, when I heard a wet crunch under foot. I looked down and found I had stepped on a cactus. I just stared at this dead plant I had destroyed when all of a sudden it started growing through my foot. I couldn’t escape. The plant and I had become one. What do you think that means?”
Josef stammers, “Well Mr. President, I’m not an expert in symbolo–“
Jeremy interjects, “I think what the President’s trying to say is–“
Mabel interrupts them all, “Mr. Morrow, why don’t you and I take a walk along the beach.”
A chill January breeze washes over the First Lady and the NASA Director as they walk along the rocky Monterey shore.
“My husband’s approval ratings are in the toilet.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Madame First Lady.”
“We need to do something big. Something to reinvigorate this depressed nation. We need to go back to the moon.”
“Believe me, Mrs. Wayne. There’s nothing more I’d rather do. But our funding has been slashed and we both know your husband has no more room in the budget for us. We’re nothing more than a glorified museum at this point.”
“So we fake it.”
“We hire a Hollywood director, build a set, hire some astronauts who can keep their mouths shut and we fake the whole thing. We wag the dog.”
Josef rubs the nape of his neck, “The logistics alone would b–“
“You can worry about the logistics on your time. This isn’t a recommendation. This is a direct order from the President of the United States, though he can never know.”
“Well in that case, I s’pose I oughta head back to Houston and get to work.”
“And make it a woman.”
“The astronaut who sets foot on the moon. She should be a woman.”
Josef nods and shivers at another strong breeze, “I’ll start making a short list of candidates, Madame First Lady.”
Josef turns and starts walking up the private beach when the First Lady shouts after him, “We’re not lying to the American public, Mr. Morrow. We’re merely telling them the story they want to hear.”
–PRESENT DAY HOUSTON–
Back in Josef Morrow’s office, former astronaut Nancy Line takes off her tie.
“So the First Lady wants an ex-astronaut who suffered a mental break and the astronaut she tried to murder to fake a moon landing?”
“Well, when you put it like that..”
Nancy sighs, “Alright, I’m in. What’s next?”
Josef smiles, “We’re headed to Hollywood.”
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