Author : L.Hall

“I loved a woman once..”

Lil looked up sharply, immediately checking the oxygen gages. Walkers usually started talking morosely when they had a pressure leak. If that was so, she’d need to pull him in quickly. All the gages showed 80%, no pressure leak.

“Robert, you need to focus on the crack.. that last shower really pockmarked us. We don’t want to lose any hull integrity.” She leaned over and looked out the port side, checking visually to see if the dull metal suit was still tethered to the exit port. His voice crackled over the speaker..

“Robert… Robert… You haven’t called me that in a long time, Lil. Just Bob and maybe Lieutenant..”

Lil began to feel a sort of panic creep inside her stomach. She immediately started recall procedures, watching the tether slowly tighten. As Robert began to move very slowly away from the damaged hull, he began to chuckle. Lil felt her stomach tightening and began to mutter, “aw jesus, I’m gonna lose him.” over and over.

“You wanna know why people can’t handle walking, Lil?” his voice crackled and pushed through the silent control room. The two other techs in the room had stopped and joined her at the port side window.. “They can’t handle the space of it. The sheer size of the emptiness. It does something to them.”

“Walkers.. they like it. Because, you know, Lil.. the emptiness here can’t even touch the emptiness in them.”

The tether kept slowly pulling him back to the dull metallic exit port. Lil kept mouthing “I’m gonna lose him” over and over like a mantra.. praying to the universe that he would keep talking until they could actually get him in the door. The suit moved at an excruciatingly slow pace, his face hidden by the reflective coating.. She could see the light from the nearby sun glimmer on his helmet.

By this time, a third of the crew were at port side windows, gazing out silently. The suit was maybe a dozen meters away from the exit port, where a medical team stood at the ready.. waiting. If they could just get him in….

“Lil…” the voice crackled over the system.

“Robert?” she said quietly into the mike, unsure of what to say. Protocol procedures didn’t really prepare a person for it, and she silently ticked off the meters watching the suit slowly move.

“I… I think I’m going to go for a walk with the stars.”

Lil watched as he went offline with the communication system, took the metal cutters and cut the tether. One of the techs began to sob as they watched his thick gloved hands pulled at one of the connectors, creating a small breach in the pressure suit.. Oxygen began to leak out, leaving a small crystalline trail as it propelled him minutely away from the ship.

Lil reached down and called a recover team, knowing full well it would take the better part of an hour for the ship to be readied, crew assembled and maneuvered to where it could pick up his body. As the crew slowly and quietly drifted back to the tasks at hand, Lil stood at the window.. watching his final walk.

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