This is my entry for May’s Blog Battle – the theme or word for this month is Airtight.
There was no light, just the darkness of the space around him. The only sensation that Mitchell knew was his breath. In… out… in… out.
Thank God I’m breathing his mind started coming around. Then there were more sensations, light. That flashing red light is damn annoying!
Then warmth, running down Mitchell’s leg. What could that be?
“Arrrgh!” Pain seared through his body, gasping at his thigh Mitchell could feel ait sticking out of the back of his leg. Sweating madly in the humid atmosphere created by his own body in the airtight capsule, made worse by his heavy breathing caused by the searing pain in his leg.
The light turned from Red to a gentle blue, a soothing female tone could be heard “Heavy breathing is causing excess oxygen use – please slow your breathing and calm your body.”
Mitchell paid no attention, whatever he did and how he moved his leg the pain seared through him. In a final desperate attempt to cure the pain he gripped the object, screaming as pulled at it. Slowly, excruciatingly it moved until it was free in his hand.
Then nothing, unconscious again Mitchell floated. Droplets of blood floating around the capsule. Time passed, in what was totally meaningless to even the local part of the universe Mitchell just breathed.
Gently Mitchell opened his eyes once more, his hole body shaking, shivering. Looking at his his hand the fingers were a pale blue. Sheepishly he checked his body over. His leg was sore but the object was gone.
Where is that thing and what was it?
Floating just on the inner surface of the capsule Mitchell reached over and grabbed it. Trying to steady himself in the Zero G he grabbed it and examined it.
What is this? Damn thing is sharp.
He couldn’t identify the intended use of the object, just that it was long and sharp, while he hated the object he realised it must have come from the blast that knocked him into the escape capsule. In a twist of irony he thought himself lucky that it ended up in his leg, if it had missed it would have easily penetrated the thin skin of this little life bubble. Mitchell looked around it, examining what he had available.
A survival suit, that will help with the cold and the heat when it comes!
Before putting it on he examined as best he could his wound, it had stopped bleeding thank God but the place was a mess with blood. As he pulled the suit on he ripped the arms off his long sleeved shirt and used one to mop up what he could of the mess, the other he tied around his leg. Finally zipping his suit up, hood and all he felt warmth returning to his bones.
Still shivering he mumbled “Computer status report.”
The calming female voice returned “Capsule is fully functional, no errors to report.”
Well that’s helpful, what faults can there be with a self propelled 2 metre diameter blow up survival balloon?
“Status of Lunar station 2”
“Lunar station 2 is disabled, last transmission to Earth indicated loss of structure and life support systems. Human inhabitants no longer able to survive there.”
Really? I love the understatement of these things.
“How many capsules were launched from Lunar station 2?”
“Capsule Echo was the only capsule to launch from Lunar station 2 before catastrophic malfunction occurred.”
Mitchell took a moment, remembering in that moment the fellow explorers that only hours before he was working with. Now gone. Kalli and her insane humour with and dark hair, Mickie and his youth and genuine excitement over everything. Gibson, that man was a….
“How long have we been travelling?”
“It has been 27 hours, 42 minutes since Capsule Echo was launched from Lunar station 2.
“How long until we enter Earth Orbit?”
“We will enter Earth orbit in 4 days, 7 hours and 21 minutes.”
I should have stayed asleep. Assuming I encounter nothing that will puncture the skin of the capsule and there’s no solar flares to roast me and the guidance or micro thrusters fail, As well as the million other things that could go wrong – I’ll be fine.
Mitchell looked around for supplies. There was always ten days of food and water with these things, but only five days of oxygen. The irony was not lost on him and even as he tore open the sachet which read Day 1 on it he allowed himself a wry smile. Day 2 was going to follow shortly, he had been asleep for over a day after all.
Four days of this? What can I do with fours days stuck in a balloon? I’m going to go totally mad!
Sachet 2 followed, taking his time with it he worked out he took ten minutes to eat it.
God this was going to take ages!
Mitchell’s leg still hurt, he checked the life support of a few minutes, asked the computer a few stupid questions and then after some hours that felt like eternity, he slept.
For the next few days Mitchell slept and stared into nothing, a small window allowed him a view of Earth and its shining blueness slowly getting closer. A few radio messages from control broke the monotony, but even that only lasted thirty or so minutes at a time.
What worried him was that he was somehow low on oxygen, maybe it was from what he did when he took that thing out of his leg. Somehow he had got used to the capsule after these few days, when the 12 hour approach warning came up he thought he would actually miss it in a way. Mitchell took a sleeping pill, The reduced body activity and stress would save oxygen and cause him less stress. He could be rescued and not even know it. There was nothing he could do anyway.
“See you on the other side!” Was Mitchell’s final message.
He looked out on Earth as he slowly drifted off.
What happened six hours after this is a matter of much speculation. The official report says that that Capsule Echo lost its integrity from an unknown object and exploded. But to disappear without a trace, even in space is not an easy thing to do.
What isn’t in the report is that even two years after the event spacecraft going to and from the Moon often hear messages from Capsule Echo, some report the interception of automated status reports from the onboard computer. Others report the screams of a man, screaming for home, screaming for someone to respond.
Screaming for them to stop.
The fate of Moon station 2 and Capsule Echo is still unexplained is now considered a classified subject and not to be discussed… For now.
© Simon Farnell 2019
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