“All aboard!” shouted Phil, the second grounds crew member. "All aboard!"
The monkeys scampered on board and took their positions, Bob in the drivers seat, Skip in front of the mirror, and Dave in the kitchen checking what would be served for the in-flight snack.
Dan, who had asked about their mission, shrugged and went to the controls to monitor the take off.
From the window in the capsule, Bob stuck out his head.
“I’ve got it!”
“What?” said Dan and Phil at the same time.
“Our mission! It’s to tell them about life on earth,” Bob said.
So with time counting down, everyone agreed they would teach the Martians (or whatever lifeforms—so passé to call them Martians—they found there) the most important facts about earth.
Bob’s suggestion that they tell about life on earth stuck, because they knew more about that and could easily take some photos and prepare some fun projects for the monkey-nauts to take along.
But, the countdown! 4—3—
“Hey!” said Phil, “remember when Dave was so into scrap-booking?”
“How could we forget!” all the monkeys said in unison.
“Well,” he continued, “Dave gave me that great book of pictures of us swinging from trees and eating bananas on the fake zoo island, right?”
“So?” said Skip from the window of the craft.
“And the funniest picture: when the zookeeper found out we’d borrowed the zoo camera without asking and she chased Dave through the gift shop and Dave knocked down an entire display of stuffed zoo animals—yikes, I hate those—”
“Phil!” Bob said. “The countdown! We don’t have time for you to get off track.”
“But where is the scrapbook?” Dave hollered out the other side of the command module.
“It’s in your bag! I decided you’d need it more than I will on your trip. You can use it to show the Marti—uh, the lifeforms EVERYTHING that’s important about life on earth!” Phil said.
“You! Why did—what?! Why didn’t you just say so!” Bob said.
“You didn’t ask,” Phil said, pulling his lips down over his teeth to keep from smiling.
“The countdown!” they all said, as if collectively remembering themselves and their mission.
2—1 BLAST OFF!
The monkeys were on their way to Mars.
The trip was uneventful, that is, if you consider Dave opening the hatch to try and retrieve a loose helium balloon that had risen to space, uneventful. They barely got the hatch closed before they all flew out with the balloon.
The moment they had waited for couldn’t have come too soon for Dave, Skip, and Bob. They’d had enough of their cramped quarters and if for nothing else they were happy to see Mars in the windshield of the rocket to simply have hope of stretching their legs and hang from whatever trees they might find on Mars.
Bob engaged the landing gear, Skip combed his hair, and Dave nearly lapped the window like an excited puppy when he saw the ground of Mars.
“Think we’ll see Martians, do you? Do you?” Dave was talking a light year a minute, nervously excited at prospect of finally landing and telling the Martians about life on earth.
Landing safely, the monkey-nauts attached the ladder they’d customized from an old playground monkey bars and climbed down. The surface was spongy, light but the air was not unlike that of earth.
Dave cleared his throat, made sure Bob and Skip were listening, then said “Uh, that’s one small step for monkeys—”
“Whadayatalk whadayatalk whadayatalk!” Skip said, making fun of Dave. Skip had no idea Dave was trying to be historical.
They all breathed deeply and Dave jumped up and down and sprinted hand over legs back and forth toward a large boulder he’d seen ahead.
When he reached the boulder, he saw a pair of eyes peering from behind it, and it spooked him. He ran as fast as he could back to Bob and Skip and motioned but couldn’t speak.
“Come out with it!” Bob said.
“Yes, Dave, settle down, what?” Just then Skip looked over at the boulder where Dave had been and himself saw the eyes. But this time more than eyes appeared. A dozen creatures about the size of the monkeys emerged from behind different boulders, and the one who appeared to be the leader approached Bob.
“What is your mission?” the Martian said in Universal language the monkeys somehow understood.