TV SMITH's Dua Sen: The Night I Flunk My Astronaut Test
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

"And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no, no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone…"
Rocket Man - music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin

22:00 - Arrived at the top-secret underground launchpad located somewhere near Brickfields. Along with the other trainees, I was herded into a longish metallic craft. There was no pre-flight briefing except for some broad hints about the mission being a 10-hour physical and mental endurance test. Found my pre-assigned sleeping compartment without much hassle and strapped in for the night.

22:30 - The engine fired up and the mighty vehicle took off with a misleading, disappointing judder. Almost like a car that had its handbrake released in motion. Not the explosive, roaring and smoky takeoff that I had anticipated. Stared out of the porthole and try to make out the dizzying spots of light that flashed pass. The severely scratched and pitted glass didn't allow me to see much or make out our exact position. All I knew at that moment was that we were leaving human civilization behind. There was no turning back, however perilous and terrifying the journey was to be.

24:00 - The endless vibrations were already unbearable. The craft rocked and pitched like a hapless raft in the ocean, violently tossing and flinging me about. A cacophony of high-pitched noises, eerie creaks and random mechanical groans accompanied me as I bounced on the 2-inch thick mattress. There were also repeated bursts of hydraulic hisses followed by horrifying wails and piercing screeches. We must be leaving the earth's atmosphere I figured.

02:00 - Some two hours later, we entered a 'dead zone' as the sounds seemed to have ceased all of a sudden. I tried hard to sleep, but shockingly, the guy in the neighbouring bunk was already snoring loudly. Damn cheat must have brought along some sleeping tablets or tranquilisers. This Bolehnaut wannabe is going to fail the post-flight medical tests, I hoped.

02:30 - My ordeal continues. After the short lull, the entire craft shook and rattled again with almost no warning. Strange noises that sounded like rocks hitting steel emanated from the top. We must have collided with some stray cosmic particles. I felt like screaming but in space no one can hear you scream. I learned that from a movie poster a long time ago.

03:30 - I remembered bringing along a multiple dog-eared unabridged photostat copy of Tolstoy's War & Peace Vol 1. There was an overhead reading light of sorts but it was not functioning. Reached for the standard issue pocket Maglite but gave up after reading two paragraphs. My right eyeball was dislocated from its socket. My other eye noticed a 15amp power socket next to where my waist was. Why would anyone need a high ampere power point unless it is for plugging in an oven or water heater, I wondered silently.

03:30 - By this time every internal organ in my body was pulverised. My bladder was still functioning albeit erratically. I measured my own pulse and it had dropped dangerously low, but I wasn't concerned. At that point, all I wanted to do was to stick two fingers into that electric socket and end my misery. Fortunately, my sense of patriotism prevailed. I couldn't let my countrymen down and I was on a fast track to a datukship. Besides, electrocuting yourself on a white sheet can result in an unsightly mess.

04:30 - I couldn't remember much and was probably hallucinating by then. We must have attained zero gravity. Through my dazed eyes, I vaguely recalled a bottle of Newater floating by. One half of somebody's stray and worn-out Japanese slippers hovered about two feet above my head.

07:00 - Touchdown. Upon landing, I was loaded into a rusty luggage trolley and taken into a strange building in Woodlands. I thought my mission was finally over when they placed me on a conveyor belt that looped through the X-ray machine tunnel. To my dismay, all passengers were forced to return to their sleeping berths immediately after the checks. We cruised for another twenty long minutes before arriving at the railway station in Tanjung Pagar.

Moral of the story: Never ever buy a berth ticket on the night train to Singapore.

My Cabin

© 2004 TV SMITH
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