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The Expendibles

by Sofia Zuniga about a month ago in psychological
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What happens when NASA finds it of no interest to save your sinking ship?

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. Nobody can see you die in the vacuum of space either. It's one of the benefits of being at the NASA space station, when a crew is lost to the infernal pit of space, you can just forget them.

You can tell their families some story about how their heroic efforts had a purpose. How their sacrifice was worth it. And with the flick of a switch, you can turn off their communications back to the station and let them scream into the void.

If for a moment you can forget they left you out here to die, the void can be one of the most stunning things to experience. It almost feels as though you can walk out of the craft, out of the simulation, saunter to your car and drive home to your family.

It's just empty. There's no stars in sight, no planets. Just darkness continuous indefinitely. There's nothing at all. It all seems so fake if you can forget for a moment.

The crew consists of 4 people including myself.

Captain Orso stands 5'11" tall, dark hair and thick beard. Usually of commanding voice, he sits silent at his station. To his side sits Elena, a slender woman, red haired and beautiful, our navigation lead. We knew when they stopped speaking it was over.

"I think I left the oven on at home," mumbled Patrick, "I suppose it doesn't matter anymore then huh." Up until a moment ago he had been maniacally folding and unfolding his shirt sleeve. But the defeat had made it's way through the room, even our engineer couldn't care enough to fidget.

The silence was deafening.

"We still have food," I whisper.

Across the room Elena's face stiffens, finally looking up at me she motions to speak. But I suppose she changes her mind, as he shakes her head and turns back away.

"How long do we want to live out here eating freeze dried twinkies knowing we are going to die?" snaps Orso.

I feel a quiver in my lip, "we had planned to do this for years before -"

"That's when we had an end game. When we expected to get home to our families after." pushing Elena off his arm he stands up, "They left us out here to die."

There was no arguing with him. We could exchange glances all day, to the end of our lives, eat freeze dried fruit and space grown potatoes, but that didn't change a thing.

"We all have our way to process this grief Rick, don't be so hard on her." said Elena. I could never tell the nature of their relationship, but Elena had a way to always calm down Orso, even at the brink of death. His face softened. "How's about we have some of that celebratory whiskey you brought for us?" she chortled, "We don't have to worry about staying sober anymore."

Orso walked across the room, reaching into his bag and pulled out a large bottle. Pulling it close to his face he peered at the bottle, shaking it and watching the liquid dance around inside. After a moment he unscrewed the top and took a long swig. Pulling the bottle off his mouth he pursed his lips and let out a sigh.

"I supposed we could find something to celebrate," he mumbled, "who's next?" he extended his arm to me to offer the bottle.

I was never a fan of whiskey, in fact the smell of it made my stomach turn. But in this moment nothing tasted worse than the reality of what was happening. I snatched the bottle from his hand and began to drink. 1 second, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds. By the time I pulled the bottle off my face everyone was standing.

"Alright don't hog it all to yourself." scoffed Peter, enthusiastically taking the next sip. We passed the bottle around once before anyone spoke again.

"Who was waiting for you back home." said Orso, breaking the silence.

We all paused a moment.

Orso looked up, passing a glance from face to face, trying to read something on our faces. But no one thought to speak.

He chuckled, taking another swig of the whiskey. "I had a wife and 2 kids, just turned 5 and 13." He looked down at his feet and let out a sigh. "I left her alone with two kids." he whispered, "I'm sure the government will help her for a while but," he paused. A hollow silence took over the room as we waiting for him to continue, but instead he passed the bottle on.

Elena grabbed the bottle next. "I had a son." she said watching the whiskey twirl in the bottle. "He would have been 14 next week." she took a sip. "Maybe it was my time anyways." she chuckled, passing the bottle on.

Peter grabbed the bottle, taking a big gulp and passed it on without speaking.

I took the bottle in my hand contemplating my next move. I could already feel myself intoxicated, but I liked the feeling of it. "I figured maybe when I got back, I'd meet someone I could miss." I said, holding the bottle between two hands. I could feel all eyes on me as I took a big gulp and passed the bottle on.

It was another moment before we spoke again, we just passed the bottle around until all that remained was a final sip.

"All out!" hiccupped Elena. "Too bad you didn't plan to pre-game." she chortled. She tumbled upwards, stumbling to her station and reached into her bag. She pulled out a bottle and peered across the room. "I always told myself when I was on my deathbed I'd try heroin," she said mischievously, "I didn't think that would be this trip."

"I suppose if there was any time for something like that it would be now. But more whiskey will have to do," said Orso snatching the bottle out of her hand and opening it to take the first gulp.

We passed around the second bottle enthusiastically not uttering another word. It was hard to tell anymore what our goal was.

At the end of two bottles 4 of us sat splayed on the floor smiling. There was not much left to say to one another. The station had stopped communication with us when they realized we couldn't be salvaged. We knew it was only a matter of time before we ran out of food, before we starved to death.

"Let's walk out." I finally said.

A look of confusion passed through the group.

"Walk out?" repeated Patrick in disbelief.

"Yes let's walk out. We're drunk, it's much easier than waking up sober to this. We ran out of drink, we could just end this."

That silence we all became so familiar with filled the room again.

"Okay." uttered Orso finally.

There was no need to speak after that. We all just got up together and walked towards the rear.

The walk was no longer than 10 minutes, but in the silence it felt like years. At the rear of the craft was a room with two sealed doors. One that separated the craft from the room, and one that sealed the room from outside. Someone would have to stay behind to open the seal for the rest. I volunteered. It was my idea after all.

They all stood in the room quietly, their bare bodies uncovered. It's amazing how little fear a drunk has in their time of death. I opened the seal.

Their bodies shrunk and froze almost instantly. I stood in the craft awestruck. I'm sure in the morning I would realize what I had done.

"I can help." said a voice in static. In my drunken state I'm not sure I understood anything at all. "If you step out into the room I can release the second door from here." it spoke again.

I barely had a chance to think before I found myself in the room.

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. But they definitely heard us speaking.

They told our families we died heroes never mentioning we died drunk. Never sharing our last words, our last moments. They can hear you scream in the vacuum, they just don't care to listen to you.

psychological

About the author

Sofia Zuniga

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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