Caveman Astronaut


















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In 1961, on January 31st, Ham became the first Chimp to go into space and return safely. It was one of many to ensure that a human being could survive space flight. He was trained to pull levers in response to flashing lights during the flight. Now that mankind had reached the possibility of faster than light (FTL) travel, he turned to his chimpanzee counterpart to take the first trip. In honor of his ancestor returning safely, they named this chimp Ham II.

Ham II had trained for years along with 23 other chimps. He just happened to be the one who did the best on all the training. Instead of training them to respond to lights, which took the chimps eyes off of the controls, this time around they used audible tones as the trigger for various maneuvers. Ham II thought these games were great fun. He would get rewarded with fruit if he did well. The better he did, the better the fruit was. That association, his chimp mind had no trouble making. His favorite was the yellow stick, that you had to take the outside off of. The trainers called it a banana.

The day of his launch, the trainers were much more nervous than usual. To Ham II it was just another trip to the game room.This time was different. He was taken outside, and then to a much smaller game room. In fact it only had space for him. The controls looked familiar, so he put his front arms forward, and swung himself into the seat. With a little chattering and hand swinging over his head, he signaled that he was excited to get started.

There was a thunderous roar unlike anything Ham II had ever heard and he felt heavier, like he was trying to move his arms in water. The audible tones came, and Ham II performed each of the maneuvers even though the rumble of the engines was painful to his ears, and his arms moved slower. He was sure to get lots of yellow sticks this time. When the tones came for the maneuver that marked the mid-point of the game, he did them and promptly blacked out.

When Ham II woke up, he felt water flowing in around him. He didn't hear any audible tones, but he knew that he didn't like it. So he punched the button that would open the hatch to the game room. As he climbed out and stood up, his arms seemed shorter and it was a lot further to the ground. He felt his face and much of the fur was missing. What fur was there, felt softer and thinner. He looked around for a trainer to give him his reward, but saw nothing but water, sky and a small bit of dry brown land. As he linked these thoughts together, something felt different about how he was thinking. The sky wasn't right and the water wasn't right, but he didn't know exectly why.

Scientist had pondered and did thousands of pages of mathematics to try and figure out what happened with time, when you went faster than light. Although they thought they had it right, they didn't. Not that they would know that as Ham II went faster than light for an unknown length of time, he evolved into a Neanderthal caveman. All they knew was that Ham II didn't return safely.

 

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