March 4, 2044
The Day that Changed the World

On Planet Venus
- A 12-year old girl explores Venus -

© Copyright by Fritz Reichert

“Hey, Tao! Is this shining spot a moon?” she asked.

“No, sir,” was the response. “Planet Venus doesn’t have any moons.”

“But something is shining, look back there,” she insisted.

After a while, she found an explanation for the light she had seen: “Oh, I know now, it’s a polar light.” She was satisfied with this idea.

To her disappointment, Tao said, “Planet Venus has no magnetic field as our Earth has, sir, which is why no polar lights can be seen here.”

“But there is a bright light,” she said with an uncertain voice. Gazing at the light that got ever brighter, she had the jitters. “It looks strange, very strange. If it’s no moon and no polar light, what else could it be, Tao?”

“I don’t know, sir,” Tao answered quietly.

“By the way, you shouldn’t call me ‘sir’! I told you already a thousand times that I’m a girl and that my name is Samantha.” She tried to cover her fear in turning the conversation to blame Tao.

“You know, sir, I’m an android and I can only say what I am programmed for”, Tao said. ”Indeed, sir, this light is continuously intensifying!”

“Oh, Tao, it’s blinding me. I fear this bright light.”

“You have not to be afraid of anything, sir. Finally I am here to protect you,” Tao said. Then he added, “Though, I don’t know what this light means. If it is an approaching meteoroid, we have to escape.”

“My god,” Samantha exclaimed, “the light changes its form. It is no longer a sphere but it looks like a burning ring. It will devour us! Tao, we have to rush! Let's go!" Samantha's fear increased. "It will destroy us," she shouted. "Oh, look, Tao, in its center a figure is forming! My god! What is it, Tao?" Then she cried out, "It has the shape of a glowing ghost.”

Sure, Samantha was frightened to death. She turned around and put her face between her hands. Tao was watching the apparition. Then Tao exclaimed, “Well, sir. Do not hide your face. Look at it! It’s a woman." And then he said, "Watch, she is going to talk to us. Listen, sir!”

“Hello, you are welcome here! Girl, turn around! You should not tremble with fear. I am the goddess Venus. This planet down there is my home. Tell me, who are you?”

Hesitatingly Samantha had turned around. She gazed at the apparition. She could not believe her eyes. Her fear changed out of a sudden. “Oh look, Tao, how beautiful she is!” she whispered.

Without answering the question, Samantha quite absent-minded continued: “Oh, look, Tao, this beautiful long, long fair hair. It winds around her magnificent body! And look, oh look at these fiery blue eyes! Oh, I wish I ever could become so pretty.”

“Sir, the goddess asked you to introduce us!”

“What? What do you say, Tao?”

“Wouldn’t you like to tell me who you are?” Venus asked again with a faint smile.

“Sir, please close your mouth. You have to answer the goddess and not stay around like struck by thunder.”

“What did you say about this beauty, Tao?”

“You are to introduce us, sir!”

“What? Introduce whom?” Tao gave her a push and repeated, “You are to introduce us, sir!” As awaking from a wonderful dream Samantha said, “Oh, well. O. Kay, I am Samantha and I’m twelve years old. This is Tao, my android. And you, you are so beautiful! Never ever I have seen such a beauty before.”

Quickly Samantha moved to the beautiful apparition saying, “I just have to hug you.”

“No sir”, Tao shouted. “Stay here!” Tao tried to keep her away from the goddess, but it was too late. However, before reaching her, Samantha cried out in pain.

“Oh, I’m burning,” she whined. “Close to you it is hot with fire”.

Samantha turned back to Tao.

“I am longing so much to touch you, Your Beauty,” she stammered in pain.

“Thank you, Samantha. I hear these words about my appearance not for the first time, but I always like to hear them again. Tell me, dear, why did you come to my planet?”

“Your Beauty, I’ve come to get information about your planet.”

Samantha was excited as never before. She said, “Nothing can be more important than seeing you. Your beauty is unparalleled. Never will I experience anything greater than having met you.”

“Be cautious, sir!” Tao whispered. “This goddess is dangerous.”

“Be quiet, you stupid!” Samantha returned. Nevertheless, Tao continued whispering, “This goddess promised the famous Paris to get the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen of Troy. And this started a terrible ten-year long war.”

“Shut up, you smart aleck, you’re annoying the goddess, talking about all this gossip,” she answered angrily and said in a loud voice:

“Madam, we have come to have a look to the surface of your planet. We cannot watch it from Earth. There is a veil of clouds preventing us to have a look on the surface though your planet comes closer to our planet than any other one. We are curious about that what you hide below this layer of clouds.” She breathed a sigh of inexpressible admiration when she continued, “I’m sure it is as beautiful as you are.”

Tao cut in whispering, “And certainly it is as hot as this goddess.” Be cautious, sir!”

“Well, Samantha, I love girls who are eager to learn,” Venus seemed not having heard Tao’s warnings. “If you want to look at it, just follow me. I’m glad to show you around.”

“Thank you, madam,” Samantha said happily.

Tao did not move. Impatiently Samantha turned to Tao: “Hey, stupid, don’t hesitate! Come now!”

Tao still refused to follow her. Angrily she censured Tao. “Oh, you are so dumb. Didn’t we come to learn about this planet? And now we have the best guide possible, the owner of it, the goddess Venus.”

Tao was still hesitating. Venus impatiently asked, “Will you come with me or will you stay here?”

“We’ll follow you,” Tao said at last. “It’s too dangerous up here. I am measuring dangerous rays from the sun: They cannot be deflected from lack of a magnetic field. We have to leave this place!”

They followed Venus descending towards the surface of the planet. Approaching the dense clouds, Venus said. “I also hate these rays from the sun, Tao. Helios, the god of the Sun, whom I hate most, is sending them. Once, this villain spied into my affairs. Secretly he had called all the gods from Olympus. They came and laughed about my nakedness while I lay on the bed of Mercury. Can you imagine how ashamed I felt?”

Remembering this situation, the beautiful goddess almost started crying.

“Miss Venus, I am an android. Androids like me don’t have feelings of shame.”

“But I can picture the shame you felt,” Samantha cut in. Her teeth were chattering with cold.

The goddess continued to speak about the shame she had felt when all the gods lay her open to ridicule. “Since this shameful affair I wear this long hair,” she explained. “You too should have long hair to wrap in your body, Samantha. Then you would not feel cold.”

„Sir, I am measuring a temperature of minus 2100 F.”

Still trembling with cold Samantha stammered: “Tao, it’s not only terribly cold, it is also getting more and more foggy”.

Soon thereafter the fog was so intense that Samantha could no longer see the android and the goddess. With her hands, she grasped in the vain nothing searching Tao. Suddenly she felt something in the dense fog. It was pleasantly warm and thin like a hair. Indeed, it was a hair. A hair of Venus.

„Hey, you are pulling by my hair,” Venus shouted at her. “Girl, this hurts. Let it go!”

“Sir, I’m right at your side. Do not be afraid of this dense layer of clouds" Tao said. "This thick ocean of clouds makes the planet shine so brightly. The clouds reflect about 76 percent of the light this planet receives from the sun.”

“I told you, I hate the god Helios. Actually I’d like to return all, really all of the light I receive from him,” Venus said with a friendly voice. Then she sounded quite mad. “By Jove! Girl, let go my hair!”

Samantha thoughts were with the high amount of reflected light. She did not notice how upset Venus was about the warming hair she had in her hand. “I thought the brightness of planet Venus comes because Venus orbits the sun much closer than earth does?” she asked Tao.

“Both the clouds and the nearness to the sun make this planet shine so brightly,” Tao answered.

“Hey, wise one, and if the planet Venus is shining so intensely, why can we see it from Earth only at daybreak and in the evening and not at daytime?”

Before Tao could answer, Samantha yelled, “Oh, oh what’s this?”

“Because Sun outshines Venus at daytime,” Tao responded.

„Oh, oh, this really hurts,” Samantha cried.

“Sir, what’s up? I cannot see you. Why are you crying?”

“The cloud we are passing hurts like fire on my skin. Oh, oh, Tao, help me! I die of pain!”

“The droplets in this cloud are not of water but of sulphuric acid. This substance loves water so much that it extracts water from your skin. Of course, this aches. Sorry sir, but I cannot help you.”

The pain even increased when she learned that Tao could not protect her from this acid. Then she shouted with all her power, “Tao, what do you say? I cannot hear you anymore. Oh, these droplets cause aches all over! These droplets are penetrating into my cloth and destroying it,” she cried. “Tao! Where are you?”

Next to the dense cloud, the strong wind changed into a hurricane. It carried Samantha away with all its force. Her desperate cries, “Hey, where are you? Tao! Help! Help!” kept unanswered.

In this situation Samantha could be regarded to be happy for not hearing Venus cursing at her. “By Jove! Girl! I will punish you for stealing my hair.”

She also could net hear Venus addressing Tao madly, “This is no fun! Oh, this beast of a girl, she seized one of my hair.”

The storm was raging. Never a hurricane had been so severe on Earth.

Tao sounded with highest volume of his voice, “Sir, can you hear me?”

There was no answer. The torrent overpowered all, the desperate calls of Tao und the curses of Venus about the hair she had lost to Samantha. The hurricane tugged Samantha with supersonic speed around the planet.

Furiously the goddess shouted, “By Jove! I will punish this brat for robbing this divine hair from me. We have to wait here for four days. Then the storm will have carried her all around my planet. Without mercy she will suffer for her wrong-doing.”

“By then the acid might have destroyed your hair,” Tao started to persuade Venus to follow Samantha. “You should rather follow her if you want your hair back,” Tao said.

After a short while, the goddess agreed. “You’re right, Tao. However, I swear I’ll punish this chick.”

“She is a girl of twelve years,” Tao tried to sooth her anger. “Certainly she didn’t intend to hurt you.”

Both Venus and Tao started to pursue Samantha. Secretly Venus thought about punishments she could inflict on Samantha. She could ban her into a crystal to complete immobility. Venus thought this to be a proper punishment for a girl who was so adventurous. “She never will have a chance again to steal one of my hairs,” she thought.

Tao was shouting with all his force for Samantha. There was no response from Samantha.

However, the goddess asked herself, what to do with Tao who in her opinion had developed some good ideas. The Goddess of Love found a better solution for punishing her guests. When she hit on this idea, she laughed aloud which made her anger less severe.

“O. K. I will make her fall in love with this android made of iron and silicon,” she decided and could not help to giggle.

Suddenly they heard screams out of the dense cloud. Samantha must be close. Tao started again with full volume to shout for her.

“Tao, I’m not deaf. Stop shouting that loud!” he heard Samantha say.

Both Tao and Venus got closer to her and they saw Samantha rather unhurt. They also noticed that the single, long hair of the goddess lay around Samantha’s body. It protected her from the dangerous droplets of sulphuric acid.

“Finally, I got you, you thief,” Venus shouted. “Return my hair, you brat. By Jove! Give it to me right now!”

“This raging storm would drive the hair away before you could catch it,” Tao warned. “I would say we should travel on until we have reached an area with less strong winds.”

It took some time until Venus agreed. “Well,” she said, “We go further towards the surface of my planet. However, by Jove! Girl, you got to return my hair!”

About thirty miles above the surface, the storm died away. It started to rain. Samantha would have loved to take a shower. It got warmer and warmer with every mile they came closer to the surface. The heat seemed to be unbearable. A shower would have cooled her a bit. However, she noticed that the rain was not of water but of this terrible sulphuric acid.

Disappointedly she said, “I thought Venus is a nice planet.”

She should not have said this.

Venus turned at her. “If you do not like my planet, go back to your Earth,” she said with a stern face. “I did not ask you to come, girl. By the way, now you shall return my hair.”

“You should keep it, sir,” Tao whispered. “This hair of the goddess protects you against all hostile conditions you might be exposed to over here.”

Samantha remembered the pain she had suffered before she took the hair from Venus. She pleaded with the sweetest voice she could use. “Miss Venus, please let me keep your hair as long as I am visiting your planet. It guards me well from these droplets as your wonderful hair protects you from the rays of the Helios, the God of the Sun.”

Venus did not respond on the request.

Samantha insisted: “Mrs. Venus, you are covered by so many hairs. This single one protects me. Its lack will not cause any damage to your wonderful body. Please, Your Goddess, please let me keep it as long as I am here.”

A smile went across Venus’ face. “O. K. little flatterer,” she said. “You may keep it as long as you are on my planet, but don’t call me ‘Your Goddess’. It sounds as if you are addressing a monarch. Royalists used to address a king as ‘Your Highness’. All nobles are human beings. Look at me, I am a goddess! I dislike low-crooked courtesies.”

“O. K. your …, oh, I mean Mrs. Venus. Thank you so much. I am so happy for keeping your wonderful hair as long as I am on your planet. I still wish to hug and kiss you. But you know I cannot do so.”

“While you are chatting with the goddess, sir, you didn’t notice that the rain of sulphuric acid has ceased,” Tao said.

“Really,” Samantha agreed. “Did these drops fall on the surface? And tell me, why has it become so hazy?”

“You do not feel the heat. The hair of the goddess is protecting you from the heat. It is so hot, that all droplets of this acid evaporated and entered again the upper layer from where they have come. The hair of Venus, too, keeps you safe from the immense pressure of the atmosphere and of its composition of deadly carbon dioxide. Unprotected this pressure would squeeze you to immobility.”

“Oh, did you say carbon dioxide?” Samantha asked. “That’s a greenhouse gas, right?”

“Yes, sir. You know, quite a lot of the light Venus receives from the Sun is reflected into space. However, some of it reaches the surface. It is trapped by this dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide and warms up this planet since million of years. Without Venus hair you would feel like being in a furnace.”

“Damn Helios,” Venus murmured and then she turned to Samantha: “Look, dear. Look at the beautiful surface of my planet. However, do not enter it!”

“It looks great!” and “Beyond any imagination!” and “Just gorgeous!” Samantha exclaimed repeatedly after Tao had handed night-glasses to her to view the landscape in the dim light. She saw land formed in large terraces she never had seen on Earth. Like huge steps lay these terraces before her.

“I wish I could climb up to the top of these magnificent ranges of mountains over there,” she said. “There are clefts which separate rocks as if giants had cut them with huge knives. I know I must not enter the soil. What about you, Tao?”

“Well, I am made of heat resistant silicon and carbon,” Tao replied.

“If you also consist of tin or lead, you would commit suicide, little man,” Venus said.

Tao looked surly at her. Never before someone had called him ‘little man’. “My name is Tao, madam,” he said stiffly.

Before he could continue to tell that components of tin and lead would melt on the surface of Venus, Samantha shouted happily:

“There is snow!” and she said again in a loud voice, “Look, Tao, there is snow; there are white caps on the top of this mountain. Maybe it is nice cool up there. Let’s go to the snow, please!” she pleaded.

“Sir, this is not snow. It probably consists of a strange and poisonous compound of sulphuric. Scientists named this mountain Maat Mons.”

Tao wanted to deliver a lecture about the information, space vehicles have gained on this dormant volcano, when he heard Samantha sounding terribly frightened:

“Oh, my god, I mean, oh, Mrs. Venus, don’t fly any lower! Look, there is huge spider; no, it is a nest of spiders. I fear they might catch us. Maybe they believe we are insects. How ugly they look. Gee, look at these long and lean legs! Sure, they are dangerous! Let’s rush out of this area, Miss Venus.”

“By Jove! Girl, stop crying. Listen, many years ago streams of lava cooled off before they reached the surface. This cooling liquid contracted. Thus cavities had formed. The surface broke and long stretching channels appeared. You have a lively fancy to take it for thin legs of spiders.”

Samantha felt quite ashamed for having shown timidity. Soon she spied something less horrible.

“Hey,” she exclaimed, “there is a pancake on the surface. Yummy! Do you also love pan­cakes, Mrs. Venus?”

“I do, but what you keep for a pancake is an extinct volcano. It was formed by a stream of tough lava.”

“I see,” Samantha said. “When it reached the surface it spread as the mix in a pan when my mom fries pancakes.”

Soon she made out another object in the dim light, which looked like a large tick.

“O. K. I guess this tick-like object also has something to do with lava of a volcano. But where are your active volcanoes, vomiting lava, Mrs. Venus?”

“Right now I have none.”

“Why this, Mrs. Venus?”

“By Jove! Girl! You ask questions I cannot answer. I am a goddess and not a scientist on volcanoes. Nevertheless, I know that before my time volcanoes spew huge amounts of lava and gas from the depths of my planet. Then, my surface changed due to forces from deep below my surface.”

“Sir, let me try to explain it. On Earth, the continents swim on liquid material. Similarly, ice would float on rivers in wintertime. Whenever these floating continents crush to one another …”

“Stupid, every kid knows that. Some of the liquid stuff will arrive at the surface and a volcano is born. But this doesn’t explain the absence of active volcanoes here.”

Tao continued without being mad at Samantha, “… because the Earth’s crust is rather thin. Imagine our Earth as small as an egg. Then the solid material of Earth is as thin as the shell of this egg,”

Venus had listened Tao’s words. She was quite happy about this fact when she said, “Really, my planet has a very thick crust.”

“I got it,” Samantha exclaimed. This explains the small number of volcanoes here. It also accounts for volcanoes, which look like huge pancakes. The liquid interior cools while penetrating your thick crust. And if it …”

“You mean magma from the liquid interior,” Tao cut in

“… and if this magma reaches the surface it is no longer fluid …,”

“Sir, we call it viscous,” Tao added again.

“You shouldn’t interrupt me when I’m delivering my theory to the Goddess Venus, you stupid.” Samantha grew furious again at Tao. Turning to Venus she said, “This explains the small number of volcanoes here of minor heights.”

“Tao, you could tell me the height of the volcano named Maat Mons.”

“Sorry, sir, I cannot tell you the height of it.”

“See, you are so stupid. You even cannot answer the simplest question.”

“Sir, planets as Venus have no liquid which fills all deep-seated regions as water does on Earth. Thus, you only can measure the height of a mountain from its foot to its head. Lacking any liquid you have no fixed level for the foot.”

Venus listened to this discourse. She shook her pretty head. Samantha noticed how Venus’ hair moved along her perfect body like waves in a soft wind.

“Anyway,” Venus said. “My mountains are much higher than your Mont Blanc. That will do for me. Why measure everything?”

“Because we cannot rely on our senses,” Samantha answered.

“And the senses of humans cover only a small part of reality,” Tao said pointing at some instrument on his outside. “Look here! This instrument measures dangerous protons. Humans have no sense to feel, to smell or to see them. Down here, this meter measures a surprisingly low intensity of solar protons though Sun is closer to this planet. That is quite amazing as this planet has no magnetic field to deflect solar protons.”

Venus started giggling. More than the low intensity of protons Samantha was puzzled about the way the goddess laughed. “Hihi!” Venus laughed repeatedly.

“This goddess has traits like ordinary people,” Samantha thought. “This makes her even lovelier.”

Then Venus said. “Helios didn’t expect that the clouds around my planet could protect me from his bullets. But they do so. Thanks to Jupiter! He gave me these clouds.”

“Amazingly, light hasn’t changed since we are down here. Is it day-time or is it night, Miss?” Samantha wondered.

Again Venus laughed. “You would have to wait rather long until night starts. My planet needs 243 Earth days for a single rotation around its axis,” Venus answered, “and only 225 Earth days it needs to run around the sun.”

“That’s funny,” Samantha said. “A year is shorter than a day on planet Venus.”

“Right, there are no seasons either. I love to see nothing of Helios on my surface. As you know this God is responsible for day and night. This rascal of a God! What a shame to spy my secret affairs!”

Whenever Venus talked about light, she grasped the chance to call names to this snoop.

“O.K.” Samantha felt well informed. “I have survived the storms in your atmosphere, which is composed of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide. I learned about the thick crust and the absence of drifting plates that form volcanoes different to those on Earth. The planet rotates slowly around its axis, which makes a full day lasting very long”.

Venus had looked friendly at Samantha delivering an abstract about her planet. She interrupted Samantha saying, “I haven’t told you yet that my planet rotates the other way around as Earth and the other planets do. If you could see the stars from my surface you would see them rising in the West and setting in the East.”

“Hey, that’s cool. So your planet is special as it is the only one in the solar system that rotates this way,” Samantha exclaimed. “Do you know the reason of this, this way?”

You mean the reason for the retrograde way”, Tao cut in.

“You always have something unimportant to say, stupid,” Samantha angrily turned to Tao. “You better tell me; why does planet Venus rotate in this, well, in this re-, in this retrograde way. I’m sure you wouldn’t know this, but the goddess Mrs. Venus does, right madam?”

“Sorry, Samantha. I do not know it exactly. All I know is that a huge body of the size of planet Mercury hit this planet about four billion years ago. This push made my planet rotate retrograde.”

Venus smiled when she said the word ‘retrograde’. She knew Samantha had just learned this word. She certainly loved keen Samantha.

“I learned that a meteoroid of enormous size had hit Earth billion of years ago. This collision brought the Moon in existence. What is left from the body that collided with your planet, Mrs. Venus?”

“I don’t know, dear. Maybe your friend has an idea?”

“Probably this body hit planet Venus near the center. It penetrated deep in it and ejected a great amount of iron from Venus’ core. This material formed a moon that orbited this planet. The power of the sun made it leave Venus’ orbit.”

“This bastard!” Venus shouted. She was upset with rage. “This thief stole my moon.” She was unable to calm down. “This beast of a fellow”, she shouted quite lady-unlike, “yea, this rascal Helios took my moon away from me!”

Samantha was quite sympathetic with her beautiful idol Venus. She felt the annoyance the goddess suffered when Venus learned that she once has had a moon that was deprived of her.

“Where is the moon gone to?” she asked. “Tao, tell us!”

“The gravitational power of the sun made a planet of this former moon of Venus. It is the planet Mercury!”

Tao just has said the name ‘Mercury’ when the goddess Venus was enraged more than ever before. The words she used Samantha could not understand. Venus shouted in Latin or Greek. They certainly were very unfriendly words. Finally, she appeased her anger.

“You know that the God Mercury is the god of thieves. His evil buddy Helios probably invited him to occupy this planet and Mercury made it to his own dwelling. This thief of a god stole once one of my sandals and I had to pay a lot to get my sandal back.”

“I’m so sorry that you have such a nasty brother,” Samantha said.

Venus was still mad at Mercury.

“He is not my brother, I swear,” she said. “I was born in the foam of the ocean and not from a goddess. The painter Boticelli painted a picture showing me rising from the ocean. You should look at it once you are back on Earth.”

“Indeed, Mrs. Venus, we have to return to Earth,” Samantha said. "Thank you so much for your invitation to investigate your planet and thanks for the hair that protected me.”

She just wanted to continue saying, “Here I return it to you,” when Tao interfered.

“Miss Venus,” Tao said, “please help my protégé to return safely to Earth! She has to pass regions, which are so dangerous for people. She would not survive without your protection.”

Venus looked with her blue eyes at Samantha and smiled as if she still had a surprise for her. “You have been a good girl,” she said. “I will help you. Just grasp my hair while we’re flying way up.”

“Thank you, I will keep it very tight."

Soon after they have left Samantha felt pain in her face.

"Oh no, Mrs. Venus! Do not scratch my face! It hurts! Oh no, this hurts, oh no,” Samantha shouted.

“Why are you crying, Samantha?” someone said. Samantha knew this sound. It was her mother’s voice. “Leave the tail from your cat Johnny, and he will stop scratching your face. I don’t like it anyway that this cat is your bed.”

“What are you talking about?” Samantha asked awaking from a dream. “I am holding the hair of the goddess Venus in my hands.”

“Don’t talk nonsense like that, Samantha. You are pulling Johnny’s tail,” her mother said.

“Oh mom, she is soooo beautiful, the goddess Venus. I’ve been with her on her planet.”

“Stop talking this nonsense, girl,” her mother said. “Wake up! You just had as bad dream. You had better stop reading these science fiction novels. They seem to have a bad influence on you.”

“Oh no, mom. I really have been with the beautiful Venus on her planet.”

“If you don’t stop talking about Venus I rather call the doctor to give you a check. Maybe you ate something last night which causes pressure on your stomach.”

Suddenly Samantha rose from her bed. In her hand, she had a long golden hair. “Just look,” she said smilingly.

“I really call the doctor now,” her mother said.