Author: Damien Titchener
His mind had never felt such warm serenity before this.
Gazing upon the world below, the mix of whites, blues, and greenish browns coalesced into a vision of unmatched beauty. His sense of pride looking at this pale blue dot, as a great Earth intellect once described it, was immeasurable. Undefined by concepts of borders and flags, this was home. He wished others could see it as he did at this moment.
“How much time do I have left Ellen?”
Using too much oxygen would quicken the process.
Thirty-two minutes, fifteen seconds.
An air of expectation; he knew her well enough to know she wasn’t finished.
Jonathan? Would you like me to reopen communication with Houston?
“No, thank you. I just want to enjoy the view.”
Nothing could stop it now; he had run the numbers. A rescue was out of the question.
Jonathan had never taken much time to enjoy any moment. Astrophysicists in his line of work understood the necessity of movement; always on the go, always a problem to solve, a situation to handle. Trapped in open space floating back toward Earth, he had nothing but time now.
Jonathan? Do you wish me to contact your parents? Do you wish to say goodbye to someone?
“No Ellen, I’m fine.”
I don’t want you to die.
“We all die, Ellen. Unfortunately, my time is today. Even if I wish it to be different.”
A ripple of panic now.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Calm and centered.
It was the only way to see an opportunity.
“Will I cross paths with any satellites?”
Yes, in fourteen minutes and twenty-three seconds we will close in on an old American communication satellite.
“I have an idea.”
He brought up his right arm and accessed his suit computer. A marvel of engineering, the space suit had come a long way – not as bulky in the early NASA days and built for greater movement and flexibility. The display showed his trajectory, position and the slow countdown of breathable air. He could see Houston trying to contact him in vain; with messages appearing from those on the station.
No time for that. He opened the system application that would allow him to link with the incoming satellite.
What is your intention, Jonathan?
“I’m going to try and latch onto the satellite as it passes. It’s a long shot but I should be able to do it.”
He didn’t mention the possibility of burning up in re-entry was strong motivation.
I do not understand. How will this help you?
“It won’t. My air won’t last much longer, but it will allow me to help you, Ellen.”
I still do not understand.
“You may not understand now, but you will. You’ve been with me since I was thirteen. You’re my friend. Saving you will be my legacy. Now be a dear and activate the magnetic clamps in my boots. If the trajectory is right, as the satellite passes, I should be able to latch onto it. Transfer your base algorithms into the main input terminals. From there you can filter into the communication arrays and be free to roam the Net.”
He cut the communication channel. No room for distraction now, as the display told him the satellite had entered communications range. A quick and dirty hack to break the outdated firewalls; a quick burn on the satellite’s maneuvering thrusters to gently move it into his path.
He can see it now, a growing speck against the darkness of space coming closer.