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Health Boy

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Health Boy



Health Boy can die a thousand human deaths but live on. He can fall prey to nasty gasses, his chest will turn purple and his head will expand to twice its natural width, and yet he lives, or perhaps simply never dies. Each thing that goes wrong with him is not indicative of his failure, rather his success; the real failure is ours.
We pulled him out of the fuselage on Tuesday; yellow arms, green back, burn marks on his wrists and ankles painfully swollen. Ammonia leakage from God knows where, mixed with oxygen shortage and excess CO2. And apparently some very intense overheating and a rough landing.
We had checked every screw, every bolt and nook and cranny, before the flight test. Before the installation of the nav cams and after, and yet here was Health Boy, not-quite-living proof that we had failed. Even a suicidal man would be reluctant to ride this shuttle. And yet we had designed it perfectly.
Marc managed the life and breathing team. Air conditioning, atmospheric regulators, any gasses present in the fuselage were his main concern, whether or not they should be present. He had designed the perfect air system, one of which we were endlessly proud, and in no hurry to replace; not after the six years and three-billion dollars dedicated to its development. All this work towards perfection, and Marc was perhaps the least concerned, seeming by far to be the most casual about the situation. He didn’t seem at all worried that he would lose his modest eight-million dollar salary. Perhaps he was confident in the countless tests he had performed on the apparatus, extending to the day of the launch. All flawless.
We would need a Systems man, we figured; perhaps some unprecedented chain reaction had begun at launch. And yet every Systems man we called on reported all-perfect. Complete harmony.
Two options now remained, and preferring the more comfortable alternative, we contacted Health. The representatives for the greatest test-dummy manufacturers known to humanity stood before us, smiles not unlike the one that we drew onto our Health Boy. They offered us new replacements, which we accepted, tested, then waited.
Day of the second launch: midday, good weather, all preliminary tests deemed better than perfect. Health Boy 2 smiled nervously beneath a sharpie mask, birds ceased to sing. Liftoff, good. Health Boy 2, good. Exit good, re-entry —
Which all but the monitors missed, as Sally had entered the room. Very much unauthorized, the intern had only begun work on the atmospheric regulation apparatus this month, half of which she had spent being worried, the other half being nervous. She held in her quaking hands some papers and a computer, which she spread on the table. Images, diagrams, and on the computer a video recording from a shaking hidden camera, capturing the blue uniform of a life systems team manager.
We understood nothing until Marc had vanished. No ammonia had leaked, nor CO2, nor was there any lack of oxygen. The breathing apparatus was more perfect than we had believed; perfect, but altered. We henceforth stopped testing the shuttle; she was fine, though these past few weeks had raised in us doubts. We began testing the air system and our Health Boys.
The following week our rival aerospace company HaysWings announced the completion of their shuttle system, and by their side stood Marc; he really was brilliant, though it seems that that was the limit of his good demeanour. But our problems had not yet finished; what of the air system now?
The third launch: air systems that do their job (what more could we hope for?), all go for launch. Cameras good, sensors good, and Health Boy? Just two days prior, Health had announced their increased funding for their Health Boy branch. New, improved - and custom built. Ours would be ready for the fourth launch if, by that point, we had the money for it. Until then, Health Boy 3 was our mannequin.
The shuttle left the ground, rose to a point, then to nothing, into space. We waited, not sure what to expect. Would Marc’s absence be a blessing? A curse? We now faced the possibility of a real air systems failure, though we had tested everything for months. We waited, hoping that Health Boy, Marc’s betrayal, and the string of unfortunate events that had succeeded HaysWings’ acquisition of the design and launch permit for commercial shuttles would not set us back several billion dollars in funding.
No failures, warnings, not even a rough moment until re-entry. The heat shield held, the cabin pressure remained at its best. This, we hoped, would be the day our trials ended. At last we reached the final minutes until landing, as she approached the runway, speed dwindling, chutes open. She flew overhead once, slowing rapidly, then circled around, decreasing in speed each time, now descending towards us, a soft touchdown on the runway.
Myself and my team donned our suits and went in for inspection; with the on-board readings all-good, we were just a formality, or so we assumed. I opened the hatch, and there was Health Boy, the representative of health failure. A deep blue patch along his side had begun to warp back, revealing the plastic beneath, and his arms had developed patches of deep magenta.
We hauled him back to the lab; there was absolutely no reason, after all of the good data we had collected from the sensors, for Health Boy to be registering any danger, especially not to this extent. No scientific explanation, not after all the sensors were tested thoroughly.
The use of Health Boy is mandatory in the testing of anything used for human transport. No alternative existed, at least no alternative that was approved by every board of health and safety that mattered. The morbid consistency of our dummy, across the range of launches and different conditions was itself inconsistent with any other launch test in history, so we applied for an investigation. The media assumed that our complaints were based on an inability to come to terms with our failure.
Two months on, our project was cancelled as most of our investors backed out, and HaysWings announced their new partnership with Health, with which they hoped to create the greatest - health wise - space transportation vessels to date. I don’t doubt that they will, given their twofold increase in funding and relative lack of competition.
Wrote it in math class a few weeks ago. Hope you liked it.

"Baby, in the final analyses, love is power. That's where the power's at."






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