Glass Half Empty

Mays stared up at a tiny dot of reflected light moving across the night sky far overhead, before losing it against the face of the looming gas giant. "It's funny, you know?"

"I do not see how."

"Oh, come on."

"The ship is back in orbit without us. ELLE can no more pilot the ship back down to retrieve us than it—"


"—could have overrode the automatic emergency takeoff triggered by the quake. We have limited oxygen in our tanks and will soon suffocate, assuming another quake does not first cause us to be swallowed or crushed by shifting rock."

"You're a real downer, Rebbo."

Rebbo looked down at him, an alien face wearing an alien expression that nevertheless somehow showed disapproval. "We are about to die on an unnamed moon. Forgive me my poor companionship."

"ELLE can call for help. She will call for help, because it's standard company procedure. Someone will come."

"You assume someone is within range to receive an emergency signal; that they both can and will respond; and further, are capable of reaching us on the surface before our tanks are empty."

"I have faith."

"You have two hours, fifteen minutes, twenty-eight seconds of breathable air."

"And faith."

"As you like." Rebbo turned and walked off.

Rebbo was ten feet tall, and his legs (and arms) were longer, relative to his height, than a human's. Between footfalls he sailed through the air in a way that seemed graceful, effortless. He had adapted to the moon's low gravity quickly.

He's been in space a lot longer than I have. "Where are you going?"

"We are conversing via suit radio, it is not necessary to raise your voice to be heard simply because I am further—"

"Sorry. Where?"

"I left behind the drill and its power pack, and several core samples, when I fled for the ship during the quake. I should retrieve them."

"If no one's going to rescue us, why bother?"

"If you are correct, and our chance of rescue is nonzero, I should retrieve them now so that doing so later does not further delay us."

"Okay. But by moving around and carrying heavy objects you're just using up your O faster."

"A few minutes, perhaps. But if I am to die here I would rather not die in the midst of unnecessary disorder."

After a moment, Mays asked, "Do you need help?"

"I am already returning." Rebbo came back into view a moment later, drill slung across his back, toolbox in one hand and sample case in the other.

"Anything damaged?"

"Not that I can tell from visual inspection alone. We should test the drill."

"It can wait. Sit down, rest a minute."


"Oh, just enjoy the view." Mays gestured at the gas giant above them. "Look at that thing. Why do you suppose it's pink?"

"It is not uniformly 'pink'. And I am not a planetologist."

Mays could hear the impatience in his voice. "Seriously, you're no fun at all."

No comments:

Post a Comment