Slow… steady… I breathe. It seems to be mechanical; it is so regular. But it changes if I think about something and forget to breathe. It hesitates, or is much deeper sometimes. So it is not mechanical. Not a machine breathing on my behalf.
Breathe... Breathe… Breathe… I stop. Wait. But it recommences in a gasping burst. I can't stop it. I try again. But breathing is a compulsion.
There is not much to see. Blackness.
I'd think my eyes were shut, but there's more to see when your eyes are closed. There is no life of pinpoints in this blackness.
Breathe… Breathe… Breathe…
A point of light is drifting in from the right.
I look at it. Cold hard light. Near white. Chilling.
It continues to move into my vision; a slow drift.
I try to recall.
Yes. I am in the vacuum of space. I am alone. Adrift, like the point of light.
They did for me at last? It’s what happens to rebels – well, not exactly a rebel – just forever awkward, I guess. And I don’t suppose a GG Federation ship is the most tolerant place for anyone with a rebellious streak. No, it’s the perfect place for conformity, not the likes of me.
The hard point of light… It is a star. A solitary star. It and I are in space. It’s natural for the star. Not for me. They dumped me. I will die here. Soon.
There’s a certain fatalism coming over me. I wait. Will it be the cold or lack of air that gets me?
I’ve been asking for this for long enough, I suppose. How long before I feel the cold? Or before my air cuts off? Suddenly? Or gradually? The air lessening? The cold seeping through me?
I ponder back, seeking the reason I am cast out. What was it this time? Who did I insult last? Refuse to carry out another order? Tried to desert again?
Ahh. More stars. They drift in from the right side of my vision. A cluster.
Ever the rebel, I deserve this – whatever I did this time.
Ahhhh. A bulk of girders and struts, great panels, sections; brilliantly silver against the blackness. Stars slowly emerging from behind the mass of metal.
It is all so close to me. Have I only just been expelled?
Or has the ship been attacked? Blown apart? All these parts and trailing cables – hull sections and structural beams…
I’m not moving; not drifting further away. They must be watching. Witnessing my end.
‘What? Huh?’ Bursting in on me. So shocked. ‘You dreaming again, Jengon? For Goli’s sake, wake yourself up.’
My inmost quietude shattered. ‘Get that line of screw bolts positioned, fitted, and tightened up; then come in here. We'll never get this damn ship finished if you go orbit-doped every time you're out there. Come on. Move, woman.’