Astronauts have to be cleanshaven. Although I had worn a full, thick beard for the past few years, I shaved it off to enter the Federation Space Program. Beards would keep our helmets from sealing properly with our spacesuits. Facial hair in space has killed many astronauts. Now, I am in a space pod with my fellow crewmen, McGursky and Savillo. We left earth several months ago, and are on our way to Mars, to join the colony.
"McGursky, did you ever try growing a beard?" I ask.
"I was more a mustache person. I had a pencil mustache, like John Waters, from back in the 21st century. I shaved it, because I looked like a pedophile, even though I could have kept it while in the FSP."
"I had a pudding ring," says Savillo.
"Ah, the McBeard," I say.
Looking out the porthole, McGursky exclaims "What's that?"
I look, and see a metal ring, miles in diameter, straight ahead of us. In the center is a blue energy field. "I hate blue energy fields. Buckle up, boys!"
I hate the inside of my mouth in the morning. I was always bothered by people who brush their teeth before breakfast--I tried it once, but the toothpaste made my orange juice taste untoward. I fail to comprehend how others can find brushing their teeth right before breakfast to be a pleasurable experience. I can't trust these people.
Instead, I drink very dark coffee to overwhelm the bad morning taste in my mouth--it's so acidic and bitter that it turns my stomach, but feeling queasy in the morning is better than having to taste that bad taste in my mouth.
I smack my lips, I am very thirsty. I try to get up to make coffee, and fall back down. My legs are crushed under a collapsed bulkhead. I groan.
I wake up again; all I can see are bright fluorescent lights. McGursky helps me sit up. I am in the sickbay. McGursky tells me that my legs had to be amputated, but I have been fitted with prosthetic robot legs. They're pretty kickin'.
We don our spacesuits, and step out of the space pod. We have crash landed on a planet covered in thick vegetation. We trudge through the vines and fronds; that is, McGursky and Savillo trudge, I more tromp. I'm surprised at how agile my new robot legs are.
Our sensors indicate that the atmosphere is safe for us to breathe. It's rather hot and muggy. We take off our helmets.
Climbing to the top of a hill, we find a large stone structure--perhaps it is some alien temple? A bit rashly, Savillo runs up to the entrance. McGursky and I try to stop him--he could be rushing into a trap. Instead, as we grab Savillo by his shoulders, we are now close enough to peer inside the building, and, sensing no obvious danger, we continue in.
The great hall feels cozy, it is lit by orange paper lanterns. The room is full of tables and chairs. On top of the tables are napkin dispensers and unfamiliar condiments. The wall opposite the entrance is covered in what look to be hundreds of windows, arranged in a neat grid. Drawing closer, we see that this is an automat. In one window, I see a goatee, in another, a handlebar moustache. I see a pencil mustache. And then, I gasp, as I see a beard that looks identical to the one I had before entering the FSP.
The machines take quarters, but all I have is cash.