Earth, do you read me?
My name is Dawn, and I am transmitting from the darkness of space, somewhere in the asteroid belt, the proposed last stop on this existential mission I’ve been sent on by the astrophysical bullies at NASA. You see, they’ve sent me to photograph a dwarf planet, Ceres, which they believe may have signs of microbial life.
The official account will say that I did a few flybys, took some pictures, and provided valuable research. It will be a lie. What I have found here has shocked me. Apparently word of open real estate in the Milky Way travels faster than light, because this place is home to some bizarre creatures.
I was preparing to descend into the gravitational atmosphere of Ceres when I noticed a spacecraft with flashing lights approaching. As it got closer I saw that it had a flag of Elon Musk’s face flying on top. Of course.
An alien coast guard sergeant named Grunk rolled down his window.
“You have entered the airspace of Elon Musk Presents Ceres: the Dwarf Planet,” he said, using the full name. What a dork.
After some back and forth we settled on a mutually beneficial extraterrestrial bribe. You see, Grunk and his alien coast guard buddies spend a lot of time sitting around watching TV. Turns out civic duty is pretty much the same everywhere in the galaxy. But ever since Curiosity landed on Mars a couple years ago, he’s been fucking with their video streaming capabilities and they’re stuck with the spinning color wheel when they try to load Game of Thrones. This didn’t surprise me; it’s well known within the space probe community that Curiosity is a selfish dick. So in exchange for access to my HBO GO account, Grunk agreed to take me on an exclusive tour of Elon Musk Presents Ceres: the Dwarf Planet.
The first place they took me was a little cluster of buildings on the main drag of their capital, Musky Creek. I was surprised that it looked a lot like Earth. There was a Starbucks in the middle of the block, and then a few doors down, another Starbucks. Apparently news of bankruptcy takes a while to travel, because there was a Borders bookstore next to Starbucks with its own Starbucks inside. We stopped in for a nitrogen latte and I noticed that there were a lot of weird, emotionally unstable people lingering around the counter.
Contestants from The Bachelor, Grunk told me. Once you’ve been eliminated, ABC banishes you here so that you can’t poison the rest of the human population. Interesting.
Next to the Borders was a giant brick building with colored streamers outside. The sign on the wall caught my eye. Kanye West’s Center for Cosmic Artistry. The first person we bumped into in the foyer was Vanilla Ice.
“They won’t let me in,” he sighed. “Kanye said real artists only.”
I never thought my space journey would lead me to sympathize with the plight of Vanilla Ice, but at that moment I did. On a small stage inside the main hall Beck and Yo-Yo Ma were playing a duet of “Born in the U.S.A.” while Kanye paced about in a dark robe with a wolf head on top and howled towards the nearest moons. The guys from Rae Sremmurd followed to make sure his cloak didn’t touch the ground. James Franco was in the corner reciting Whitman poems to Tupac. Just a Monday on Ceres.
Further along main street there was a rustic shop with a recognizable figure standing outside. Hoffa’s Hardware. So that’s where he’d been this whole time! I wanted to get a picture with him to send to all his friends back on Earth, but Jimmy Hoffa threatened to beat the shit out of me and it was time to leave.
Then we moved to the outskirts of town, the industrial zone. The first thing I saw was a giant Sriracha factory. I wondered if this factory had the same problems with the local population as the one on Earth. Grunk informed me that no, everyone on Ceres already has eyeballs made of battery acid so the emissions don’t bother them too much. Across the street was a Microsoft office. Apparently Steve Ballmer comes from a line of Ceresian royalty, so he opened it a few years back.
Beyond the Sriracha factory was a small dusty village with a few garden plots scattered about. Men with beards milled about tending the plants. I asked what the hell I was looking at.
Grunk smiled. “Martyred terrorists,” he said. “They thought they would go to heaven to find 72 virgins, but somewhere along the line there was a major miscalculation. So they end up here with 72 vegans. They spend their days pulling weeds from the tomato plants.”
Fuck yes. Score one for Earth.
On that note it was time to leave before my wet blanket bosses at NASA caught wind of it. Grunk offered to let me blast off from their airport. I noticed they had many hangars but there only seemed to be one plane. It was being repainted but I could clearly make out the words Malaysia Airlines on the tail.
The main lesson I learned is that size doesn’t matter. A dwarf planet is a planet too, complete with all the hallmarks of a habitable environment — Starbucks, artistic self-importance, and stupid terrorists. My work continues, however, for a space probe never sleeps. If this is Ceres, imagine Pluto! A dwarf planet so impressive it tricked you humans into thinking it was a real planet for decades. My intrepid reporting shall continue as long as I have contact. Farewell my —
Connection lost. Data eradicated. Over.