F3: Spaceman

I was going to write a quickie this week as I’ve got other things to work on, but apparently my fingers were full of words that needed typing.

And oh god, having just finished this I’m experiencing the urge to rewrite it in the voice of Arab Strap‘s Aidan Moffat. I think this cold and sleep deprivation have addled my brain.

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SPACEMAN

The explosion caught him unawares, surprised all of them. One of the secondary fuel lines leading out to the supply shuttle must have backed up, the pressure forcing a rupture and producing a spark to ignite. Or so Weyland imagines, as he drifts alone through space.

His suit is undamaged, its white-and-yellow synthskin unblemished despite the close proximity of the blast. The explosion was ghostly in its silence, felt only for a moment as first a vibration in the hull of the station, and then as a wave of force as gas and debris lifted Weyland before it, propelling him off and away from the safety of surface.

In the first few moments Weyland had hoped that he would be saved by his tether. He had hauled on it, trying to reel himself back in, but his course did not alter. Eventually he pulled the severed end of the steel cable to him, and examined it. Cut clean through. This has also severed his communication link with the ship, as the low bid manufacturer of his spacesuit hasn’t included a wireless radio.

Weyland turned his hope elsewhere: a recovery ship. Surely his absence will be noted, and someone will be sent out to retrieve him? But it is just hope, and he knows that without any means of tracking where he’s going such a retrieval is close to impossible. That is if his absence has been noticed at all: no doubt his colleagues are still busy saving the station and the shuttle.

So, he thought. This is it. I die in space.

Weyland is fatalistic, always has been. It was the can-do all-American attitudes of astronauts on TV that helped him get here, but he never shared that spirit. He is a practical, realistic, pragmatic man, not a dreamer. For example, he considers using his fusion torch as a rudimentary thruster to push him back towards the station. However, he quickly calculates that it would only slow his velocity, not reverse it. Instead he uses the torch to delicately correct his spin, so that he at least drifts comfortably.

Hours pass. The station is long vanished from sight, although Deimos remains visible and Mars behind it. He can see Earth, too, a bright little jewel now smaller than a fingernail.

Weyland begins to sing to himself, populating the quietness of vacuum and the claustrophobia of his helmet with soft song. He has always sung well. ‘A poet’s voice,’ his ex-wife once told him, ‘and an engineer’s soul.’

He sings a few love songs for Kanta, and smiles as he thinks of her. She must be on the surface of Mars now, helping with the construction of the first domes. It is so very strange to think that mankind is on the surface of Mars at last, and yet spaceman Weyland lacks a radio.

More time passes, and now there is not much air left in his tanks. The suit was never designed for long-term EVA. Weyland does not really mind, however, because it is also running out of power, and he thinks he would rather suffocate quickly than freeze to death slowly.

He is still silently mouthing the lyrics to childhood lullabies when his body, starved of oxygen and sick with carbon dioxide, shuts down.

Time passes.

Twelve thousand years later Weyland’s suit is found, by outrageous chance crossing the path of one of the few remaining prehuman interplanetary shuttles that traverse the Sol system. It is taken onboard and, once safely interred in a vacuum chamber, opened. Inside is Weyland’s mummified body. On his face is a smile, and on his lips is a song.

Comments
3 Responses to “F3: Spaceman”
  1. Shaun CG says:

    Damn, re-reading this I can see how screwed up the tense is. I’ve been writing in present tense a lot lately, and it’s crept in here…

  2. GLP says:

    “pre-human shuttles”?

    Sort the tense out and polish it up a bit, and I think this one could be a winner.

  3. Shaun CG says:

    I do quite like the concept, so maybe it is worth polishing up. “Pre-human shuttles” – whoops! Was meant to be “pre-posthuman”…