(Write a story about someone struggling to learn a skill that in no way comes naturally to them.)
Time units are being gobbled up like matter falling into a black hole!
This awareness makes my head hurt. It will take every ounce of training, every bit of mental conditioning to pull this off. It is a race between dwindling time and failing capabilities!
I should not have been wasting the precious time trying to regain strength and acclimate to this place in which I find myself. Everything here a charred mass of whatever had previously been here.
This is where I was jettisoned when my craft was self destructing, the structural integrity all but gone. I wipe the dirt encrusted sweat from my face, my eyes burning like they have been in an acid bath but luckily I can still make out forms and colors. Red is burning, fire debris and the forms are standing monoliths of whatever stood here before. It must have been an asteroid strike or a battlefield, the destruction was almost totally complete.
I have tried to extrapolate where I might actually be based on the data I remember from the last readings on my console. If my mind is still working properly. I think this was a far perimeter star base used mostly for recording and data collection. There are three units joined by sky bridges meant to hold overhead pods for movement of equipment, supplies and occasional personnel but what remains is burned, broken beyond recognition. If my observations and wild guesses are correct I am standing in the center unit. One sky bridge remains intact but inoperable, with luck my escape route or my pathway to check for what remains on the far unit.
I feel like a giant set of hands has wrung me out like a wet cloth. My body somehow twisted and shrunken, my strength all but gone. I find myself losing time, staring at nothing in particular, my awareness gone for long periods of time. When I finally return to myself, to awareness, I scold myself, I have training, I have been conditioned to deal with trauma and extreme conditions.
I look around again, an involuntary tear slips from my acid eyes. I must get a grip, it is so easy to just drift but if I drift, I am lost! Time is racing by and I can’t find my inner core, the rigorous training that should have me prepared for anything. A massive tremor assaults my body! I wrap my arms around my quivering body and slip off again into the blankness of denial.
I recall now the effort, the intense control I forced on myself never to show my one true and real flaw, my fear of heights. I have piloted rockets, that was never an issue and I have accomplished space walks but each time I was on the edge of screaming the whole time. It was my secret. My secret allowed me to compete and excel but it was never easy. I felt, to master fear made a man stronger and stronger. But here I am, I am not the same strong person, something in me has broken and my only hope is broken too.
I must somehow climb or go hand over hand from the dangling cords and wires that now hang from the sky bridge. My strength is gone.
Tether , I must tether myself to the overhead track so if I slip I will not become space debris. I must do it soon! The light here is constant so there is no day and night to consider so I will rest and plan, gather some things to use for the journey and then I will attempt to cross the gaping void of space below me. Thinking of the void, my stomach lurches, tumbles and I fight to control my gag reflex.
There can be no further delay. I must begin. There is no information or anyone from my ground team to advise me or keep me on task but I am forever lost right here and now if I don’t move.
I check the gauge on my portable oxygen can, I flick the gauge with my finger and the reading vasolates. It appears I have approximately four hours of breathing left, I must hurry but remember that slow and steady will use less oxygen.
I have several coils of flex cable wound around my body, another length I loop up and over the bridge rail. Now I must inch like a damn caterpillar, slowly moving across space. I move, lock on, readjust, move, lock on and readjust! I cannot see any possibility that this will work but I must try. My arms ache and my muscles feel like cooked pasta…..oh God, a flashback of big meals with family, huge plates of spaghetti! Stop! Stay focused, remember the training, this is what that was all about!
I feel like hours have elapsed, I know I lost my concentration and slipped into blackness at least once but as I look, I am surprised at the distance I have achieved. I am hanging midpoint in the arc of the bridge. I will not think or look at what is below me. Even this brief moment of realization makes me nauseous.
It is with the supreme effort fueled and fired by the certainty of death that I continue again. Inches, mere inches, movement, advancement, blackness and elapsed time these things are the reality I will die with but I must fight to the end.
It is a totally new sensation moving on the down slope of the arc. My arms that had been pulling everything upward to the apex and now they are asked to become a brake, holding back my weight for control on the descent. My burning eyes tear constantly but I sense the distance is not too great to the terminus. Once there I will find if this was a fool’s errand or my salvation. Blackness again.
Waking suddenly to a new awareness, my mind jolts awake like the flash of a bolt of lightning.
TIME? TIME? How much time have I wasted, how much time remains?
My hands have become claws, wound so long around the flex cables. I pry them loose one at a time. My eyes struggle to focus on the O2 gauge window, focus, focus idiot, you have no time for this I scream to myself!
I have eighteen minutes of breathable air left. I tear myself free of the cables and fall heavily to the ground. The airlock is so close but it may as well be miles. My legs will not hold me! I crawl, scrabbling along, bloody fingers and cramping claw like hands.
The pad to the airlock, I have gained it! I must stand, hit the pressure control and pray it is still functional! With the very last of my reserves, I pull myself up, strike it, NOTHING, I strike it again and again screaming in agony and as I feel the blackness returning, I hear a hiss and a mechanical sound and I fall into the airlock and into blackness!