Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

We had barely a minute. The ship was breaking apart. The floor dropped from beneath my feet and then crashed back into me, buckling my legs and smashing me up into the bulkhead. The captain screamed into my earpiece. “Run Ensign, run! It’s our only chance!”

Rubbing the back of my head I gathered myself and clambered forward. I was not even qualified for this. I was but a simple refrigeration mechanic, trained to maintain the Canadian built air conditioning system in the officers’ quarters and forward lounges. But apparently all the senior engineers and mechanical staff had been killed or lost with the separation of our main engine. I was now our only hope.

I burst into the upper observatory and dropped through the service hatch into the maintenance bay. Frantically I searched for the unfamiliar controls to the powerful ion lander engine. The captain’s broken screams were now incoherent as the ion shielding blocked most of the signal. But I knew the gist of what he was saying.

I scanned instructions on a massive control panel with its hundreds of lights and switches. Suddenly the captain’s words burst through the static, “…ever mind that. Just undo the side access and rip out the main switch harness… …engine will fire up itself….”

Before his words trailed off I reached into my trusty tool pouch and procured what I thought was the correct socket driver. I leaned over and spied the etched imprint on the access panel. “Made In U.S.A.” I shrugged and popped the driver over the bolt head and turned. And the wrenched skipped… I couldn’t believe it. Maybe in my haste I had pulled out the wrong driver. Lightning fast I expertly popped it back into its clip and grabbed the next size down. This one would not go on. Incredibly it was too small! Again I read the words, “Made In U.S.A.”

The captain’s screams broke through the static, “Ensign! It’s all over, we’re all…..”

I looked from my metric socket driver to the imperial bolt head on the access panel and, as the atmosphere was sucked from around me, I cursed the human race.

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