Author : J. Henry Dixon
To them, I’m already space junk. The captain, the crew watching the broadcast, the two security guards strapping me into the deep suit.
“Mutiny,” the captain spat, “is the vilest form of treason. A special hell is waiting for men who betray their oaths and their people. The seriousness of this crime can’t be overstated, especially when everyday could be humanity’s last.”
He smiled knowing that his madness and bloodlust would, for now, continue to flourish. “Lieutenant Banks, you are sentenced to death by walk. You will serve 270 years, one decade for each crewmember you poisoned with lies.” I thought of my brothers. Their executions were swift, I had to witness each.
The medical officers checked the count of oxygen recyclers, sustenance injections, and health fluid levels assuring my existence out there. The innovations that made our survival possible would be my eternal prison. They didn’t add the mental health chips with thousands of books, vids, music, and pictures that walkers are allowed for some grasp at sanity. This luxury I don’t have. Just my thoughts. My rage.
The security officers clasped on my helmet and attached me to a cargo-pack four times my size that contained the bountiful stores of my life preservations. They nodded at the captain.
“Last words are not afforded to mutineers,” the captain said unceremoniously. He then worked the console. I was lifted by the robotic arm as crystalline inner doors closed separating me from what was left of humanity. The airlock alarm blared as the artificial gravity disappeared. I started to feel my unit mechanically twist towards the hatch. The last person I saw, and would ever see, was the captain. He sauntered out not bothering to watch his judgment come to fruition. I was locked into place. For one moment, I was entranced by the vista that I would enjoy for centuries.
Then a gentle force guided me away from the vessel, my home, into the blackness. It wasn’t eternity, but it was bad enough.
At a constant leisurely pace, I floated. Just emptiness and I waltzing down the coil forever. In all the time gazing at the infinite galaxies, I knew the ship would still be in sight. Probably just a few hundred kilometers away. I figured I’d been adrift for about seven days. The ship’s skip was scheduled for 12 days from my walk. I wished like Hell I could know for sure. If only I could just get a glimpse of that hunk of technology that housed the last of our species.
I hadn’t decided for sure when they first sent me walking. Honest. But I’ve made my choice now. It isn’t for revenge, though certainly there is a feeling of retributive joy. Of permanence and closure. I have never considered myself as the grandiose type. I’m a worker. An engineer. I like to see processes that achieve results. I believe people deserve to know truths. Decide fates with facts. When self determination is not possible nor allowed nor desired, life is a futile burden.
I gnaw my teeth hard through my cheek, through the fleshy insides of my mouth. Compared with what’s ahead of me, the pain is good and I finally retrieve my bloody prize. My teeth fish out the powerful transmitter. The receiver is connected to well-hidden explosives on the thirteen life function generators and backups. I take another look at limitlessness ahead. We had a good shot, but we aren’t survivors. Always runners. Every walk ends. I bite down hard.
I’ll have 270 years to wonder if it worked.