Because for some reason I wanted two write two stories.
He could see her across time, from years away. In the crowd, there she was, his focus. All he could see was her face, wan in the distant sunlight. As he came closer he could see her skin was cream-pale, with a heart-shaped birthmark (or was it a scar, a scald from an accident in her youth?).
For nine years he had no other thoughts. Everything, she was everything. He was cold; she warmed him. He was alone; she kept him company. He was lost; she was his destination.
He chattered excitedly on his radio home, but no one ever answered. He didn’t know if they were listening and he didn’t care. They’d sent him out so fast he could still smell the burst ozone, the thunderclap of his exit still rang in the delicate filigree he used to listen to the silent, empty universe.
He was close now, so close he could touch her. Forgotten parts of him burst ecstatically to life, eyes he never knew he had opened wide to take in her unseen beauty. He shot pulses of information behind him, sending image after image of HER; the furthest planet out, the final post at the end of the Solar System. Nine years, and
He could not even turn to see her recede as he passed on, into the stars. He fell into her shadow and closed his eyes.
Next to godliness
It was his job to clean up. To make things look… acceptable, normal. Uncontroversial. That was important. Always avoid controversy. Wear sober clothes if you’re going on TV, say the right things if the world is watching and always, always remember to remove the evidence of a party in a room that cost the taxpayer over a billion dollars if there’s a tour due.
He picked up a conical party hat and recoiled when he realised it was part filled with vomit. It fell to the floor and oozed over a small pile of streamers and torn photographs. His head pounded.
The pictures had been amazing, of course. Pluto! Before that day the only pictures they had of the, ahem, former planet looked like… he focused on the pool of puke at his feet, well, they looked like that. Now they were clear, beautiful. New Horizons had exceeded their expectations. They deserved this party. But…
He looked around him. On the wall was a dartboard, modified on the fly by an enterprising engineer to depict Pluto in incredible detail. The darts clustered in the heart-shaped section. He picked up the torn photograph; Pluto with biro horns and a wonky grin.
Get it all cleared away. The tour was here soon. He shook his head and managed to get the control room clean with minutes to spare. When the tour group arrived, they marvelled at the technology and were shocked by the banner, missed in the clearup: “PLUTO IS SHIT”.