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Captain’s Log: Space Travel is Gross

Captain’s Log 137, 138, 139, and 140  Captain Harris

137 – We’ve been touched by the brown demon. It is loose upon the ship. The entire mission is at risk. As you know  my two companions, Ivan and Doug, and I, Captain Harris, are on a mission to Mars. We seek to reach the red planet but through our own carelessness have unleashed a ferocious and mushy, yet solid in its core like a medium steak turned inside out (metaphorically and perhaps literally), wrench into the gears of our trip.

I have always dreamed of going to space. As a young child it seemed the most heroic and worthwhile endeavor a human being could undertake. I sought to shed the protective womb of mother earth and fight the dangers beyond our skies in order to be a part of the evolution of humankind.

One man can change the course of history. I believe that, and I want to be that man. Perhaps it is ego. I do not know. We are far too deep into this effort for questions such as this. These questions are for those with the luxury of being idle. If I am lucky, I will someday be able to ask those questions of myself. Yet I am willing to die for our goal if I must.

In outer space there is no limit to the dangers you can face. There is no air. The conditions are extremely harsh. There’s no food, little light, and an infinite number of floating objects that could tear us to shreds. Yet, many of the obstacles we’ve had to face have been much more mundane. Once humans tamed Earth we found the true obstacles were within ourselves. As we conquer the stars we find the same.

I will present to you our greatest challenge yet. It is too unbelievable, almost laughable, to just say outright. So I will start at the beginning. Bear with me now.

It all began with a fairly basic practice, one that has existed among nearly all species for nearly all time.

It all started when Doug, that fucking asshole, went to use the restroom. Now tales of space travel rarely go into depth about using the bathroom in space but the logistics of it are a nightmare. Doug did not follow protocol.

On Earth we simply sit on a toilet and take for granted that gravity does the work for us. It gently pulls the excrement from us like a bunch of hankies from a magician’s mouth and lays it gently in the bottom of the bowl. There is no such luxury in space.

In outer space, when you wipe, you wipe the entire cheeks of the buttocks. The reason is because, and pardon my crudeness but there is no other way, when the shit jettisons from your body it comes out with such a force that it bounces around the toilet bowl like Chewbacca’s laser in a trash compactor.

In order to limit the damage we’ve developed Protocol P-25, affectionately known as “the Pootocol.” Under P-25 astronauts are required to hold themselves with both hands to the seat of the toilet and seal the poop inside with their own buttocks, essentially diving on the grenade. It’s a short term discomfort to prevent a long term evil. Doug, that fucking asshole, did not follow protocol.

It was day 37 following takeoff and Ivan and I had already grown tired of Doug. He constantly talks to himself, not in a crazy way, but in a narcissistic way. He can’t just enter a room and exit a room, he has to say something to make his presence known as if Ivan and I would be missing out if he did not give a play by play of what he’s doing. “Calibrating the life support,” yes, that’s your job; let us know if you don’t do that, that’s the only thing I need to know and otherwise I’ll assume you’re doing your job.

Ivan barely speaks English but I can tell he hates Doug as well. Doug also has the worst taste in music; he plays Hotel California at least once a day. The beginning is now accompanied by an elongated Russian scream from Ivan. This has led Ivan to begin swallowing whole packs of Nicorette gum as if they were meals. You can’t smoke in space.

But I digress. One day Doug went in to do his business. He hovered, in violation of protocol P-25. He sat at an angle, to his left, hoping the momentum of the release would fizzle out as it spiraled around the bowl like one of those things you would drop pennies in as a kid in the mall. He would seal the lid as it spun and then flush it away into the cold loveless arms of outer space.

What happened however was the shit spiraled down and then upward like a poorly placed layup and rose up from its porcelain grave like a vengeful food zombie. Doug was face to face with the brown demon. It floated up and toward him. Doug swam frantically backward through the air. The brown demon approached him.

Ivan and I sat in the control room, you know, doing our jobs. Doug came rushing in shouting, “Guys! Guys!”

I replied, “What? Did you fart again?” Ivan chuckled.

“Worse, I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry! Oh fuck, we’re gonna laugh about this someday but for now we have to run.”

“What goes on?” Ivan asked.

“Going,” I said.

“Yes, going, thank you.”

“Right,” I said turning to Doug, “so what’s going on?”

“We have to run, I didn’t follow protocol.”

“Which protocol?”

“P-25,” answered Doug

“P-25?” I said.

“P-25!” shouted Ivan.

From the corridor Doug came in through, the brown demon came slowly floating in.

Ivan pointed and shouted, “P-25! P-25!”

We all began frantically swimming through the air. We reached the opening to another door with our cylindrical menace in hot pursuit. It seemed to move in slow motion but no matter how fast we went it was always a step behind, perhaps because we too were moving in slow motion. It occasionally bounced off a wall and left a stinky footprint but it kept coming, as if sentient, as if it was locking onto our fears.

As we floated as fast as we could I yelled to Doug, “Always follow protocol! You always follow protocol!”

“You ass fuckhole!” shouted Ivan.

“Fucking asshole.” I corrected.

“Yes, thank you. You fucking asshole!”

“Guys, I’m fucking sorry!” explained Doug, “Oh shit,” he said, looking around us.

“There’s no way out. We’re in the laundry.” I said as I realized we were trapped. I ordered, “Get back, get back against the wall. It’s not going to catch us by surprise.”

We huddled into the corner. We sat for a few minutes. Three grown men hiding from a pile of shit in outer space.

Doug said, “I think it’s gone.”

I ordered, “Go check.”

Doug replied, “I’m not going.”

I said, “Are you fucking kidding?”

Ivan shouted “You shit the shit! You are shitter!”

“Yes, Ivan’s right. I’m the Captain; check your shit, that’s an order.”

“Fine.” Doug pulled himself toward the door and stood in the doorway.

Doug looked back and said, “See, it’s gone. Probably squished into the corner of a room or melted onto Ivan’s pillow.” He laughed his annoying laugh.

“Fuck to you!” Ivan retorted.

“Fuck..” I started to correct him when I was interrupted.

“There it is! It’s coming back!” Doug yelled.

He swam back to us in a panic, swinging his arms and legs like some manic drum-playing Disney octopus. What a dick this guy. He came back to the corner we were in and wedged himself in between Ivan and me.

The brown demon slowly peaked around the doorway. Menacing us with its slow inevitability, taunting us. We huddled pathetically, holding onto each other. I couldn’t help but notice Doug smelled like BO, I will punch his face later. I realized as I was fantasizing about squishing Doug’s nose into his face with my fist that it was Ivan’s hand, clutching Doug’s shoulder, that smelled like BO. How does your hand smell like BO? Is he not showering properly? I’m going to have to talk to him about protocol S-07. We’re also going to have to have an awkward talk about touching sweaty places during working hours. Suddenly I realized Doug was yelling.

“No! Nooooo!” yelled Doug.

“You shit the shit! You shit the shit!” Ivan shouted back.

Ivan was grabbing Doug by both shoulders and forcing him into a position of shield. Ivan was a strong man. Doug could not fight back adequately. His squirming was of little use in mid air.

“Captain! Captain!” pleaded Doug pathetically.

I thought for a moment. I wanted to spare Doug. I felt a responsibility to him. I truly did. And I’m not proud of this. But it was the only way.

“He’s right. It’s the only way Doug!”

I grabbed Doug as well and Ivan and I held him in front of us. It approached us at a steady pace, approximately five feet away at this point. It was like a goddamn glacier in its plodding unstoppability.

“You shit the shit!” yelled Ivan.

“You shit the shit!” I repeated.

“Eat it!” yelled Ivan, the shit now 4 feet away.

“Fuck you,” replied Doug.

“No, he’s right. You have to eat it,” I agreed.

“What?!” The shit is 3 feet away.

“It’s the only way to get rid of it. You have to swallow it,” I explained.

“No! No!” The shit was now 2 feet away.

“You shit the shit!” yelled Ivan.

“Noooooo!” yelled Doug.

The shit was now 12 inches from us. Doug struggled futilely as Ivan and I held him in front of us. In a moment of weakness, I admit, I grabbed his head and forced it to face the shit.

“Back from whence you came!!!!” I bellowed authoritatively.

We all closed our eyes and screamed like we were dying. We screamed and yelled for what felt like minutes.

“Guys. Guys.” Doug started saying calmly. “Guys, it’s gone. Captain, it’s gone.”

I opened my eyes. It was gone. Disappeared.

“Let go of my hair please.”

“Oh, yes, sorry.” I said as I let go. Looking around the room carefully.

“You shit the shit,” said Ivan pointing at Doug.

“You did shit the shit Doug. You are the one who shit the shit,” I said, justifying our use of him as a poop shield.

“Ya, well, sorry.” Doug said as he straightened himself out.

Doug went on to explain his intentions in breaking protocol. I reprimanded him and we all agreed we must find the brown demon. We cannot reason with it. It is a stinking menace and we resolved to show it no mercy. We searched all over the ship. Nothing. It’s as if it had disappeared, sucked into a black hole. But no, it could not have been destroyed by that from which it was birthed. It was out there, alive, plotting.

138, 139 – The next few days were extremely tense. One of us was always awake to watch for the beast as the others slept. We were vigilant. All we had to do was wait and it would reveal itself. We would not be outsmarted by a pile of shit. Yet we lived in fear for these few days. Every room I entered or cupboard I opened I did with extreme caution. Ivan nearly destroyed our poorly lit lounge area during an epic battle with a used paper towel roll.

Even Doug, that fucking asshole, he barely spoke during this time. He followed all his orders perfectly. He barely looked Ivan or I in the eye. Perhaps he felt ashamed. Perhaps he felt betrayed. Perhaps we all owed each other an apology. This brown menace was tormenting us psychologically now. Ivan’s paranoia, my guilt, Doug’s shame, and all our feelings of inadequacy at failing to defeat the most trivial of terrors as we sought to advance the human race made us feel small, even unworthy.

Doug didn’t listen to Hotel California at all during this time. Several times I heard him quietly listening to the Lion King sound track. Innocence lost and all that. The brown demon was perhaps a physical representation of his childish subconscious. The consequences of his immaturity now had a tangible and oddly symbolically appropriate levitating and terrorizing reminder that he put the entire mission at risk with his juvenile behavior.  He risked damaging his own, Ivan’s, and my careers and lives and perhaps altering the destiny of all of mankind. With this thing loose on the ship even he could not dismiss the damage he had done. I nearly felt bad for the man. It was my duty as Captain to keep morale up and keep us together but there were more important things to consider at the moment. There would be no Hakuna Matata for now. The lion would not sleep tonight.

140 – It was a few days later and we were all asleep. We were strapped to the wall to prevent us from floating into something important while we were unconscious. Doug was on watch.

I was dreaming of jogging through my neighborhood oddly enough. As I jogged past a neighbor’s house I waved to the family of mutant people with tiny legs and broad shoulders, square heads and arms that nearly reached the ground. In the dream I thought nothing of it. I made it home and my wife had prepared dinner. I briefly wondered why I was jogging before dinner time but dismissed it. The food smelled faintly familiar. As I approached the table sniffing I wondered what it was. I tried to pinpoint the smell. It was strong, almost … terrible. Suddenly I heard someone whispering my name. Now I wondered who that is, where is it coming from? My mind was full of questions about the smell and the whisper.

“Captain…Captain,” said the voice. I looked all around me. It had a faint accent. “Captain…Captain.” Russian. It was Ivan. I turned my head as I realized that and there he was, in the dream, right over my shoulder. Startled. I said, “Holy…”

“Shit!” I exclaimed as I opened my eyes.

“Yes,” said Ivan, directing my eyes with his to a point between us.

Ivan and I were strapped to the wall opposite each other, a few feet away from one another. Between us was the brown demon. It had grown gelatinous with age.  It undulated in front of us chaotically, as if it could launch a piece of itself at us at any moment. It had been grayed by time slightly but I recognized our old foe immediately. That was the smell I smelt. It was shit. It was the shit.

“What do we do?” asked Ivan.

“Hold still, hold still,” I told him. It was closer to me than to him.

Ivan was fearful, he began breathing heavily. The force of his inhalation caused the demon to float toward him.

“Sir!” said Ivan.

“Hold still damnit. Let me undo my straps and I’ll get some gloves.”

He only got more upset however. As I looked for my buckles I heard Ivan whimpering. Oh, it was a truly pathetic grown man whimper. I chocked it up to the stress of loneliness, danger, quitting smoking, and being face to face with the shit of a man you despise while being absolutely helpless. We would not speak of it again. He began inhaling that “Hup-pup-pup-pup” kind of inhale kids do when they cry which only accelerated the brown demon’s approach toward Ivan.

It kept getting closer to Ivan. He squealed two small whining sounds as he accepted the inevitable. Then, in a last ditch effort, he blew at it. It worked. It pushed the shit away from him … and toward me.

It approached me and I blew it back to stabilize it but that only pushed it back toward Ivan.

“What are you guys doing?” asked Doug, waking up, strapped to his wall bed on the other side of the room.

“Fuck you!” I shouted.

Ivan and I continued to blow the shit back and forth. I struggled to undo my straps as I was not able to risk taking my eyes off of the demon.

“You fuckhole!” shouted Ivan.

“Asshole, Iv…” I began to correct.

“Fuck to you too!” he interrupted.

It was then I realized we were not stabilizing the shit. Ivan was trying to push the shit at me. This was a Thunderdome situation. Kirk and Spock. Two men enter, one man leaves. Master Blaster thought he ran barter town, little did he know I was Tina Turner Mel Gibson. We respected eachother but under these conditions, what’s that got to do with it?

Ivan and I were frantically blowing the shit back and forth toward one another. Only one of us was going to make it, and it might as well be me. I will go down with the ship, but not with the shit.

He blew, I blew, he blew, I blew. We volleyed it back and forth like some epic game of digested hot potato. Like two twin toddlers competitively blowing out candles on the worst birthday ever.

Ivan changed strategies. He inhaled deeply, pulling the shit toward himself and out of my range. He then exhaled hard. It launched toward me.

I struggled with my straps. It was coming.

I blew back but only slowed it down slightly. Ivan’s lungs were smoke-free for 40 days. The air coming from his lungs seemed to have no end. They were strong, very strong.

I blew and blew to no avail. It only cause momentary pauses and then I would have to inhale again.

Ivan just continued to exhale in some super human fashion, summoning extra strength like a mother lifting a car off of her child.

Bit by bit it approached as I blew and struggled helplessly.

As it was a nearly a foot from my face I accepted my fate. I kept blowing. I will go down fighting.

Blow, blow!

Then, hope. My hand found the buckle and I pushed it, releasing my arms. I lifted my arms in a panic and pushed the shit away from my face. It splashed onto Ivan’s face and he screamed. I looked at my shit covered hands and screamed as well. Two grown men covered in shit in outer space screaming at the top of their lungs.

Shit faced Ivan struggled like a rabid animal in a straitjacket, grunting and cussing in Russian.

I used my free hands, shit covered as they were, to undo my other straps to get away from Ivan. I floated back and braced myself. You really don’t know what a man who just had shit thrown into his face is capable of. He managed to undo himself and once loose squared up to me, breathing heavily and angrily like some stinky monster, a brilliant man turned beast by the conditions we had subjected ourselves too.

“Ivan. Ivan,” I said in a calming but stern tone.

“Fuck to you!”

“…..fuck you.” I corrected.

He bellowed out an animalistic growl and pushed himself toward the wash room. He continued to scream and cuss and say Russian words, which I could hear even as he reached the other side of the ship. It was horrible.

But there was another sound. It was Doug. Laughing.

That fucking asshole.

I squared up to Doug.

His laughter trailed off. “Captain. Hey I’m sorry.”

I extended my shitty hand and reached out to Doug. I positioned my feet and crouched against the wall.


“We’re all gonna laugh about this someday Doug.”

Doug struggled to undo his straps. “Captain, wait, Captain” he pleaded.

I pushed myself off of the wall like a missile, hand extended toward Doug.

“Back from whence you came!!!!!!”

Doug … fucking asshole.

by Zack Goncz

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