Thursday, July 10, 2014


Only A Matter of Time
By Lyla Sommersby

33 seconds.

That's how long I have. That's how long I have before the O2 scrubbers welded haphazardly to the skin of my vacc-suit shudder into silence. The count-down flashes red in the corner of my cracked faceplate. Beyond it, Saturn spins on, immense, ominous.

29 seconds.

A thousand miles of cold and spinning debris stretch between me and the giant. All that's left of the mining ship, the hunk of steel and plastic I've called my home for the last fifteen months, shared with a crew of three hundred. Its guts glitter in the thin, yellow light of the sun. No survivors. Not even me.

24 seconds.

In the void, in the endless night, I think about my family. I think about the people back on Earth, the people I'll leave behind. I think about my father, my mother, my sister, my home, the eyes of the girl I love. I think about the day I signed up for this mission, the day I strapped on a vacc-suit and belted myself into the grav-couch in the ship's engineering section. I think about the last few seconds before the drive blew itself apart, scattered steel and blood and fire across the endless stars.

19 seconds.

I think about the look in Crewman Hendrickson's silent, terrified eyes the moment she realized what I'd done. I think about the way her hands twitched, the way she seemed at the edge of a shout when the drive cracked apart and flayed her with a wave of heat and shrapnel. I think about the way the shrapnel rattled against the bulkhead, shredded it instead of me, instead of my vacc-suit. I think about all those nights spent working on the vacc-suit, welding the 02 scrubbers to the skin, knowing each would give me a day, maybe two. I close my eyes, and in the silence I think about the one piece of shrapnel that caught my suit's faceplate, fractured it just enough to cut those days down to minutes.

14 seconds.

It's almost over. I fill my lungs, knowing that what I did had to be done. They were all crazy, all of them. It was only a matter of time before one of them snapped, before one of them did something and killed us all. It was only a matter of time.

9 seconds.

It had to be done. I had to kill them all. I had to kill them all before they killed. . .

6 seconds.

I had to. It was. . .

It was only a matter of time.

3 seconds.

2 seconds.

1 second.

Warning: Oxygen depleted.

Just. . . a matter of time.

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I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love.

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