Space Madness – Chapter 9
Former astronaut Nancy Line returns from exile after a public nervous breakdown to assist NASA in faking a moon landing.
Chapter Nine – I’ve Got You Under My Skin
“This is a stupid idea, Nancy.”
Astronauts Nancy Line & Tony Graziani are in bulky coats with baseball cap brims pulled low over their faces as they shuffle through the Glendale Galleria.
“Tony, I’ve been craving an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and I’m not gonna let a stupid lunar mission get in the way of that.”
“Our faces are plastered all over televisions worldwide. We’re supposed to be in a shuttle on our way to the moon right now. If someone sees us–“
“No one’s gonna see us.”
A hundred yards back, the astronauts are being pursued by LAPD Detectives Ricky Faulk & Harry Schette.
Harry tries to keep up with his partner while smacking loudly on a pretzel dog. “You think this is a drug deal going down?”
“In a crowded mall?” Ricky asks. “Seems pretty risky. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the connection to those astronauts. What would astronauts on their way to the moon as we speak have been doing at a drug warehouse in North Hollywood days earlier?”
“I’m telling you, Ricky. Moon rock meth.”
“That’s not a thing, Harry.”
“What better place to set up a massive drug factory than on the moon. Ain’t no cops in space. They manufacture the drugs up there and then transport them back down to earth to their supplier in LA.”
“The best plans often are. Ooh, Panda Express. I’m gettin’ spring rolls.”
The astronauts are relaxing on a mall bench enjoying their pretzels, hats still covering most of their faces.
“See, Tony? I told you it’d be worth it. Josef, keeping us cooped up in that movie stage.”
“Nancy, when you’re right you’re right. And these poor saps have no clue that we’re not even going to the moon. Suckers.”
An old Mexican man passes the couple and tugs on his son’s shirt. “Mijo, mira mira: astronautas.”
Tony grins & smiles, “Hello.”
The small Mexican boy’s jaw drops as Tony dumbly waves.
“It’s like he’s never seen a gringo before,” Tony whispers.
Nancy’s face goes pale. “Mierda.”
Back at the NoHo movie stage, NASA director Josef Morrow is about to check on his astronauts when he gets a call from White House Chief of Staff Jeremy Wolfe.
“Josef, mission’s going great. Country’s entranced and the President’s approval ratings are rising at an incredible pace.”
“That’s great news, Mr. Wolfe. Nancy & Tony will be happy to hear it.”
“Quick thing, though. After your movie director and astronauts film the moonwalk and that fictional shuttle makes its return trip back home, it’s going to encounter some turbulence.”
“I’m not following.”
“The only thing that unites a nation more than a successful space mission is an unsuccessful one. A national tragedy will galvanize the people and have them eating out of President Wayne’s hand.”
“I’m still not following.”
“Film the moon landing, broadcast the video, then eliminate everyone.”
Josef Morrow gulps loudly as the phone call goes dead.
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