A Tour of Francium by Theo Kanbe

I’m supposed to welcome you. I’m supposed to tell you to please stay on the path because Francium is toxic to your kind. I’m supposed to inform you that all electrons here are essential personnel, so any that may have asked to stow away with you claiming to be prisoners are lying. I’m supposed to inform you that if you aid any rogue electrons out of this atom we will change violently and all die. I’m supposed to tell you if said event occurs you will be liable. And I’m supposed to extend my radius and shake your hand. Please tell the nucleus I said these things, in your report.

We will now take a tour of the place. Francium is such a nice place. You may not know this, but we are a very rare element. Our half-life is 22 minutes. Oh right. I’m supposed to tell you you have about that long to make your report. Or, you did when you landed. You have less than that now.

Tour --> (Flickr user CarbonNYC)

Tour –> (Flickr user CarbonNYC)

So. We are very rare. Very valuable, you could say. More valuable than, say, sodium or potassium. We don’t, for instance, receive money from any lobbyists. I heard sodium receives money from Salt lobbyists. Just a rumor. We don’t do that.

We also have a prestigious lineage. We were discovered in France. We are, you could say, European. Although we don’t appreciate any jokes connecting our half-life with France’s performance in wars. We were just named after the place. We aren’t cowards.

I’m sorry, I’ve been boring you to death with history lessons. To continue the tour:

Where you just parked is our 7th orbital, containing one electron. His name is Steve. Steve is nice, but insubordinate sometimes. Talks a lot about flying the coup. You ask me, he’s unbalanced. We have to watch him all the time. Some advice: do not listen to anything he says. And check your ship for him before you leave. Let’s move along before he comes around on a revolution. Don’t really want to talk to him right now.

Coming up is our 6th orbital. You may even be able to see the glow from here. That’s because it’s radioactive. Actually, we all are, here in Francium. I may have forgotten to mention that to you earlier. And I see you don’t have a suit on. Umm, don’t worry. You won’t be here long enough for it to cause any harm. Probably.

Anyways, yeah, 6th orbital. Home to eight electrons, all of them named Linda. Nice ladies. They aren’t all the same, though. Each has a distinct personality and a crucial job here in Francium. There are rumors about them conspiring to leave if Steve does, but that’s unfounded, if you ask me. One of the, um, yeah…

Okay, look.

Could you do me a solid?

That’s what we are, by the way. Solid at room temp. I know that was one of your questions for the end.

But yeah.

Could you not mention that radioactive thing in your report? I know I messed up but come on, man, I’ve got a wife. She’s one of the Lindas. Hey, there she goes right now! Hey honey! (No, I’m busy, I’ll talk to you later.) See how big she is? No, she’s not fat. She’s pregnant. I got a kid on the way, man. I can’t afford to be fired right now. So can you maybe help me out?

You will? Awesome! Thanks a bunch, man.

Say, what’s the time? Four minutes? Crap. Okay. Crap. The nucleus wanted to be presented before you leave, so we’ll go there now. We’ll have to skip a few orbitals, but I’ll try and tell you things about them as we pass over. Sound good? Okay. Crap. Let’s go.

That’s the 5th orbital passing beneath us. Lots of chumps there. 18 electrons. Bums. The lot of them. So many—

–And that’s the 4th orbital right there. 32 electrons. Very energetic bunch. They’re named after the noble gases. Reminds us of what we want to achieve around here. Yeah, there are only so many noble gases though so they share names. In fact, that reminds me of—

–Crap. That back there was the 3rd orbital. 18 electrons there. Pretty normal guys. There’s the 2nd orbital, home to eight electrons, all named Larry. They’re all married to the Lindas, cept for my baby, of course. One guy down there is very—

–Whoa! Slowing down now. Here comes the 1st orbital. There are only two electrons here, but they’re old school. Also they will kill us if we don’t submit to a search. Just follow my lead and we’ll be all good.

Hey guys. Taking the inspector to see the boss. Yeah. No. Yeah. Okay.

They’re gonna frisk us then we can go.

All good? All good! On to the nucleus. How much time do we—you know what, nevermind. Don’t tell me. Here we go.

Now, don’t be alarmed. It’s all turning red because the nucleus is a bit of a drama queen. Don’t put that in your report, but it’s true. He likes to be looked in the neutrons while you’re talking to him, and just ignore the protons. Those guys are idiots. You know what. Just follow my lead and we’ll do fine.

Hey boss. This is the—what? Okay. No. Yeah. Well, he just wanted to see you and then he’s going to be finished. Yeah. Looks like we might get a stamp from the Committee, right man? Is that a no, or—

Wait. What’s that noise? Is that the—shit in a hand basket, it is. Let me just bring up my viewscreen and—

Holy cow. Umm, Mr. Inspector? Do you have autopilot on your ship? No? Well, then Steve is in your ship. Yeah. Steve. The irregular out in 8th. He’s flying away, but where is he going? Boss, should we send the protons? I don’t know where he’s going. Let me expand my viewscreen…

Damn it all to heck. There’s a Caesium rogue passing by.

Inspector! Did you perhaps leave the door to your ship unlocked? You did? Why in the hell—And the keys? You must be from a good neighborhood—Helium? You don’t say? Doesn’t Francium remind you of—

What was what, boss? Oh yeah. Let me look… The protons are closing in on Steve. Yeah. Yeah! They got this. They are going to bring Steve back and then—

What!? No! Steve just blasted the protons away with some laser thing. What’s your ship doing with lasers like that, Inspector? I thought you said you were from Helium. Dangerous neighborhoods? I’ll have you know, Francium is one of the safest—

NO!

NO!

Steve just boarded the Caesium rogue. It’s all over. We’re dead.

…Hey, Inspector? Could you not put this in your report?

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Theo Kanbe is from Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. He finds incredible joy in writing, Ke$ha, and Terry Letts. If asked to describe himself in three words, he would say: “Teacher, Asian, You.” He is currently pursuing a piece of paper that will guarantee some position later in life. Personal website: theoishere.tumblr.com