Experiment #278

Adrift Part 3

“I’m hobbling along on life support here. All of my airlocks will fail eventually. Just bring her close and I’ll jump to her.”“Uh oh looks like the star drive is activating, see you later, captain…”

Kershaw sighed. “It’s called a hyperdrive, lifeboats don’t have one, and your comm link’s still on.”

The comms clicked off.

“How did that selfish ingrate ever become a medic?” Kershaw asked himself.

Then he felt a wind. A rock dropped to the bottom of his stomach. “Airlock 4 and 9 failing,” said the disaffected computer’s voice. He scrambled for the controls before all his air was gone. He got it locked down, but there was worse news. Airlock 9 hadn’t been on the outer edge of his little life raft, it had been on the hallway right outside the control room. The simultaneous failure meant he was now limited to the room he sat in.

He looked around to see if there was anything useful. Most of the rations were still in the mess and a good bit of his oxygen had flowed out before he got the door closed. His prognosis turned from days to hours. He did find a spacesuit in the corner that should fit him. It had about an hour left in the oxygen tank.

He swallowed his pride and turned on the radio to raise Flanger again and beg for help, but he never spoke. His exertions searching the room had spent the last of his oxygen. He fainted in his seat as the radio buzzed. A voice asked, “Captain?”

###

“Captain? Kershaw?” A voice asked. As Kershaw woke he saw long golden hair, deep blue eyes, red lips, and… a beard.

“Flanger even ruins my fantasies,” Kershaw thought as he sat up. “What happened?” he asked.

Smats looked at the captain.

“Smats!” Kershaw yelled. “You’re alive!”

“Yes,” Smats said.

“But the ship? How’d you survive?”

“Rear bulkheads were twitchy from the rewiring. Locked in soon as the seed pods blew.”

“The rest of the ship was sealed tighter than a fine wine,” Flanger said. “Only crew cabin to take damage was yours.”

“The rest of the crew?”

“They’re doing well.”

Kershaw looked to a window and saw trees and dirt and buildings.

“But how did we get here?”

“Flanger.”

“Flanger?”

“Used the star drive to get help.”

“The what?”

“The star drive I installed in the lifeboat.”

“Star drive?”

“Mini hyper drive for short jumps.”

“Yes, it took me all the way to Milton,” Flanger said, “and I brought back help.”

“If he hadn’t been in that lifeboat,” Smats said “we’d all be dead.”

Kershaw dismissed Smats. He turned to Flanger and opened his mouth.

“Cargo cams caught the whole thing in minute detail,” Flanger said. “The royalties from the science community should be enough to buy a new ship.”

Kershaw smiled ruefully. “Thank you,” he said. “Perhaps I can salvage something from this trip.”

Flanger smiled back. “Of course! I’m sure you’ll do a great job captaining my ship.”

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