P-5443 or Bust – A Short Story
The armored combat suit was the only reason I was still alive. One minute I was making my way down to the mess decks and the next I was free floating in the cold hard vacuum of space surrounded by a debris field as far as my eyes could see. That wasn’t very far. The science fiction movies make it seem as though space is something you can see. Always lit up and filled with beautiful shining stars. Reality is altogether different. It was dark around me. I could hardly see anything. Was that a faint spark from a damaged conduit over there?
In the few seconds my mind realized that I wasn’t walking down the starboard corridor, I surmised that our ship must have been attacked. No warning sirens, no bells, just quiet, a violent jarring motion and then nothing. My next thoughts were about me and my immediate survival. My combat suit did not have a full supply of oxygen. My shift had ended and I was making my way towards the mess decks with a quick stop at my locker to remove the combat suit but I didn’t quite make it that far before my universe changed for good.
So, here I am, floating through space with about 8 hours of oxygen left. I have no food or water and no solid idea about where I am. I am just a grunt. The only operational details I ever got were very low level. I am just a corporal after all. Corporal Jeremy Dobbs, United States Space Marines. Service number 811726384. Whatever my sergeant tells me to do, I do. The last thing Sergeant Anton Johnson told me to do was reset the external relay just outside of our forward observation deck. I wanted to ask him why but he would just yell obscenities at me and make it perfectly clear that I did need to know why. Sergeants were funny that way. So, I did what I was told and got back aboard ship just in time for…well, whatever this is.
Space is a big place. I did pick up a thing or two when I was going through basic training. Space travel, real space travel doesn’t happen the way you see it on television and movies. If something or someone is approaching your position, you usually have ample warning. If something or someone attacked our ship, surely we would have been at general quarters in plenty of time to strike back? I was trying to make sense of everything. Our ship wasn’t much to look at. The Sam Nelson, U.S.S. 374 was nothing more than a medium size freighter with very little armament. We had a couple of rail guns mounted forward of frame 50 and a couple of dorsal energy cannons stationed right about the center of the ship. I often wondered why marines needed to be stationed on her. The weapons would be good for knocking space debris out of the way but not much else.
I have to be honest about something. I feel out of control. I know. Marines aren’t supposed to feel that way. I’m spinning around in the void. I have no control over anything. I’m just spinning. There is a major piece of debris I can see off in the distance. It looks like a piece of the aft section. Faint blue light sparks every now and then which allows me to see the outline of it’s shape. I want to push off of something. I want to give myself some control but out here, there is no control. I’m just a piece of space debris myself.
At least, I know when I’m going to die. My oxygen meter reads 7.9 hours. So, in 8 hours I’ll be dead. I wonder if anyone else survived. Are there other marines floating out here with me? I try my internal communication array and I get nothing but static. That isn’t surprising. These suits have a limited range. My unit could have been damaged as well. I may be wearing a combat suit but they aren’t impervious to damage. I just got blown out into space, after all. I’m just happy the oxygen unit still works. I wander about leaks. The suit’s A.I. would have told me if I was losing pressure. I hope it would at any rate or is that broken too? My mind is all over the place. I didn’t sign up for this.
By recording this, I’m hoping that in some small way my death may help others. Hopefully, the marines will design better suits. Some food, a waste disposal system, and more oxygen would be nice. Heck, maybe they’ll name the next class of battle suits after me. Wouldn’t that be something?
My proximity alarm has just started to blink inside my visor. It must be all of this debris and junk floating around me. I write it off and begin concentrating on other things. I begin thinking about all of the things that I wanted to accomplish before I die. I’ve always wanted to write something. Something good. Perhaps, a science fiction novel or maybe some nice historical fiction. I really don’t care for romance novels. Would you listen to me? I’m out here floating around thinking about how much I don’t like romance novels. If my brother Jacob could only see me now. I should have listened to him. He didn’t want me joining the space marines.
Well, it’s too late now. Driving luxury water yachts on the Martian colony would be much better than floating around in space. Catering to the rich and famous didn’t sound like fun to me. If you hear this recording Jacob, I just want to say that you were right. I should have listened to you. I was too busy chasing my dream of traveling through the stars to notice the things that were really truly important to me. For that, I am sorry.
I feel slight vibrations through my suit about every 10 seconds or so. I’m not sure what they could be. I still can’t see anything. It is so black and peaceful out here. Wherever here is. I feel like such a fool. I had no idea where my ship was headed. When we set off from lunar orbit we were headed about 20 light years away toward a star know as P-5443. A very dull sounding place to be sure. As far as I knew, it actually was a pretty uninteresting place. Our basic mission was to collect data about the system and bring back asteroid samples. Probably near the top of the list of boring space missions. We were about half way to P-5443 when we picked up a distress call. The captain came over the loud speaker and told us where we were headed but I was too busy stuffing my face at the time. I always had a problem with paying attention and concentrating on more than one thing at a time. I knew we weren’t going to P-5443. That was about all I knew.
Now, I am hungry. Talking about food. I’m trying to remember the last thing I ate. I had an energy bar right before I suited up to fix the relay. Wow. The last thing I’ll eat is an energy bar. I start laughing. I don’t know why this is funny. I’m going to die in a few hours and I’m laughing about eating an energy bar. I could be coming down with space dementia. I don’t even know what that is but it seems to fit.
Hey. I feel like I’m moving. Not spinning out of control but I can feel a force on my body. It feels like I’m being pulled towards something from behind. It feels like something has grabbed onto my suit and it is pulling me backwards through the void. What a weird sensation. I can’t hear anything. It is so quiet out here. Maybe I’m being rescued? How would anyone be able to find me? My heart starts beating faster. Are we near a black hole? Who is pulling on me?
I feel a slight tingling sensation as my muscles stop obeying my commands. What is happening to me? Everything is fading to black.
It seems like I have been dreaming as I slowly open my eyes. I don’t know where I am. I’m laying down. I can feel gravity. My suit is gone. I can’t move. My implant is still communicating with my suit. I can still record. The air smells damp and musty. I can hear. I hear screaming. Where am I? What is this place? The room begins to shake. The room is large. It seems like some kind of hanger. There are sharp lines and shapes. The light is low. I can’t look at anything except what appears to be the ceiling. The room I’m in just feels big.
I feel something grab my legs and throw me into the air. I can’t move my legs or my arms and I’m tumbling end over end. I can see a big grey figure. It looks like a big blob. I strain to try and see more but I’m spinning so much. All of the sudden, the light is gone. I’m not sure where I am now but it feels warm and wet and smells like vomit. For a few seconds, I feel like I’m sliding down a shoot and then…