Author : Will Shell
The lieutenant staggered closer to the viewing window, each drag of her left leg adding to the blood smear that trailed a half mile through the ships corridors. Emergency floor lighting pulsed indolently, the waning breaths of the backup electrical system. She knew it wouldn’t be long until the emergency oxygen pumps ceased.
From deep within the ships bowels, vibrations of a distant explosion rippled outward. The stars in the view window began to sink, and the steel ship groaned as it gradually capsized. The rising slope of the floor made each unsteady step progressively painful.
Her injured leg gave way, the slope too steep for a steady grip atop the oily blood. The ship tilted more, making every effort to pull the lieutenant away from the window. The pilot’s chair was almost within arm’s reach, if she could drag herself there, she could climb her way back onto her feet.
She lurched forward, kicking with all the remaining might of her battered body, but the pooling blood allowed no traction. Flattening her hands, she pressed them hard into the cold floor. Slowly her elbows bent and she slid forward. Harder she pulled, gritting her teeth and groaning until her forearms rested under her ribcage. Reaching forward, her fingertips grazed the chair. Again she forced her hands into the floor and pulled. The ship continued its slow, steady tilt.
Her muscles tensed into iron from fingertips to abdomen. Again she crept forward until her arms convulsed. Muscles exhausted, gravity overpowered her body and dragged her away from the pilot’s chair. Bellowing with pain, she lurched one arm forward, throwing all her weight and power into the opposite side. Three parched, discolored fingertips slapped around the base of the chair, just enough for some leverage. Pulling with white knuckles and straining, popping joints, she inched herself forward until a full fist clamped onto the chair. With a sturdy grip she slid faster now, until her arms embraced the base of the chair; a trifling, temporary salvation.
The lights pulsed slower and dimmer now. There wasn’t much time left.
Pulling herself back to her feet using the chair for leverage, she breathed deeply and took a step forward.
Ten more steps to go.
Abandoning the support of the chair, she had nothing for leverage between herself and the view window. Every step had to be perfect; she wouldn’t have the strength or the time to pull herself up again.
Her body leaned forward, trudging against gravity. A pale blue glow began to form at the bottom of the view window.
The glow intensified. A vibrant blue curtain trickled its way down her face, spilling over the lieutenant until her entire upper body burned a radiant sapphire.
The ship trembled under another explosion. Her knees buckled and she stumbled to all fours, barely holding herself up from collapsing full-sprawl to the floor. She let the tremor pass before making a methodical and painful return to her feet
The emergency lighting quietly died away, which meant the oxygen pump was no longer respiring.
Radiant blue and swirling white now filled half the view window. She stretched both arms outward and staggered forward.
One final, desperate step.
Her hands crashed into the window. Her breathing fogged and cleared the thick glass. The entire planet filled the view window. One wide strip of lush, ripe green wrapped around the center of the planet.
Tears quietly streamed down the lieutenant’s face, bending around a wide, open-mouthed smile.
She sighed happily, “..Second Earth”