The grounds of the SpaceX launch site were quiet. For a place that contained billions of dollars worth of equipment and materials, Donovan was surprised that there didn’t seem to be any physical security presence outside the building – just cameras. “Aren’t you afraid someone is watching us?” he asked in a whisper, pointing up at a camera affixed to the wall of the spacecraft hangar.
“No, what they rely on is the sensor in the employee ID badges,” Joe replied, holding up a SpaceX badge with his face on it. “Nobody looks at the cameras unless an unauthorized person enters the premises.”
“Wait, how’d you get that badge? Is that legit?”
“Totally legit, mate. They made it for me right before they tried to blast me to Mars. Now I have VIP access.” As if to prove his point, he grabbed the door handle that would allow them into the hangar. When his hand touched the metal and pulled, the lock deactivated, allowing them into the dark, cavernous structure.
Donovan instinctively reached along the wall for a light switch. When he hit it, the banks of fluorescents bathed them in an intense white glow. The place looked almost the same as it had when they had toured the place a week before – just the Mars-bound craft was missing.
“As I expected, they have another one on standby,” Joe said, pointing to the far end of the hangar where another, identical craft to the one Joe had been launched in was waiting. “Let’s go find Elon.” Because of the extremely long hours Elon worked, the SpaceX founder was likely to still be at his office even at one in the morning.
It wasn’t difficult to find Elon’s office; it was the only one with lights on. When Elon looked up from his work to see Joe and Donovan standing in his doorway, his dazed expression turned to one of triumph and he leaped to his feet. “I knew you would come back. I KNEW IT! Your guilt over setting back humanity’s collective technological achievement by five years or more was too much. You want to atone, don’t you? DON’T YOU?”
“You could put it that way mate, yeah,” Joe answered.
Elon eyed Donovan up and down. “I see you brought you boyfriend along again. You know, I’m totally accepting of all kinds of relationships.”
“We’re just teammates. In the NBA,” Donovan corrected, but Elon wasn’t listening. He had grabbed Joe by the arm and was marching him back to the hangar they had just come from, with Donovan following behind.
“This one’s ready for a trip to Mars, it just needs the launch parameters and somebody to ride in it,” Elon said as the trio stood in front of the spacecraft. “That’s where you come in, Joe. I’ll just slide open the door here…” As soon as he opened the entry hatch, the next part of the plan went into action. As Donovan clubbed Elon in the back of the head with a flashlight, stunning him, Joe ran into the capsule and took a hammer to the pilot override switch. Donovan dragged Elon’s body inside and left him in a corner; he just started to come to as Joe slammed the hatch shut and began the intricate series of steps that securely locked it.
Elon soon realized what was happening. “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” he wailed, banging on the window with his fists. “DON’T DO THIS! I’M NOT TRAINED!”
Joe snorted. “Not trained, huh?”
Donovan tried to ignore Elon’s increasingly panic-stricken screams as he operated the system that would guide the capsule to the launchpad and attach it to the rocket boosters already located there. Meanwhile, Joe ran to the adjacent control room to input mission data and initiate the craft’s various onboard computer systems. As soon as Donovan completed his step, he joined Joe in the control room, where Elon’s screams could be heard loud and clear through his comms headset.
“We’re ready to launch,” Joe said to Donovan as he entered. “It’s hard to concentrate with all his screaming though.”
There were a multitude of video screens showing different views of the ship’s interior. Elon had dislodged a piece of pipe, probably from some vital system, and was hitting the side window with it even though the porthole was too small for him to crawl through.
“Initiating launch sequence,” Joe said into his headset. “You might want to be in your seat for this one, mate.” As he flipped the required switches and the boosters rumbled to life, Elon gave one last desperate plea.
“Joe, I don’t know what I did to you, but you can still cancel the launch. CANCEL IT! PLEASE! HUMANITY NEEDS ME!”
Joe grimly ignored Elon’s words. “3…2…1…Liftoff.”
Elon’s body was thrown to the back of the ship, where he began to bang his fists on the walls. “AAAAAAAAHHH!”
“Forget to mention one thing, mate,” Joe said. “I couldn’t find Mars on the map, so we’re sending you into empty space instead.” At this, Elon screamed some more.
Donovan grabbed the mic to get in one last word. “And he’s NOT my boyfriend!” The two teammates laughed and high-fived as Elon, his sanity broken, was sent through the atmosphere and into a void where only death awaited him.