December 08, 2011
Bobby Langdor awoke slowly.
Where the hell am I? he thought in italics.
Dazed, he looked around the room. The walls were paneled in brushed aluminum, and myriad colored buttons blinked randomly.
Ah, he thought, again in italics. But there is no such thing as randomness, Langdor, you handsome devil. They don’t call you “Harrison Ford in Harris tweed” because of your good looks, after all. Chaos theory says, “Where there is randomness, there are patterns.”
The terry cloth robe hanging from the brushed aluminum bedpost nearby bore the insignia: HOTEL RITZ, LUNA.
Slowly, the fog began to lift.
Just then, his solar-operated alarm clock began to play “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.”
My God! he thought emphatically. It’s time to get out of bed!
Langdor jumped out of bed and quickly realized he was already dressed in a perfectly pressed Harris tweed resplendent with patches on the elbows.
I’m one handsome, intelligent bitch, he thought to himself.
Suddenly, his cell phone rang. Langdor answered carefully.
“Bobby Langdor, I presume?” said the caller.
Langdor sighed. His discovery of the Holy Grail some two hundred years ago had changed his life, particularly when it was discovered the grail was not divine at all, but rather a chalice full of Red Bull mixed with midichlorians. Langdor drank this solution and had now been alive for nearly two hundred and fifty years. Since his extraordinarily long life had been made public, his phone had not stopped ringing.
“This is Langdor,” he said, and then put on the Bluetooth earpiece so he could do pushups while talking. “What up?”
“My name is Admiral Qui-ron Da’ackbar Smith. I’m–” A burst of static interrupted the caller’s voice. “…in the name of 55 Cancri. Hello? Can you hear me? Hello?”
“I can hear you now,” Langdor cried.
“Goddamn cell phones,” Smith said. “It’s fucking 2212 and this is the kind of cell phone service we have? But I do love being able to watch high-definition UFL games on my 5-inch TFT.”
“Where is 55 Cancri?” Langdor asked expressively.
“In the constellation Cancer. And man, let me tell you, this is one nice constellation. We have security gates and automatic sprinklers and everything.”
Langdor had done one hundred pushups so far during this conversation, and now he began clapping his hands each time he pushed himself off the floor. “What can I do for you, Mr. Smith?”
“Well, Mr. Lang…burst of static…declaring war…burst of static…in the next twenty-four hours.”
Jumping up from the ground, Langdor pulled on a pair of plaid wool slacks. Walking across the room, he decided to open a window. The low temperature this morning was forecast at -233 degrees Celsius, and he could use a little of that cool, space air in his room right now.
“Sorry, Mr. Smith. You’re breaking up. I can’t hear you.”
“I said, Mr. Langdor, that we here on 55 Cancri E have declared war on the Moon. More than forty-three years ago our entire arsenal of ICBMs left this planet at the speed of light. Since the constellation Cancer is 43.7 light years away from the Moon, those missiles should reach you sometime in the next twenty-four hours. I thought I would call and give you a chance to surrender, Langdor.”
“Never!” Langdor said casually. “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the sons of Worvan, we shall fight to the end!”
I should have used italics in that last sentence, Bobby Langdor thought in italics.
“Then it is too late for you,” Smith said. “I will use the Sun as a gravitational slingshot to accelerate the missiles. Long live Einstein!”
Looking outside, Langdor realized belatedly that Smith was correct. The approaching missiles screamed at him through the black lunar atmosphere, and Langdor cringed for the fireball that was sure to come.
Crying, Langdor suddenly, painfully, and catastrophically felt an upwelling of emotion, realizing belatedly he had forgotten to FTP the latest version of his brain to the server on Alpha Centauri. Now, when his replacement body was commissioned, his memories would be missing the last few days of his life.
My God! he thought finally. Also, I can’t believe this Harris tweed sport coat is going to be ruined. And my Burberry turtleneck. What’s a pretentious writer of melodramatic, pseudo-intellectual novels to do?