Six Days After Impact

April was a maintenance worker, so she lived on the inner ring. The cheaper quarters meant less gravity and thinner air, but it rarely bothered her. In fact, after five years in the belly of the satellite she found herself nauseated by the full gravity of the outer ring. Out there, her mop shed water with alarming speed, and she could feel inertia forcing blood into her swollen feet.

April hadn’t mopped anything since impact. Three days had passed since the transport tunnels shut off, and a few hours ago she’d noticed that the televisions tuned only to static. She didn’t know if help was on the way. The satellite was big but space was far bigger, and April was sure that rescue ships would evacuate the outer rings first.

April was not a scientist, but she knew that life support would be the last system to go.

Six days after impact, April weighed nineteen pounds less. The vents still hissed with recycled air but the only light in her quarters came from the luminous window. In that window, Earth remained a cloud-drenched crescent surrounded by stars that never moved. Nothing changed. April could see her home world through any window in the satellite, because the satellite had no windows.

The viewscreens were life support. Necessary for the mental hygiene of the staff.

Six days after impact, April peeled the foil from her last granola bar, hummed a song she barely remembered, stretched out across the battered foam of her sofa, and waited for the stars to go out.

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