There was something almost magical about space walks. The chance to experience space, like actual space without the confines of the metal box we lived on. It was something that never got old. Just floating in front of potentially millions of miles of nothingness, of void scattered with the occasional star, or a bit of debris, or whatever else happened to be drifting out there. Just being a tiny little thing on the edge of so much vastness, it has a way of leaving anyone in awe.
I once saw some tough American guy cry on his first day out of the station. He gestured down towards the earth, it was clear over the states that day. He told us about his wife and child, about how proud they were of him. Someone made a comment about how they were probably looking up, right in that moment, thinking that exact same thing. Instant tears. Never seen the guy laugh, let alone cry.
To be honest until that point I'd pegged him as kind of a douche-bag. Never saying anything more than a few words unless a job absolutely necessitated it. Pretty much ignored any display of emotion from any of the rest of us, occasionally even knowingly saying the least useful thing during tough times. Like, he usually wasn't malicious or cruel, just wilfully clueless when it came to stuff like that. Don't tell him I've said any of this, yeah?
Anyway, seeing a guy like that cry? Kinda softened my opinion of people a bit. It wasn't that he didn't have a caring side, he just didn't show it, like, ever. If it wasn't for that space walk, I'd probably still consider him a dickhead. More of a dickhead. He's less of a dickhead than I originally presumed. You can tell him that bit, if you like.
Sorry, got a bit side tracked there.
What was I supposed to be saying?
Right... It was my turn to go out and do some standard stuff, nothing we weren't all familiar with, drew straws and everything to see who'd get the privilege this time. I got the winning straw, first time in a while.
Everything was going smooth until they tried to bring me back in. Something got jammed, a few things failed including the tether. It wouldn't reel back in, had to just wait out there while they fixed everything. In a situation like that, there's really not much you can do except relax and enjoy the view. So that's what I did.
Naturally, like anyone else staring out into the abyss, I thought about my own mortality, about higher powers and what else was out there beyond our little world, about what pizza I'd get when I got home. I missed pizza more than I missed home. Mostly I just missed my cat. I wonder if she missed me... She probably did. She was an affectionate little thing, I treated her like a God.
Looking down at it all I almost felt like a God myself, and yet I felt so small, so insignificant. I wonder, if God does exist, maybe she feels the same. Looking down at that magnificent planet full of magnificent people doing their own magnificent little things. I couldn't see God but I could see why others would see her, whether through a conclusion of creation or a fear of the unknown, or even just a desire to not be quite so alone. I'd never been one for religion, still aren't really, but I do understand those that are a little better now than I did.
What I didn't understand, couldn't understand, was the fear they must have felt. I was an outsider to it all, a watcher. I didn't experience what was going on down there, but I saw it. I saw it all. I had a front row seat, after all.
Technically we all expected it, there'd been speculation for months. Denial, jokes, rumours, everyone was talking about it. Who'd be the first to go? Who'd remain? Apparently people were making bets, like actual money bets. I don't know why, its not like anybody can cash in on that win. Then again, the most I'd ever bet was a month on garbage disposal. Never really got the appeal of gambling, and I guess I never will.
Its not like I can just ask someone, either. Hey corpse, why'd you bet on who'd be the one to kill you? Probably would have to wait a while for that answer. I can live with not knowing. I can live with not knowing a lot of things. I don't know why all this happened, don't even know if I want to know.
I think I want to live not knowing that one.
From where I was, it started with one explosion. Everything was normal and then it wasn't. Saying that, there was a tornado over Japan which was pretty cool to see. I don't remember the last time I heard about one of them. Are they rare? I don't know if they're rare or not. Either way, bad day for those guys.
Britain on the other hand, completely cloudless day. OK, morning. I can't really speak for the rest of the day, and even without the nukes there was an ominous cloud drifting towards the eastern coast.
Of course, after the nukes there wasn't really much to see. After the first one landed, a few more followed suit, scattering across the globe as retaliation kicked in and allies took revenge.
I don't think the initial explosions would have killed everyone. I guess, the radiation might have taken its course and finished the job off proper if there'd have been enough time for it, but there just wasn't. So much happened. The weather went completely nuts. And then naturally Yellowstone did its thing, I mean it was kinda overdue.
The dust from the bombs and the dust from the eruption and the storms, everything was just covered. It stopped being the blue planet and became the grey one. That's a sight I'll never forget. None of us will. No one could survive that. We all knew it, even before you told us. Although, we still had hope. We checked the radios daily, just in case. Sent a signal out almost hourly, almost obsessively. Nothing back, obviously.
We were up there a few weeks, staring down at the grey swirls of the dust storms and mayhem beneath them. Wasn't easy for any of us, lost a couple of the crew during that time. Made things even harder. Saved on rations for a bit though, so silver linings and whatever. Their sacrifice was our survival, food and oxygen and stuff wouldn't have lasted if they'd stuck around.
Maybe they knew, I don't know.
Things would have gotten bad if you hadn't shown up. Well, worse. We were all on the edge. Hard not to be with supplies running short and the destruction of the world out the window. You saved us. Don't think we can ever repay that.