Author : Cheryl A. Warner
I have two minutes to live.
That’s a short time to sort out the sum of your life, but it will have to do. Up here, the only currency is air, and I’ve already run out.
They start calling you a “short-termer” when you reach the two-week mark. Both the guards and the other prisoners eye that red badge on your suit and give you a wide berth. We’re all up here to die, but when you only have a handful of days left, there’s danger in your eyes.
I didn’t take advantage. I didn’t yank anyone off the rail or try to cut through someone’s air line. I’ve already delivered all my evil to the world. I used it to cut down two women, beautiful, innocent things, then never wanted to hurt anything again.
I still get to die for it.
All that’s left of my vision are a few bright spots. I can feel my body shaking like it’s attached to a jackhammer.
I dreamed about floating off the rail a million times, hoped for it even. They only send the worst criminals up to the rail, those that are scheduled to die anyway. Murderers, all of us. Those of us that behave are granted shorter sentences. They call it justice. Only two years on the rail and I finally get to leave this place.
I’ve watched guys go through this, one every few weeks. It’s not pretty. I figure I’m probably blue by now.
I can still imagine the rail out there, just a thin silver line, the guys tethered to it like legs on a caterpillar. One day, they’ll finish it and there will be trains to the moon. If I had any air in my lungs, I would laugh. After two years, it still seems like the fantasy of some millionaire who read too many science fiction novels.
I know I should probably feel cold, but instead I just feel numb. They took my clothes before kicking me out into space. They need the suit for the next guy they ship up to the rail. Can’t waste it on a dead guy. I don’t mind. It’s the first time in two years that I don’t have plastic an inch from my face.
I imagine there are hundreds of us out here, floating along blue and bloated. A graveyard of earth’s vermin. Dumping us in space is an easy way to kill the infestation.
One day, maybe aliens will find us out here in the void. They’re going to think humans are ugly. They’ll be right.
Something is happening with my heart now. I don’t think it’s beating.
My two minutes must be up.
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