So many things can go wrong for an astronaut. You could end up losing your footing on the moon, your air supply running out in space, endure a hostile takeover of your station, or something even more cold and sinister.
I’ve read or seen somewhere that successful people make decisions fast and are slow to change their course. They decide quickly because they know what they want. But what if a quick decision can get you killed instead?
Success might be more likely in situations where actions aren’t dictated by others. Be careful who you listen to and trust those around you who have been nothing but good to you.
Certain Death - Season 1 Episode 1
Given the amount of light left, I thought it was a good idea to charge the batteries. So, I flipped the lever for the solar cell array collector. It did a good job of charging the battery pack fast, and we wouldn’t have to worry about a power shortage.
About a year ago, the space station lost almost all of its power and had another 40 minutes till it’d line up with the sun again. A majority of the battery cells had lost their ability to retain a charge and could only hold about 2% of their normal capacity. It wouldn’t have enough power to make it another orbit around the Earth. We would lose power to life support before then. NASA ran diagnostics afterwards and narrowed it down to a powerful solar flare. It was a freak incident. The sun can give us life and can take it away.
If it hadn’t been for my cosmonaut cohort, we might not have survived the ordeal. It was a close call, and his quick thinking and brilliant engineering skills saved our hides.
The underperforming battery cells have since been replaced, but I like to do my part and keep things optimally charged to avoid a similar situation from occurring.
I returned the favor about two months later. We were doing a space walk and the connector on Sergei’s tether snapped and he began floating out to space. He panicked, hyperventilated, and passed out. Luckily, I was nearby and was able to rescue him from an icy death in space.
We had each other’s backs and I don’t think there’s anything that could come between our bond.
Time for our daily chess match. We had a magnetic board that kept the pieces from floating off. I set the board up and waited for Sergei to arrive.
He was late. I couldn’t recall any pressing tasks that required his attention. When he finally showed up, he just floated in the doorway and stared at the chessboard.
“Your move,” I said.
My comms light flashed. Sergei’s eyes widened like a fortune teller had told him there would be a call at that moment.
It wasn’t time for my normal check in, so what could the command center want?
“Don’t answer it.”
Beads of sweat dotted his forehead. He wiped them away with his arm. His hands gripped the frame of the doorway tight enough that his knuckles turned white.
“You know I have to. It could be something important.” I picked up the receiver and listened. The message was pre-recorded and looped over and over. I couldn’t believe what I heard.
Full out nuclear attack… retaliatory strike… millions of casualties and the last bit chilled me to the bone… Take out the enemy and secure the space station. I set the receiver down.
The wrench in Sergei’s hand rattled from nervousness. I held up my hand in a “take it easy” kind of way. I sat back down to the chessboard, looked up and smiled at him.
Sergei let out a huge sigh, relaxed his grip, and lowered his hands. The wrench floated away. He sailed over to the chessboard and sat across from me like he had done hundreds of times before.
Sergei smiled and made his first move of the game.
More than likely, we wouldn’t be a high priority to either of our command centers, but NASA was next up in the supply delivery rotation. With all that was going on, critical supplies would probably run out before we could be retrieved. So rationing food would be important to allow for any delays.
The crowbar next to me should have been a dead giveaway. He didn’t see it coming in time.
Drops of blood pooled in the space above Sergei’s limp body. The deep gash in his skull looked angry. But I had just followed orders. It wasn’t personal.
I retrieved some gauze from the first aid kit on the wall and covered Sergei’s wounds. No sense in letting the blood roam free around the cabin. It’d just make a huge mess I’d have to clean up later. And the last thing I needed was a contaminated cabin breeding germs.
I grabbed the space blanket from the kit and wrapped him up to keep his arms and legs from flailing about. It’d make it easier to drag him to the airlock. I had a gag reflex from the thought of sharing such a small space with a dead body. The acid burned the back of my throat. He needed to be gone.
The space station clanged and shifted as if something had hit it. Meteors hitting the hull wasn’t unheard of. We usually know ahead of time, but with what must be going on surface side, I could see it not getting onto the possible impact list.
I pressed the button on the airlock, but it didn’t open. I still had a hold of Sergei’s feet, but the thought of touching a dead body creeped me out, so I dropped them. I’d been on this space station for a long time and knew that they wouldn’t hit the floor with a thud, but still half expected them to in my mind.
I repeatedly pressed the button, and the airlock finally gave a hiss. I grabbed Sergei’s feet again in anticipation of the door opening. As soon as it did, I’d toss him in as fast as possible and shut the door. Sergei was a good guy and didn’t deserve this, but I had orders. I’d say a prayer for him before I flushed him into the vacuum of space.
The computer counted down and the airlock door opened. Four Cosmonauts stood there with their hands in the air. Almost in unison, they raised their visors to assess the scene. When it sank in, one of them dropped a white flag that they had been holding. They stared at Sergei’s lifeless body for a moment and then started towards me.
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