Cold, why am I so damn cold?
He wondered, shivering. While grappling with distant, and unfamiliar sounds. The voices were dull, and strange; too vague for him to understand. Was someone calling to him?
Icy finger nails picked the crusts from his eyes, before he forced them to open. It took a few moments, to orientate himself, the room spun; his mind fuzzy as though wadded with cotton wool. Eyelids fluttering open closed, open closed, as the space around him morphed from hazy blobs, to a clear picture. His memories tumbled into place.
Yes, he must have been in stasis; although he failed to remember ever entering the pod, or who placed him neatly on the awake table?
He hated stasis. It fucked around with his head, and took too long for the cloud of confusion to evaporate. His mind raced through the jumbled slides of his thoughts, as numb fingers fiddled with the clasp holding him in place.
Ziiiip! The nylon tie-down, slipped free. His body began to float up, up, up … .
Strange, that the on-board computer had not automatically initiated Zero Gravity? More confusing, was, where was his crew? He kicked a booted foot against the awake table propelling himself in the direction, of the flight deck. Up here, there was no north or south, no right or wrong side, no up and no down. Only space, eternal, and infinite in its uncharted openness.
His mind still dulled from a slow metabolic rate, Captain Dillon James, swam through the air making his way up from the mid-deck of the shuttle. Grabbing onto the pilot seat he pulled himself into it, securing the buckles across his chest.
He eyed the complicated array of controls on the dashboard, lights flickered, and screens flashed. What was that distant beep, beep?
He reached and flicked a switch. The gravity would not engage. His fingers landed on the small keyboard, and began entering commands and requests.
It made no sense. His shuttle, was no longer travelling on its predetermined path. The digital maps on the control screen, screamed to him.
He was in trouble. The interstellar beacons used by all astronauts to navigate, were nowhere to be found. Not on the screen, or in the frigid black nothingness out there. It was, as if he had stumbled into a completely different universe.
But that was impossible! Wasn’t it? The constellations, mapped by the on board computer, made no sense. His heart, bounced off his rib cage like a love struck ping-pong ball.
Punching the green communications button, he called into the microphone connected to his earpiece.
“Command, this is Halo One, over.”… “Command, Halo One, over.”
Nothing, not even static.
The hollow void of darkness, wrapped its death grip around his solitary shuttle. He had never felt so alone. Frantically, he maneuvered the navigational controls, trying, desperately, to figure out which way was home. If only…. It was as though the Mission, Command Center, and the Earth had never existed! Dillon’s chest constricted, the cold reality of his situation slapping him in the face.
Dr. Mathew Forbes, stood, staring at the bouncing metal finger of the EEG. Another, methodically monitoring the patients pulse, and breathing. Its high pitched, beep! Beep! Echoing like the call of a feral banshee, through the world class medical suite.
He willed it to find something, anything, that would indicate the young astronaut’s mind was not lost. He had warned his superiors of the dangers. Using the virtual simulator before all testing had been concluded, was irresponsible.
God dammit! Why did it always cost some reckless, young fool his life, before those bastards would listen!? He prayed silently for a miracle. In twenty-four hours, the family was planning to pull the plug.
Please Dillon, find your way home!