The Sound of Silence
No one expected the end to come so soon.
There was no warning, no cries from the scientific community, no
prophets speaking for their gods, no cult heads prepping their flocks
with kool-aid. The end was not spectacular or glorious. It all ended
with a simple ‘wompf.’ The atmosphere was drained away from the planet,
the seas boiled away in silence. Every man, woman, and child on the
surface was dead in seconds.
A moment of wild, silent panic, fell over humanity as they scratched
at their throats and held their bulging eyes in their skulls desperate
to cling on to their fragile lives. A third of them were lucky to die
in their sleep. Some, on the dark side of the planet, were privileged
enough to get a glimpse of the force that brought an abrupt end to
their existence. They looked up into the night sky and saw the stars
blotted out by infinite darkness. A hole in the universe, the size of
Europe, had opened over Oceana. It stayed open long enough for all
liquid water to be vaporized, and then abruptly vanished.
The machinations of mankind soon became as lifeless as their
creators. The combustion engines and hydroelectric plants stopped
first. Next came the nuclear plants melting down around the globe —
with no water cooling ponds the systems quickly overheated. Lastly, a
smattering of battery-powered lights shone on defiant to the end, but
eventually, extinguished as well.
When the bombs were dropped at the end of WWII, those at the
epicenter of the blast were considered the lucky ones. They died
immediately, no pain, no fear; just a flash and it was over. Far more
languished in the veil between life and death as their skin peeled
away, and their bodies gave in to the inevitable. Thousands screaming
in indescribable pain as they mourned for their loved ones and
themselves. In many respects, the crew of the international space
station found themselves in much the same situation six hours after
being sucked into the abyss.
“Huston, this is Jessica Meir of the ISS, in unknown orbit. We have
taken heavy damage and require immediate assistance. Please advise —
over.” Her voice was becoming increasingly hoarse with each iteration,
but as with everything else in her life, she didn’t know how to fail
and would continue for as long as her body would allow.
Only the static responded. An hour ago, under the request of
Commander Skripochka, she had connected the output to the vessel’s
sounds system making any response, no matter how faint, audible.
“The hardware has to be damaged Oleg, let me go out and take a
A stout man with a square face and eyes that gave him the appearance
of being calm no matter the reality shot back with the reflex of a
parent. “It’s not going to happen, Meir,” he said in a thick north
Russian accent that reminded her of an intoxicated man with a mouth
full of marbles. “You’re not qualified. You lab rats are all the same:
you think space walks are all games. Let me tell you — is not. I am not
ashamed to tell you the first time I went out, I nearly shit my pants.”
“That’s four.” Jessica’s emphatic expressions were amplified by the
wild curly brown hair that framed her face.
“Four times you’ve told me that story in the last six months.”
Oleg shook off the need to win the argument. There were more
important things than winning now. Commander Andrew Morgan had been
rendered unconscious during the event. A hit to his head sent tiny
droplets of blood floating aimlessly into the air. Immediately
afterward, Dr. Meir strapped Morgan down to keep him from sustaining
additional injuries while she kept a watchful eye on him.
Commander Oleg Skripochka was no stranger to command, but this was
one mission that he didn’t want. He looked out the starboard
observation window and tried to remain calm. As the ISS spun slowly
around, he got a view of their new surroundings. A faint orange glow
emanated from every direction. Lackadaisical particles approached the
station and bounced off of the window. He couldn’t be certain what it
was, but it reminded him of ash; ash floating in an orange haze.
“Commander! Morgan is starting to come around,” Jessica’s
northeastern accent carried throughout the craft.
Oleg propelled himself to the comm center effortlessly gliding
through the low-g environment. When he arrived, Andrew was already
Jessica pushed back from the console and started assessing her
patient, “Take it easy Andrew, you took quite a nasty hit.”
“I’m fine. How long was I out?”
She didn’t need any equipment to know he was anything but fine. His
left eye, bloodshot, wandered aimlessly while the right seemed to stare
right through her.
“What is that sound?” he demanded, holding his head as if part of
his skull might fall off if he didn’t hold on hard enough.
“It’s just static, we’re trying to get a signal from command, but
nothing. The comms are down. We were just tal—”
“Shutup! Can’t you hear it?”
Oleg put his hand on Andrew’s shoulder, “Remain calm my friend, we
have everything under control.” It was hard to look him in that one red
wandering eye, but he squinted and continued, “Let Dr. Meir check you
out, everything else can wait.”
“There’s no time. We have to hide. They’re coming. Oh Jesus, they
are coming.” Andrew frantically ripped off the remaining straps.
Jessica and Oleg gave each other a glance, each knowing what the
other was thinking, they acted without words. Jessica, once a professor
of anesthesia, knew exactly what drug and dosage to give him to put him
out before he could hurt himself, or worse.
The entire space station echoed with the sound of crashing metal.
“It’s too late! They’re already here! Fuck, kill me, kill me now!”
But death would not come so easily.
© 2020 JonTrue
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