The Third Interceptor Rule

Dear Dr Jackson,
I’ve had enough – the widespread smoking both up on Moonbase and at HQ is giving me a right pain in the chest. I went to see Commander Straker and the first thing he did after lighting a cigar was to say “So what’s the burning issue?”

Nicholas O’Tine
Dear Nick.

I have read through your file and note that your last psychometric evaluation was two months ago. Your stress levels at that time were in the 4th percentile with a plus/minus factor of 2%. I recall that we discussed the possibility that you were suffering from some slight stress-related condition, exacerbated by your reliance on cigarettes to ameliorate the adverse working conditions at McMurdo Sound. However, it appears that you may have taken my advice too literally when I suggested that perhaps you should cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. From your letter, it appears that you are now suffering from a far more serious condition called V.E.S.S. (Virtuous Ex-Smoker Syndrome)

People with VESS develop a strong urge to complain about any cigarette smoke in their environment. They also complain of chest pains and sore eyes, although in the majority of cases the discomfort in the upper torso is caused by the VESS patient’s own violent coughing when he or she comes near anyone enjoying a tobacco based product.

As a member of SHADO, you were put through one of the most rigorous training programmes devised, and I note that you passed with flying colours. Your final score was considerably higher than expected, achieving a total of 95 cigarettes in one rota. It now appears that you have not followed standard SHADO procedures and requested permission for your actions, but have in fact disobeyed protocols and ceased smoking altogether. This is a very serious offence.

VESS is one of the most insidious conditions suffered by SHADO operatives. It is vital that you are treated immediately. I have prescribed a course of treatment that will gradually reduce the symptoms. I suggest you begin with small quantities of snuff, and gradually build up to smoking a cigarette again. Aim for ten a day by the end of the first week, but, until you are at a minimum level of 50 cigarettes (or fifteen cigarillos) each shift, then you will be restricted to the External Security Division and posted to gatekeeper duties.

Doug Jackson



Dear Dr Jackson,

I am always in the third interceptor which manages to miss the third of any three UFOs. Is that bad luck or what?



Dear Lou.

Scientists have recently discovered a law of physics that proves that specific incidents occur with due regard to the parameters laid down in the origins of the universe. We are only just beginning to understand these foundations of creation and SHADO is working hard to rectify any situations where it impacts on our efficiency.

The discovery of the law has led to scientists in various organisations giving it different names. Star Fleet for example, has named it ‘Red Shirt of Death’. MGM calls it ‘The Dog Always Dies.’ Here in SHADO we have given it several titles depending on its impact on our organisation, for example: ‘The Bugger Factor’, or ‘Straker Gets it in the Neck Again.’ as well as the ‘Last Interceptor Always Misses’.

There is, unfortunately, very little that I can do to assist. I am a qualified Psychotherapist with degrees in Psychology, Psychometrical Evaluation, and Psychiatry. I am not qualified to work at the level of Quantum Mechanics that would be required to change events at the sub-atomic stage.

I suggest that you look at your own performance as an Interceptor Pilot. Perhaps there is some reason that you continue to be assigned as Third Pilot? Do you unzip your flight suit while off-duty as per regulations? Does your chest hair match the required specifications? Colonel Foster can recommend a suitable preparation that, if applied to the chest daily, has been proven to encourage strong hair growth although it should be used sparingly to avoid your flight suit zip becoming entangled in unduly long hairs.

As for bad luck, there is no such condition. It is merely a case of multiple and random factors operating against you.


Doug Jackson


This article has 2 Comments

  1. Dear Dr Jackson, I have recently accepted a post as a Lieutenant in Star Fleet security, and, having seen my prospects, I am considering asking to transfer to SHADO. I might have a better chance of surviving for longer than one mission! I have the necessary chest hair and I always keep my flight suit unzipped to the navel. ( I also play 3D chess!) Yours hopefully, Red Shirt.

Leave a Reply