Payment Due Immediately

He woke up in a daze and acutely aware of an intense, throbbing pain coursing through his body. He tried to get up and move around, but he was paralyzed by the pain.  His eyes darted wildly in his head, trying to comprehend his surroundings and just what the fuck was happening to him.

He looked down at his feet, his legs, over to his arms.  Everything seemed normal, aside from the agony he felt. As he lay there, helpless, bits and pieces of his memory started poking through.

He saw visions of freeze dried food in foil pouches.  A space shuttle of some sort.  The sensation of being weightless.  Fuck…he was an astronaut. 

This realization triggered an intense flash-back: he was working on a space shuttle, doing some super secret mission for NASA.  True to NASA-inian form, something, as they say, had gone horribly wrong.  An accident of some sort.  He can only piece together he had been bouncing around the inside of the shuttle, weightless, then nothing.  Darkness.  His next memory is what had just happened; waking up and not knowing where in God’s green Earth he was, or why he hurt so fucking bad.

Just then, someone in a long, white lab coat came into the room.  The Coat was carrying a clipboard and studying it intently, flipping papers, writing notes, and mumbling to himself as he did so.  He looked at the man in the hospital bed and his eyes widened in stunned surprise to see him awake.

“Oh…oh, my god…you’re….you….you’re AWAKE!! Why, this is tremendous! Nurse!  Nurse!! Come quickly!  Our patient is awake!” The Coat said in an excited voice.  The Coat rushed to the man’s side and began fidgeting with the tubes coming from his arm, and pressing buttons on the machines next to the bed. 

The nurse was on the other side of the bed in a flash, also checking tubes and machines.  The Coat and The Nurse exchanged a look, and The Coat quickly exited the room, but was back within a few seconds with more Coats, all whom began examining the man in the bed.

The man spoke up, “wha-wha-what’s happening?  Where am I?  What’s going on here?”

“There, there, sir.  Try to relax, ” said The Nurse.  “You’ve been through a great ordeal.  We’re here to help you.”

Just then, a man in an impressive-looking military uniform came striding in, flanked by two other men in uniforms.  They stopped at the foot of the bed and looked at the man.

“Mr. Austin.  Glad to see you’re among the living again,” said The Military Man.

Mr. Austin?  Yes, yes of course!  The man in the bed was named Austin.  Steve Austin, Astronaut. 

“Mr. Austin, you gave us quite the scare.  You took quite the beating in that little rocket ship of yours.  But, rest assured, you’ll be right as rain in no time, son.  The doctors and surgeons here were able to do some amazing, amazing things for you.”

=======================================================
After a few days in the hospital, Steve Austin, Astronaut, was able to leave.  Apparently, the damage to his body was extensive, he had been completely re-made with all the latest and greatest technologies available.  They kept referring to him as “bionic, ” whatever the fuck THAT meant.  All Steve Austin, Astronaut knew was that he had x-ray vision now, and could totally see through The Nurse’s uniform.  Needless to say, he pressed his call button many-a-time while a patient. 

He had been at home for a few days, recuperating in the comfort of his own home, as he was not completely ready to return to work.  He was sitting in his favorite chair in the den, watching his daytime stories, when he heard the postman come and drop off his mail.  Bionic hearing, too.  He could hear a mouse fart.  He got up from the chair and made his way to the front door.  Stooping down, he picked up the daily mail.

“Junk…junk…junk…” he said as he sorted through everything.  Then, a letter from NASA caught his attention.  It seemed important, so he ripped the envelope open hurriedly.  He pulled out the letter and began reading, his eyes quickly skimming the content.  He stopped reading.  Stunned silence filled the room.

“Dear Mr. Austin,” he read out loud. “We here at NASA wish to express our relief that you have pulled through your ordeal exceptionally well.  As you know, we spared nothing to make sure you were well taken care of and brought back to your peak physical condition.  The very best and very brightest worked tirelessly to make sure of this.  As you know, you have been equipped with some added “perks,” if you will.  As you also know, this kind of exceptional quality and service does not run cheap.  Please consider this an attempt to collect a debt from you, owed to the Unites States government.  Enclosed is your bill for services rendered.  Payment due immediately.  Kindest regards, your friends at NASA.”

He looked at the other piece of paper in his hand.  A bill.  For six million dollars.  Payment due immediately.

“Son of a BITCH!!”

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