Author: Claire Scherzinger

Before you overload the reactor, have a drink next to the pilot’s seat; make sure the gravity is still on; otherwise, you’ll have little drops of moonshine floating everywhere, like rogue planets. Take a long last look at the deck, the pale metal, and the crash couch where your heart felt like it was going to fall to your intestines near Iapetus. Before this, walk through the ship’s corridor to the kitchen where the atmo controls are. Up the oxygen content. Before it was your ship, it was your father’s ship, and before it was your father’s ship, it was his father’s too. Before Florida was submerged into the Atlantic, before the new hyperloop track down to Nicaragua was built. Reposition the atmo nozzles toward the gaps between the anodized plating, where the grates air out to the lower levels and take out all the carbon scrubbing stations. Then run the main electric line down to the cargo bay. There is the never-used rail gun mount. There are the forty-year-old VAC suits that belonged to your father and your uncle, holed up and still smelling like dried sweat. That, over there, is a tackle box for all your gear. At one time, diplomats lived here. Before leaving, make sure the airlock is saturated with oxygen. This air was scrubbed and breathed by three generations before you.

On your way out, put on your father’s old VAC suit, holes and all. Turn off the gravity and suck in as much oxygen as possible, so you’re hyperventilating, so your blood is saturated. Before doing anything else, make a wish.

After launching yourself through open space to the escape ship, call Zain up at the salvage station. After he gets on the line, tell him to come over and bring a scrapper ship or two—with a crew. There’s not much to see now, not much at all. After he asks why, tell him. Tell him how you shoved enough electricity through the line to overload the reactor. A chain of events—explain—it was a chain of events; how you used the ship’s batteries to z-pinch the plasma with that laser you took from that backwater lab on Iapetus. Anyway, after the hull kicked out, there wasn’t much anyone could have done. And after Zain asks if you would do it all over again, tell him you would. You would do it several times over if you had to. But come anyway, Zain. Tell him that for me.