The alarm screamed at him. Groaning once again, Harvey reached out to smack the clock but his hand just kept on moving. Opening his eyes, throbbing pain shot through his head. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut to try and help block out the pain, but to no avail. He groaned again. His head was killing him, his body felt both heavy and weightless at the same time, and the place smelled of piss.
“Must’ve been one hell of a party,” he slurred to himself. A voice in the back of his mind piped up, I hope Aldridge is alright.
That struck him as weird. Why was he worrying about the scary little woman? She’d never have been at a party, especially not one where he’d gotten as drunk as he had.
His alarm blared again, though this time is sounded like a voice instead of its usual shrill tone. “Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in five minutes.”
“Funny Shen,” he murmured, finding his roommate’s practical joke a little morbid.
Chuckling to himself he allowed himself to enjoy the heavy-floaty feeling of his body, it reminded him of the zero-g simulator.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in four minutes and thirty seconds.”
“What?” he asked, the words finally cutting through the pain that filled his head. He opened his eyes a little and found himself looking out into empty space—though he and Shen had an interior room. It took a few moments for his vision to clear, but when it did he focused in on the cracks across the glass—as intricate as a spider’s web. They’d have to call maintenance to check that out.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in four minutes.”
Suddenly it all came back to him; the shuttle, the asteroid, the drills, he and Aldridge heading out to check on a problem, her shouting, then the flash and the heat. Panic gripped his still jumbled mind, but he knew enough to be terrified. He must’ve been caught by a blast and knocked unconscious. He was now drifting in space.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in three minutes and thirty seconds.”
Harvey quickly started looking around for any sign of the big asteroid, the shuttle or the Epoch
. Nothing. He did his best to spin around, still looking for something familiar so he could try and get back to them. But no matter which direction he faced he couldn’t see their target asteroid, and he hadn’t looked at the stars to know any patterns.
He was alone in the blackness of space.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in three minutes.”
He slapped the companel on the front of the EVA suit. “O’Connell to shuttle! Shuttle come in! Farojj, M’Vani, Ray, can anyone hear me? Aldridge, please respond!” he yelled into the open channel, his voice breaking with uncontained terror.
, this is O’Connell. Anyone! Please! Is anyone there? Someone answer!”
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in two minutes and thirty seconds.”
His mind was a mixture of pain and dread. He had no clue where he was in relation to the ship, how far he’d been blown or how long he’d been unconscious. With minutes of air left he wouldn’t survive much longer after it was gone—he was already starting to feel numbness in his hands and feet.
“Anyone out there? Please! Help me!”
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in two minutes.”
He craned his neck to try and look down at the breastplate and the comm system controls. His hands felt heavy and clumsy, but he focused on what he needed them to do; open up a wide band channel. Still groggy from the concussion he must’ve suffered, it took him longer than it ever had in the simulator. His fingers either didn’t want to work or didn’t know how.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in one minute and thirty seconds.”
When he finally finished he opened a comlink, which went across multiple frequencies and band widths, if anyone nearby was paying the slightest bit of attention to their communications array they’d pick him up—or so he hoped.
“This is deckhand Harvey O’Connell, of the Jupiter Mining ship Epoch
,” he began, using what little was left of his self-control to keep from breaking down. “I’ve been involved in an accident and am running out of air. Please, if anyone hears this message, I need immediate help. Please!”
He kept his finger on the transmit button as his suit calmly informed him, “Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion in one minute.”
“Can anyone hear me?” he begged. “Please! I don’t want to die!” Tears streamed unabashedly down his cheeks. “If anyone is listening, please help me!”
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion thirty seconds.”
The numb, heavy feeling was moving up his legs and arms. Summoning what little strength he had left, he smacked the companel, which lodged the transmit stud on, before he let his limbs go limp and float. His chest was starting to burn and every breath was getting harder to draw in. Inside his EVA suit, the air was warming up and getting stale.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion fifteen seconds.”
Filling his lungs with what air he could, he screamed into the still open channel, “HELP ME!”
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion ten seconds.”
“Please,” he sobbed, his voice feeling tiny in his own throat.
“Warning: suit compromised. Air depletion five seconds.”
Harvey counted down his last few moments of breathable air, his body shaking as he wept.
After he counted one, the suit chirped. “Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted.”
Its macabre chant continued both in his suit and across the channel he’d opened.
It wasn’t long before his eyelids felt heavy. Though he did all he could to fight it, slowly they closed.
“Pleeease…hel…p…” Harvey O’Connell tried one last time before his eyes shut.
“Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted. Air supply depleted.”
* * * * *