Down The Tube

Suit Up Checklist

The vestments are a form of penance before the sacrament of discovery.


First, the coverall. My best guess is that it's made of rubber coated steel wool filled with tumor-esque lumps the size of golf balls. The lining feels like chilled mucus against the skin as I force myself into it. Once in place, the suit resists my every movement. But what really makes this contraption the modern equivalent of sack cloth and ashes is the way that it breathes--there's no better way to describe it. The suit expands and contracts in a rhythm syncopated with my own breathing--crushing my ribcage each time I try to inhale.


Next, the boots. No matter which feet I put them on they feel like they should be the other way round. With the boots on, every surface is a steeply sloping movie theater floor, slick and sticky from a sludge of Jujubees dissolved in Coke syrup.


Now the gloves. They feel like they're made from old automobile tires--but not as flexible.


Then the goggles. There are two schools of thought concerning what function the goggles actually perform. One says that the goggles are necessary to correct a design flaw in the visual sensors of the helmet. If there's a joke there it's too subtle for me. The other theory maintains that the lenses in the goggles do nothing at all, that the only purpose the goggles serve is to keep your eyeballs in your skull as you approach maximum dervish. I subscribe to this latter theory.


Finally, the helmet. Imagine a close fitting, barnacle covered, cast-iron cooking pot--but heavier... and stuffier... and hotter... with less visibility. Sweat begins to form in a pool at the bottom of the helmet before I even have it clamped down.

Once in place the helmet not only muffles sound, it does a good job of muffling thought as well. My interior monologue now comes from about eight inches behind my left ear. No matter how many times you've gone into the helmet, the sensation is unnerving for the first few minutes.

The interior of the helmet is filled with a garish clutter of displays that glow too bright and too green. The readouts and bar graphs remind me of the strip in Las Vegas as they flicker on the edges of my vision, demanding attention. I cross my eyes till I can focus on a particularly urgent looking display but the numbers mean nothing to me.

with Egress Abort Egress

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Flightless Hummingbird:  A Pseudo-Periodical