Sep. 29th, 2011

"Why must I wear the chicken mask?" Royston demanded. Doctor Dali cocked his head.

"Why must you not?" he asked mildly.

"Because it's goddamn humiliating, that's why," said the astronaut. His white-and-silver exhibition suit was futuristic enough, just the sort of smart clean-lined thing a hero of the post-war space race should wear. But the helmet, with its multitudinous spikes and antennae and silver prongs, most of them serving no obvious function, struck Royston as ridiculous. And then there was the mask.

Royston held it up. It had a yellow beak, angry eyes, and a crest of yellow, orange and red feathers. Royston could imagine his picture on the cover of Life Magazine wearing the thing. He would never live it down, never.

Dali's quirky mustache quivered with amusement. The great surrealist took the mask from Royston and regarded it gravely. "First," he said, "it is not a chicken. It is Loplop."

"It looks like a chicken," muttered Royston, sotto voce.

"Second," continued Doctor Dali, "it is an important part of the rejection of aesthetic and reason that will see our nation into outer space."

"See, that's where I'm confused," said Royston. "Now, I know I'm no big brain like you, doc. I'm just a flyboy; I crash jets for the Navy. But the first thing a jet monkey like me thinks is: hey! Maybe we can fly up into outer space if we just build a jet with a big enough engine!"

"You are talking of rockets, I think," said Dali.

"Yeah, rockets!" said Royston enthusiastically. "Just put a big ole Roman candle under my butt, doc, and
I'll get you into space sure enough!"

"And did that work for the Nazis? Hm?" Dali asked sharply. "Their chemical rockets were interesting toys, yes, but Hitler could not win his war with them. No, no. He realized soon enough where the real new frontier lay." Salvador Dali seized Royston by the shoulders.

"Within the revolution of art, and literature, and society, and the bedrock of thought itself," said Doctor Dali passionately. "By harnessing Surrealism, the deconstruction of reason and sense and sensibility, shall we plot a course to the stars!"
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