Life’s a Bitch and Then You. . .

The first sensation was an incredibly painful throbbing in his head. Then, nausea. Then, searing pains began reporting in from various locations. Captain Glen Travis thought to himself, “well, that went well.”

He tried opening his eyes and saw only darkness. Perhaps he was blind now. Then, a few blinking indicator lights came into focus — all of them red and of the dire-warning kind. So he wasn’t blind. Nor was he dead. That might or might not be a good thing.

He turned his head and saw that, floating along with him in the cabin was a variety of shuttle parts, most looking broken, many of them structural. The light was dim, provided only by the warning lights and one computer console monitor that — miraculously — was still functioning. He felt a wall behind him and used that to turn his body so he could see elsewhere. It wasn’t pretty. One side of the shuttle was literally ripped open so there was obviously no air on board. He was living on his suit’s oxygen supply and that must be running low. He felt cold and knew that the suit’s battery must also be running down.

He gave a cough and that, with the nausea caused him to spit up. He was thankful he’d missed breakfast that morning. Turning still further, he saw the suited figure of Steven Fallon and pushing off the wall, floated over to it. Fumbling with the belt on his suit, Travis retrieved a small flashlight and aimed it at Fallon’s face plate. That was a mistake. The face plate was cracked and his crewmate’s head had ruptured at several orifices. Quick-froze blood coated the inside of Fallon’s helmet.

Travis released the suited corpse and suppressed another wave of nausea as he turned back to inspect his ship. Making his way to the storage locker, he grabbed another battery pack and exchanged it with the nearly dead one on his own suit. Examining some dials on one wall, he noted that one of the shuttle’s oxygen supply tanks was still intact and he connected an emergency line from it to an auxiliary port in his suit. At least he had an air supply although how long it would last was anyone’s guess; the content dial had been smashed by something during the collision with the asteroid.

He floated back to the gash in the side of the shuttle. Stars, asteroids, dust; all glittered or reflected outside the rent opening. There would be no repairing that.

Following another coughing fit, he made his way to the one remaining computer that still operated. He typed in a few commands and what came up on the screen wasn’t good. Most of the shuttle’s systems were down. Navigation was out. Well, Travis had expected that. Life support was history. Communication was mere scrap. The engines were toast — no, wait! The primary DeHe was gone, as was the ACHE drive, but the BOD engine showed yellow. Damaged, but not destroyed.

Looking out of the Zirconium windows, what was left of them, told him nothing as to his whereabouts. He knew he’d been thrown quite a ways by the blast from the Gorgon ship but how far, before he’d slammed into a rock, he didn’t know. It mattered not, he decided, since he really had no way to propel his ship at the moment.

He sucked some water from the “hamster tube” inside his helmet and tried to recall what he could of the theory and construction of the BOD engine he’d gleamed from talks and instruction with the Mad Scientists. Then he retrieved a tool box and went to work.

All seemed to be going well. At least it looked like he could repair the damage to the strange mixture of coils and other components. He poked here and there, soldered this and that, replaced a few parts. He glanced over at the computer monitor but the BOD status still blinked yellow.

It’s a funny thing about being in space. Drifting. You have no sensation that you might be hurtling rather quickly through it and it lets your guard down. So it was that the shuttle struck another rock without warning. This time, the damage included the one remaining oxygen tank for the shuttle. Not that it mattered because upon impact, a twisted structural beam severed the line from Travis’s suit to that tank. His suit automatically shut the port and went back on the nearly depleted bottle in his suit’s pack.

Travis estimated that he had about ten minutes to live. Oh well, he thought, it’s been quite a ride.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.