Sunday, August 9, 2015

Breathless (Chapter 1?)



   Korrin fumbled with the gauge on his forearm.
   Manipulating the delicate latches was difficult to do on a good day. Now add in the fact that he was running for his life from the beasts that were close behind and he might as well have been trying to perform brain surgery.
   His heart was pounding in his ears.
   His breath came short and ragged, burning in his chest.
   Behind him, he could hear talon scraping across metal as the creatures tore after him in the empty hall.
   Finally, he managed to pop the latch on his forearm. A single red warning light flashed repeatedly. It was offensively bright against the rest of the viewscreen.
   Oxygen Low
   The message covered every other readout. In that moment, the computer deemed that there was nothing more important. He had to agree with it.
   Except for maybe the monsters.
   The hall was cramped. Narrow. They were dimly lit with small emergency lights every ten feet that barely illuminated the barren metal corridors. Barely any room for him to run. It was probably the only reason he’d been able to get away.
   I have to get to my ship!
   It was so close.
   Inside of it there was precious air and safety. Two words that were synonymous at this point. Safety from the creatures behind him, snarling and clawing their way in pursuit. Safety from the imminent threat of choking to death on nothingness.
   He rounded a bend. The final bend.
   For just a brief moment, Korrin saw the brightened archway of the airlock where he had docked. It was at the far end of the corridor.
   Freedom!
   The creature hit him from behind, sending him sprawling to the ground. Air hissed from the tear in his pressurized suit.
   He rolled, hand instinctively dropping to his sidearm. The creature’s massive drooling fangs splattered his viewpiece in in slobber and viscera. Its claws sought to rip open more than just his spacesuit. Luck would have it, he was just a touch faster.
   The muffled blast of the pistol fired three messy holes through the top of the monster’s head and the creature went limp and collapsed on its side.
   He pulled himself up and went into a full sprint, tossing the pistol aside as he went.
   He didn’t have time to reload. Or holster. Or breathe.
   Drawing in the last bit of air he could, alarms screamed in his suit as he dashed towards his ship. His fingers flew across the controls on his forearm, bypassing every pressure warning and alarm that popped up.
   A bright light flooded the hallway.
   More importantly, air hemorrhaged out of the hastily opened airlock.
   The airlock was still cycling, the large metal doors wide open to the derelict corridor, when he slid past the venting gasses and into his ship. The beasts that followed in pursuit were only seconds behind, but he knew they weren’t a threat anymore.
   The first beast hit the venting gasses and, second later, slammed into the far wall.
   Lifeless.
   It didn’t even have time to register what happened.
   The second, barely milliseconds behind its friend managed a slight choking sound before it crashed into a pile of packing crates.
   Korrin slammed the controls in his ship and cycled the airlock again. Sealing himself away from the derelict beyond and filling the room with fresh oxygen.
   He took a deep breath and let himself sigh in both relief and terror.
   The beasts didn’t move. Didn’t even twitch.
   He left them in the airlock. He was more intent on getting the hell away from this ghost ship.
   Besides, it was their own fault they were dead. Had they been one of the more intelligent of the alien races, they would have known better than to try and follow him into the ship.
   After all, pretty much every little beastie with half a brain in the galaxy knows that oxygen is toxic.


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