Aftermath | Teen Ink


April 1, 2015
By Malibu_Barbie10 GOLD, Richardson, Texas
Malibu_Barbie10 GOLD, Richardson, Texas
10 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
“The thought that I might kill myself formed in my mind coolly as a tree or a flower.”

“I’m ready,” she said.

He pushed the lever up and the door slid its quick barrier between them, enclosing her in black and utter darkness for the last moments of life. It clicked as it locked in place and he jerked down the red lever. A hissing noise vibrated through the walls of the ship, jostling the Stardust and causing the facets inside to tremble. He looked up quickly at the cell space with a terrible uncertainty, and noticed that the noise was emanating from the door behind the girl. A red and yellow light flashed blindingly at the anterior of the ship and his greatest fear was confirmed. Something was wrong, and he knew what it was. The timing was supposed to be perfect. He had taken the point of deceleration into account in accordance with the girl’s weight. He had made certain that chronometer would display the right information at the most pivotal of times; the fuel was supposed to be plentiful enough to steer the ship past the turn off and into the atmosphere.

Now the Stardust began to shift to the left, throwing the contents of cockpit across the floor and against the lateral wall. The safety alarm began to sound loudly; his ears rang as he lunged for the control panel, desperate to keep the ship afloat. He had pressed the lever, the girl was supposed to be off the ship by now! The harsh reality of what was to come was interrupted by the muffled screams coming from the cell. The shuttering metal sounded shrilly as it was assaulted by the sharply rushing air and his lungs began to strain as the oxygen was stolen from the room. He raised a shaky arm and grabbed the controls to steer, moving into his seat unsteadily as the contents of the ship were thrown wildly around.

He thrust the panel forward and began to push buttons methodically, but his weight was suddenly propelled into the controls as the Stardust took a nosedive forward, spiraling down quickly and with ferocious vigor. As his forehead knocked harshly against the surface, he tried to force his body to move against the gravity pulling him back down. A flood of ruby red liquid ran thickly into his eyes, blinding him as the switches ahead teetered and the monitors light up in a blur of colors he could no longer focus on.  “Hold on,” he called weakly to the girl across the ship, only realizing afterwards that she had nothing to hold onto. His labored breaths began to slow and he glanced up tiredly with the last of his strength to see the red lever gleaming brightly with the shine of his blood. He had hit his head against it, causing it to pull back once again to its primary position.

     The red lever on the right wasn’t the jettison lever at all, he realized, but instead the emergency autopilot activation system. The smaller ships had been remodeled as a part of the economical plan to reduce fuel consumption, and the control panels were modified to be lighter and less spacious, reducing weight but at the same time skewing the placement he had been so familiar with. Of course, he, like all the other EMTs had been trained recently on the new controls, but he had, he supposed, succumbed to his default memory in the midst of the current situation. The automatic piloting system on the Stardust must have been recognized the extra weight and tried to do an emergency landing, but the low levels of fuel were burned rapidly during the attempt and that’s when the ship began to fall. Now, with the autopilot off, there was nothing to keep the ship from crashing.

     The final dance of death swung in slow motion as heavy iron casing detached from the ship and began to hit against his body like rapid-fire bullets. Blood pounded in his ears, blue from asphyxiation, and the monotonous banging of hard surface against harder surface began to disappear as he faded in and out of consciousness. He thought of the girl, and what she had said to him about dying. How many things go unsaid when you’re never thinking about time running out. With just one mistake, how many people had he killed? And as the plummeting spacecraft finally landed, somewhere below him he thought that he might have heard the faint explosion of glass, the sharp crushing of metal. He might have seen the pools of stark red blood against the broken clarity of white. And during his last moment, as he crossed forever from of the world of thought and action and time, a thousand prayers loomed in his mind, and a fading voice of innocence and laughter was lost in the depth of the darkness of eternity.

The author's comments:

The aftermath of The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin. Written for Honors English Literature.

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