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Stepping outside the ship always made Jones nervous. Space was a cold, dark, and terrifying place. In his mind, leaving the safety of the ship was akin to leaving the womb.
He floated gently out of the airlock, that feeling of weightlessness giving his heart a momentary thrill. Activating the magnets in his boots, he drifted to the hull on anchored on. He waited nearby as Davidson came out after him. They both made a final check of their instruments.
“All good?” Davidson’s voice cackled over the com.
“All’s clear. Let’s get this over with.”
“The damaged plate should be to your right,” a new voice chimed in over the radio. It was Dillinger, from inside, “towards the front of the ship. Be sure to check for any leaks first.”
Jones and Davidson slowly made their way across the hull in the direction Dillinger had indicated. Jones fought to keep the nervousness he felt down. He was always anxious on space walks, but for some reason it was worse this time. He just had a bad feeling about it. Jones couldn’t quite put his finger on its source.
“Maybe it’s the planet” he thought, “gravity does crazy things.”
Above them hung a large planet. The ship was passing just outside of its gravitational field. Looking up for a moment, Jones admired the sight; he never tired of the views being an astronaut provided. He would have preferred to have been enjoying the red and orange colors from inside the ship, however.
After a few moments, they reached the damaged section. A large plate had been dented, forcing up one of the sides and leaving some wiring and piping exposed. “Looks like something hit us, bent the plate pretty good,” Jones said into his mic, “we’re going to need the hammer to remold it.”
“Any leaks?” Dillinger asked.
“Not that I can see,” Davidson was bent close, examining around the tile.
“Alright. Let’s get this done and get back inside,” Jones grabbed the pneumatic hammer from his tool belt and positioned himself over the plate. Putting his boots on magnetic lock, he held the hammer against the bet section of metal and laid his weight into it. At the push of a button, the hammer began pounding the plate back into place. With two minutes the tile was flattened out.
“Your turn,” he said, disengaging his boots and making room for Davidson.
They both lowered their light shields as Davidson began to weld. Jones watched the bright light, dimmed by his shield, closely, inspecting Davidson’s work. “Perfect as usual,” Jones thought, “wait… what the hell it that?”
A black fluid had begun to seep from under the plate, a few inches from Davidson’s arc. Jones stared at it.
“Oil!” he screamed into his helmet, leaping forward to push Davidson back. IT was too late. As Jones threw his body into Davidson, the arc came into contact with the oil. There was a brief tuft of flame, which sucked down under the plate. For a moment it was silent. Jones and Davidson stared at the hull in horror.
“What th-” Dillinger’s voice was cut off by a concussion deep within the ship. An explosion ripped through the hull, tearing the ship in half directly through the living quarters. The upper part, Jones’ and Davidson’s half, was shot away, separating into large fragments, as the bottom half blew into a billion little pieces.
The piece of ship the survivors were attached to was left spinning wildly through space.
“Jones!” Davidson’s panicked voice came through the com.
“Calm down,” Jones tried hard to make his voice not shake, to retain control.
“We need to use our suit stabilizers to see if we can make this thing slow down, stop spinning.”
“What happened?” The panic in Davidson’s voice had reached a fever pitch.
“Shut up!” Jones screamed, releasing all his fear into the yell. In the abrupt silence that followed he suddenly felt calm, “we need to slow this spinning. Work with me.”
Together they used their stabilizer jets to counteract the rotation of the hull fragment. They managed to slow it to a lazy spin, but could not get it to stop.
“Ok, good enough. Have you got your shit together?” Jones voice was hard edged. He needed Davidson to keep his head; otherwise he felt he would lose his composure as well.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Davidson was still breathing in great gasps, but his voice was firm, “I’m sorry. I-"
“Don’t. We don’t have time. We need to figure something out.”
“You hit oil while welding.”
“Fuck. Fuck. What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Jones looked around them. They were attached to a piece of ship about twenty feet wide and fifteen feet long. It was a section that had been jettisoned during the explosion. Above them, the planet was larger than it had been and was quickly getting bigger. “We’re caught in the planet’s gravitational field.”
“Shit,” Davidson looked up at the looming ball, huge above them, “we’re moving straight at it. We’re going to burn up in its atmosphere.”
They were both silent for a minute, watching the planet grow. “Too late to abandon ship,” thought Jones grimly, “well, what’s left of it anyways.” It suddenly struck him as strange that he no longer felt any fear. With his fate sealed, the fear had left him.
Davidson began to move.
“What’re you doing?” asked Jones.
“I’m not going to burn to death. No way.”
Jones didn’t say anything. He didn’t blame Davidson. He just watched in silence as the man methodically went through the steps of emptying his oxygen into the void. In a few moments, Davidson was unconscious. In a few more, Jones was alone.
Jones said a small prayer for Davidson, though he was not typically religious, and began to wonder if he should do the same for himself. But before he could decide the space around him began to heat. He looked up; the orange and red planet filled his vision. Fire soon engulfed him in yellow and orange glory. He senses burned furiously in an agony that bordered on ecstasy. He realized, with some detachment, that he was screaming. All around him was fire like God, all encompassing and all consuming. He watched as pieces of his suit melted away. Glory filled his mind as the flames ate his body.
Again, thanks for looking!