Directors and Malcontents by Torn MacAlester

“I’ll say it one more time. John­son and Carmike are not com­ing back!” the Direc­tor said. “They left the space agency. It’s over. Why are we even hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion about them? I can’t believe I will spend my Sat­ur­day mak­ing a case for us to try lur­ing back two mal­con­tents that have no desire to be part of our mis­sion. What con­ceiv­able use do we have for them?”

The Assis­tant Direc­tor said, “They have flight expe­ri­ence and are qual­i­fied. They’ve both been to the Moon and done all the things we asked of them.”

“The deci­sion is out of our hands. They left.”

“We need to get them back.”

“I don’t see how,” said the Director.

“Yeah, I know it’s impossible.”

“How does that impact us?”

“To get the crews ready after Mis­sion 7, we must slow down our pace.”

“How slow?” The Direc­tor asked.

“We must extend our sched­ule for Mis­sion 7 by a year.”

“That’s not pos­si­ble. We must keep flying.”

“I have a solution.”

“What?” asked the Director.

“Change Mis­sion 7 to the Tycho crater, with Jel­li­son and Conner.”

“What about the next mis­sion at the Lunar south pole?”

“We have Annie and Cy Mac­In­turn­er fly it,” said the Assis­tant Director.

“You’re sug­gest­ing that we put a hus­band-and-wife team as crew for a Lunar mission?”

“Yeah. They’re the only ones with the expe­ri­ence need­ed to han­dle that tough mission.”

“The Assis­tant Sec­re­tary will kill us,” the Direc­tor said.

“Then we need John­son and Carmike back.”

“They’re not com­ing back.”