Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

Thirty seven people packed into the conference room. The table sat twenty four. The rest stood along the walls. They didn’t care. The excitement in the room was nearly palpable. Low murmurs circulated throughout the cramped space. Occasionally a nervous laugh burst forth. The air, while not festive, was hopeful.

As if darkness had suddenly fallen, the room was plunged into silence. A small rotund man entered carrying a sheaf of papers. He was immaculately dressed in a slate grey three piece suit. Not a hair was out of place on his peculiar egg shaped head and his carefully groomed mustache accented an otherwise non descript face.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began in a strong confident voice; a voice that did not match the otherwise innocuous appearance, “I suppose you know why we are all here.” A round of nervous laughter met this casual remark. “The decision has been extremely difficult. All of you are highly qualified. In fact all of you are, with very minor exceptions of course, equals in intelligence, temperament and background. Any one of you would be an excellent, nay, a perfect candidate for the job.”

The gathered applicants looked from side to side. From a field of well over five thousand prospective aspirants, they had, through exhaustive mental as well as physical trials been whittled down to the thirty seven assembled here.

“The challenge is daunting. Living in what amounts to a tin can orbiting 22,000 miles above the equator, alone, for eighteen months is certainly not for the faint of heart. Of course there are rewards.” This time the room launched into overt laughter at the barely disguised allusion to the twelve million dollar pay check awaiting at the end of the solitary sojourn.

“What it comes down to, that is, the only thing differentiating you, is a simple matter of weight. As you know it costs roughly one hundred thousand dollars to launch one pound. Thusly, out of this group the lightest and most qualified physically will be awarded the position.” A few corpulent individuals shifted nervously and stared in guilty, gluttonous sloth at their overstuffed shoes. “Not only weight, but manual dexterity have been factored in to our decision.”

A raucous “BOOYAH” erupted off to one side of the speaker. A small man dramatically ripped off his prosthetic legs and proceeded to do a handstand on the armrests of his motorized wheel chair.

“Pack it up and head home suckers, the job’s mine,” he yelled from his inverted position. Settling himself back in the chair, he continued his self congratulatory celebration. “Whooo HOOOO, don’t need no legs in space, they just get in the way. Haha. Don’t need legs for walking around. Useless in spa… oh… shit…” His face went white as his eyes fell on Herschel “Monkeyboy” Greenbaum.

Greenbaum’s father was the chief biologist at Genedyne Laboratories. He had pioneered the work in the hybridization of primates. Specifically between spider monkeys and humans.

Herschel regarded the amputee coolly as he brushed and patted his hair with his feet while casually twiddling his thumbs.

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