‘Ordeal in Space’ on Radio4extra

How lucky am I: next up Short Stories by Robert Heinlein: ‘Ordeal in Space’: ‘A thrilling tale delving into the mind of a traumatised spaceman after his return to Earth’:

First scene between the spaceman and a psychiatrist: ‘All space men are crazy….you are in fine shape, but for a fear of falling…now what are you planning to do?’ Awnsers the spaceman: ‘I do not want to wait around a space port’, The spaceman checks himself into a hotel. He did not want to be recognised. He fills in an application form: name of the spaceman is William Saunders, and he is applying for a job. He finds work for a communications equipment company. He daydreams of when he was in space. But now back on earth. ‘You better take a pill’ says a work colleague called Tulley. He was a hero. They become friends. He loses his fear of heights.  ‘Have you ever been to Mars?’ He says goodnight. He sits on the edge of the bed. He knew that the piece of mind he had was unreal. He dreamt of being in space. He shook his head and listened, to a cat, from the window. His eyes tight shut. He opened his eyes and saw he was a foot from the kitten. He started sobbing….

William is sleeping in space, on board a spaceship. The piloting radar was ‘out of wack’. The antenna was gone. It needed to be replaced. The old man in spacesuit with a safety line. The captain was stalled. Bill scrambled to get the captain, the old man, in. Bill moved out to the replacement antennae. He jerked his safety line and knotted the line fastening the bolts, but the wrench slips, it goes out and out down and down. He cannot make his way back. He hung by both hands. He looked down, nothing below him but stars. His hands stiff, he could no longer feel his right hand. He was falling, falling…

He is picked up two hours later by a spaceship.

‘Here kitty, here kitty’. He drew himself inside and let his legs slide down from the ledge of the window. He took a deep breath. Moving his feet. The kitten leaped backward. He could wait for the kitten, or he could go get it. He moves forward, when the window is out of reach , he looks down. He was there with the kitten. He stretches his right hand and grabs the kitten. He returns, he loses balance. He backs up. ‘Man’, he says aloud, ‘that was a tight squeeze.’ He strokes the kitten. He scratches the kitten’s ears, ‘How would you like to take a long, long ride with me?’


17th August 18:30


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