With thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin
I struggled frantically with the oxygen valve, my gloved hands slipping and panic beginning to rise in my belly. I no longer felt like I was floating a mere cord’s length from the shuttle – instead, I had the sensation of falling in every direction at once, the void of space pulling at me. The radio crackled in my ear.
‘I’m bringing you in,’ said Friedman.
‘No,’ I gasped. ‘No time.’ The valve shifted a millimetre or so. ‘Almost...’
‘Taylor, I’m bringing you in.’ I felt a tug as the cord went taut. Then, nothing. I lifted my arms out of the way and looked down. The frayed end of the cord was floating away from me. I grabbed at it, but it was already beyond my reach. I kicked my legs uselessly, as if I could swim towards it. The effort made my lungs burn.
‘Taylor,’ said the voice in my ear. ‘Taylor. What happened?’ I wouldn’t have said anything even if I’d had the breath. I felt a numbness spreading through my body. For what felt like minutes, I just floated there, completely alone in the emptiness of space. Somewhere far off, a dog barked.