Not actually my greatest fear, that was just the assignment. First short story for Creative Writing.
Do you know how it feels to die in a vacuum? I do.
There’s a rush of cold as the void rushes over your skin. You push the air out of your lungs to keep them from bursting in your chest. When your body tries to suck air into its lungs, you cramp up, pain spreading from your chest through your entire body. You curl up, feeling the moisture in your mouth bubble away, until finally, fourteen seconds from exposure, the oxygen-deprived blood reaches your brain, and you mercifully pass out.
How do I know this? Well, firstly from research. Dying in the hard vacuum of space has always been my greatest fear, so I looked up the symptoms and how best to react. Secondly, though, I know from experience. It all started with a phone call from NASA…
When I was told NASA wanted me, I first thought it was a prank call from one of my friends. When a black Suburban showed up at my doorstep, however, I was forced to believe. They took me to the Kennedy Space Center, loading me onto a secret shuttle, which blasted us out of the atmosphere. On the way, the astronauts explained.
The Russians had planted bombs on one of our secret military space stations. Their best bomb techs had been over it, but it was locked with a most unusual method: a combination of video games and creative writing. Everyone they had was either stuffy or unimaginative, so they had no single person capable of defusing this bomb. One of them happened to read my blog, and so they went and got me.
Once we were in orbit, they helped me dress in one of their high-tech space suits, and then we went on a spacewalk. It went smoothly, at first, but then we saw a second shuttle, the hammer and sickle of the Soviets painted in red on the wings. From it, ten men in suits bulkier and darker than ours stepped out, carrying large tubular devices under their arms.
I spoke nervously over the intercom. “What are those?”
“Russian marines with railguns. Keep your head down.” Some of the men accompanying me began firing on the Russians, the magnet-powered guns eerily invisible, totally unlike the flash of a standard powder gun, and the silence of space lent the battle a further creepy cast.
While the Russians and Americans traded shots, I was guided to the bomb on the underside of the satellite. I worked steadily until I noticed a bullet fly past my visor and ricochet off the station’s armored hull. The silence with which it traveled only made it the more frightening, and I worked with more haste. I finally cleared the video game portion and was well on my way to finishing the writing portion when suddenly I felt as though I had been punched hard in the side.
At the same time, I heard a loud hissing noise and looked down, and saw the air of my suit escaping through a bullet hole in my side. I returned to the bomb, working frantically, when a second bullet smashed into my chest, and all the air in my suit escaped with a roar, followed by silence as I was exposed to the vacuum. I exhaled quickly, and felt the cramps spread through my chest. As I keyed in the last word I needed to defuse the bomb, I felt a third bullet shatter my visor, and I blacked out.