Day 249 – Jupiter’s Children – Part 3

Word count: 821

Henry grabbed his atmosphere suit from the airing cupboard. Entering asteroid belts always brought harsh winds and varied, hazardous temperatures and weather. It had been almost a year since he had worn the skin tight suit. His newly found fat belly could barely squeeze into it. He filled the small tank with some oxygen from the sink and hoisted it over his back before heading out the door.

He stepped over the decontamination threshold and saw the crimson sky burning bright with furious flaming asteroids ripping through the atmosphere, the giant God of Jupiter glistening in the background. The red spot sparkled. From here the howling gales and terrible storms, the crushing atmosphere and toxic gases swirled as if ripples in a tranquil pond. The stars of the universe shone around them. Far away, one of them was Earth: home to the human race.

Today was just another day in the lab for Henry. Every morning he would walk out this same door and walk down the same street to his work. Families he knew would wave to him as he passed sometimes. It was normal for him to see his home planet as but a star somewhere up above. It was not unusual to witness the greatest gas giant of their solar system rise and set every day like the passing of the sun. It was something that Henry could never take for granted.

The short walk to the office gave him all the exercise he needed. The atmosphere was slightly heavier than that of Earth, due in part to the terraforming process that had taken place before they built the lab. Henry took off his suit and hung it in his locker. Fiona and Tammy were in the office by the sign of their belongings in their own lockers. It was good when people were in. On Europa, no one had any strict working week. On Europa, no one cared if someone was late or took a day or four off. Everyone who lived there had left their own planet to dedicate at least five years’ service to science and knowledge. Everyone who was there wanted to be there and everyone understood that.

Fiona and Tammy were chatting at their desks, over seeing a sample under the microscope.

“Hey girls,” he greeted them.

“Hey, what’s up?” they chimed together.

Fiona and Tammy worked so closely together that they could finish each other’s sentences off – and even complete them together.

“I’m not too bad. Enjoying the bachelor life!”

“Haha, how is Ellen?” Tammy asked, peering over her shoulder as Fiona adjusted the sample.

“Good. She sent a message to me the other day. I miss her loads… but I can mess the house up as much as I like.”

“Haha, you’ll wish you had a take out pizza joint here!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard they are amazing. They should set one up!”

“I tell you, us scientists need greasy foods sometimes!”

Henry switched on his workstation and opened up his samples chart. His latest project was examining samples from a meteorite that they had dug up on the northern hemisphere of the planet. The initial readings were inconsistent with the moon’s surrounding metal deposits and were slightly radioactive. It was Henry’s job to find out where in space it might have come from. A routine task, Henry estimated that it would take him only a matter of two weeks to fully investigate the samples.

Henry loaded up the rock’s files on screen. His report was almost complete. He needed to rearrange and match it to the usual template for examined meteorites.

“Are you sure that’s right?” the others were whispering behind him, he couldn’t help but listen in as his photographs loaded.

“No, it can’t be – must be wrong. Do it again.”

A second later, “Same…”

Henry had turned around at this point, “What’s up?”

The girls looked at each other, both unable to form words.

“Come on, what’s happened? It’s just another rock…”

Tammy shook her head, “It’s not that…. it’s what’s on it..”

Fiona shon the camera over the rock once more and the screen was filled with something that Henry could only describe as incredible.

“That – wow… that’s…” he was lost for words.

On screen was the image of something remarkable – something never discovered in the history of the human race. It was completely unique: so unique that it defied belief. This was the discovery that everyone had been waiting for. The whole world would rock with the awe that the three of them were immersed in in the lab. Henry could not take his eyes off of it. The spiral was encapsulating. The ridged edges – it was like watching history, like watching history unfold.

“Have you tested it, have you made absolutely sure?”

“Yes! It can only be…”

“Jesus. We did it. We finally did it. An alien fossil. Now we really deserve a greasy fucking pizza!”

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~ by S.G. Mark on June 12, 2012.

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