Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Iâ€™ve gone over and over that time with the shrinks here on the ground. It was a time-sensitive mission to repair satellite Oricus-11. We were on schedule and nothing was in the red. We were in the pipe, five by five and on target.
Jackie and Maria were locked in and reading the specs back as we arrowed in on the airlock. Reverse thrusters fired as Maria cushioned our lateral descent to the docking clamps. There was a light bump through the whole ship as we touched the edge of the collar.
Maria raised a hand up to her hair and died that way. Her eyes just unfocused and the animal side in me knew right away that sheâ€™s been turned off like a light switch.
I looked over at Jackie and thatâ€™s the last linear-time memory I have except three other things.
The hatch blew. Vacuum scoured the entire cigar tube of our ship with a greedy inhalation of breath from godâ€™s lungs. Papers, pens, experiments, everything that wasnâ€™t tethered or taped went fast-forward panicking out the door into the cold embrace. The air turned to crystals.
I donâ€™t know if this was some time later or in the next second but I remember looking forward at my outstretched hand. My fingernails were brightly glowing blue. Beyond my hand was a forest. The trees and leaves were mostly red and I still canâ€™t tell if it was Earth in the autumn or if it was summer on a different planet.
The last thing I remember is talking to a child. The child was much smarter than me and it seemed like he was intentionally using simple language to communicate with me. A little boy about seven years old with eyes glowing exactly the same blue as my fingertips had been glowing in the previous memory. We were both dressed in white and sitting in a red room.
I donâ€™t remember what we talked about but Iâ€™ve been a lot calmer ever since.
I was found in a swamp by a couple of Louisiana fishermen. I was looking at the rot-resistant bark of a cypress and tracing the lines on the trunk with my hands. Their greeting is the first thing I remember. Turning my head to see who made that noise and then realizing that I was ankle deep in a swamp.
I still had my uniform on. It was freshly washed and felt like it was still slightly warm from the dryer. I felt freshly showered as well.
It didnâ€™t take long for me to get taken into the basements of NASA and questioned. Iâ€™ve been here for weeks now.
Iâ€™m not sure if theyâ€™ll give me a memwipe or just cut me loose. I am surprised to feel that I am now in possession of something that theyâ€™ll never be able to take from me. Iâ€™m different inside.
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