It feels like I have been lying here for days. I’m not sure what has happened. If I shut my eyes, all I see is bright orange with a white, yellow circle from the scorching sun. I pretty sure there was an explosion because my ears are ringing. I try to lift my head to see better where I am, but either my spine is broken or the spacesuit has malfunctioned. The same goes for my arms and legs. Nothing happens even how hard I try.
The vision panel is for sure broken. It should react to my eye movements and show me the statics of my suit. Nothing happens, the visor stays lucid. How long I have to live, I’m not sure. The suit should keep me alive at least three days, meaning my time might be up. If I was back at earth, I could tell by the nightfall the time and days. But not here. This system has two working suns. There is never a night. Not at least as we humans know it.
We should have never come here. The land is barren, and there is nothing we can do. Okay, we can try to terraform the place. But I’m sure that it is a waste of money and resources. There is a vast universe out there to try to make something that doesn’t work to work. But there are minerals here. And that is why I lying dying. If the rest of the crew had made it, they would have already come to get me. So, my only conclusion is that the enemy shot our craft down, and I’m the sole survivor of my crew, my unit.
The merciful thing would be to turn on the kill switch installed in our suits. I would do it instantly if the suit worked. They, the engineers and those paper pushers, never think. Only a fraction has seen combat, and the rest base their estimations on data and simulations. Data and simulations are far from what I have been doing nine years now. Maybe I’m dying here because of it. Nine years I mean, having spent all my spare lives.
I want to hit my hands against the dusty ground and scream. I can’t. The suit again. This is like slow suffocation when buried alive without actually ever getting that release. Unable to move, unable to scratch, left with my own thoughts, supported by the suit.
Never have been good buddies with them: my suit and my thoughts. That’s why I joined the space cadets. A clear path, great benefits, opportunity to see the universe… I’m not that moronic. I joined because I had no choice. “Glory for the human race” has never been a motto I live by. There are already too many of us, so why should I fight to advance its causes. Especially it is us that is robbing the planets for our personal gain. No, I fight because I want to get out alive from doing my time.
Not my problem any longer. Just counting the minutes now.
I might be the only alive human on the planet. If everything had gone as we planned, the place should be roaring from combat, explosions, and rockets all around me. There is only the ringing and the dead quiet beyond that. If I was back at home, watching the news reporting our failure. I would be cheering for the other guy getting one over us. Kind of want to do that now too.
I’m thirsty. That shouldn’t be. The suit should take care of that. The minutes are closer than I thought. Or hours could have passed ever since I woke up. I can’t tell. I wait for a shadow to pass, something to say to me there is movement. There is hope, knowing well hope never comes to people like me. We are the statistics to learn from. No, not even learn from. The statistics to forget. A name that will be crossed over from the list. A letter send to my parents and family that I died an honorable death.
The right muscle of my lower-back aches.
I move my eyes frantically to get the suit to react. Nothing happens. I instinctively lift my right hand to shake it over the visor. This time my hand lifts. Okay, the suit is using its last power. So, I might have a working spine after all. Not that there is much to celebrate with such news. I try to recall the manual if the air filtering system will continue working despite the suits losing its juice or not. Then the figurative suffocation will no longer be figurative. If the spacecraft is near, maybe there are extra supplies.
I try to move my legs. The suit makes the movements stiff. Nevertheless, I can. I push myself slowly up, waiting for my head to roll-off or my spine to collapse.
No luck whatsoever.
I sat up and see my crew scattered all around me. Some of them are cut half, others burned alive. My craft is in pieces. So are many others. The entire fleet has been destroyed. I search for movement. Enemy or ours, but nothing moves. Clearly not a plant worth to fight for and least of all die for. Yet, thousands of humans had done just that. I get up, but I fall back on my knees. All the strength has left my body. I crawl forward, passing Carl’s body. I stop to see if he is alive.
I keep going one knee at the time. Trying to get to my craft to send a distress beacon. Something to tell someone I’m alive here. Even an enemy face would be a welcomed relief from all this.
Jane is dead as well. Her torso is cut half from the middle. Her suit also has burn marks. Not as much as Jesus had.
I don’t want to see, but I know I have to. Some of them might be alive.
None of them are. All I get is this image that none of us knew what hit us. None of us knew we were going to die. And I wonder, is that mercy I was so keen a moment, an hour, a day ago?
I reach my craft. Taking hold of the blown out door, pushing myself up. This time my legs hold. I make my way inside, knowing every inch of the place even when nothing is where it should be. I make my way to the cockpit. Collapse on the chair, and push the distress beacon underneath the control panel. I don’t even want to know if it works or not.
I shut my eyes and welcome the shade of purple.
Thank you for reading, have a lovely day!
© K.A. Ashcomb