Illustration by Richard Johnson – @richardjohnsonart
Selena tumbled out of control beyond the orbital plane of Titan as remnants of her mining ship hurtled by. Her terror in the chaotic silence only punctuated by her ragged breathing.
This is how she dies.
Her suit had been damaged in the hurried ejection right before the engine core went critical. Coms were dead. Her oxygen tank was damaged. The only thing a rescue team might track would be her dead body floating toward the sun.
She looked at the wrist display. 187 seconds of oxygen left.
Three minutes to live.
How does one come to sudden grips of what a life could have been, ultimately was and then accept its end in such a short time?
A sound that could only be described as a “warble” carried through her helmet. Startled, she looked around frantically as Titan circled around her visor. There was a blind spot behind her, and debris was still threatening her already short existence, but she could not account for the sound.
What had it been? It was like nothing she ever heard. Had the shock and loss she felt traumatized her mind? She was already shaking from the prospect of choking to death—if some sharp piece of wreckage doesn’t impale her first.
“Alpha Tango Jaguar forty-five,” she said unsteadily, “unlock kill switch.” Would it still be functional? She wasn’t sure how badly the suit was damaged.
There was a low chime. “To enable kill switch, please confirm,” replied the suit.
She paused. She had to. “Confirm.”
“Kill switch enabled.”
At least she wouldn’t die in pain, then. A quick injection. She would need to give the command before she began choking. She looked at Titan as a support beam cartwheeled by, just missing her. It was a beautiful planet.
The warble came again. What the hell was it? She turned herself around every which way but she was alone in the vacuum of space.
It had to be in her mind. She breathed deeply. Get calm. This is it. Make peace, you knew this could happen.
This was as calm as she was going to get. But she could accept this. Had to accept it. She took another deep breath. James would understand. She’d miss him a lot.
Almost time. What should be the last thing she sees? She looked beyond Titan to see a star brighter than anything else in her field of vision. She couldn’t know which one, tumbling the way she was, but she tried to focus on it. It was beautiful.
10 seconds. It’s time.
The warble came again. She’d never know what it was. She opened her mouth to give the command.
Then something knocked on her visor, startling her. Her eyes opened wide.